Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

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The Perils and Pitfalls of Pride

This morning, as I read Ezekiel 16, I found myself astounded at the discovery of truth that I had somehow not noticed before. In regard to Sodom, I had always thought that they had been destroyed due to their violence and flagrant sexual sin as a nation. Yet in Ezekiel 16, I found that God destroyed Sodom because the people were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned about the needy people within their own reach. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before Me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” – (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

 

It is easy to look back at Sodom and compare our sin to theirs. Most of us, on the surface, feel as if we are doing fairly well, as most are not murderers nor adulterers. However, in light of this verse that had previously escaped me, how do we measure up now? Are we proud? Do we have too much? Do we overindulge? Do we care for those in need, as we ought to? Granted, we are not meant to compare our sin to anyone else, but rather allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts to correct and direct us in the ways in which we are to go; yet in light of this passage, there is much to ask as we earnestly seek Him. May we place our lives in His hands, and allow His Spirit command, so that we are not proud, nor gluttonous, and that we are concerned about the needs of those within our reach.

 

Oh Lord guard our hearts,Cling to Hope

keep pride far away;

and gluttony too,

in You, may we stay.

Help us see the need,

around us today;

may we be Your hands,

give ourselves away.

Lead us and guide us,

in all of Your ways;

may we remain near,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see all sin the same, and that there is not one of us that is without it. Thank You Jesus, for coming and taking our sin away, as You suffered and died on our behalf. Thank You that death could not defeat You, and that in power, You rose again, so that You could send Your Spirit to dwell in us and remain with us forever. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your ways, if we seek You. Forgive us for our pride, our overindulgence, and our neglect of those in need. Give us Your eyes to see the needs of others and the lens by which to view ourselves. Thank You that Your love compels us to make changes. Help us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King, as a result. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be Your hands and heart to the needs of those around us. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

An Undivided Heart

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. – (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

 

Though the Israelites had been sent away and scattered, and had become divided from God and each other, the Lord was making a promise to His people. God gave word that He would restore them back to their land once again. Verses nineteen and twenty were further promises to His people that He is faithful.

 

The promises spoken for the Israelites, are still available for us today. When we seek Christ, He will give us an undivided heart and place His spirit within us. He takes our hardened, calloused heart, and exchanges it for one that is soft, tender and vulnerable. His Spirit directs our path as to what we should and should not do, and He calls us His own, and He is our God.

 

A heart undivided,Renewing Our Minds

once as hard as stone;

transformed by Jesus Christ,

through whom love is shown.

He grants us His Spirit,

to dwell in our heart;

so each of us will know,

His path from the start.

He makes us His people,

and He is our God;

He transforms and grows us,

let the earth applaud.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us an undivided heart and a new spirit within us. Thank You that when we seek to find You, You are ready and waiting for us. Thank You that You exchange our hard hearts for ones of flesh that are soft and open to all that You ask. Thank You that Your Spirit within us makes known the paths we’re meant to take, and helps lead us and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. Thank You that we are Your people and that You are our God. Forgive us for our words and deeds that do not reflect that relationship. Help us to be a rightful representation of You before the world, as we go forth in love, just as You love us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as they too, grant You full access to their hearts and lives. Be glorified, Lord God, in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Let the Morning Bring Word

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – (Psalm 143:8)

 

Each new day, we have a choice to trust anew. What I have found, is that as I am intentional with my time each morning with the Lord, He is faithful to show me His unfailing love, and guide me in the ways in which I am meant to go. My mere offering of self, is met by our loving Lord, who is faithful to answer, and worthy of all of our trust. May this new morning bring word unto you of His unfailing, unrelenting love for you too.

 

Early each morning,IMG_0070

as I choose to rise;

my Savior meets me,

with His loving eyes.

He shows me His love,

as I read His word;

He speaks to my heart,

true tenderness heard.

As I choose to trust,

He shows me the way;

that I’m meant to go,

in His will, I’ll stay.

He lifts up my soul,

when life brings me down;

and calls me His child,

for in Him, I’m found.

Such a tiny gift,

whatever we bring;

yet He welcomes us,

as true offerings.

And in His great love,

He grants us much more;

He cleanses, renews,

His Spirit – outpours.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the morning does bring word of Your unfailing love, and that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You that we can place our trust in You, and You are faithful to show us the way we should go. Thank You that as we lift our hearts to You, You meet us where we are, and grow us to so much more in You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Teach us to hear You clearly, and to then walk in obedience to the words You whisper to our hearts. May many come to know You as we love You and love others, as You have called us to do. Be exalted, O God, as we trust You anew this morning. Amen.

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

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

To Walk in Obedience

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – (2 John 1:6, NIV)

 

And loving means living the way He commanded us to live. And God’s command is this: that you live a life of love. You heard this command from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, ERV)

 

To truly love, is to live in the love that the Lord gives unto us. He commands us to love Him and love each other. Though seemingly simple, it is not always the easiest task, as we live in a world full of broken people that do not always seek the good in one another. However, while we were still steeped in our own sin, Jesus chose to love us with His very life. The love He gave, made way for us to come to Him and be made new. It is in this space of new, that we are then able to extend His love to others, despite whether or not they are deserving. When we are in Christ, He equips and empowers us to extend love in spaces where love has never been. May we go forth this day, walking securely in His love.

 

Obedience,Show Me Your Ways

to all Christ commands;

is truly love,

and life in His hands.

To walk in love,

even when opposed;

extending grace,

that hearts long to know.

For just as Christ,

loved with His last breath;

how great that love,

that defeated death.

The same power,

that raised Christ again;

dwells in our hearts,

to overcome sin.

May we go forth,

and love as He will;

pointing people,

to seek and be still.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are Love. Thank You that You sent Your Son to demonstrate what it means to love with one’s entire being. Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life so that I can truly live. Thank You that the very same love that lives in You, dwells in the hearts of all whom believe. Forgive us for not loving You or loving people as You call us to. Teach us to continually walk in love, even when people are difficult to love. Grant us wisdom to know what our responsibilities are, and what are not. Give us ears to hear You clearly and Your eyes to see as we walk in faith. Let Your love be evident in us, and may many come to know You as we walk faithfully in love. Be glorified, O God, by our obedient walking in love. Amen.

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

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

If We Love

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:12)

 

When we are in relationship with Christ, His Spirit lives in us. Our love that comes from the Father, extended to all whom we encounter, is a glimpse of God Himself, to those who know Him not. This is both a great privilege and a tremendous responsibility. Imagine with joy, knowing that we get to represent His hands and His heart to the world. However, in doing so, it is essential that we love others as He loves us. Christ’s love is patient and kind, not envious nor boastful, nor rude. It does not seek recognition nor return. It is not easily angered and does not keep score. Christ’s love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. His love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Jesus’ love never fails. In order for us to love as He loves us, we must fully rely on Him. On our own, we will fall miserably short. In Him, we are equipped to love beyond what we would have thought possible. May we go forth in His love, so that many may gain a glimpse of just how glorious our God truly is.

 

Though no eye has seen,Adventurous & Cautious
the face of the Lord;
we have seen in part,
through love He affords.
His Spirit within,
faithful human hearts;
grants us all glimpses,
His glory, in part.
Christ’s love is selfless,
it’s given away;
no expectations,
to somehow repay.
It always speaks truth,
it never keeps score;
it always protects,
leaves us wanting more.
God’s love always hopes,
ever perseveres;
it will never fail,
it wipes away tears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have never seen You face-to-face, we have been given glimpses of Your glory through the hearts of those whom love and serve You. Thank You that when You dwell in us, Your love is made complete in us. Thank You that we have the privilege of being extensions of Your hands and heart to the world. Forgive us for falling short – for not loving as You would love. Please grant us Your eyes to see others, and break our hearts for what breaks Yours. May we be moved by the things that stir Your heart, and then act upon those things in love. Lead us and guide us in Your goodness and grace. Let the lost be found as they are given glimpses of who You are through the love of those faithfully following You. Be glorified, O God, through our love. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Week Nine of the CPE Journey: Sidestepping

Over the past several weeks I have purposely and intentionally not addressed contemporary issues greatly because of the magnitude of work as a chaplain intern. That work has put me in touch with people across the human spectrum. I have enjoyed working with Blacks, Whites, British, Columbian, Chinese and all types of people groups. I have found this to be greatly rewarding as I have learned many years ago that people are people are people and to suggest anything different is simply asinine.

I bring this up because of the present turmoil in Ferguson, MO. Here is a town riddled with cries of racism born out of false emotive responses to a police involved shooting wherein few facts have been made public. Thugs (many from other towns) continue to break into stores and steal from those who had nothing to do with the shooting. Vulgarity has run a muck to the extent that some “protestors” have used their fingers to indicate a false disdain for injustice. Obvious facts are ignored in the face of some flaming the fires of racism only to meet personal or political points that have done nothing other than bolster feigned outrage. This bolstering continues to be by political leaders, the media at least in some part and so-called civil rights leaders.

There are certain matters I have considered I as have watched this unrest unfold. For instance I have wondered why President Obama has once again injected himself in the middle of a local matter while he seems to pay no attention to the burning world around him? Why have Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton gone running to a situation in order to promote justice when the investigative process had not the chance to begin? Moreover why have they not gone to Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities where Blacks routinely kill other Blacks? Are not those Blacks important too? Do they not deserve the same treatment? Also, why are these so-called protestors rioting in the streets? Can they not find a better way to vent their points of view? More importantly it seems to me that injustice has yet to occur. What about waiting for the completion of the several investigations before making crass judgments?

Now, there is no intent here to make little of the death of Michael Brown. The death is absolutely tragic no matter the circumstances leading up to it. However that does not mean that tragedy needs to be met with tragedy. There is no good reason for citizens to turn to crime in order to make points. Bad can only make bad worse so that my sidestepping from CPE discussions is truly highlighting and celebrating the diversity of those with whom and I serve and to those I serve. If the rebel rousers in Ferguson would but lay down their weapons of destruction perhaps there would be room in their hands for the tools of reconciliation.

To further this point a bit more it needs to be noted that some have suggested that the actions of the criminals here is the result of a so-called “Black plight.” It should also be noted that, well, I am counted as a Black person. I was raised in a neighborhood in Baltimore wherein the best chose not to go. In the neighborhood were Blacks, Whites and other people groups nearby. The thing is we got alone just fine. Yes, my parents were divorced when I was very young and there were definite family problems. Moreover there were social problems going on as well. Still the problems of the day did not lend to the idea of “Black plight” at least not in my mind.

And still I did not let my situation hold me back from who I am and my progress in life. Without presenting a biography of myself suffice it to say that I have had a successful life. I served in the military, have owned businesses, worked in law enforcement and have accomplished academic success that most will never. Pointing these things out is not to toot my own horn (all though I have also played a number of woodwind instruments) rather to show that one’s ethnicity has nothing to do with success or failure. It has more to do with the decisions and choices made. It is certain that there will be positive outcomes as well as negative ones. Yet one’s choices tend to lead to individual “plight” rather than that of an entire people group.

With that I would encourage all to lay aside senseless idiosyncrasies and pick up the tools of reconciliation. Perhaps when preconceived notions of wrong predicated upon no facts can be thrown out then the notions of wrong can be replaced with true justice which leads to peace.

Why We Confess Before Christ

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9)

 

Though we have been forgiven because of Christ’s death, the admission of our sins before Him is an important practice on our behalf. First, our confession is agreeing with Christ that our sin is sin and we are willing to walk away from it. Second, by coming clean before Christ, we are not hiding our sins from Christ nor ourselves. Finally, when we confess our sin before our Creator, we are made aware of our own capacity to sin, and relying on Christ and His strength to overcome that which entangles us. (NIV footnotes paraphrased)

 

Our confession keeps communication uninhibited with our Creator. Often, our own junk gets in the way. We need His forgiveness, purification, and righteousness to cover all our mess, so that we may be restored to a space where our obstacles are out of the way and we can clearly hear Him, once again. May we seek to keep short accounts with our loving Creator, who is faithful to forgive us as we come.

 

Every heart sins,The Benefit of Broken Barriers

needs to come and confess;

to Christ, Redeemer,

Who forgives all our mess.

He’s faithful and just,

He forgives all our sin;

He purifies us,

and He starts from within.

All that is unclean,

hidden, ugly and wrong;

He already knows,

and to Him we belong.

He washes us clean,

and makes us new again;

sweet restoration,

in His love we remain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that if we confess our sins to You, You are faithful and just, and You forgive us and purify us from all our unrighteousness. Thank You that You restore us to right relationship with You, though we do not deserve it. Forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not honored You, and help us to turn from our sinful ways and faithfully follow You. Show us where we need to fix our eyes and heart more securely, so that we may trust You more. Lead us to love others as You love us, so that many may come to know just how faithful You are for themselves. Be exalted O God, as we confess and then continue moving forward as You call us. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

The Breath of God

And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” – (John 20:22)

 

All life and truth is God-breathed. At creation’s beginning, there was no life until God breathed into people, the very breath of life. Here in John, is a foretaste of the breath of Jesus and the power presented when He breathed on mankind. The context of this verse is when the disciples were in the upper room and Jesus appeared before them after He had risen. At this point, His breath was an impartation of His power to do God’s will on earth. Breathing is our reminder of just how near our Savior is to each of us. With each breath, He is present, and His power is available to all who have invited Him to be Lord of their lives. May we go forth this day, breathing deeply, knowing His nearness and operating in the power He has already presented.

 

Our very first breath,Do Everything in Love

was His gift of life;

hand-crafted, unique,

and bought with great price.

We’re given a choice,

to receive His breath;

the Spirit-filled one,

that saves us from death.

With His sweet Spirit,

too, comes His power;

to rise and obey,

our great Strong Tower.

Allow Him to breathe,

His life into you;

the power and grace,

to live a life true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us life and breath and our very being. Thank You that when we choose to follow You, You grant us the presence of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that Your Spirit dwells in us, and is available with each breath that we take. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same power that raised You from the grave, is alive and dwelling within us who believe. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and move in faith as You are asking. Lead us and guide us in Your love. May we love others in such a way, that they clearly come to see who You are. Let the lost be found in You. Be glorified as we go forth today, with every breath we take. Amen.

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

They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

The Basis for Truth

“What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against Him.” – (John 18:38)

 

Pontius Pilate was no different from much of the world at large today. He believed truth was relative to whatever the majority of people agreed to, or whatever helped to advance his own political or personal agenda. “When there is no basis for truth, there is no basis for moral right and wrong. Justice becomes whatever works or whatever helps those in power. In Jesus and His Word we have a standard for truth and for our moral behavior.” – (NIV footnotes for John 18:38)

 

Without Jesus, we become a society that slips further and further in our own moral decay. Countless examples are present in the Old Testament of kings who ceased to follow God’s way. For each of the kings that did evil in the sight of the Lord, warnings and prophesies were presented. If the warnings were not heeded, destruction surely followed. May we be a people pursuing His path of truth. Jesus is the truth and the light, and in Him there is no darkness. Let us fix our eyes on the Author and finisher of our faith, so that we may run our race with endurance.

 

There’s only one truth,Tending Our Talents

found in the Lord’s Word;

receive nothing else,

as truth to be heard.

For all must agree,

with what the Lord says;

for if it does not,

the words are not His.

Invest in learning,

the biblical facts;

be wise and weary,

of twisted attacks.

There’s only one right,

it’s following Christ;

He opened the way,

with His sacrifice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Truth, the Life and the Way. Thank You that we can come to You, and You have made the way for us to enter into an eternal relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and for demonstrating Your power as You defeated death. Thank You that You grant the very same power to dwell in each of us when we choose to trust in You. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You that we have access to the truth and can study and learn more of who You are and what You ask of us. Forgive us for not investing in Your word, or not quieting ourselves before You to allow You to speak that which You want us to hear. Teach us, instruct us, and lead us in every area of our lives. May we go forth as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of You and the truth, and may we love others as You so lavishly love us. Let those who are looking, come to know the Truth. Be exalted, Lord God, in everything we do today. Amen.

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

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

Week Eight of the CPE Journey: Sojourning

When this unit first started my supervisor gave my peers and me a word that has stuck with me even until now. That word was “presence.” Presence presents the idea of being with someone in the good times as well as the bad. It is a concept that God instilled with Adam in the garden and is a concept that has been a continuum throughout humanity and even until this moment by way of the Holy Spirit. A way to further the idea of presence is with the practice of sojourning. Sojourning, what an idea to bring about intimacy in mankind from one soul to another.

Last week I had the good pleasure of meeting with a gentleman who called out to me from his room in the emergency department of Huguley Hospital. This gentleman was not in emotional turmoil like many that I have met but rather this kind one simply needed to have someone walk a short distance with him. So I stood by his bedside and listened, responded and simply came along beside this gentle soul. The visit ended up with not only me ministry to this gentleman but also him ministering to me. I had taken the time to sojourn with him which resulted in the two of us being all the better for it.

The point is that there are some in this life that think that they need no one but Jesus. Yes, we absolutely need Jesus with us in this life. Without Him our lives would be complete and utter failures. Yet man was created to enjoy companionship. That companionship can only come with someone who walks alongside and with another. It is not only knowing the sentiments of our neighbors but also feeling and experiencing the sentiments whether those sentiments are good or bad. Sojourning is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Recall how that Jesus promised to send “another Comforter.” Now it is true that the term “paracletus” has legal definitions it comely presents the idea of one called alongside to help.

When the Holy Spirit walks with us in day-to-day activities He is sojourning with us. We, too, are called to walk alongside our fellow man. This sojourning means that we go through what our partner goes through. If they cry we cry. If they rejoice we rejoice. And when this is done intimacy is developed to the extent that when our sojourning friends have a need the call will not go unheeded because of the compassion developed during the steady gradation and journey toward oneness in Christ.

Hence I am convinced that, like chaplains, Christians at large would do well to walk with one another thereby strengthening and carrying the burdens of those too weak to carry. The matter of sojourning, then, has much to do with the relational aspect of Christendom rather than the prescriptive methodology many seek to practice. Yet I dare say sojourning does far better than any prescription.

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