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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Posts tagged “God

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

 

 

 

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Sufficient Grace

When trials come, it is easy to default to the “O Lord get me out of this mess,” sort of posture. It is an automatic response to want difficulty to go away. However, God does not see the struggles the same way that we do. Rather than a chance of us being pulled under, He sees struggles as an opportunity for His strength to be shown. Paul, who had some sort of ongoing affliction, asked the Lord to take it away. Three times He asked God to take it away, and alas, God did not. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

Though Paul’s initial request was for the Lord to take the affliction, the very struggle that hindered him away; when the Lord answered him, Paul’s perspective shifted. What he had viewed as a hindrance, he began to see as an opportunity to show the Lord’s strength. Once he recognized that it was only by God’s grace that he could do anything that the Lord was asking, he was empowered to embrace his weaknesses as opportunities for Christ’s strength to shine.

 

The challenge is how are we to do this practically? I have seen brilliant examples, as faithful warriors press on and pursue all that God has for them, despite the obstacles that life throws their way. Their resolve is deep-rooted in a firmly established relationship with the Father. Each of them fix their eyes and hearts securely on Him, and trust in His unwavering faithfulness. We are called to press in and persevere, regardless of what comes our way. As our roots run deep, His strength becomes more evident, even when we are weak.

 

We’re all in a boat,Sufficient Grace

somewhere off the shore;

some simply adrift,

while others want more.

Some paddle, pursue,

a course set afar;

and some are content,

to float where they are.

Both will endure waves,

and boats will be rocked;

one self-sufficient,

and one faith unlocked.

Both will come to know,

their own sense of need;

one calls on the Lord,

allowing Him lead.

For in our weakness,

His strength clearly shows;

may we boast in Christ,

as we daily grow.

May His power rest,

so powerfully;

that all who draw near,

will see Christ in me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is all that we need to get through our greatest challenges. Thank You that Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Thank You that You utilize every challenge as an opportunity to grow us in Your grace, and make Your presence and power known. Forgive us for somehow thinking that You are not enough to carry us when we are unable to stand. Give us wisdom to know when to ask for You to remove something and when to have Your strength come and carry us. Teach us to trust You completely, so that we are completely aware of Your will in all things and at all times. May we love as You love us, and may many come to know the power and presence that is available through the gift of Your grace. Be glorified as we go forth today, and be the strength of our lives. 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


Pouring of Plenty

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.” – (2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message)

 

Paul was speaking to the people of Corinth about being generous with what God had given them. He asked them not to give out of obligation, but cheerfully, from a heart that had determined to give, because God had so graciously given unto them. We are meant to give what we determine in our hearts, cheerfully. This is not just of our wealth, but of our time and our talents – the very gifts of God that He has placed in us for His purposes, to bless others for His glory. What is such a divine mystery to me, is that each time we step out in faith and offer our time, talents and/or resources, we seem to be the recipients of His blessing. The joy in knowing His pleasure, is beyond a reward one could measure. Additionally, I find that when I give anyway, my own needs somehow are met, regardless of the seeming lack of time, energy or resources. God has a way of multiplying the miniscule, when we are faithful with what we do have.

 

God pours out His grace,Pouring of Plenty

abundant to us;

when we call on Him,

our Savior, Jesus.

As we choose to give,

from all that is ours;

God uses our gifts,

to reach near and far.

When others are blessed,

we become blessed too;

for we see Him work,

as lives are made new.

Generously give,

as He’s given us;

all unto the Lord,

our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us the ultimate gift – Your Son, so that we may have eternal life with You. Thank You that You are generous and kind, never withholding anything from us, as You supply our every need. Forgive us for our reluctance to give – be it of our time, talents or resources. Please show us how we are meant to give unto You, and help us to do so with cheerful hearts. May many be moved toward a relationship with You, as a result of the giving unto which we are called. Help us to love others as You so generously love us. Be glorified through our generosity today. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

 

 

 

 


Remember the Miracles

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds.” – (Psalm 77:11-12)

 

Israel learned over time, that as they encountered obstacles, hardships and struggles, if they focused their attention on the Lord and remembered all that the Lord had done for them already in difficult times before, their focus and faith would fix where it belonged, granting God room to be God. Time and time again, as Israel turned to the Lord and recognized all that He had done, they would see His mighty hand move once more.

 

The same practice ought to prevail in our lives today. When challenges come, do we stare at the struggle standing before us, or do we remember God’s faithfulness the countless times prior, and hold onto HIm as we move forward in faith? So often our “success” in the struggle is simply a matter of to whom we turn. Do we meditate on the Lord and all of His loving kindness, or do we look to the mountains before us that we cannot ever move in our own strength? May we meditate on our Maker, as we remember the miraculous He has done in and through our lives.

 

Look back in your life,Remember the Miracles

to struggles and pain;

who faithfully held,

your heart through the rain?

The places where love,

and light entered in;

were glimpses of God,

Redeemer, and friend.

Where your needs were met,

or hopes were fulfilled;

blessings from the Lord,

His grace was instilled.

Remember His love,

His faithfulness too;

His presence remains,

forever with you.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us Your word that shows us countless examples of Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You that You are the same God – yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that we can look back in our own lives and see Your faithfulness. Forgive us for not remembering the miraculous in times of trial, and help us to fix our eyes on You, and Your ability to do far beyond what we could even begin to imagine. Help us to hear You clearly, so that we may move in obedience as You call us. Lead us to love as we are loved by You, and may many come to know You and Your faithfulness as a result. Be glorified through the grace and goodness we extend to others today. 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

 

 

 

 


Promises to Purify

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” – (2 Corinthians 7:1)

 

The promises that Paul was referring to, were mentioned only a few verses earlier in the previous chapter. “…I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – (6:16b) “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” – (6:18) Reminders that we are His, not only as His people, but as His own children, both promises to which we can cling.

 

To purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, is a two-part process. It requires us to both turn away from the sin that entangles us, and turn to God, who is our help and our hope.

 

Perfecting holiness is not something that we can do, but rather is what the Lord does in us, as we operate our very lives out of reverence for God. To live in reverence for God, is to be in ongoing awe of Him. The more we seek to know Him, the more we come to realize just how worthy He is of our deep respect and awe. May we turn from all that would ensnare our souls, and cling to Christ, who is our help and our hope, forever.

 

Your word unto us,Promises to Purify

promise for all time;

in Christ we are Yours,

and by faith, You’re mine.

Not only as Lord,

but as Father too;

You call us Your kids,

sons and daughters, new.

May we purify,

our lives from the things;

that contaminate,

peace that Your truth brings.

Help us turn away,

from unrighteousness;

and cling unto You,

God of faithfulness.

May we stand in awe,

forever in You;

our Hope and our Help,

the God of all truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promises. Thank You that if we come to You and place our trust in You, that You will be our God, and that You call us Your people. Thank You that You go beyond that – that You call us sons and daughters. Thank You that You help us turn from the sin that entangles us, and draw us unto Yourself. Forgive us for trying to do things on our own, thinking that we somehow are strong enough to stand. Teach us to turn to You, and to trust completely, as You alone are our Source. Help us to love as You love us, and lead many to come to know You as not only their God, but as a loving Father too. Be exalted in our every word and deed. 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

 

 


He Hears

This morning, the reading plan I follow, included Psalm 61. Each time I read one of the Psalms written by David, I find myself so encouraged, as he was readily transparent in his calling out to the Lord, be it in strength or in struggle – always knowing his ultimate need for God to intervene.

 

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.” – (Psalm 61:1-4)

 

He closes out the Psalm by saying “Then will I ever sing praise to Your Name and fulfill my vows day after day.” – (Psalm 61:8)

 

David, in the midst of his struggles, cries out to the Lord and asks Him to hear his prayers. He identifies his own feelings of weakness, and knows that in his own strength, he cannot stand. With God, David understands that his feet can be secured, despite what is seen, and the Lord is a space of safety – His very refuge in the midst of the mess. At the end of the day, David identifies the portion of the promises he has made unto the Lord, include offering praise each day, no matter what. We too, are meant to have a heart after God, just as David did. When we seek Him, we will find Him; and all of our praise ought to be offered up each day, regardless of our circumstances. God is good, even when life is not.

 

He is our help,He Hears

wherever we are;

no need to fear,

we’re never too far.

For His hands reach,

the ends of the earth;

His hands protect,

our infinite worth.

A strong tower,

refuge in the storm;

strength when we’re weak,

safety from all harm.

May we honor,

the Lord all our days;

do what He asks,

and give Him all praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our cries and listen to our prayers. Thank You that You are our strength in weakness and our shelter in all of life’s storms. Thank You that You lead us to safe spaces, and hide us in the shadow of Your wings. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as we shift our focus from You to the obstacle we need to overcome. Help us to fix our eyes securely on You, as You are our strength and our help, and the One who makes our path plain. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will more readily follow all that You ask. May we move mightily in Your love, as we are loved, and may many come to know You as their Maker and Mighty King. Lead us and guide us to honor You in all that we say and do, and may we ever sing praises unto You. Be glorified, O God. 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

 

 


The Fragrance of Life

“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. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” – (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

 

When we give our lives to Christ, we are commissioned and sent out as His ambassadors to the world. His Holy Spirit enables us to speak His words, and it is Christ in us, that makes us competent and useful in carrying out our calling. On our own, we are ill-equipped to do all that He is asking. However, with Christ in us, there is nothing that He calls us to, that He will not also see us through. Rather than focus on what we lack, we ought to focus on our Source. He is the One equal to all tasks, so in and through Him, Thy will be done.

 

When we are in Christ,The Fragrance of Life

our scent is secure;

the sweet smell of grace,

He has made quite clear.

As we all go forth,

may we smell of life;

that turns lost to Him,

brings an end to strife.

For the Christ in us,

is who people see;

so let His light shine,

so captives are freed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are gracious and kind, and that You use the least of us to touch the lives around us, if only we are willing. Thank You that when we invest in You, Your light is made evident in us. Forgive us for questioning our capacity to be utilized by You, or for getting in the way of what You want to accomplish in and through us. Teach us to trust You completely, and to recognize the possibilities presented by Your presence. Lead us to love as we are loved, and may many come to know the sweet fragrance of salvation in You. Be exalted, O God. Amen.

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

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


A God of Peace

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” – (I Corinthians 14:33)

 

Though this verse is given as instruction in the context for holding worship services in the church, if we are living our lives as an ongoing act of worship before Him, I imagine that the same principles are meant to be applied throughout our daily walk with Him. When we exercise the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given, we are meant to do so in harmony with one another. Chaos should not reign, for God is not given the opportunity to work among us as He intended, when the world we operate in is a constant whirlwind. When we slow down enough to allow His peace to reign, it permeates our perimeters and is passed on to those around us.

 

After one of my busiest weeks of the year so far, this is a timely reminder. Though I have protected my precious early mornings all week, the succeeding hours each day, were swamped. I know there will be weeks where the constant chaos is nearly unavoidable, but as much as I can help it, I need to be intentional to schedule down time – time where life is slowed down and order is restored, and time to intentionally connect and foster growth in those around me, particularly my progeny. They too have gifts that God is growing in them, and need safe and supportive opportunities to operate in utilizing what they have been given. God is full of grace, and He readily provided places of peace, even in the chaotic spaces. During the most important gymnastics meet of our season, a sweet friend showed up with her son, and sat smiling in the stands for quite some time. Throughout the craziness of our final JV meet yesterday, my fantastic team of coaches rallied together and lightened the load that I so often try to carry on my own. His peace provides order, and He showed me yet again, that He is a God of peace.

 

May we go through each day,A God of Peace

in pursuit of the Lord;

as we seek after Him,

His sweet peace He’ll afford.

As we focus on God,

together or alone;

steer clear of disorder,

honor Him on the throne.

In worship, speak only,

if the meaning’s made known;

we’re meant to encourage,

point to the Lord alone.

Let our lives model peace,

even when chaos reigns;

for His grace is with us,

let our whole life proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much, that You sent Your Son, so that we could have peace and order in Your holy presence. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit that dwells within the hearts of all who believe, and grants us peace. Forgive us for allowing chaos to reign in our lives and in our hearts, and help us to protect Your place as the God of ALL. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we may surrender ALL unto You. Lead us to love as we are loved, and may Your peace in us, pass on to all those around us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as we operate in obedience to all that You ask of us. May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be pleasing unto You. Amen.

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

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

 


Whom Will You Serve?

 

At the end of his life, when the Israelites had entered into the promise land, Joshua reminded the people of the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness. After reviewing all that God had done, Joshua told them that they had to make a choice. Choose to serve the Lord with all that they are, or walk away. “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve – and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship GOD.” – (Joshua 24:15, The Message)

 

Each one of us comes to a point in life where we must choose whom we will serve. We might not consciously make the choice, but we either choose God, or we choose the things of this world. Where our priorities lie, are excellent indicators as to where our heart is aligned. Are we serving God, or self?

 

Look all around,Whom Will You Serve

miracles made known.

Whom will you serve?

Is your heart your own?

One way brings life,

the other, sure end;

are you willing,

on Him to depend?

Great is the price,

to trust and obey;

yet far greater,

our promised one day.

Presence for now,

hope for forever;

He will not leave,

or forsake, ever.

For me, it’s clear,

there’s no turning back;

I’ll serve the Lord,

wherever I’m at.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us the freedom of choice. Thank You that You love us so much, that You give us a free will, and You are willing to allow us to walk our own way. Thank You that You receive us with open arms when we are ready to run to You, and that You embrace us and cover us with Your grace. Forgive us for thinking that there is any other way to live, aside from total surrender to You. Teach us to trust You completely in all things and at all times. May we love and serve with all that we are, just as You do for us. Let those who are looking, find the peace of Your presence and the hope that is held in You alone. May our every word and deed reflect Your radiance. Be exalted, Lord God. 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. – I Peter 2:19

 

 

 

 


Bloom Where We’re Planted

Few of us are called to formal full-time ministry positions as an occupation. However, each one of us are all called to serve and be a witness, wherever we are, regardless of our title or position. We can show His love to those around us as we teach children, manage households, check groceries, pick up garbage, sell insurance, prepare and serve meals, enforce the law, volunteer and so on. Our occupation does not limit how God can utilize us for His glory, right where we are, currently.

“Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” – (I Corinthians 7:17)

“Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.” – (I Corinthians 7:20)

“Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.” – (I Corinthians 7:24)

When repetition occurs in scripture, I tend to take notice. Three times Paul said nearly the same thing to the people of Corinth. Though his words were in the specific context of marriage, I believe it applies to every area of our lives. God will use us wherever we have been called, right now, not when we obtain a certain status or position. What He calls us to, He will use us to work through, if we are willing and available to be obedient to whatever He asks of us. There are days when it seems impossible that He could utilize me to reach another, yet it is in those spots of the strongest struggle, that His strength is shown and progress is made known. May we trust Him where we are, and be open to opportunities to touch lives as we love as He loves us.

Each of us called,Bloom Where We're Planted

to serve where we are;

no need to wait,

He’s brought us this far.

Not by our strength,

but rather, by His;

trust Him to lead,

He’ll do what He says.

In all we do,

to God, let it be;

we too were bound,

’til He set us free.

Let His love lead,

and His Spirit guide;

with hearts open,

His peace realized.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to the spaces where we are, even when they don’t always make sense. Thank You that You are our strength in the struggle and our help and hope. Thank You that You use us for Your glory, regardless of our lot in life, if we are willing to serve You. Forgive us for thinking we have to reach a certain position or knowledge base, or for being fearful of mankind. Teach us to trust You to give us wisdom, words and all that we need, to love and serve, wherever we are called to be. May we touch lives and transform communities through faithfully serving where we are called, and may all glory and honor be given to You. Thank You that You love us where we are, yet continue to grow us more deeply in You. Amen.

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

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


Should Christians participate in a Color run? (aka: Run and dye festival and the Holi Hindu festival)

Do not worship the Lord your God in the way the pagan people worship their gods”
Deuteronomy 12:4

Take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.
Deuteronomy 12:30-31

      The newest trend in our churches, Christian organizations and youth groups is the Color Run. The Color Run is an ancient Hindu and Hare Krishna festival also called the Holi festival.  Holi was the name of the Hindu demon king’s sister. This festival dates back to over 2000 years ago. It wasn’t suddenly invented two years ago as some websites claim. It’s been going on for thousands of years at the beginning of spring. When I first heard about this 5k color run, it sounded super fun…however something didn’t feel right about it and I wasn’t comfortable with my children participating in it. When I found out the origins, I was still unsure. However that same day, I sat down to read my bible and this verse practically jumped off the pages

“Do not worship the Lord your God in the way the pagan people worship their gods” Deuteronomy 12:4

  Let me clear some things up first. I’m not judging anyone who is participating; I only hope that those who are feeling indecisive about this, would find their answer. I pray that the shepherds would be more aware of the paths along which they lead their sheep and that those called out to be gatekeepers and watchmen would stand guard and protect the flock.

                                                         Photo credit: newyorkdailynews- Holi celebrations kick off in India


Color run origins:

The Holi (aka Color run) Hindu festival is celebrated at the beginning of spring each year. The name Holi (which means burning)  originated from the name Holika, the demon king’s evil sister.  She, Holika, helped her brother reign by killing his son/ her nephew. Legend says that the son of the demon refused to worship him and instead worshiped Vishnu. So Holika ended this by putting the boy on her lap and sitting in a fire so he would die. She thought she would be untouched because her super power was that fire could not burn her- but her plan backfired and she sizzled to death.
In India, they throw colored powders in the air over the people as a symbolic remembrance of this demon sister Holika (Holi) and the beginning of spring.  On this day many others worship Kaamadeva, the love god. There are a few other variations and myths (and some have changed over the years): to some it was a time when the moon god was worshipped- here’s another one – Krishna wasn’t happy with his skin color so his mother told him to color his lovers skin so her complexion would change and from there, they started the color festival. Don’t ask me to explain that one, but if you want to find out more, see the links below.

                                                                                    photocredit- indiajoin. com


Why are we turning to pagan religions, worldly traditions, new age ideas and witchcraft to find new ways to play church? 

Last year, the fad was the Harlem shake. I embarrassingly watched my children’s youth group’s you tubes as they gyrated in their underwear wearing large animal head pieces. I cringed! Then I saw pastors and churches joining in. The year before this it was the Circle maker. Why are we turning to pagan religions, worldly traditions, new age and witchcraft to find new ways to play church?

I wonder how many pagan practices we unknowingly have within our churches, traditions and holidays. It’s our job to stop it when it begins to sneak into our churches.  What are we teaching the next generation by doing this? The Color run sounds like a lot of fun, no doubt about that- but I ask you, as Christians and Church members- When are we finally going to put the brakes on bringing the world and pagan practices into our churches?

Reading through Hindu sites I found mixed emotions on how they feel about us celebrating their tradition. Some are deeply offended and some are happy they can share their Hindu and Hare Krishna religion with us- yes, they see it as an open door to share their faith.

Do Something New!

God wants us to be NEW. A new Creations. He gave each one of us an amazing mind- surely we can come up with our own new ways of worship and fellowship. I am sure we can think up new creative ways of fellowship without copying pagan religions. We are not to be conformed to this world, but TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our mind. He asks us to sing Him NEW songs. He specifically tells us in Deuteronomy 12:29-32

“When the Lord your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land,  do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’  You must not worship the Lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.“So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them.

 Hear the Word of the Lord:


 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.Romans 12:1-3

“On that day of judgment,” says the Lord, “I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs. Yes, I will punish those who participate in pagan worship ceremonies, and those who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit Zephaniah 1:8-9

 You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies Isaiah 57:8.

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. 2 kings 17

 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother was Hephzibah. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 2 Kings 21 (NLT)21

                                                                                              Photo credit: dw.de

Money, Money, and More Money   

One more thing that weighs heavily on my heart- the pull of money, money and more money – isn’t that what this is all about?  Are we feeding the hungry?  are we visiting the sick? are we visiting those in prison? are we clothing the naked? are we helping the widow? are we going after the lost? are we guiding the those who have backslidden? Where have our priorities gone? What example are we setting for the next generation? How much of our thoughts- and our church leadership’s time and energy is put towards  business/money and how much is put toward walking with God? It’s time for a heart check- where are my priorities? Am I really trusting in the Lord? How can I get to that place where I can walk with the Lord as Enoch did?  Would I be on the left or the right in that last day parable described in Matthew 25:34-

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it to me!’

 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

 Related articles:

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.John 14:6


Not a Matter of Talk

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – (I Corinthians 4:20) Talking about faith is good, but only if it can be backed up with action. Speaking the “right” words without reflecting God’s redemption, holds no value. If our words and our actions do not align, neither will hold any weight with those whom we might hope to influence.

In my own life, the people who have best modeled a life of faith, are not always just those who are regular speakers and teachers, but they may also be those who have faithfully and consistently served. Often, it is those who serve on the sidelines and have spoken countless words of encouragement and wisdom, that have found favor as their gentle approach has given them access to even the most guarded of hearts.

Words matter, but they are not truly given weight until they are fueled by faith. Faith is made evident by our actions. When the two align, our life becomes a reflection of our Redeemer. May His light shine through us, before all.

The kingdom of God,Not a Matter of Talk

is not about talk;

it is how we live,

how we walk the walk.

For by His power,

words turn to being;

our actions align,

His grace is freeing.

He fuels forgiveness,

grants mercy and grace;

empowers, equips,

helps us run our race.

We must keep moving,

with trust to pursue;

listen and follow,

what He asks, we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that more than just words matter to You. Thank You that our actions and words are meant to align. Thank You that without You, this is an impossible task, but with You, all things are possible. Thank You that You fuel our faith and equip us to live the lives to which we are called. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to trust completely in You. Thank You that You are faithful, even when our faith is fickle. Teach us how to “Preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.” (St. Francis Assisi) Let our very lives speak volumes for You, as we honor You in everything. May many come to know You as their Savior and King as we love like You love us. Be exalted, Lord God. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You have done great things.

Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19


The Mind of Christ

“As the Scriptures say, ‘Who can know what is on the Lord’s mind? Who is able to give Him advice?’ But we have been given Christ’s way of thinking.” – (I Corinthians 2:16 ERV)

Not one of us has the capacity to comprehend our Creator. However, by His Holy Spirit, those who commit their hearts and minds unto Him, are granted insight and understanding into some of God’s plans, thoughts and actions. In a sense, we are granted access to the mind of Christ. As we invest in an intentional intimate relationship with our Redeemer, He reveals more of Himself to us, by His Spirit. Time spent in His word, in worship, and in prayer, provide opportunities for us to grow closer to our Creator, as we learn more of who He is, and all that He has done for us.

Who can come to know,The Mind of Christ

the mind of the Lord?

Those who will invest,

choose time to afford.

Time spent with Jesus,

will not return void;

understanding comes,

when our heart’s employed.

Lean not on our strength,

but fully on Christ;

to know how He gave,

His great sacrifice.

Let our hearts receive,

all He has to give;

so by His Spirit,

we shall truly live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and reveal to us, more and more of Yourself. Thank You that by Your Spirit, we may come to know Your thoughts, which are far higher and greater than our own. Forgive us for not investing our whole hearts, or for turning a deaf ear to what You are speaking to our hearts. Help us to give You our whole heart, and may our ears and hearts be open to hear and obey all that You are asking. Let us live in worshipful obedience, so that our love for You and for others is evident. May many be drawn unto You as a result. Let Your light be bright in us. Be magnified through all that we say and do. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23


As One

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” – (Galatians 6:1-3, The Message)

None of us ought ever think ourselves so strong, that we have no need for one another, nor that we are above bearing one another’s burdens. As a body of believers, we are called to love, encourage, correct, help, and hold up one another, as Christ freely does unto each of us. We need each other to help encourage and stay the course to which we are called. If one of us begins wander, a gentle correction, presented in love by a sister or brother, is far more likely to reset proper bearings, than gossip or glares felt from afar. One welcomes a return to what is right, the other shames the sinner to stay stuck in their straying.

May we reach out,As One

a helping hand;

when there is need,

in our fellow man.

Let us respond,

in love alone;

to help correct,

point back to Your throne.

May we lift up,

the poor, oppressed;

bring what we can,

as we have been blessed.

Let us do life,

in purpose, one;

to honor God,

the glorious One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call us to live out our walks on our own, but You call us to community – to be a body of believers together. Thank You that You created us to work together, helping and encouraging one another to grow more deeply in our faith in You. Forgive us for neglecting needs around us, or for ignoring something spoken for our benefit by another. Teach us to trust You more, and use us to encourage and build up the body. May we be humble and loving, patient and kind; wiling to speak and to listen as You instruct us to do. Let our hearts see others as You see them, and help us to be Your hands and voice to those around us. May many come to know You as their Savior, as we walk in obedience to all that You ask. Be glorified in how we live as community. 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


Just Faith

Attempting to be right before God in our own strength, does not work. Our very best intentions will never lead to justification, regardless of how hard we try on our own. However, when we choose to live by faith, and place our trust in Him, we are counted righteous as He covers us with the mercy of His sacrifice made, and we are seen as spotless, shameless, and set free from sin.

“Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.” – (Galatians 3:11)

Even our faith is a gift that God gives. We have the freedom to choose whether or not we are to embrace God and the glorious gifts that He has given; or not. When we choose Him, He meets us where we are, grows our faith within us, and opens the eyes of our hearts to more clearly see who He is and what He has done for us. As our understanding deepens, we cannot help but long to love more deeply, and serve more selflessly. By His grace, we embrace our faith, and He deems us righteous before Him.

In our own strength,Just Faith

no way justified;

only by grace,

we are sanctified.

It is by faith,

not by any law;

that we’re called right,

before Father God.

It is a gift,

for us to embrace;

may each heart know,

His unending grace.

Open our eyes,

to more clearly see;

Your righteousness,

that has set us free.

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming and taking our place on the cross, so that we can be called clean, justified before God, because of what You willingly did on our behalf. Thank You that despite our best efforts, on our own we would never measure up – yet with You, by faith, we are considered righteous before God. Forgive us for trying to justify ourselves with our “I’ll do better next time” or “I’ll never do that again“, and help us instead to confess to You, and rely on You to be our help and our hope, so that we will do better the next time we face a similar scenario – not because we are better, but because we are trusting You more. Teach us how to rely on You completely in all things and at all times, and be our hope and our help, even when we can’t seem to see or hear You in the midst of the mess. Thank You that You are always present, and always good. Help us to love others as You love us, and may many come to know You through our loving kindness. Be exalted in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23


The Armor of God; Ephesians 6 – Be Strong in the Lord

 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the

  1. belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the
  2. breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your
  3. feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the
  4. shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the
  5. helmet of salvation and the
  6. sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 Piecing together the study of our armor, I have found that certain pieces of this armor must be paired with another in order for it to have the full effect.  It’s truly amazing! The shoes must be worn along with the breastplate, the shield must be used with the sword and the helmet must be worn with the belt. You can’t just put on one piece.

 
Peace (shoes) and Righteousness (breastplate)

I previously did a study on Peace and Righteousness and found that they truly do protect us and they work together- in protecting us. Peace and Right living , together, are our spiritual armor that protects us. It was truly amazing to see the two paired together so often in scripture. You absolutely cannot have one without the other, you can’t have righteousness without peace and you can’t have peace without righteousness.  Check out a few scriptures and see:

  •  Mercy and truth are met together ; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Psalm 85:10
  • And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17
  • O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: Isaiah 48:18
  • To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Hebrews 7:2
  • And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace James 3:18


Faith (Shield) and God’s Word (Sword)

   Another interesting discovery! Just as Righteousness and peace work together and cannot work without each other, so I have found the same with the shield and sword. You cannot have faith without the Word, impossible! For faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of the Lord. I cannot protect myself against the wiles of the devil and his tactics without the help of God and His word. Faith in our Holy Father and His word protects me. God’s word crushes and destroys the enemy’s plan of attack – that’s my sword. The bible says that our enemy throws fiery darts at us- those darts are thoughts, doubts, fears- we hold up the shield of faith knowing we can trust in God. All those darts fall and will not touch you BUT if you get lazy and forget the Word, all those wrong thoughts will settle in your mind, fall deep in your heart and it will become part of you- we can’t let this happen.

  •   Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places. Deut 33:29

Keeping scripture close at hand is key. When you trust in God, you trust in His word. When the enemy throws fears, discouragement, depression, wrong thoughts, and hopelessness your way you must hold up the shield of Faith- No weapon formed against you shall prosper! For this is the heritage of the saints of the Lord.

Speak it out- How interesting it is, I have found, the power of the spoken word. Notice that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Why doesn’t is say faith comes by reading and reading by the word of God? Maybe, or wait- not maybe- when we speak God’s Word and hear it – our faith grows and is strengthened. So I wonder, if we would begin speaking out in faith, we could really shake this wicked world up. If I can overthrow a mountain with faith just the size of a small mustard seed – whoa! Can you imagine what we can do in this world? I’m not talking about naming your Bentley, come on – I’m talking about making our world a Holy Nation. Instead of complaining about the wicked songs, lyrics, movies, shows, books – I will speak out in faith and prayer.

“God will protect my children, In Jesus Name, crush this wicked agenda that seeks to destroy our youth. Let every wrong and wicked movie crash to nothing and be destroyed before it touches the precious hearts of our children and….. here I go- May the new movie Divergent that is targeted at the youth be cast out and thrown into the sea”

Sidetrack:    My daughter and I had a conversation yesterday about the movie ‘catching fire’. My husband and kids watched it while I fumed up a furnace.  I prayed that God would take care of it so I didn’t act like an angry monkey on crack. The next day I was reading Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kemper with my daughter (part of her literary reading for high school) and it sparked a conversation

 “Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may seem right and good…. And Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God and humility of heart”

Me:“Look, just because you want to watch a movie and it seems good and right- doesn’t make it good and right before God”
She replies “there’s nothing wrong with it”
I say,” really? Killing? Sexuality? Kids slicing each others throats? Would you watch that movie if Jesus walked in here?
Silence…..
Then we kept reading the book:

“Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may seem right and good”

I said,” You see, not everything you desire and think is okay, is okay with God.”
She replied “but mom, what if I watch it and it doesn’t affect me”
I said ”The bible says everything you see, hear, think, and do goes in your heart. Of course it affects you- and everyone else who watches it. Everything in that movie went into your heart and the only way you can clean it out is through the Word of God”
Silence
Yea mom, your right…. and we continued reading. I thought this was interesting because #1God answered my prayer, took care of this for me and gave my kids understanding #2 I had faith God would take care of it when I prayed and tried my best to keep peace – and true enough, my prayer of faith went out and God took care of this better than I could have (and btw…. I’m quite well aware that I am one of the last standing Christians who oppose this movie and all the other stuff out there- I don’t have to agree with the world and I’m not going to – even if I’m the last person on earth who stands up to disagree, so if you like the movie, fine – I’m not judging you and you’re not judging me – I’m just saying it how it is, I know there is more to this movie -and I’ll tell you what else- I know without a doubt these movies (and books on child mutilation) that have become the new obsession and required reading in schools absolutely have an underlying agenda of molding, shaping and desensitizing our children)

Moving Onnnn….

Now where was I…. the reason I wanted write you today is about faith- can you believe this? 4 pages into this post and finally I’m getting around to the subject. I’ve got so much to tell you! Ugh, maybe I should rename this or start a new post…..I’ll have to put it in another post because now I have something new…..

If peace and righteousness must be paired together and now I have found that faith and the Word must be paired together ( or shoes + breastplate = protection, sword+shield destroys and kills your enemy and their attacks) Well then! Let’s see if we can find a link between the belt of truth and the helmet of salvation………

Truth (belt) and Salvation (helmet)

Yes! It’s true! You cannot have salvation without the truth- this is so cool! Salvation comes through the Spirit through our belief in the truth.- ( a tie in with faith). The truth and your salvation in Jesus keep you grounded, unshaken and standing firm!!!  Wow, it’s all piecing together like a puzzle. Salvation comes through the truth and it helps you stand firm. Jesus is the truth of our salvation. The word of truth is the gospel of salvation. It’s Jesus! He is the truth and our salvation. Okay, here’s an overview of all our armor- Jesus , God’s Word and right living- those three together are the foundation of all this armor. I can see it! I’m jumping up and down- piecing a super cool puzzle together.

  • Believers Should Stand Firm]As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  •  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5
  • I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Psalm 40:10
  • But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. Psalm 69:13
  • In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13

You see, God has given you 6 items for you to use in this war. (devil’s schemes, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms)    Did you notice that complaining about the annoying tactics of the enemy is not a weapon or a shielding  piece of armor? If it was, I’d be quite a warrior, but it doesn’t work this way ( I’m preaching to myself here) Are you just fending off the enemy or are you destroying the enemy with the Sword of God? We can march around with our helmet of salvation on and still get side swiped and crushed if we don’t stand firm on the Word of God. Get your sword out, remember who you are in Christ and don’t take any more garbage from the enemy because the name of Jesus is higher and more powerful than anything that may come against you.

For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries,
Recompense to His enemies;
The coastlands He will fully repay.
19 So shall they fear
The name of the Lord from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
Says the Lord. Isaiah 59:18-20

 

What’s the point? Why the armor and the sword?
(from Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Listen up!  Blessed are you mighty and strong man of valor because you have put your trust and hope in the Lord. You have found your confidence and security in the Most High God.  You shall be like a tree transplanted along the refreshing waters of the river that sendeth out its roots by the river.  Because you have put all your trust in the Lord and not put your trust in your own strength or wealth, you stand unshakable, for the Lord is with you.

           When heat or drought comes, you shall not be concerned or worried because you are always bearing fruit and your leaves will always be green. Attacks and storms may come your way, but not a branch shall be moved. You will prosper and flourish through all your storms, in drought, in valleys and through all the troubles that try to come against you. Even in times of drought or destitution, though the rain not fall for a period of time, you shall be unshakable, you will not be anxious or worried. You will prosper in perfect peace without fear. You trust fully in the Lord. You will not be sorrowful when troubles arise for you know that the Lord protects you. He is your rock and your fortress. Though these times come and go, you will never stop yielding fruit, you will accomplish all the Lord has planned for your life. You will always be provided for and your life will produce much fruit.

     You count it all joy when troubles come and you know that we are destined for such troubles. You can rejoice in your problems and trials for we know they help us and strengthen us. We can remind ourselves as David did “ I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”

related articles:
catching fire cult programming
Put on the shoes of peace


Radical Obedience

Yesterday, as we continued our series, Into the Wild, the title of the day’s message was Radical Obedience. The message was based on Genesis 17, as God continued to ask Abraham to step out in obedience, in order to walk blamelessly before Him. As the story unfolds, three key points were conveyed.

1. Obedience isn’t a suggestion, it is an expectation. God Almighty expects us to live blamelessly in obedience to Him. We ought to obey because He is worthy. What He asks of us is not to restrain us, but rather to free us into what will be. (As He knows the ultimate outcome of all things.)

2. Obedience requires sacrifice. There is always a personal cost to do what God asks of us, yet His return, is far greater than any price we may initially invest. Abraham had to give up comfort and endure pain, yet He entered into a covenant that was sacred between he and God, that was to last for many generations to come. To be considered God’s chosen people, was well worth the temporary pain.

3. The outcome of obedience is a change in our hearts, not just in our actions. (see Hosea 6:6) When we obey for the sake of stuff instead of for our heart, it’s religion. When we obey to change our heart, it is relationship with our Redeemer.

(three points outlined by Pastor Matt Ramirez @ gcfw.org)

May we seek to obey,Radical Obedience

for the sake of our heart;

to honor our great God,

follow Him from the start.

Allow no sacrifice,

to steer our hearts away;

for whatever the cost,

will be worth it one day.

Our great, Almighty God,

alone worthy, indeed;

let us live without blame,

so His return we’ll see.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us into radical obedience unto You. Thank You that You do not just want part of us, but rather, You want all of us – heart, soul, strength and mind. Thank You that as we choose to sacrifice our own selfishness, the return in You, is far greater. Forgive us for our disobedience, or for obeying in hope of getting stuff. Help our hearts hold You in the proper place, so that our motivation is Your worthiness, and our desire to know and honor You. May we grow deeper roots in our relationship with You. Let us live and love as You love us, so that many may come to know the saving grace that You so generously give to all who call on Your Name. Be glorified through every act of obedience. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1


He Suffered for Our Sake

At first read, it is easy to feel angered at the chief priests and teachers of the law who mocked Jesus and sentenced Him to death. However, when one stops to reflect for a moment, there is a realization that all of us are equally responsible for His suffering on the cross. It was for all of our sins that He willingly chose to die, so that we would have a way to live.

“Jesus could have saved Himself, but He endured the suffering because of His love for us. He could have chosen not to take the pain and humiliation; He could have killed those who mocked him – but He suffered through it all because He loved even His enemies. We had a significant part in the drama that afternoon because our sins were on the cross too. Jesus died on that cross for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid by His death. The only adequate response we can make is to confess our sin and freely accept the fact that Jesus paid for it so we wouldn’t have to. Don’t insult God with indifference toward the greatest act of genuine love in history.” – (NIV footnotes for Mark 15:31)

In light of His great love for us, may we respond passionately to the plans and purposes He has prepared for each of our lives. Our greatest expression of gratitude is a life that is lived well, loving God and loving people. As we seek to love as we are loved, we are honoring Him, and demonstrating our appreciation for all that He has done for us. The more I know Him, the more I long to know. When I love, I feel His love poured out upon me. It is amazing how He works, as He blesses each heart with His presence and His peace, as He is earnestly sought.

How great is the grace,He Suffered for Our Sake

that forgives our sin?

How great is the love,

grants new life again?

To choose to endure,

He suffered for me;

the weight of my sin,

He bore on that tree.

Done not just for friends,

but also for foe;

such great love for all,

that daily, He shows.

The sun keeps rising,

the stars shine at night;

beauty surrounds us,

our Father’s delight.

May we give Him thanks,

by choosing love well;

show others His grace,

so they too may tell.

Dear Jesus, thank You for willing enduring such horrendous suffering on the cross, so that we could come to know You. Thank You that though You could have claimed Your position and authority in that very moment, You chose to suffer for our sake instead. Thank You does not even begin to scratch the surface for the gratitude our hearts should hold. Forgive us for forgetting just how significant Your sacrifice was for us, and help us to live accordingly. May our life be lived in love as an ongoing offering of thanks and praise. Though we cannot earn nor repay even a fraction of what You have done, we can respond in gratitude everyday by loving You and loving those around us, just as You love us. Be glorified, O God, in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8


The Look of His Love

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – (Mark 12:30-31)

The solution to our struggles, always seem to return to being rooted in love. When our character is assaulted with false accusations, or our integrity questioned without reason, we can grow frustrated and defensive, or we can choose to love anyway. Human nature causes our head and heart to hold out for an equally hurtful response, yet the still small voice within, whispers, “Love.” Though it may take swallowing some of our own righteous wrath to choose to love, to do so, is that which we are called to do. Often, it is through our responding in love, that the accusations are disproven and our integrity is clearly upheld. Responding in love, removes the claws, from those with ill intentions.

This is not to say that we are always meant to face the fire, as there are times when He calls us to retreat and stick to praying for those who persecute. God is gracious and kind, and grants wisdom as to when and what we are to do. If our focus is on loving Him and loving others, we will be walking in obedience to what He is asking of us.

When words are like weapons,The Look of Love 2

and they puncture the heart;

seek He who is loving,

to heal and grant fresh start.

Respond not in anger,

words can’t be taken back;

go straight to the Father,

when we’re under attack.

He alone is our peace,

our place of perfect rest;

our anchor through the storms,

the One who loves us best.

Let all of our focus,

eyes, heart, soul and our mind;

fix on loving the Lord,

and the rest of mankind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You simplified all that You ask of us into one command: Love You, and love others. Thank You that You do not ask us to do this in our own strength, but rather if we come to You and trust You, You equip and empower us to love You and love others, as You are calling us to do. Forgive us for our pride that attempts to preserve our reputation, rather than allowing You to be our protection in all things. Please grant us wisdom and strength to hear You clearly, and to heed Your instruction in all things and at all times. Lead us to truly love as You love us, and may many come to know You as a result. Be glorified through our love for You and one another. Amen.

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

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


Protecting Our Priorities

Priorities and values matter. Despite what society would like us to believe, it is not all about us. Jesus told His disciples, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” – (Mark 8:35) This does not mean He wants us to set out to die, but rather to set aside our own selfish ambitions and allow His heart to be heard.

The NIV footnotes for the same verse, explain it this way: “We should be willing to lose our lives for the sake of the gospel, not because our lives are useless, but because nothing – not even life itself – can compare to what we gain with Christ. Jesus wants us to choose to follow Him, rather than to lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny and to let Him direct us. This makes good sense because, as the Creator, Christ knows better than we do what real life is about. He asks for submission, not self-hatred; He asks us only to lose our self-centered determination to be in charge.”

When our priorities are in place, we realize that we need Christ to be in charge. Without Him, we have nothing. In Him, light and love, wisdom and strength, and all that we need to navigate this life according to His will, are provided. Our choice and our charge is to protect our priority in Him. Is He first in our lives, or is He simply a go-to God when we feel that we need Him?

A hope secure,Protecting Our Priorities

invested in Christ;

chooses to make,

Him first place in life.

Seeks not to save,

temporary things;

gladly gives all,

to honor the King.

Releases reigns,

submits all control;

to One worthy,

our God to extol.

All that is lost,

consider a gain;

eternity -

the promise is plain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we freely give our life to You, You give us something far greater in return – a future that is secure forever with You! Thank You that You loved us so much that You sent Your Son to lay down His life on our behalf, so that we would have a way to come to You. Thank You that You want us to spend time with You. Thank You that You consider us worthy, because of what Jesus has already done on our behalf. Forgive us for not protecting our priorities, for allowing anything or anyone to come before You. Teach us to keep our priorities in order, and help us to depend on You to be our wisdom and strength. Guide us in how we are meant to navigate the hectic lives we lead, so that we may be effective for You, and refreshed and renewed in You. May we live and love as we are loved by You. May many come to know the provision of Your grace and mercy as they understand who You are and how to make You their priority. Direct our days, dear Lord. Amen.

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

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


Resetting Our Focus

In Mark 5, the story of Jairus, the synagogue ruler whose daughter was dying, is told. There are numerous things about this story that stand out, yet the one that is in the forefront of my mind this morning, is how when all that was seen, was directing Jairus to despair, Jesus had another plan in mind. Members of Jairus’s household had just come and told him that his daughter was dead, and to not bother Jesus anymore. “Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe.” – (Mark 5:36)

Life’s circumstance told Jairus to despair, yet Jesus told him to hope. Jairus, in that moment had a choice to make. He could choose to focus on the news that had just been delivered, or he could hold onto the hope that was standing before him. As the story further unfolds, Jairus clearly opted to believe, as Jesus joined him on his journey home, and ultimately healed his daughter from death. In order for the healing to happen, Jairus had to be willing to allow his focus to be reset from what was, to Whom was standing before him.

The same holds true for each of us. We can fix our eyes on the struggle, challenge or obstacle that we are facing, or we can allow our focus to fix securely on our solution. We have hope, despite how things appear. Our strength in the struggle and our light in the dark, is available; we must let go of fear, and just believe.

Let not our eyes,Resetting Our Focus

determine our view;

for what is seen,

is not always true.

God is greater,

than life’s circumstance;

when fixed on Him,

nothing’s left to chance.

All strength, all hope,

all power to be;

comes from the Lord,

Him who truly sees.

Look to the Lord,

not to the trials;

faith’s not by sight,

it’s trust in fires.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are where our gaze should rest, as in You and through You, we find our hope and our help. Thank You that You are the solution before we can even formulate the question, and that You love us so much that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know You, individually; personally. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the struggles and trials that are before us, and help us to reset our focus on You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, as You are the One on whom we can depend. May we walk by faith and not by sight, and may we live out our lives in love as You love us. Let those who are looking, come to find the fullness of a lasting relationship with You. Be magnified in all that we say and do. 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


The Power of Generosity

Yesterday, my pastor continued the series, Into the Wild, with a message titled, The Power of Generosity. The text for the message was taken from Genesis 13:1-18, and continued with the story of Abram on his adventure Into the Wild, as he walked in obedience to the Lord’s calling. In Abram’s obedience, the Lord had greatly blessed him, so much in fact, that his herdsmen, and Lot’s herdsmen, had begun to argue about having enough pastureland to graze all of their livestock. Rather than focus on He who had blessed them, the herdsmen had begun to fixate on the blessing.

Instead of allowing disputes to ensue, Abram moved in faith, and acted in abundant generosity. Though he was the patriarch of the family, and had every right to claim all that had been given unto him, he treated Lot as his equal, and gave him first choice of the land before them as they were to part company so that the land could better support all of their livestock. Lot chose what appeared to be the better of the two directions, yet Abram seemed unfazed by his decision. He recognized that the God who had so abundantly blessed he and his family, was not limited in how He might bring forth the promised blessings.

Abram’s generosity models how we ought to live. Generosity is one of the ways that we are most able to live freely before God. When we are generous, we are choosing to live our life unrestrained, for Him. As we release things to God, we make room for the miraculous.

The power to change,The Power of Generosity

a heart full of pride;

sincere humbling,

grace giving resides.

A generous heart,

gathers and unites;

selfishness scatters,

makes people take flight.

Such hearts are humble,

they give God control;

releasing the reigns,

make serving their goal.

Perspective through Him,

hearts that understand;

all His ways are best,

so trust in His plan.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us numerous examples of how to live generously, so that we may fully understand and know the freedom that comes when we give all unto You. Thank You that generosity is not just about our finances, but it is about who we are, being all in for You – our time, our trust, our encouragement, our willingness to do whatever You ask. Forgive us for withholding any part of ourselves or our resources from You, and help us to understand how to release all unto You. May we make room for the miraculous in our lives. Let us live our lives in love, as You love us, and may many come to know the generous and loving God You are, as a result. May hearts be turned and lives be changed. Be glorified, O God. Amen.

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

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


Wait for the Lord

David, the author of the 27th Psalm, encourages us to: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” - (verse 14) He knew well, what it meant to wait for the Lord. David had been anointed king as a teen while still tending his father’s flocks, yet did not don royal robes until he was much older. As he waited, he faced giants, fled from a friend turned foe, overcame countless obstacles, and all the while, trusted the Lord to be his strength and believed that what God had spoken, would come to pass.

When we hear a promise, it is never easy to wait. At times, it can even seem as if God isn’t answering our prayers, because nothing seems to be happening toward the fulfillment. However, we are not privileged to view things through God’s lens, so what He is doing, may easily escape us. Often the series of seemingly unfortunate or unplanned events that are occurring, are a sort of preparation for our hearts and minds, to teach us to further trust, and strengthen our faith in the Father alone. God’s promises are always worth the wait. The time we have between the promise and the fulfillment, can be our time to hold hope, and allow the Lord to refresh us, renew us, and teach us. Be strong and take heart, for He is always worth the wait.

Wait for the Lord,Wait for the Lord

be strong in the wait;

in Him, take heart,

do not hesitate.

Wait for the Lord,

He is always good;

trust in the Lord,

our pain’s understood.

Wait for the Lord,

no matter what’s seen;

call on His Name,

in the time between.

Wait for the Lord,

the day soon will come;

the fulfillment,

His promises done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength in the waiting, and that we can always trust in You. Thank You that You are faithful to fulfill what You say You will do, and that You have purpose when there is a time of waiting. Forgive us for our impatience, and help us to learn how to be refreshed, renewed, and to grow in our understanding of You, as we wait. May we grow in mercy and grace, as we have so lavishly been given these gifts by You. Let us love others, as You love us, and may many come to know You as a result. Be magnified through all that we say and do. 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

*(NIV footnotes for Psalm 27:13 utilized as a resource too.)


Bless You

To bless another, is a way of requesting that God’s divine favor rest upon them. Finding oneself in the favor of God, is a space of peace and protection, abounding in love. Who doesn’t long to be in that space of feeling loved and protected in His peace?

The Lord told Moses how Aaron and his sons were to bless the people. The following are the words He gave:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” – (Numbers 6:24-26)

Five different components are contained in this beautiful blessing. First, it conveys the hope that God will bless you and keep you, which is the Lord Himself, providing His favor and protection. Next, to make His face shine upon you, is to have God Himself, be pleased with us. To be gracious, is our great God demonstrating His mercy and compassion toward us. Turn His face toward you, is an expression that means giving His approval. Finally, give peace, is the peace that passes all understanding in our hearts and minds, as only God can give.

May the God of all hope,Bless You

be near you today;

may you know His favor,

as you go on your way.

May He be your safety,

wherever you go;

may His face shine on you,

so you reflect His glow.

May the God of all grace,

show mercy to you;

may compassion be near,

in whatever you do.

May you find approval,

from the Lord, Himself;

may His peace be present,

great God, above all else.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us and keep us and make Your face shine upon us as You are gracious to us and You grant us Your peace. Thank You that You look upon us with loving kindness, and see us as blameless before You, because of the sacrifice of Your Son. Forgive us for our unkindness toward others, or for any attitude that is not full of gratitude toward You. You have given far more than we can even grasp, yet we so easily take it all for granted. Help us become more aware of the magnitude of the blessing that we have before us to behold. May we embrace the goodness and grace that You have given, and go forth as You are calling, so that many more might come to know the abundant blessings found through faith in You. Let those who are looking, find their hope in You. Be glorified in all that we say and do, and may we be a blessing to all who are around us. Amen.

*(NIV footnotes for 6:24-26 summarized within text above)

© 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


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