He replied, “… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – (Matthew 17:20-21)
Jesus was responding to the disciples’ questions as to why they could not heal a boy who had been suffering from seizures caused by demon possession. They were not being condemned for their lack of faith, but rather He was showing them how essential faith would be in all that they would be called to do in the future. The seeming mountains that stand in our way cannot be moved in our own strength. However, in Christ, the mountains are mere molehills, and He can accomplish all that He calls us to do, if we choose to allow Him room to be Lord. May we seek the Lord with all that we are, and allow Him access to our whole heart so that our small seeds of faith may flourish and grow great in Him.
fix on our trial;
look to the Lord,
all hope to beguile.
The smallest seed,
can grow, multiply;
tended by Christ,
bear fruit, fortify.
All things can be,
established in Christ;
mountains made plain,
needs become sufficed.
He is enough,
for our hearts to trust;
small seeds of faith,
He’ll grow and raise up.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not expect us to do things in our own strength, nor do You call us to somehow muster mountains of faith on our own. Thank You that You take our small seeds of genuine faith, and You grow them in Your grace. Thank You that You move in spite of us, and that all things are possible in You. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the mountains, rather than on You, the Maker of mountains. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might see all things as opportunities for You to move, rather than road blocks in our path. May we live and love in the faith You are growing in us, so that many may come to know the saving grace that is available in You alone. Be glorified, Lord God, as we seek to sow the seeds that You are growing in us. Amen.
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
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. – (Romans 12:2)
God’s plans for us are perfect. His will is for the very best for His children. God gave His Son so that we would have access to His pleasing and perfect will, personally. As we seek Him, and give ourselves as living sacrifices unto His service, we are transformed and our minds are made new.
No longer conforming to the pattern of this world goes far beyond no longer partaking in corrupt customs or self-pleasing practices that heap harm on ourselves or others, but instead, it involves making a choice to live to honor and obey the Lord. As we allow the Holy Spirit access to all, our hearts are transformed, and our minds are made new. When He is at work in us, we are more aware of His will for us. May we each be malleable, as we allow Him access to transform us and renew our minds.
to ways of the world;
grant the Lord access,
a future secured.
If we let Him in,
He’ll transform, make new;
cleanse our hearts and minds,
show us what to do.
Wisdom too granted,
to know the Lord’s will;
so we may honor,
by His Spirit’s fill.
May we too, lay down,
our self-pleasing ways;
and be now transformed,
for all of our days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to no longer conform to the patterns of this world, but rather to be transformed by Your renewing of our minds. Thank You that as we allow You access, You grant us what we need, by Your Spirit in us, to understand what is Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Forgive us for choosing to conform to the ways of the world, or for not listening to the still small voice within. Help us to invest our hearts, minds and time in our relationship with You, so that our hearts are cleansed and our minds are made new. May we live and love according to Your good, pleasing and perfect will, and may many come to know You, personally, as a result. Be exalted, Lord God, as we respond to Your renewing of our minds. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:23
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?
invested in Christ;
chooses to make,
Him first place in life.
Seeks not to save,
gladly gives all,
to honor the King.
submits all control;
to One worthy,
our God to extol.
All that is lost,
consider a gain;
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
The story of Jonah and the whale is often dismissed by most as a Children’s story, but it really is not. It is one of the most important stories of redemption in the Bible. When God wanted Jonah to go to Ninevah and warn them to turn back from their ways, Jonah did not want to go.
King James Version (KJV)
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
What we see in Jonah is a man who thought that his way was the best and didn’t not trust in God when He had a plan for the future of Ninevah. Jonah did not believe that Ninevah deserved redemption, and did not want to be the messenger that gave them the opportunity. But one of the most important things that we learn from the story of Jonah is that God is in control!
4 But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.
7 And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
8 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him. Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
11 Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.
12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.
14 Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, OLord, hast done as it pleased thee.
15 So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.
17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
We all know this part of the story, this is what we learned as children. But for so many the story stops here. Yet when Jonah gets to Ninevah is more important to the world of Jonah’s day. God warns them through Jonah that if they do not pray for forgiveness and turn from their ways that they will be destroyed.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Jonah was one of God’s messengers that rebelled from doing what God wanted him to do, and yet God used that very rebellion to convince Ninevah of His message. If Jonah had been a willing messenger, Ninevah probably would not have taken him seriously. And yet Ninevah still might have gone the other way. They might have refused to listen. If they had not listened God would have kept His promise to destroy them. We see from this story that no matter how bad things are that there are hopes for redemption, that God always keeps His promise, that He is in control no matter what we think, and that no matter how faulty we are as humans, He can use us to save others. We see an example of resurrection and redemption, a forerunner of Jesus Christ Himself.
No matter what we think about this world, we need to remember that things are not always what they seem, and that God is still in control and His plan is in place. We are not aware of what He is doing at any given time, and what we think is a failure, may just be another step in the process to the final goal that He wants. We have read the Book and we know the end. God’s time is His own and our time on earth is only important in fulfilling the objectives that He has given us and that is to “go forth and make disciples.”
God bless you all, have faith and trust in God no matter what you think should be the right path!