Strength and Courage Stand

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, AMP)

This is My command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, NLT)

 

My heart leapt within me a little as I read that this was the verse of the day this morning. This particular verse has been especially significant in my life for the last few years as I have navigated a new season. Daily, I am reminded of the words of this verse, yet until this morning, I have not unpacked a few of the words within these two translations. As a self-professed “word nerd”, language fascinates me, and I do what I can to find further significance and meaning from written text. When I heard “dismayed“, I always thought distressed, but when I actually looked up the word, I was surprised to discover that dismayed means: to break down the courage of completely. Additionally, discouraged in my mind, dis – without or not, and courage, and one can figure what I assumed the word meant. “Discouraged” according to dictionary.com, is: to deprive of courage, hope or confidence. Both of these words go much deeper than I had anticipated. God does not want us to allow anything to break down nor deprive us of the courage that He has created within us. He commands us to be courageous – not in our own strength, but in His. We can take courage because He has promised to be with us wherever we go. That alone is reason to be courageous. Greater is He who is in us, than anything that might come against us. May we each rise up in strength and courage as we are commanded, and keep terror and dismay far from us. Take heart dear ones, for the Lord our God is with us!

 

For the Lord commands,Dispelling Discouragement

Take courage, be strong;

Because He’s with us,

All of our life long.

Let nothing find way,

To come and break down;

The courage God gives,

For in Him, strength’s found.

Do not be afraid,

For He’ll never leave;

All hope comes from Him,

By faith, we receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You command us to be strong and courageous. Thank You that You unpack it for us by explaining that we are not to allow anything to terrify us or break down our courage or take away our hope. Thank You that this is not something that we do on our own, but we can be strong and courageous because You are with us wherever we go, so there is no reason for fear. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as we forget how great You are and how small our obstacles are in comparison. Teach us to trust You more, as we struggle with discouragement when giants stand before us. Show us Your heart for those around us, so that we can love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in Your strength and courage, knowing that You are with us wherever we go. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Grasping the Greatness of Love

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. – (Ephesians 3:18, NLT)

And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. – (Ephesians 3:18, ERV)

 

To begin to grasp the depth, breadth and vast expanse of the love that Christ has for us, is the very thing that changes everything. Though none of us can fully fathom the greatness of such love, the more we comprehend, the more we desire to know Him. Human love, though wonderful when given, is fallible and fractured – but Christ’s love is eternal and unerring; His love never fails. In our limited understanding, it is easy to confuse our own experiences of love gone awry, with that which God gives to us. Even on the brightest and best days, our most tender and true examples of love that we experience with those around us, barely scratch the surface in comparison to that which the Lord has for us. Yes, He uses people to make His love tangible to us, however, in Him, there is so much more. The older I get, the more in awe I become at the depth of His love that gives mercy and grace, and draws me closer still to discover more of Him. May we each invest in the pursuit of knowing more of Him, as He increases our understanding of how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is for each of us.

 

May we come to know,grasping-the-greatness-of-love

More and more each day;

The greatness of love,

That God gives away.

How wide and how long,

How deep and how high;

May His grace reveal,

Truth none can deny.

The more that we know,

The more we can give;

As Christ has loved us,

So too, let us live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love never fails. Thank You that as we seek You, You begin to unpack for us, the width, the length, the height and the depth of Your great love for all. Forgive us for failing to listen or for mistaking Your love for that of what people pass on to us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You first, and allow Your love to be what fills us, and Your voice to speak the truth of who we are in You. Show us how to love others with Your love – pure and lovely, with no expectations in return. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow in understanding of the vastness of Your great love. 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

Public Praise

But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising Him to everyone. – (Psalm 109:30, NLT)

I give thanks to the Lord. I praise Him in front of everyone. – (Psalm 109:30, ERV)

I will continually give thanks to the Eternal with the praises of my mouth; I will praise Him in the company of many. – (Psalm 109:30, VOICE)

 

In Psalm 109, David is pouring out his heart to the Lord about the harsh treatment that he is receiving at the hands of wicked people. His very first words are words of praise, followed by a call for help. As David presents the pains inflicted upon him at the hands of others, he adds how he has tried to pray. As he continues to unpack the unpleasantries unveiled at the hands of those around him, he calls on the Lord for His faithful love and help. Ultimately, at the end of the Psalm, David gives God his gratitude, and presents praise before all of the people around him. Again, David speaks of the faithful character of God, and how He saves. At the end of the day, David knew that God is good, faithful and loving, and that not only could he call on Him for help, but that the Lord was worthy of praise wherever he went. May we too, share the same sentiment of praise for our God, no matter what comes our way. When we recognize how loving and faithful our Father is for us, we cannot help but present our praise before Him.

 

To the Lord I bring,Believe Instead of Striving

All thanks and all praise;

For He is faithful,

For all of our days.

Before we unpack,

Each place we’re in need;

May we give honor,

To Him who sets free.

Let each heart that’s near,

Hear praise we profess;

So they too may know,

Of His faithfulness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You, no matter what is happening in our lives, and ask for Your help and Your hope. Thank You Lord, that You are faithful and loving, and that You hear our every heart cry. Forgive us for not presenting the praise that is due before You, as You alone are worthy of all of our praise. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would seek You and find You in triumph and in tragedy. Show us how to love with faithfulness and grace, so that those around us see the light of Your love through all that we say and do. Let our very lives bring praise unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give thanks to You and praise You before all people. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Fortitude for Fear

Fear in all its fury, can be a catalyst for change. When we take pause and really look at the source, Christ will lead us to a place of understanding whether it is a healthy fear that is from Him, placed in us to compel us to action, or if it is some sort of terror that is tormenting our hearts, straight from the pit of hell. In order to know the difference, we must be willing to be transparent about the fear that we are facing. There are times when it is an obvious nudge from our Heavenly Father, yet there are other times where we may need to actually unpack that which has us frozen or ready to take flight, with others who are faithfully following Christ.

 

O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. – (Psalm 139:1-4)

 

We are known and loved so completely, that we need not remain frozen in fear. He sees, knows and hears all that we face, feel and endure. God even is aware of our response to all that comes our way, before we ever respond. To be known and loved so completely, leaves no room remaining for fear to have a foothold. May we rise up in faith, giving our every fear to our Heavenly Father, and allow Him to grant us the fortitude to face all that comes our way.

 

In fear’s ugly grip,Our Map and Our Guide

let us not remain;

for Christ is our strength,

and His freedom reigns.

O Lord, You have searched,

and know me so well;

You know every thought,

the words I will tell.

Thank You in that space,

of being well known;

You strengthen our hearts,

as Your grace is shown.

Let Your strength arise,

and give our heart wings;

so that we may soar,

and of Your truth sing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have searched us and You know us, and yet You love. Thank You that in You, we need not fear. Thank You that despite the unknowns and awful that come at us, You are present and You are greater. Forgive us for freezing up in our fear, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to bring our every fear before You, and to speak out to others, when we are meant to share the burden that is too heavy for us to carry alone. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we too, will help others bear burdens that they are unable to withstand alone. Show us how to support, love and pray for one another as You would have us do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we face every fear in Your strength, confident of Your love and faithfulness. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

To Be a Sweet Scent

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. – (2 Corinthians 2:14)

 

Thanks be to God is the easiest portion for me to unpack. Simply put, all thanks belong to Him. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him, as He alone deserves our thanks and praise.

 

The next portion, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, made me pause a moment to ponder what that might look like in my life. Triumphal procession is a victorious forward movement, fueled, equipped and strengthened by Christ. Every time we choose to walk out our faith, even in the dark and dismal spaces, we are participating in a triumphal procession in Christ.

 

As we obediently walk out our faith, we spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For those who are ready to receive all that He has to offer, we are a sweet scent indeed. To those who deny the truth, we will not smell so sweet.

 

May we rise up and give all thanks to God, as He leads us in triumphal procession, spreading everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.

 

Give thanks unto God,Being a Sweet Scent

for He leads us on;

in triumph through Him,

to rise up, carry on.

He allows us each,

to spread His sweet scent;

the knowledge of Him,

leads lost to repent.

Each step we choose take,

forward for the Lord;

the fragrance of truth,

leaves darkness no more.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us in triumphal procession in You, every time we choose to trust and follow You. Thank You that You allow us to spread the sweet scent of Your salvation through the way we live out our lives. Forgive us for not proceeding forward as You call, or for being an unsavory scent. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may boldly more forward in faith wherever You call. Lead us to love others in such a way, that Your truth cannot help but be recognized through us. May many come into a saving knowledge of You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and give You thanks as You lead us in triumphal procession to spread Your fragrance wherever we go. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Jesus is… God of the Miraculous

As I continue to unpack all that Jesus is through the reading of the Gospel of Mark, something that clearly stood out in today’s chapters, was that Jesus is the God of the miraculous. There are two specific stories in chapter six alone, that demonstrate the miraculous power of God, presented in Jesus Christ.

 

First, when Jesus and the disciples had sought a solitary place to rest and reflect, they ended up surrounded by a crowd of more than five-thousand. Late in the day, the disciples recognized the people’s need for nourishment. They asked Jesus to send them away so that they could find food, but Jesus had another option in mind. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. – (Mark 6:41-42) Though the disciples did not recognize the miraculous power present in Jesus to provide for all of the people prior to that point, Jesus patiently demonstrated His deity as He delivered nourishment to meet the needs of the people.

 

After all had been fed, Jesus had His disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, so that He could go up on the mountainside to pray. While the disciples were crossing the lake, the wind came up and they were struggling and straining to cross. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, the thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. – (Mark 6:48-50a) Jesus had to tell them that they did not need to be afraid. Rather than continue walking past them, …He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. – (Mark 6:51) Jesus again presented the miraculous power of God, as He walked on water and calmed the storm. He did not just speak for the storm to cease from far away, but Jesus walked to the disciples and climbed into the boat – He met them exactly where they were, and then all became calm.

 

The very same Jesus is alive and active today. The miraculous power of God is present and available to all who earnestly seek Him. Jesus sees and knows our needs, and is ready to sit beside us in our storms. May we seek Him with all that we are, and recognize the miraculous power of God that is present and active all around us.

 

The power of God,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

miraculous One;

united in Christ,

magnificent Son.

Jesus is able,

to love and provide;

to touch and draw near,

to all whom abide.

He sees where we lack,

every need known;

Jesus is able,

miraculous shown.

And when the storms come,

He’ll draw close, be near;

bring calm to our soul,

and cast out all fear.

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You are God of the miraculous. Thank You that You know our needs before we do, and You are ready and able to provide. Thank You that You come close, and remain present, even when storms rage around us. Forgive us for not turning to You in our times of need, and for not reaching for You in the throes of the storm. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response in all things and at all times, is to cling to You. Help us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Jesus. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your provision and rely on Your presence. 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

Jesus is…

My pastor began a series yesterday, titled, Jesus is… The intent of the next several weeks is to unpack through scripture, just who Jesus is, and what that means to us, individually. First and foremost, Jesus is God. Again and again, scripture affirms how He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 1:8) Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) Jesus is the exact representation of God. (Hebrews 1:3) Christ is the chief cornerstone in whom all join together to become a holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:20-21) Scriptures throughout the Bible point to the truth that Jesus is God. The more we understand and learn about who Jesus is, the clearer picture we will have of God. The character of Jesus is the character of God.

 

Many people have a misguided image of God. They perhaps have heard just a part of the story and see God as an angry God. Would an angry God send His Son to restore relationship with people for all time? Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, showed us the heart of the living God. Not only is God loving, but He is a God of compassion too.

 

A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man, “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. – (Mark 1:40-42)

 

Jesus cared more about a man in his moment of need, than He did about societies social graces. It was unacceptable to touch one considered unclean, yet Jesus touched he who was thought to be untouchable, and healed more than just a physical ailment. Suffering and separation from society ceased, with one tender touch from Jesus. May we hold fast to the truth that our God is compassionate and caring, and that He is willing to touch us, even when we feel that we are untouchable.

 

Invisible God,The Power of His Name

elusive, unseen;

yet so crystal clear,

through Jesus, is seen.

Compassionate Lord,

Who comes close to touch;

to cure what’s ailing,

because He loves much.

Alpha, Omega,

beginning and end;

all the in between,

our Savior and friend.

He’s hope in the hard,

and peace in the storm;

joy in the morning,

and Light all day long.

May we ever seek,

to understand more;

the nature of God,

through Christ’s open door.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us who You are in a tangible way. Jesus, thank You that You made clear that You are the living God. Thank You that the better we come to know You, the more clearly we understand who God is. Forgive us for having misguided opinions or orientations toward You, and help us to set our sights solely on the pursuit of who You are, so that You may instruct us in all things. Teach us to trust You completely, and to listen well to all that You have to say. Lead us to love others as You love – with compassion that is not afraid to reach out and touch, even the seemingly untouchable. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we grow in our understanding of Christ. Amen.

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

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