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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

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Taking Courage in Trials

As I continue to make my way through the book of Acts, an underlying theme that continues to come forth from the pages, is the ongoing assurance that Christ is present with us, no matter what comes our way. As Paul faced angry crowds, accusations, assault and murderous plots, the Lord provided protection and His very presence. God did not take away the difficult road ahead of him, but He assured Paul that He would be with him, always. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – (Acts 23:11) Though Paul seemed to have an insatiable faith, imagine how empowered he must have felt after the Lord actually came and stood near?

 

The very same God that stood beside Paul, resides in the hearts of all who believe. When we are in the midst of difficulty, or are called to go into the face of adversity, He will go before us, be with us, and grant us what is needed to make an impact for Him. As an educator, I cannot help but think of the monumental task that is before the community only ninety miles north of my home. Yet another school, shattered by the brokenness of one child’s permanent solution to a temporary problem. May His courage and grace be poured out upon all whom He sends to bring healing, where devastation has been dealt.

 

When facing giants,Taking Courage in Trials

mountains we must climb;

His nearness constant,

for now and all times.

Our courage is found,

in Christ, the true King;

He supplies power,

and all needed things.

In trial, in loss,

in wholeness, in grace;

circumstances don’t,

determine His place.

For God is on high,

He’s still on His throne;

no matter what comes,

Love will be made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us, no matter what comes. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and that You supply what we need to see us through, even in the darkest of situations. Forgive us for losing sight of Your Light within us, and help us to shine brightly before others, even on the darkest of days. May we offer Your hope to the hurting and Your love to the lost, just as You have so generously done unto us. Father, please be present in the Marysville-Pilchuck community. Help every person impacted by the tragedy to find comfort in You. Equip and empower those You are sending to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in that community. Let beauty come from these ashes, we pray. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to stand firm in the gift of Your presence. Amen.

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

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

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Thought For the Day

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Exaltation in Everything

Acts 16 unearths yet another story of perseverance in the face of adversity. Paul and Silas had just had an encounter with a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Through their time with her, Paul commanded the spirit leave her, and thus ended her ability to make money for her owner. The slave owner was so enraged at the two disciples, that he had them dragged to the marketplace to face authorities, then brought them before the magistrates, which resulted in the public stripping and beating of the faithful followers of Christ. After they had been flogged, Paul and Silas were thrown in maximum security prison, despite being peaceful men. Considering the agony they had likely endured, most would have been whimpering in a corner of the cell. However, not the case with these two. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. – (Acts 16:25) Their choice to persevere, even in the face of difficulty, opposition and discouragement, ultimately led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire household.

 

As we act in obedience to the Lord, people take notice. Some may take offense. Others may even oppose us, creating difficulty and becoming a discouragement. However, there are others still, who observe what we do in spite of difficulty. They are acutely aware of our faithfulness in the face of adversity, and begin to ask questions. Those very questions are the same sort that lead the jailer and his household into the eternal Kingdom of Christ. Regardless of what obstacles or challenges come our way, may we maintain an attitude as Paul and Silas did – hearts that pray and sing praise, in spite of what we face.

 

May we choose to pray,Exaltation in Everything

and sing songs of praise;

no matter what comes,

for all of our days.

The choice that we choose,

is noticed and seen;

we are a witness,

to our God unseen.

In opposition,

challenge and trial;

let us still seek Him,

His peace is worthwhile.

May our place of hope,

be clearly displayed;

for in Christ alone,

there shall be a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless examples of the faithful who have gone before us. Thank You that You have so clearly demonstrated time and time again, how You love and encourage and remain present, even in the face of difficulties. Thank You that though You do not remove all trials and obstacles, You remain present, and You use our experiences to strengthen us and to demonstrate Your faithfulness to those around us. Forgive us for our shortsightedness, and help us to recognize that You will use all things for Your ultimate good, in due time, if only we trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, especially in the throes of adversity. Grant us strength to persevere, so that we may praise You in spite of what we are going through. May many come to know the glorious gift that You are, as we trust You in the trials. Help us to love as You so lavishly love each of us. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere with praise. Amen.

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

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

Purposeful Petition

The prayers of the people who gather together united in purpose, change things as they earnestly seek Christ. In Acts 12, the story of Peter’s miraculous escape from prison is told, as King Herod had him arrested with the intent to publicly place him on trial, after just having put James to death with the sword.

 

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. – (Acts 12:5)

 

That very night, the people’s prayers were answered, and an angel of the Lord appeared to Peter and led him out of the prison without so much as waking a single one of the sixteen men who were charged with guarding him. Peter went out of the prison, directly to where the believers were gathered in prayer, to show them what the Lord had done. Overwhelmed, it took a few trips to the door, before those gathered could grasp that the man standing at the door was actually Peter in the flesh.

 

When people gather to purposefully pray, there is power in their prayers. We need to be people of faith, trusting that God hears our prayers and will be faithful to answer that which we ask in His Name. When answers come, we ought to give Him all the glory!

 

There is power found,Purposeful Petition

when gathered to pray;

united purpose,

seeking the Lord’s way.

Asking together,

for captives set free;

for weary and ill,

to gather near Thee.

Present petitions,

with faith in the Lord;

for He is faithful,

answers to afford.

Pray too, with purpose,

seek Him and we’ll find;

He hears our prayers,

all glory Divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You assure us that where two or more are gathered, You are present in the midst of us. Thank You that You hear our every prayer, be it alone, or gathered together with a body of believers. Thank You that there is power in the prayers of Your people who gather together to pray, united in purpose. Forgive us for failing to gather, for lacking unity, or for anything else that hinders us from earnestly seeking You with all that we are. Teach us to trust and believe, so that we may know more completely the power present when we pray. Help us to love others as You so completely love each of us, and let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, O God, as we gather together and purposefully pray. 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

Decide to Trust

Not only is the story of Paul’s conversion a remarkable one for him, but those who were involved, made monumental decisions of obedience in order for Saul’s sight to be restored and his new identity in Christ to come to pass. Ananias, whom the Lord had called to go to Saul to restore his sight, knew of Saul’s reputation. Ananias had reason to fear interaction with Saul, as Saul had been chasing down Christians, persecuting and imprisoning them. However, Ananias was faithful, and his trust in God was greater than his fear of man. When God told him that the man he was to heal was His chosen instrument to carry His Name before many, Ananias opted to obey.

 

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – (Acts 9:17)

 

Not only did Ananias obey, but he greeted Saul in love. By calling him Brother Saul, he was already demonstrating an acceptance through Christ, despite all the despicable deeds he had done. It is not always easy to extend acceptance to others who enter in, especially when we are unsure of their motives. Yes, wisdom must be exercised, but if we listen to the Lord and lean on Him, He will teach us how to trust Him and how to love others as He would have us do. May we listen well, so that we can love others as He calls us to love.

 

Despite appearance,Decide to Trust

give trust to the Lord;

for we do not know,

the plans He’ll afford.

Christ extends much grace,

where we would choose not;

and uses the changed,

so we might be taught.

The Lord’s mighty hand,

can transform the hard;

makes a mighty force,

not to disregard.

Seek to understand,

the Lord’s will, unseen;

obey what He asks,

as His plan is seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us, in spite of our sinfulness. Thank You that You call us to come before You, and You love us to life. Thank You that just as You have loved us to life, You desire the same for all who are still stuck in their sinfulness. Forgive us for fearing approach those whom have been in darkness unknown to us, or for questioning the motives of those whom have pasts that are different than our own. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might listen well to hear Your instruction, and be quick to obey whatever You ask. May we love well, all whom we encounter, just as You so generously love us. Let the lost be found forever in You. Be glorified, Lord God, as we seek to step out in obedience. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Boldness Before Them

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. – (Acts 4:13-14)

 

Even the most skeptical Sadducees could not deny the truth when it was standing before them. With their own eyes, they had seen the man both before and after his healing. They heard the wise words spoken by men who had not the upbringing nor the schooling to speak in such a manner. The power of the living God dwelling in the hearts of the men, was irrefutable. Astonished and dumbstruck, they had nothing to say, and could not silence the boldness before them, as the power in the hearts of Peter and John was far greater than the futile attempt to silence the faithful from speaking the truth. In the heart of every believer, lies the same Spirit, with the same power to speak the truth. Christ will make us brave before all brethren, if only we choose to allow Him access to our whole heart, and place our trust completely in Him. May we invest our hearts and minds in the truth of God, so that we too, may be bold before all who draw near. Let us speak truth without fear, for far greater is He who is in us, than that which is in the world.

 

Ordinary men,IMG_0268

so faithful to Christ;

stood strong in the truth,

they did not think twice.

All trust in the Lord,

for they knew His strength;

were willing to risk,

their lives at great length.

Boldly the men spoke,

the truth about God;

they could not refute,

nor call them a fraud.

For they too had seen,

the clear evidence;

of Christ’s mighty hand,

awestruck reverence.

We too are the same,

with access to God;

He grants us boldness,

that fills us with awe.

Allow His Spirit,

to move in His might;

He shall grant all things,

to go and shine bright.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make us brave. Thank You that You take ordinary people and do extraordinary things through us, if we are only willing and available unto You. Thank You that it is not by our own strength nor wisdom nor power, but anything good that we do for You, is by Your grace, equipped by Your Spirit in us. Forgive us for thinking that we do not have the proper training nor ability to go forth and do what You ask of us; for even the most learned among us would not be enough without You. Teach us to trust and rely on You completely in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others as You so completely love each of us. May many come to know the power present in a life lived with You. Let those who are looking, find and choose You. Be glorified, Lord God, as we trust Your Spirit within us to strengthen us to go forth with boldness. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Thought For the Day

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,“and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, 11 and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—12 I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. 13 No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43

Quote

Thought For the Day

“Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fail when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people in order to betray them.” Joseph Story 1851

Present Within

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” – (Acts 2:37)

 

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples who were gathered together, they were empowered as they had never been before. As they went out to address the crowd who had heard them speaking in other languages, Peter told them the truth of Christ. He proclaimed that which had been foretold, and all that had come to pass. Peter was equipped in power to preach the truth to the people, and those who were present, could not help but hear and respond. The truth that had been told helped them to see their own need for the Savior, and compelled them to ask the very question, “What shall we do?” What follows is Peter’s unpacking of the basic necessity of all believers to repent and be baptized, resulting in a multitude being added to the number of new believers that day.

 

That very same power that was present in Peter, is alive and active in all who believe. Christ equips each of us to tell the truth to those around us in such a way, that each have the opportunity to be set free from sin, and come into His Kingdom. We need not be great orators nor Biblical scholars; we need only be willing and available to hear from Him, and choose to open our mouths to speak as He asks. Our own story of salvation and redemption cannot be refuted, as it is our own experience of how God out there, became God right here. May we faithfully go forth, ready to share our story of God’s faithfulness, so that all whom we encounter may have the opportunity to come to know the truth.

 

Faithfully waiting,Present Within

in the upper room;

group of disciples,

unsure what to do.

When suddenly fire,

came like a loud wind;

empowering each,

Christ’s Spirit came in.

All began speaking,

in various tongues;

language not their own,

these daughters and sons.

Those gathered outside,

were shocked and amazed;

in their native tongue,

they heard the Lord praised.

Once Peter explained,

the truth in power;

many chose believe,

in that very hour.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that when we choose to give our life to You, You grace us with Your presence within. Thank You that You are no longer God out there, but You are living in the hearts of all who follow You. Forgive us for neglecting all that You are offering each of us at times, and help us to slow down and listen for Your voice. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are completely dependent on You in all things and at all times, regardless of our circumstances. May we move in love, responding to that which You so generously pour out upon us. Let our light shine bright before all whom we encounter, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King as a result. Be exalted, O God, as we embrace the gift of Your Holy Spirit within. 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

Strengthen Our Hands

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” – (Nehemiah 6:9)

 

What do we do when opposition comes our way as we are doing the work that God has called us to do? Do we cry out for strength, or do we seek escape? Nehemiah encountered intense opposition when he went to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Everywhere he turned, there was someone seeking to stop the work that he had been sent to carry out. Nehemiah was steadfast and secure in his faith, and prayed for strength to persevere, even in the face of adversity. We too, are called to do likewise. Just because we are called to do something, it does not mean the road to completion will be a smooth and straight path. Often, there are obstacles to overcome, and foes to face, as we persevere in faith, despite opposition. Regardless of how things appear, we are to be faithful to what He has called us to do. Christ alone, is the One who supplies the strength that is needed to successfully complete our tasks. May we continually seek Him and His strength, as we faithfully walk forward in obedience to all that He asks.

 

Though rocky the road,Strengthen Our Hands

that Christ takes us on;

we’re never alone,

and He’ll make us strong.

We need to seek Him,

with all that we are;

trust His strength, not ours,

and we will go far.

His way is the best,

no matter how rough;

all can be conquered,

in Christ, we’re enough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though on our own we grow weary and weak, in You, we can do far more than we could ever imagine. Thank You that You are our Source and Supply. Thank You that when we pray to You, You hear our cries, and You are near. Forgive us for seeing obstacles before us and running the opposite direction or standing stuck, rather than seeking You for strength to persevere. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will see obstacles as opportunities for growth and further dependence upon You. May we stand in awe of the obstacles You have brought us through, and may we share our stories with those who need to hear. Let us love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and their strength, as we seek to serve You well. Be glorified, Lord God, as we prayerfully go forth, depending on Your strength as we go. 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

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