Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Honest Answers

An honest answer is like a warm hug. – (Proverbs 24:26, MSG)

A straight answer is as precious as a kiss on the lips. – (Proverbs 24:26, VOICE)

 

At first, I wondered why honesty and intimacy were being compared. However, it took but a moment to realize that without honesty, intimacy cannot exist. We do not hug people that we do not trust, not do we want, allow, nor value a kiss from anyone whom we cannot trust at their word. How we answer, what we say, and the weight of our words matter. When asked, an honest response will be remembered. Trust takes root and grows as honesty is shown. However, the opposite holds true as well. If we are not honest in our answering, trust cannot exist, and relationships will remain fractured. May we choose to answer honestly in all things, allowing truth to establish trust and warmth in all those around us.

 

To answer in truth,The Direction of Discipline

Is to create trust;

Forever needed,

Relational must.

In love and in life,

Wherever we go;

Trust must be built up,

So friendships can grow.

As sweet as a kiss,

Straight answers received;

For the heart’s made known,

And trust is achieved.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us first that we can trust You. Thank You that You bring people into our lives that are trustworthy, and that by Your Spirit in us, we can be the same. Forgive us for the times that we have not given straight answers, or have chosen to stay silent when we should have spoken. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give the honest answers that establish trust and intimacy with all those around us. Show us how to love others well, so that they would see You in and through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to establish trust through honesty in all of our interactions. 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

Thankfulness As A Sacrifice

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. – (Psalm 50:14, NLT)

Set out a sacrifice I can accept; your thankfulness. Be true to your word to the Most High. – (Psalm 50:14, Voice)

At first glance, I wondered how thankfulness would be considered a sacrifice before God, however, when I pondered the passage for a moment, I recognized that the reality in the midst of struggles and suffering is that we must sacrifice some of ourselves (our desire to complain, whine, or wallow) in order to have a thankful heart before the Lord. Additionally, when we present promises to God, He expects us to keep them. None of this is possible in our own strength, yet with Christ in us, we can make thankfulness our sacrifice to God, and be true to the words we commit unto the Lord. May we give up our desire to identify the things that go wrong, and instead sacrifice our self-focus for a God-focus, giving Him all of our thanks and praise. Let us be true to our word to the Lord Most High, as it is by Him and through Him that all moments are measured.

Let a thankful heart,Tether Our Hearts

be our sacrifice;

before the Lord God,

as He paid the price.

For every sin,

has been washed away;

so that we can stand,

and walk in His way.

May we keep the vows,

promises to God;

let’s give our whole heart,

not just a facade.

No matter what comes,

be trial or grace;

may thanks fill our hearts,

and from our lips, praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You receive our thankfulness as a sacrifice before You, and that You are pleased when we are true to our word unto You. Forgive us for not making thankfulness our sacrifice before You, or for not keeping the promises that we have made to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have hearts that are filled to overflowing with gratitude for who You are and all that You have done, as well as an unwillingness to waiver from our word unto You. Show us how to love others from a position of thankfulness, so that they too may see Your goodness through our gratitude. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make thankfulness our sacrifice before You, and keep our promises that we make to You. 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