Trust by Faith

Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. – (John 4:50, NLT)

Jesus answered, “Go. Your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus told him and went home. – (John 4:50, ERV)

Go home. Your son will live. When he heard the voice of Jesus, faith took hold of him and he turned to go home. – (John 4:50, VOICE)

 

I love this exchange between Jesus and a government official. The man who came before Jesus on behalf of his son, was a leader among men, and accustomed to people following his orders the moment he spoke them into being. Despite the powerful position of this government official, he approached Jesus with humility and faith. Perhaps desperation was a motivation, as he more than anything, wanted his son to live. Rather than Jesus traveling with the man to his son, He simply told him that his boy would live. Something arose within the heart of the official, and he took Jesus at His word. He believed and began his journey home. I wonder if he had to keep reminding himself that Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live, so believe, believe, believe… At some point as the man neared home, one of his servants ran to him to let him know that his son would live and was well again. When the man asked when his son had shown the improvement, they discovered that it had occurred at the same time the previous day when Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live. How often do we receive and believe His promises with such faith? It is easy when we see tangible evidence that He is moving on our behalf yet it can be a battle when what we have heard does not align with that which we see in the here and now. May we have faith in the promises that He has spoken and keep walking forward in trust; for what He has promised He is faithful to do.

 

What Jesus tells us,wp-1522933972687995522303.jpg

He’s faithful to do;

Whatever He says,

He will follow through.

Despite what we see,

God is on the move;

We must choose believe,

Let doubt be removed.

We must trust by faith,

And not count on sight;

Let God lead the way,

For His ways are right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You that You are forever faithful to fulfill that which You promise. Forgive us for our fears and doubts and for thinking that You might change Your mind. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk boldly in faith in that which You have promised, trusting that You will fulfill all that You have spoken. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may encourage and build one another up with faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your word to be true and allow You to grow our faith within us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Tending Our Talents

In the parable of the loaned money, (found in Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus tells of a master who is preparing to go on a journey. Prior to his departure, he gives varying amounts of money to three of his servants. To one, he gave what would be worth about $5,000, to the next; $2,000, and the last; $1,000. He entrusted each of them with his money, expecting to see a return. When he arrived back from his journey, he checked to see how each of his servants had done.

 

The first, to whom he had given much, had earned an equal return, doubling the master’s money. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness!” – (Matthew 25:21)

 

The second servant had done the same. He had been entrusted with $2,000, and had $4,000 to return to his master. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” – (Matthew 25:23)

 

Finally, the man who had been given $1,000 reported to the master. The foolish servant claimed to fear the master, so he had gone out and buried the money in the ground. Upon the master’s return, he dug it up, and took the money to present back to his master. His master did not give him the reception he had likely expected. The talents had been given for the servants to utilize, to invest – not to hide away. Taking his talent, the master had him removed and sent out, and gave his money to the one who had multiplied the most.

 

“God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and He expects us to use them wisely until He returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have.” – (NIV footnotes for Matthew 25:15)

 

Each of us given,Tending Our Talents

talents meant to grow;

blessings from the Lord,

to extend, to sow.

May we use our time,

with wisdom and grace;

invest what’s given,

in our present space.

May He multiply,

whatever we bring;

so more hearts may know,

to honor the King.

Let our hearts soon hear,

the words from the Son;

“Come and share my joy,

your work is well done.”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with time, gifts, resources and abilities that You have purposed for us to utilize to serve and honor You. Thank You that we are not expected to do this in our own strength, but rather in Yours. Thank You that as we earnestly seek You, You make our path plain. Forgive us for our fearfulness, or our anything else that keeps us from moving forward and utilizing what You have given for Your purposes. Teach us how to be bold on Your behalf, and may many come to know the hope that is found in You alone. Be glorified as we give You all of ourselves. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

 

 

Lift Up Our Leaders

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” – (Exodus 17:12)

This passage comes from the story in Exodus 17, when the Amalekites came to attack the Israelites.  Whenever Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites were winning, yet if he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would take the lead.  Though Moses was a strong leader, called by God, he was still subject to human frailty.  He grew weary, as all of us do.  Fortunately, Moses had men who came along side him, and saw the need in their leader, and extended the practical help that was possible for them to supply.

We too, need to lift up our spiritual leaders.  Our pastors shoulder a tremendous responsibility, and readily work around the clock.  Though they may be physically present during office hours, their hours of service extend well beyond the traditional work day.  Medical emergencies, family crisis, and personal problems are just a few of the after hours calls that these selfless servants readily answer.  They too, grow weary, despite their being both called and equipped for the position.  Praying for our pastors is a must.  Offering encouragement and whatever else the Lord may ask, are practical ways in which we too, can lift up the hands of our leaders.  “Let us not grow weary of doing good…” (Galatians 6:9)

For those who serve,Lift Up Our Leaders

give tirelessly;

let us lift up,

support prayerfully.

Reach out our hands,

speak words to exhort;

let gratitude,

be what we report.

Let our hearts hear,

how we might too, bless;

encouragement,

ways to offer rest.

Father, be near,

to the ones You’ve called;

protect them, Lord,

these blessings installed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for those whom You have called and equipped to lead.  Thank You for their faithfulness to listen to You, so that they may answer all that You ask, and serve You and the body whom You’ve called them to lead.  Please protect them and their families, and bless and refresh them with sweet rest.  Forgive us for not always lifting up our leaders, and help us to do a better job of praying for and encouraging our pastors, as You call us to do.  May we come along side them and lift up their hands when they grow weary, and may we bless and encourage them as You ask us to do.  May many come to know You as we love one another well, and may they recognize a place where people are loved and cared for – from pastor to each person that is present.  Let Your light and love be evident in us, through all that we say and do.  Be glorified, our good and gracious God.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

The Scroll and the Seven Seals

From the opening of the scroll to the list of calamities that will come to the earth, I have always found this portion of Revelation to be particularly unsettling. (Revelation 5-9)  However, today, something new seemed to stand out to me.  In the midst of a series of devastating displays, those who were sent to destroy, stopped, and made sure to mark those who belonged to God, so that we would be left alone by those who would later come to torture and destroy.

“Wait!  Don’t do anything yet – hurt neither earth nor sea nor trees – until we have placed the seal of God upon the foreheads of His servants.” – (Revelation 7:3, Living Bible)

In a list of darkness and destruction that is to come, this is our ray of light.  Our reminder of hope and help – that we are known, marked and set aside for something far greater than the here and now.  Though the series of seals being broken and the events that are to unfold are nothing to look forward to, I am comforted in knowing that as His daughter, I shall somehow bear His seal upon my forehead, and be known.  (As is true for all who call on His Name and place their trust in Him)  I still hope to have lived out my life and already be in heaven when what was foretold comes to pass; but if I am not, there is much comfort in knowing that I am His.  And, the best part that has not yet been covered in this portion of scripture, is how it all ends.  Christ wins!  Death and destruction will all pass away, and His peace and presence will reign forever.  For that, I look forward with eager anticipation!

A sealed scroll,The Scroll and the Seven Seals

that none can open;

yet there is One,

the Lamb, who’s Chosen.

With every seal,

comes horse and rider;

sent to destroy,

human dividers.

Plagues and disease,

death from brutal wars;

much of the earth,

lost both near and far.

Such loss and pain,

who’d even survive?

Those with His mark,

kept safe for a time.

Yet even those,

in destruction lost;

if in the Lord,

paid is final cost.

For in the end,

His kingdom shall reign;

all found in Him,

will live free from pain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to show us more of Yourself as we earnestly seek You.  Thank You that though we naturally fear what we do not know or understand, that You reveal to us that You are with us, and will remain with us in all things and at all times.  Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever, and that Your faithfulness has no end.  Forgive us for our fearfulness of that which we do not know, and grant us wisdom and insight into that which You would have us to know.  For the things we are not yet meant to grasp, give us faith to trust You more.  May our hearts hold fast to You in faith, regardless of the world around us.  Help us to love as You love us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You, so they too, may bear the seal upon their forehead…  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

When Love Came Down

As we have traveled through the season of Advent, my pastor has taught a series on the attributes of God, which He imparts to us, as a gift through the sending of His Son.  The four weeks have covered, peace, hope, joy, and finally yesterday, love.

Jesus, is God’s gift of love to us, as He sent us His one and only Son.  (1 John 4:9-10)  The love of God is so great, that it covers us with the commitment of His very life.  His love is agape – love that genuinely and exclusively seeks the good of others, rather than one that might expect something in return.  Christ’s love was so vast, that He set aside the robes of majesty, and took on the role of a man, so that we might know love. (paraphrasing Pastor Jon McIntosh)

In John 13:1-12, Jesus shows the full extent of His love for the disciples, as He takes on the role of the lowliest of servants, and kneels to wash the filth from the feet of His friends.  The washing of another’s feet, would have made the one who was washing, completely unclean.  Feet were filthy, and to touch them, would have been a wretched violation of plenty of purity laws.  Jesus was modeling to the men that it matters not what it takes, when we love, we must be willing to set aside ourselves, and serve.  His serving, left the disciples cleansed and refreshed, despite personal cost.

Philippians 2:5-8  encourages us to have the attitude of a servant, just as was seen through Christ.  The love described in Philippians, is humble and obedient to God, willing to love with His very life.  Such love is unshakeable, and will remain forever.  (See also: Isaiah 54:10, Romans 8:38-39)

And Love came down,When Love Came Down

so the world might know;

the height and depth,

of love truly shown.

Love seeks not self,

records not the wrongs;

is patient, kind,

fills hearts with sweet songs.

Where there is Love,

peace too, shall be found;

for where Christ dwells,

all goodness abounds.

Love seeks to serve,

do unto others;

cares for each one,

as sisters, brothers.

Love will endure,

forever, always;

none can remove,

the Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your Son, Jesus, whom You sent to us so that we might know Love.  Thank You that we set aside this season to remember the blessed birth, the arrival of God with us.  Forgive us for allowing anything to distract or taint the significance of this season, and help us to hold fast to that which truly matters.  May we learn to love as You loved, and be Your hands and heart to those who are hurting this Christmas.  May many come to know the limitlessness of Your everlasting love this season.  May our every attitude and action be as You would have us do, and may our every offering be pleasing unto You.  We love You, Lord.  Amen.

*Scripture references taken from yesterdays sermon at http://www.gcfw.org

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Friends of Our Father

illustration by S. Moreno

illustration by S. Moreno

No longer called servants,

instead, we’re called His friends.

He grants to us knowledge,

of how our story ends.

Yes, we have been chosen,

appointed by the Lord;

to go and bear good fruit,

function in one accord.

The Father will give us,

what we ask in His Name;

not for our own power,

but for His righteous reign.

The thing He commands us,

is to love each other;

treat fellow believers,

as sisters and brothers.

By His grace, may it be,

that we’re known for our love;

so the lost may be found,

as our hearts fix above.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name. This is my command: Love each other.” – (John 15:15-17)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You no longer see us as servants, but rather You call us friends. Thank You that You reveal Yourself to us when we earnestly seek You. Forgive us for the times that we try to find solutions to our struggles on our own, and help us to always seek You first. Teach us to not only seek You, but to listen and obey whatever it is that You ask. Above all, help us to love one another as You love us. May many come to know You as a result of our obedience. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present