Anna’s Answer

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up and broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. – (Luke 2:36-38, MSG)

 

Though Matthew does not reveal to us whether or not Anna had been promised to see the Messiah before the end of her life, I imagine that her presence in the Temple was no accident nor coincidence, as Mary and Joseph brought Jesus on the eighth day after his birth. It is difficult to fathom the life of Anna. Widowed, likely at a very young age, she chose to remain in the Temple area day in and day out, for decades. Matthew describes her has a prophet, and her heart was clearly connected to God as she worshiped and prayed day and night. Likely, one of her often prayed prayers was for the Savior to come to rescue Israel, as had been foretold in scripture. Incredibly, after all of her faithful time spent serving and honoring God, she suddenly found herself standing in the presence of a promise coming to fruition. Immanuel, God with us, came near in a tangible way to Anna, who had waited nearly a lifetime to behold the very One who was held before her. May we worship with the same sort of wonder and celebration as those first few whom God blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of our Savior. The glory of the first Christmas remains the same, as we celebrate God with us, now and forevermore.

 

Remarkable the faith, Annas Answer

And hope she held dear;

Faithful for ages,

Prayers that God come near.

In awe and wonder,

Her eyes did behold;

The promised Savior,

Scriptures had foretold.

She could not help speak,

To all others tell;

This most holy news,

Rejoice! It is well.

The hope she had held,

Was found in the eyes;

Eight-day-old baby,

Future realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to save us. Thank You that Jesus made the way for us to be in right relationship with You, despite our shortcomings. Forgive us for forgetting all that Jesus went through to not only redeem us, but to know and understand our struggles and pain. Teach us to trust You with a relentless faith like Anna. Help us to faithfully pray and worship You, regardless of what we see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope where there is none, so they too may look to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done through the precious gift of Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

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Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

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

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

The Gift of Presence

I will make My home among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NLT)

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NIV)

 

Long before the arrival of Christ, God had His plan in place to make things right again so that He could dwell among us. Humanity had become so broken and disconnected from God, that the only way to be restored to a right relationship with Him, was through the sending of His Son. This season marks the celebration of Jesus’ arrival; the beginning of the relationship that restored us to our Redeemer. Without Christ, we would be limited to only drawing as near to God as the outer courts of the temple. However, because Christ came, we can invite Him to be Lord of our lives, and He will come and make His home in us and among us. He no longer is God out there, but He is now the Lord who is always near. May we fix our eyes and hearts on Him who came from heaven to earth to make the way for us to know His nearness, both now and forevermore.

 

From heaven on high,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

He came down to dwell;

So people might know,

The hope His life tells.

As we lift our eyes,

To the Lord above;

He calls us His own,

Showers with His love.

Let us fix our gaze,

This holy season;

On Christ born to us,

Our hope and reason.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it has always been Your plan to dwell among us. Thank You that despite our sinfulness and brokenness, You made the way to restore a right relationship with You through the sending of Your Son. Forgive us for not fixing our eyes on You and the reason for the season, as we get caught up in the chaos of things that “need” to get done. Help us to slow down and settle in, so that we may meditate on the real meaning and the weight of what You have done for us all. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads hope and points them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the treasured gift of Your presence this most sacred season. 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 to His Temple

You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit that you received from God and that lives in you. You don’t own yourselves. God paid a very high price to make you His. So honor God with your body. – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ERV)

Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God! – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, VOICE)

 

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember. As a child, I was blessed with parents who invested in my physical being as well as my spiritual training. Soccer, gymnastics, skiing, and softball were staples in my growing up years, then in college I discovered a passion and natural aptitude for crew. As an adult, I enjoyed jujitsu and kickboxing, then later discovered a love for running. Most recently, a bit over a year ago, a friend plugged me into kettlebell training. Today, I will be participating in my first Tactical Strength Challenge Competition. My hope is that just as I seek the Lord each day to train my heart and mind so that I may honor Him with my words and deeds; so too, I long to give Him glory with my body, as He has blessed me with a body that is strong and healthy, and I desire to use it wisely. This temple of the Holy Spirit that I have received, is not my own. I have done my best to tend well the temple, through healthy eating and rigorous physical training. Though I have personal goals for today’s outcome, my ultimate goal is that I might bring Him glory in all that I say and do, regardless of the environment. May this temple that I have been given to tend, offer light and hope to all whom I encounter.

 

Within a temple,IMG_2036

each of our hearts dwell;

home to God’s Spirit,

we‘re called to tend well.

Purchased at a price,

our life didn’t come free;

for Christ’s love alone,

is for you and me.

For all we’ve received,

and to God’s glory;

let us honor well,

God with our bodies.

Help us to go forth,

and shine well Your light;

so others may see,

the path that is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You paid the price for us, so that we might know what it is to have the Holy Spirit dwell within us. Thank You that our bodies are the temple of Your Holy Spirit, and that we are trusted to tend Your temple well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected any part of the temple that we have been given – be it body, heart or mind. Show us how to honor You with what we have been given, so that all glory goes to You. Teach us how to love others in such a way, that we are light and life that lead those who are looking, unto You. Help us to lift up and encourage all those around us, as You so lovingly do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we honor You with our bodies. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Enter With Thanksgiving

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name. – (Psalm 100:4)

Before Christ came, people had to go to the temple to be in the presence of God. To truly present their thanks, praise and offerings, they had to physically go to the temple courts and partake in a rigorous routine. Today, we can enter His gates with thanksgiving and go into His courts with praise, any hour of any day. Christ dwells within our very own heart, if we choose only to invite Him in. When we give thanks to God and praise His Name, it is as if we are in the throne room itself, because of God with us, through the Holy Spirit. Because we are blessed as believers to have Christ with us at all times, we always have reason to give Him thanks and praise. May we choose to rise up and enter His gates with thanksgiving and go into His courts with praise, not for what is going on around us, but for who He is within us.

May each heart enter,Enter With Thanksgiving

His gates full of thanks;

go into His courts,

to offer God praise.

For this is a space,

found within our heart;

as we recognize,

where the throne room starts.

We need not look far,

for the Lord is near;

our help and our hope,

each prayer He will hear.

All thanks be to God,

give praise to His Name;

for He is so good,

let our hearts proclaim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can enter Your gates with thanksgiving and go into Your courts with praise directly, without having to travel far, nor participate in rigorous rituals to be made right before You. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, who made the way for us to be seen as clean before You. Thank You, Jesus, for bearing all of our sin and shame, so that we could be viewed as acceptable and worthy to worship before You. Forgive us for taking the magnitude of Your sacrifice for granted, or for not giving proper thanks and praise unto You. Teach us to have hearts that overflow with thanksgiving for who You are, as You alone are worthy of all thanks and praise. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too, may find reason to offer thanks. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we enter Your gates with thanksgiving and go into Your courts with praise. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

To Tend His Temple

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

 

When we invite Christ into our lives, His Spirit comes and dwells in us. Where God’s very presence used to be housed in the tabernacle in the Holy of Holies, now resides in all who commit their hearts to follow Him. We are His temple. Just as the Israelites took great care in tending the temple because that was where the Lord dwelled; we too, ought to treat our bodies accordingly. The way in which we care for what we have been given, can determine how long we are able to be effective in serving our Savior. If we take care of our bodies, and treat them as God intended, then we are better able to serve Him for the long haul.

 

Additionally, with Christ living in us, He has already paid the penalty for our sin and shame, so we need not continue in our old ways that are detrimental to our temple. Just as we are to feed and grow our spirit, we ought to also invest in caring for our physical body as well. We are mind, body and spirit, and all are meant to be cared for and treated as those belonging to God. May we each invest wisely in how we care for our minds, bodies and spirits, and bring honor to God accordingly.

 

The temple of God,To Tend His Temple

no longer a place;

but rather He dwells,

in faithful heart space.

We are not our own,

we’re bought at a price;

through Christ’s holy gift,

Love’s great sacrifice.

Because of His love,

let’s honor the Lord;

treat well our temples,

serve Him we adore.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with purpose and a plan. Thank You that You no longer dwell in a building that we cannot even enter, but rather You reside in the hearts of all who place their trust in You. Thank You that You paid the ultimate price so that we could have life in You. Forgive us for not tending the temple that You have given us in a way that You intended, and teach us how we are meant to best care for our bodies. Help us to trust You more, so that we will allow You into all areas of our lives, granting access to shed light on areas that need to change. Give us strength and resolve to make the changes that You bring to our attention, and help us to ever honor You with our bodies, hearts and minds. Help us to love others as You love us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You as a result. Be glorified O God, as we tend well the temples that You have given unto us. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Be the Change

Injustices are everywhere, we simply need open our eyes and look around us to see suffering that need not be present. There is homelessness, abuse, hunger and human trafficking, and those are but a few out our own front door. The needs are far beyond what one person could conquer, however, if we do nothing, change will never occur. As I continue my book study, Undaunted, by Christine Caine, one of her passions is to help fight human trafficking. She goes far beyond sympathy for the suffering, as Caine goes into the places of known need, and seeks to save those stuck in the shackles of slavery. Her heart is for healing and restoring the victims to wholeness, and she works tirelessly to help establish safety nets for victims once they have been rescued.

 

27 million are in bondage around the globe. That number is staggering. The average age of trafficking victims is twelve, nearly the same age as my own precious progeny. Only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued. That means that 98-99% of those twelve-year-olds, are trapped in bondage until the day they die… (Statistics from www.thea21campaign.org)

 

So what are we to do? When Jesus saw an injustice, He walked toward it, not away from it. When He found out there were merchants misusing the temple and keeping the Gentiles from worshiping, He did not sit idly by. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. – (Mark 11:15-16)

 

If Jesus responded that way to defiling the temple with extortion, imagine how He would respond to human lives being bartered… Our charge is to do something. We are not all called to go into the dark and scary spaces and rescue the captured. However, there are numerous roles to fill. We can pray. We can support. We can educate. We can advocate. We can protect. We can prevent and we can partner with those who are called to go and reach right into the lives that would have otherwise been lost, and be a part of the change. May we each give ear to God’s heart, so that we hear clearly what He would have us do.

 

Change only happens,Be the Change

when people choose rise;

to stand up and fight,

to open blind eyes.

Awareness becomes,

the mightiest sword;

striking injustice,

as lives are restored.

May we be the change,

that sees and then acts;

let’s go forth in love,

our fire to fight back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know all of the injustice in the world, and that not one is lost from Your sight. Thank You that You are greater than the ugliness and evil that permeates society. Thank You that in You, we can be the change that ends injustice for individuals everywhere. Thank You that even one life rescued and restored is reason for rejoicing. Forgive us for shying away from injustices we see, and help us to take things head on, just as Jesus did. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hear Your specific instructions for us, individually, as You have a specific role for each of us to play. Help us to know what we are meant to do, and then grant us the strength and the courage to obey. Lead us to love others more than we ever thought possible, just as You love us. May many who are trapped in captivity – be it physically, emotionally or spiritually – be set free and find life everlasting in You. Be glorified Lord God, as we seek to be the change that You are calling us to be. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Standing Firm in the Storm

Paul, more than most, understood what it was to stand firm, even in the face of a long and raging storm. Several times, he was imprisoned for his faith, yet each time Paul utilized his time in chains as an opportunity to stand firm, and share with others, the foundation of the faith on which he stood. After two years of imprisonment, Festus brought Paul before himself and the accusers from Jerusalem. Then Paul made his defense: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” – (Acts 25:8) As the hearing continued, Paul made it clear that he had no fear of death if he deserved to die; however, knowing that he was innocent, Paul made his appeal to be heard before Caesar as a Roman citizen. After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” – (Acts 25:12)

 

Because Paul knew he was innocent and knew his rights as a Roman citizen, he was able to seek Rome’s protection. Also, Rome was a destination that Paul had hoped to go to preach the gospel, and this appeal would provide the opportunity – prisoner or not. Paul was standing firm in his faith in Christ’s strength, faithfulness, and provision, as he knew that though the path he was taking to get to Rome was not ideal, it was a way for Paul to arrive in Rome sooner than he might have otherwise. He did not bow down in despair as he remained a prisoner, rather he recognized the upcoming opportunity to share the good news with those who had not yet heard.

 

How can we do likewise? How can God use our circumstances to be light in the midst of darkness? When we remain grounded in Christ, regardless of what is going on around us, there is something magnetic that draws others in. Whether it is wonder or awe, people cannot help but draw near to a space of peace in a storm. May we stand firm in our faith, no matter what storm rages around us.

 

When mighty winds blow,Standing Firm in the Storm

and nothing is still;

depend on the Lord,

Who’s present to fill.

He will grant us strength,

when we have run out;

He’ll love us to life,

show us the safe route.

At times He will lead,

us right through the storm;

where we have to trust,

know He’ll keep us warm.

No matter what comes,

the promise remains;

His grace is enough,

to remove each chain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us with Your life. Thank You Jesus, that as You stood secure through the storm of the cross and took our every sin upon Yourself, You conquered death and brought new life to all who choose to believe. Thank You that when we stand firm in You, You see us through our every storm. Thank You that You remain present, and You provide the strength and support that is needed to either ride out the storm, or find a way out. Forgive us for failing to stand firm when storms seem too strong for us to face, and teach us to trust You more. Lead us to love well all whom You place in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand firm in You, through every storm that blows our way. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Humbly Seeking

If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – (2 Chronicles 7:14)

 

As Solomon dedicated the temple to God, he prayed and asked God to forgive the people if they would seek Him when they had sinned. God, in His great mercy and love, responded as written above. The conditions God gave the people then, are still the same expectations He has for us today. When we sin, we are to: humble ourselves and admit our sin before Him, pray to God and ask Him to forgive us, seek Him continually, and turn away from the sinful behavior. “True repentance is more than talk – it is changed behavior. Whether we sin individually, as a group, or as a nation, following these steps will lead to forgiveness. God will answer our earnest prayers.” – (NIV footnotes – 2 Chronicles 7:14)

 

Not one of us have yet arrived. We all are in need of seeking our Savior continually – for ourselves, for our families, for our communities, and for our nation. May we see His healing touch each of these areas in our lives.

 

May each of us call,Humbly Seeking

upon our great Lord;

and humbly seek,

in prayerful accord.

Turning from our sin,

changing all our ways;

embracing His truth,

as we seek His face.

Listen to the Lord,

and watch how He moves;

as He heals our lives,

and demonstrates truth.

For the Lord is good,

He’s faithful always;

may we seek His grace,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promises. Thank You that You are willing to hear us and forgive us and heal us, if we will seek You and pray to You. Thank You that You are loving and kind, merciful and gracious. Thank You that You draw us unto Yourself. Forgive us for our sinfulness, and our self-reliance. Teach us to trust in You and turn to You in all things and at all times. May our dependence on You be contagious, and may our love through You be blaringly evident. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified as we humble ourselves and seek You in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell

in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

 

 

The Benefit of Broken Barriers

Before Jesus, a barrier had been built that kept people from entering into the most holy place of God’s presence. Sin had separated mankind from God, leaving all of humanity deserving death. Jesus made the way for us to return to relationship with the Father, as He willingly laid down His life for ours. He alone was without sin; therefore the only worthy way for mankind to be made right before Him. “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” – (Matthew 27:50-51) Not only had the barrier of our sin been removed, but the barrier in the temple that kept everyone out of the most holy place, was split in two – granting tangible evidence of the spiritual truth.

 

We serve an approachable God. There is no barrier separating us from Him – for the price has been paid and the path has been laid. Our part, is to choose. Though He knocks on the door of our heart, God is gentle, and always waits for an invitation. His arms are extended and open wide, yet we must reach out our hands and heart to His. Any thought that tries to tell us that He could never forgive something that we have done, is a lie directly from the pit of hell. The price has been paid, yet we must be willing to receive what He is offering by faith. May we embrace His astounding grace, and enter into the most holy place, found in His perpetual presence within.

 

Gone is the curtain,The Benefit of Broken Barriers

that kept me from You;

barrier laid low,

for a way that’s new.

By Your sacrifice,

You took on the cross;

all our sin and shame,

so we won’t be lost.

The depth of Your love,

didn’t end on that hill;

You rose, ascended,

Spirit with us still.

Your grace makes us clean,

to You, our hearts praise;

lead us and guide us,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus for coming and willingly laying down Your life for ours. Thank You that You endured suffering and darkness that we cannot even begin to fathom, so that we would no longer be separated from You by our sinfulness. Thank You for Your forgiveness and Your grace. Thank You that we can come to You, no matter what, and You will hear our hearts and love us the same. Forgive us for not bringing our brokenness, sin and shame before You, and help us to trust You with even the ugliest of our actions. Thank You that You are loving and trustworthy, and that You receive us as we come. Help us to extend mercy and grace to all whom we encounter, so that they may see You in us. Let Your love in us lead those who are looking, into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted in everything we say and do. 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