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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Posts tagged “death

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

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Confession and Community

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – (James 5:16)

 

Christ’s death on the cross took away the barrier that required us to go to a priest to confess. However, there are times when we need audible reassurance that we have indeed been forgiven, or perhaps a person present to keep us accountable so that we do not repeat the offense. Still other times, we must make amends with one whom we have offended with our actions. “In Christ’s kingdom, every believer is a priest to other believers.” (NIV footnotes, James 5:16) May we go forth keeping short accounts before God and everyone, so that hearts may be healed and our prayers become powerful and effective.

 

We must confess,

all of our sin;Who Do You See

before the Lord,

know peace within.

At times we need,

help of others;

to grasp the grace,

voiced by brothers.

Our healing comes,

when we’ve come clean;

point of release,

as sin is seen.

Those forgiven,

are called righteous;

their prayers are heard,

power, priceless.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made the way for us to come to You directly when we sin. Thank You that we can approach Your throne of grace, no matter what we have done, and know that You love us and will receive us. Thank You too, that You call us to be in community together, and that when we struggle, You provide safe sisters and brothers in You, in whom we can confide to confess and go to for prayer. Thank You that when we are right before You, our prayers by Your Spirit within us, are powerful and effective. Forgive us for bearing burdens that we are not meant to carry, or for not reaching out to those who can help keep us accountable where we may struggle. Help us to invest in relationships that point our hearts heavenward. May we love, encourage and pray for others as You call us to do, and may many come to know the freedom that is only found in You. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

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


Worry Versus Concern

Though my daily reading plan does not coincide with the events surrounding our celebration of Easter, I cannot help but recognize within each reading, how the words must have moved the hearts of the various men and women who were present at the events leading up to the cross, and beyond. This morning is no exception.

 

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – (Matthew 6:27)

 

The NIV footnotes explain that “worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” Clearly Christ was concerned for our well-being, as He moved forward to suffer for our sake. Additionally, I think of the disciples who deserted Him in His hour of need. Clearly they worried about their well-being, as each of them scattered in the face of adversity. However, there were those who were clearly concerned, rather than worried. Concern compelled Joseph of Arimathea to risk his reputation and ask to take Jesus’ body to the tomb. Likewise, concern moved Mary Magdalene and many other faithful women to be present at the foot of the cross.

 

Worry kept Pilate from standing strong in his convictions that Christ was indeed innocent. Though he knew Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, Pilate allowed the worry of his reputation to dictate death for One undeserving, simply because the crowd was calling for it. Can you imagine what the remainder of Pilate’s days must have been like, after the events that occurred from the cross to the empty tomb? Surely Pilate heard the news…

 

Let not worry,Worry Versus Concern

seize your heart with fear;

for no good comes,

when panic is near.

Concern compels,

wills us to action;

trusts Christ to lead,

faithful transaction.

Don’t let worry,

come immobilize;

instead, let faith,

sink in, globalize.

Rise up, dear ones,

release pending doom;

on that third day,

stood the empty tomb.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry when our trust is in You. Thank You that You who provide for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air, even more abundantly provide for Your people. Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Forgive us for allowing fear to seep in and freeze us up from moving forward. Grow in us an unshakable faith, that is compelled to action by concerns, and that carries out Your will rather than our own. May we love others as You love us, and honor You in all that we say and do. May many come to know the help and hope available in You, because of what You did for us during this Easter season. All glory and honor unto You, our perfect Prince of Peace. 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

 


Prepare the Way

Preparations in advance make the way anywhere more easy to navigate. John the Baptist fulfilled his calling, as he faithfully went out into the Desert of Judea and preached repentance to prepare the hearts and minds of all who would hear him for the message that Jesus would soon deliver. “This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” – (Matthew 3:3)

 

John helped prepare the way for Jesus. With Easter mere days away, how can we “prepare the way for the Lord” and “make straight paths for Him“? Our charge as followers of Christ is to do just that. Our lives ought to speak volumes, without a single word. Do people see a difference in how we live? If our conduct demonstrates kindness and grace, opportunities are opened to share what He has done for us, personally, and “paths may be made straight” as we can correct misconceptions that people may be holding in their hearts about their own capacity to come to Christ. May His good news be made known as grace is lovingly shown.

 

Prepare the way,Prepare the Way

for our loving Lord;

make His heart known,

live in one accord.

Make straight the paths,

that lead unto Him;

offer His hope,

so His light shines in.

Give others grace,

as we have received;

Love drew us in,

when we first believed.

May that same love,

given lavishly;

draw others in,

so they too believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You. Thank You that He prepared the way and made the path straight for our minds and hearts to hold all hope in You. Thank You that we too, can be a part of preparing the way for others to come to know You. Forgive us for neglecting to do what You call us to, and for doing that which You ask us to not do. Thank You for Your forgiveness and grace, and may it compel us to depend on You more in all times and in each place. Help us to love and extend grace as You do unto us, and may many come to understand the eternal significance of Your death and resurrection this Easter. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.

- Genesis 21:6


Acts of Obedience

We are in the middle of a series called Surprised by Hope at the church I call home. Yesterday’s message was centered around “The Death of Jesus”, as we remember what went on during this sacred week so many years ago. The consequence of sin is death, and we are powerless to escape the hold of sin, unless God breaks in and rescues us from ourselves. In order for Him to do so, He requires a faith response on our part.

 

Jesus made His entry during the Passover celebration. This celebration is ultimately a remembrance of God’s faithfulness to the people’s obedience. God told the people that He would bring judgment on every household, unless a lamb was sacrificed and the blood marked on the doorposts. Though it likely made little sense, the people chose obedience to protect their precious families. As a result of their obedience, the angel of death passed over their homes, and they were all safe, while those who had not obeyed, were in the midst of great mourning. God delivered them because He loved them.

 

Christ’s sacrifice was an act of obedience. Because Jesus knew no sin, He could take on our sin and bear all of our burdens so that we could come to know redemption. Jesus knew what He would have to endure on our behalf, yet He was willing anyway.

 

What God asks of us does not always make sense, but He wants our heart, our will, our faith to trust Him, even if what He asks is not what we would expect. “…To obey is better than sacrifice…” (I Samuel 15:22b)

 

The consequence,Acts of Obedience

of sin is death;

without the Lord,

we’re powerless.

As we seek Him,

surrender all;

He’ll hear our heart,

and heed our call.

Prepare to do,

all that He asks;

regardless of,

the bizarre tasks.

For what He wants,

is our whole heart;

obedient,

each precious part.

So seek the Lord,

follow His ways;

redemption ours,

now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son and making the way for us to be considered righteous before You. Thank You Jesus, for enduring the weight and suffering that should have been mine to bear. Thank You for redeeming us from our former ways, and granting us new life in You. Forgive us for thinking that we have to sacrifice enough or do enough to earn Your favor, and help us to receive that which You freely give. May we embrace the grace that You grant us, and respond in faith to whatever You ask. Lead us to live confidently as Your redeemed children. Let us love others as You love us, and may many come to know the blessed deliverance that comes from You alone. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

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

 

 

 


Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.Psalm 23  1

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside quiet waters,

He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness

for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk

through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

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

God is my guide. Psalm 23  2

WIth Him, I lack nothing.

He provides me place to rest,

and grants refreshment unto my soul.

He leads me and guides me

in the ways in which I am meant to go.

Even when things are frightening,

or death is knocking at my door.

I need not fear, for He is with me.

The Lord is my Protector and Comforter.

He prepares abundant provisions for me,

right in front of my enemies,

and claims me as His own,

pouring out His blessings upon me.

Your goodness and love will remain with me,

every day of my life,

and I hold fast to the promise

of my future forever with You in heaven.

The 23rd Psalm is a source of much comfort to many. It is a reminder of God’s presence, provision, and power. He is good, and is available to pour out His blessings upon those who faithfully seek Him. The Lord is worthy of our trust, and His love is unfailing. There has never been, nor shall ever be a mere man, to whom we can compare His capacity to love us, individually. May this day, afford you the opportunity to take some time to simply soak in the reality of His remarkable redemption, granted by His glorious grace, just for you.

You are my guide,Psalm 23  3

Provider of all;

You grant me rest,

catch me when I fall.

Lead me to peace,

to quiet my soul;

so I may hear,

Your heart that makes whole.

Show me the way,

unto righteousness;

despite shadows,

remove fearfulness.

Help me to trust,

You as Protector;

may my heart see,

all foes bow before.

You prepare much,

foes see that I’m blessed;

You call me Yours,

clothed in righteousness.

Goodness and love,

for my whole life long;

my hope secure,

my Strength and my Song.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that Your love is unfailing, and that You provide, protect and persist in Your pursuit of our whole heart. Thank You for the bountiful blessings that You pour out upon us, and for the promise we may hold when we give our heart to You. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of trust, and help us to seek You in all things. May Your grace and mercy be evident in every area of our lives, and may we extend the same to all whom we encounter. Let Your love be evident in us. Lead those who are looking unto Your loving embrace. Be glorified, our great and mighty King. 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


The Scroll and the Seven Seals

From the opening of the scroll to the list of calamities that will come to the earth, I have always found this portion of Revelation to be particularly unsettling. (Revelation 5-9) However, today, something new seemed to stand out to me. In the midst of a series of devastating displays, those who were sent to destroy, stopped, and made sure to mark those who belonged to God, so that we would be left alone by those who would later come to torture and destroy.

“Wait! Don’t do anything yet – hurt neither earth nor sea nor trees – until we have placed the seal of God upon the foreheads of His servants.” – (Revelation 7:3, Living Bible)

In a list of darkness and destruction that is to come, this is our ray of light. Our reminder of hope and help – that we are known, marked and set aside for something far greater than the here and now. Though the series of seals being broken and the events that are to unfold are nothing to look forward to, I am comforted in knowing that as His daughter, I shall somehow bear His seal upon my forehead, and be known. (As is true for all who call on His Name and place their trust in Him) I still hope to have lived out my life and already be in heaven when what was foretold comes to pass; but if I am not, there is much comfort in knowing that I am His. And, the best part that has not yet been covered in this portion of scripture, is how it all ends. Christ wins! Death and destruction will all pass away, and His peace and presence will reign forever. For that, I look forward with eager anticipation!

A sealed scroll,The Scroll and the Seven Seals

that none can open;

yet there is One,

the Lamb, who’s Chosen.

With every seal,

comes horse and rider;

sent to destroy,

human dividers.

Plagues and disease,

death from brutal wars;

much of the earth,

lost both near and far.

Such loss and pain,

who’d even survive?

Those with His mark,

kept safe for a time.

Yet even those,

in destruction lost;

if in the Lord,

paid is final cost.

For in the end,

His kingdom shall reign;

all found in Him,

will live free from pain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to show us more of Yourself as we earnestly seek You. Thank You that though we naturally fear what we do not know or understand, that You reveal to us that You are with us, and will remain with us in all things and at all times. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever, and that Your faithfulness has no end. Forgive us for our fearfulness of that which we do not know, and grant us wisdom and insight into that which You would have us to know. For the things we are not yet meant to grasp, give us faith to trust You more. May our hearts hold fast to You in faith, regardless of the world around us. Help us to love as You love us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You, so they too, may bear the seal upon their forehead… Be glorified in all that we say and do. Amen.

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


Our Sovereign Savior

Our Sovereign Savior
God, our Creator,

dwells in hearts of man;

not in a building,

made by human hand.

He made land and sea,

from one man, made all;

determined the place,

each border would fall.

God gave with a choice,

yet that choice is plain;

if we look around,

creation proclaims.

It summons we seek,

and reach out for Him;

when we truly look,

He will enter in.

The Lord’s always near,

close as our next breath;

our life is in Him,

and hope after death.

For in Him we live,

and have our being;

empowered to move,

vision for seeing.

 

(Responding to Acts 17:24-28)
 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are sovereign over all, yet at the same time, You are close and personal. Thank You that You love us so much, that You allow us to choose. Thank You that You have always chosen us; that Your love for us is unending. Thank You that there is evidence of You, all around us. Forgive us for the times that we were silent when we should have spoken, and please birth in us, a new boldness for You. Lead us in Your love, and let Your light be evident in all that we say and do. May many come to know the sweet space of knowing You as their Savior. Help us to have a heightened awareness of Your nearness today. Amen.

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


Praise the Lord

Answers As We Ask
When heaven’s hope,

feels far from home;

through desert lope,

our hearts shall roam –

praise the Lord.

When darkness falls,

and hope seems lost;

when anguish calls,

and waves have tossed –

praise the Lord.

When out of steam,

all strength is gone;

as body screams,

can’t carry on –

praise the Lord.

When all is well,

and faith is found;

as silence fell,

heard heaven’s sound –

praise the Lord.

For life and breath,

and hope secure;

for earthly death,

as Christ is near –

praise the Lord.

Let word and song,

grant praise to Him;

right cover wrong,

shine light within –

praise the Lord.

(Responding to Psalm 150)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are worthy of all praise. Thank You that though our circumstances continually change, Your love and faithfulness do not. Forgive us for our fear and wavering faith in the fight, and teach us to trust You more. Help our hearts to praise You at all times and through all things. Let our lives lived in Your light lift eyes of the lowly, so that all in need of You, might come to truly see. For who You are, and all that You do – praise Your Name, O God. Amen.

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


In Your Wildest Dreams

Night after night I lay in bed, tears coursing silently down my cheeks. Deep pain burned through my heart, which no longer held a steady beat.

Kathump, kathump, kathump…

Silence…

…when your heart does not beat for several seconds

…is very loud.

I wonder if it’s going to….

tat, tat, tat, tat, tat

Yes it is; I guess this isn’t the end.

It had been a very long and trying month, which came to a most unexpected end.

My mother lay in the morgue, awaiting cremation.

During our ordeal with her heart surgery, followed by complications, the Lord had been closer than I’d ever experienced Him. The Christian radio station I played in my car seemed to have been cued into our  situation, for every time I left for the hospital or to return home, the DJ would say something like, “If you’re struggling today, stay tuned. (Pastor’s name) has a message of reassurance and comfort for you.”

Or songs like “Praise You in this Storm” would be playing. I never felt so “buffered” in all my life.

The vision my (“unsaved”) father had the night she had to be taken back to the hospital was the Lord’s way of forewarning us that she would be going Home.

He was wide awake, praying for her (something he didn’t do), and saw my mom standing in a white robe. A large angel came behind her and enfolded her in his wings until all that could be seen was her head.

“Tam, I felt so comforted when I saw that,” he told me later.

I’m glad you feel comforted, I thought. I know what that means.

My dad’s vision was the first of many, many amazing things that happened during that month. I could fill this entire post with them.

But that is not my focus today! Back to my nightly grief sessions…

After weeks of aching, and nightly anxiety attacks (the goofy heartbeat thing), I told the Lord,

“I can’t do this anymore. To stay in the reality that she is gone hurts so bad. Abba, can we decorate my home in heaven?”

(Earlier in the year I’d talked to the Lord about heaven:

“Lord, the idea of sitting on a cloud in a white nightie, strumming a harp for ages to come; or laying at Your feet in worship for years and years…um…I’m sorry, but that sounds incredibly boring. You know me, I can’t sit idle for very long. I love to be making something new, or learning new things, or going to see new places. I guess I lack the ‘worship gene.’ You’re going to have to put that desire in me and do away with my curious, creative self, ’cause if You don’t, I’m going to be a miserable failure in heaven.”

Not long after that, Steve Berger from Grace Chapel in Lieper’s Fort, TN lost his son in a car accident. Suddenly interested in what heaven might be like, he began to study the topic – then preach it from the pulpit. I highly recommend his sermons. These weekly messages were God’s response to my earlier conversation with Him!)

That night, I began by imagining what Mom was doing at that moment. She’d been there for a while. Was she still standing at the entrance, mouth agape at the splendor? In awe of the majesty of God? Was she skipping and dancing and getting reacquainted with my youngest brother who only lived for three days? With the many children she’d lost through miscarriage?

(She had nine miscarriages before me; I was the first to be born live…that makes me a 10. Eat your heart out, Bo Derrik!)

My thoughts turned to my “room” in heaven.

“Lord, I hate to vacuum. Could I have moss instead of carpet…maybe a little creek running through the living room? I love the sound of babbling brooks.

“Plasterboard walls aren’t much fun. They have to be cleaned. How about if You make the walls out of vines – ooh! – with beautiful flowers that change colors from time to time?

(I was on a roll…)

“Windows…hey! We won’t need glass windows because bugs won’t bug us, and there will be no burglars to burgle. I can have openings and fresh air all the time.

“If the rocks would have cried out in praise, that must mean they have that capability – and everything in the universe resonates…emits sound. Awesome! Would You line my yard with trees and bushes that can play the songs I have in my heart for You, but lack the skill to write on paper so others can play along? We could have nightly jam sessions and sing new songs every day!”

My thoughts turned to the concept of forever:

You’ll hear me ask from time to time, “What do you think you’ll be doing a million (billion) years from today?” I don’t know what that might be, but I know this…It’s going to be AMAZING!

Do you ever wonder what you’re being trained for while here on earth? Death isn’t “Game Over,” it’s the doorway into real life. In 2 Corinthians 5, we read that this mortality (what we consider to be real living) will be swallowed up by life! Now, that’s good news!!

****

“Who wants to go to Epcot Center?” I cheerfully asked two of my sons one morning.

Barely looking up from their schoolwork, one replied, “Uh, no thanks.”

The other said, “Not me.”

“What is Epcot Center?” I asked, a bit confused.

“I dunno. Sounds like a business complex…one of your ‘fun-filled’ field trips for homeschool. No thanks, Mom.”

They had no idea what they were turning down.

They’d never heard of the place, and so hadn’t given it a second thought.

Isn’t this what we can be like when we think of heaven? Having never thought much about it – or worse – believing the lie that it’s the isolation of being perched on a cloud, nighties and harps, singing forever, it’s no wonder we aren’t anxious to get there. (This, by the way, is a more accurate description of hell – isolation, monotony, hopelessness…forever.)

1 Corinthians 2:9 reads, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” When I read this verse, I hear, “Honey, use your wildest imagination…it will be fun for now, but won’t even come close to all I have waiting for you here!

I become thoroughly Homesick when I imagine what lies ahead (however inaccurate I may be) …

…in my wildest dreams!

***********

(Don’t miss the companion post. You can find it here: Now That’ll Wreck Your Day.)

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