Hope Rises

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” – (Matthew 28:2-6, NIV)

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” – (Mark 16:6, NIV)

“He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day, be raised again.” Then they remembered His words. – (Luke 24:6-8, NIV)

 

Mary and Mary Magdalene had been with Jesus consistently throughout the previous three years. They had witnessed miracles and listened to His teachings, again and again. On the day that He was crucified, the two were mentioned as they stood at the foot of the cross, and the two were there watching as Pilate’s guards placed the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb. In the morning, on the third day, the day following the Sabbath, Mary and Mary Magdalene hurried to the place where Jesus lay, hoping to at least gain a glimpse of His body, likely to honor the Savior with their mourning. I can only imagine their shock and disbelief at the sight of giant gleaming angel, seated on the enormous stone that had been rolled away. I wonder if their hearts leaped within them as the angel of the Lord reminded them of Jesus’ own words, when He had foretold of His resurrection. As soon as the words settled in, they viewed the empty tomb, and realized that all Jesus had spoken, had come to pass. Today, we remember the remarkable way that Jesus came to offer salvation to all who believe. He died in our place, but not even death, a dreadful death on a cross, could overcome our Giver of Life. Death was defeated and Jesus is alive! His death, so we may live; His resurrection, so that we have hope for eternity with Him. May we celebrate this glorious day in the knowledge that He is Risen and we can forever dwell with Him!

 

Early one morning, Hope in an Empty Tomb

Many years ago;

While others still slept,

Two ladies did go.

They walked to the tomb,

Where Jesus did lay;

Angelic greeting,

The stone rolled away.

The tomb sat empty,

Jesus was not there;

“The Lord is alive”,

The angel declared.

In awe and wonder,

The women recalled;

Jesus said He’d rise,

New hope was installed.

Jesus is alive,

Death has lost its sting;

All sin, defeated,

Through Christ’s offering.

Celebrate in faith,

His power to rise;

Through death and new life,

Our hope realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that death was defeated and our sins, forgiven. Thank You for the hope and the power that is planted in us through the resurrection. Forgive us for not recognizing both the weight and the wonder, as Jesus took it all so that we might live. Teach us to look upon the cross with great gratitude, and recall the empty tomb with resurrected hope. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays the hope we hold because death was defeated for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, our Risen Redeemer. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your ultimate victory and praise You for the power You impart to us, so that we too may be overcomers, with hope that is secure for our eternity. Amen.

 

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

 

“Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.” – Matthew 28:7

Joy Unconstrained

So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – (Luke 2:16-20, NIV) 

So, they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking Him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them. – (Luke 2:16-20, ERV) 

 

After having been visited first by a messenger of God, then bearing witness to an army of heavenly hosts singing praise for the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord had announced to them, the shepherds went running to find the One whom the heavens had proclaimed. When they found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angel had foretold, they were amazed and in awe at how what had been spoken was right there, before their very eyes. Their response was that which it ought to be, as when we receive such incredible news and then observe it coming to pass, we cannot help but share with others, the good that has come. I can only imagine these shepherds leaving the stable and telling anyone and everyone who would listen, the joy of what they had witnessed. The shepherds were likely the sort that kept to themselves, as sheep tending was not the most glamorous of positions. For these men to be so impacted by what they had seen and heard that they ignored their typical itinerary and spoke out, left the hearers surprised and in awe. Meanwhile, Mary took in everything that was spoken and all that she bore witness to, and treasured them in her heart. This young woman had much to take in and ponder, as she had been visited by an angel, spared the shame and potential death for her condition, traveled more than 80 miles to Bethlehem, given birth in a stable, and now was being seen by shepherds who had been visited by the heavenly hosts to tell of this sweet Savior’s birth. All of these things unfolded just as they had been foretold, and the shepherds returned to their fields, forever changed. Songs of praise flowed from them, for they understood the magnitude of the miracle that was lying in a manger. May we remember in awe and wonder, all that took place that night. For unto us, a Savior was born. The Light of the world had come. 

 

Most holy of nights, A Christmas Prayer

The angels proclaimed; 

A Savior is born, 

Such joy unconstrained. 

Shepherds went running, 

To see with their eyes; 

This glorious news, 

In a manger, lies. 

Imagine their joy, 

The blessing to see; 

Just as they’d been told, 

Christ born unto thee. 

Their hearts were bursting, 

At what they had found; 

This scene they beheld, 

The promise was sound. 

Mary, she treasured, 

All that came to be; 

Her precious infant, 

Was Christ, most holy. 

May we too, ponder, 

In wonder and awe; 

Precious unfolding, 

Of all that they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You for the incredible way in which Jesus came into the world. Thank You that You sent Your heavenly hosts to ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Thank You that because Jesus came as a baby, He lived and knew, experienced and grew, in the same way that each of us do as we navigate in our own lives. Forgive us for not recognizing in awe and wonder, the incredible way in which You sent heaven to earth, so we could experience rebirth. Teach us to trust in Your promises and to stand in awe as we witness them come to pass. Show us how to love those around us in ways that show of Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and behold Your promises that have come to pass. Amen. 

 

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

 

With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever. – Psalm 86:12

 

A Glimpse of Heaven

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10) 

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! It is for everyone everywhere! – (Luke 2:8-10, TPT) 

 

Ordinary shepherds learned of extraordinary news. The men out in their fields were used to fending off predators to their flock, but angelic visits were not within their repertoire of everyday occurrences that they encountered while watching their sheep. Clearly it was an overwhelming sight, as the radiant splendor of God’s messenger caused great fright within the shepherds, and the angel of the Lord had to tell them that they need not be afraid. Incredibly, these faithful shepherds were the first to receive news of the Savior’s birth, and were quick to leave their fields to go and see what the angel had spoken of in Bethlehem. The shepherd’s rapid response to the angel’s news led to them being among the very first to witness and marvel at the miracle lying before them in a manger. The Son of God, Christ the Savior, had arrived. Just as the shepherds received the news so long ago, we are reminded each year during this season of celebration, of the great news that began with the birth of Jesus, that ultimately led to the opportunity for salvation for all who choose believe. May we take time to meditate on the splendor of Christ’s majesty, and recognize the remarkable way in which He came into the world. No palace nor throne, but a simple stable in the open air of night, as an angel proclaimed the arrival of Christ the Lord to some faithful shepherds. Ordinary men received extraordinary news, and because they chose to listen and go see, their lives were changed for all eternity. 

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

In the fields that night; 

Met by an angel, 

Terrifying sight. 

Radiant glory, 

Overwhelmed the men; 

Unprepared to see, 

A glimpse of heaven. 

The angel told them, 

“Do not be afraid; 

For I bring good news, 

To tell you this day.” 

Birth of the Savior, 

In the town nearby; 

They rushed to go see, 

The sweet babe that night. 

Imagine the sight, 

As shepherds arrived; 

Just as they had heard, 

The hope for mankind. 

Though but an infant, 

The shepherds, they knew; 

What had been spoken, 

Was certainly true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be among us. Thank You that though He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He came in a way that is approachable and relatable. Heaven came to earth through a miraculous birth, and was declared to ordinary people, just like us. Forgive us for not recognizing in wonder, the magnitude of what took place. Teach us to see and imagine the mountains You moved to bring heaven to earth, so that we all could come to know You, personally. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects the depth and willing sacrifice that Your love has given through Jesus. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe and wonder at the humble and incredible way that Jesus came to make the way for us all to know You. Amen.

 

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

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – Luke 2:15

Mercy Like Our Maker

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” – (Matthew 1:20, NIV) 

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. Messenger of the Lord: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else – rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonder-working of the Holy Spirit. – (Matthew 1:20, VOICE) 

 

Much like Mary, Joseph found himself in a difficult situation. Normally, the law would lead Joseph to bring public disgrace and likely death upon Mary, yet even before the appearance of the angel of the Lord, he had determined to walk away quietly. However, his plans were transformed when a messenger of God appeared to him to announce the truth of what had happened to his fiancé. His faith held fast to what was spoken, and he willingly walked a likely trying road, as he moved forward with the plans to wed a woman whom few knew or understood the truth about her visible unexpected condition. Joseph chose to obey, and became the earthly father to the Son of God. Though our willing obedience will not lead to parenting the Prince of Peace, we never know the lasting impact our decision to do the things that the Lord asks of us may have. Our extension of mercy and grace when it is not deserved can be utilized by God to change hearts and transform communities. May we seek the Lord to be our strength and our guide, so that we may walk in His ways and love others as He intends us to love. 

 

When actions deserve, No Room for Them

Seeming punishment; 

We ought to ask God, 

What is His intent. 

For often what’s seen, 

Mere part of the whole; 

Wisdom is needed, 

To serve well, our role. 

God’s mercy and grace, 

Made the way for us; 

To love as He loves, 

Just like Lord Jesus. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us the willing hearts of those before us who have extended mercy and grace, when it was seemingly undeserved. Thank You that what we see is not always the whole story. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy and grace, and simply acted on what we observed. Teach us to slow down and seek You, so that we will know best how to love and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends mercy and grace, and seeks to listen and understand first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to love others as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Choosing Obedience

Obedience almost always comes at a cost. At times, it is a point of personal choice to sacrifice our own will for that of the Lord’s, whereas other times, our decision to obey could cost us the respect or friendship of others, as they know not all that is behind our story that leads to our steps of obedience.

 

In Matthew one, we read the story of Joseph, who was pledged to be married to Mary. Before they had come together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph was a righteous man, his intent was to divorce her quietly, protecting her from a fate that ended in death, despite the apparent disloyalty before him. After Joseph had decided what he would do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him the reality of what was going on with his bride-to-be. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. – (Matthew 1:24) Regardless of the likely disapproval of those around him, Joseph chose obedience to God. His faithfulness to follow the will of the Lord, led him on the path of parenting the Savior of the world…

 

Regardless of the potential repercussions around us, may we too, choose obedience each time the Lord asks us to obey.

 

When our Savior calls,Bold in Battle

us out to obey;

may we choose to act,

in faith, right away.

No matter the cost,

the Lord’s way is best;

He sees the outcome,

in the end, we’re blessed.

Let not fear of men,

come hinder our way;

may all that we are,

see Christ and obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though obedience is often difficult, it is always worthwhile. Thank You that You only call us to that which You have for us. Thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways, and Your thoughts, higher than our thoughts. Thank You that though we cannot see the outcome, You already know where You are leading us. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith to follow where You call us to obey, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will rise up and move in obedience as soon as we hear You call. Lead us to love others with all that we are, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose obedience, even when it is difficult. 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

Who Wants to Fight?

After Peter and the other apostles had been arrested for sharing the good news of Jesus in the temple courts, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and set them free to return to sharing the message of hope. The next day, the religious leaders were up in arms, as they found the cell still locked and guarded, yet the men were free and back to preaching, once again. Brought before the Sanhedrin and high priest for questioning, the apostles answered with wisdom and courage. Religious leaders were so infuriated with their response, that they wanted to put them to death at once. However, one Pharisee, Gamaliel, who was greatly honored and admired by all, stood up and spoke. “…Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” – (Acts 5:38-39)

 

There is much to be gleaned from this particular passage. Three things stand out to me the most.

(1) What God calls us to do, He will make a way, even in the face of great adversity.

(2) If we are doing God’s work, He will be with us.

(3) We ought not get in the way of anyone pursuing what they feel God has called them to do. If it is of their own origin, it will likely fail. If it is from God, why on earth would we stand in the way?

 

The call of the Lord,Who Wants to Fight

not for faint of heart;

it takes all our trust,

to each do our part.

The path we’re to walk,

won’t always be smooth;

yet God is faithful,

His goodness He’ll prove.

Stand not in the way,

of those who pursue;

what they feel that God,

has asked them to do.

If what they pursue,

is their origin;

then it’s sure to fail,

before they begin.

Yet if it’s from God,

stand not in their way;

for who wants to fight,

the Lord any day?

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we pursue the path You have placed before us, You are present and walk beside us. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, who speaks to our hearts and minds, leading and guiding us in the ways in which we are meant to go. Forgive us for not listening well, or for questioning the calling of others. Grant us Your wisdom to discern that which is from You, and that which is not. Teach us to trust You more in all things and at all times. Lead us to love well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many eyes be opened to the light of Your truth, and hearts tender to receive all that You have to offer. Be exalted O God, as we pursue the path You have placed before us, trusting You no matter the terrain. 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

Joy

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11)

The great joy the angel was declaring, was both the first and greatest joy ever known.  The gift of God, sending His Son to earth to take on the sins of all, is the provision of joy found in the promise of hope, that is secure in our Savior.  “Joy is a sense of well-being and delight that comes from knowing and serving God.” (Pastor Jon MacIntosh

Joy was further defined by Pastor Jon as follows:

1) Joy is not an emotion.  Joy is not dependent on our circumstances.

2) Joy is sourced in God Himself.  This is why our joy cannot be shaken.

3) Joy is both a present reality and a future hope.  Though we know joy now, it is only in part of what will one day be fully known.

We can know joy despite our circumstances, when we are deeply invested in Christ.  Joy is rooted in love, tied to obedience, and is a gift of God that is found in the person of God.  We may know His joy more fully, as we walk in His will.  We discover a deeper joy when our focus extends beyond ourselves, and we pursue the purpose that He has placed before us.  (see Psalm 16:11, 19:8, and John 15:9-13)

Go forth in His light,Joy to the World

declaring great joy;

found in a stable,

born an infant boy.

Announced by angels,

proclaimed by a star;

followed by strangers,

who’d come from afar.

The infant, He grew,

into God, the man;

taught of salvation,

lived redemptive plan.

His death on the cross,

our sinfulness bore;

so we might be found,

come, let us adore.

The grave could not keep,

Jesus in the ground;

God’s power at work,

our joy in Him found.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of joy.  Thank You that joy in You is not dependent on how we feel, nor on that which is going on around us.  Thank You that You are our Joy, and in You, we find joy as we come to know and serve You, our Savior.  Forgive us for allowing our eyes to fix too closely on the troubles of this world, rather than on You, whom all troubles are subject to.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may know more completely, the joy that is found in You alone.  Help us to love and serve as You are asking, and may many see Your joy in us.  May those who do not yet know You, come to know the joy that is found in You alone.  Joy to the world, the Savior has come!  Amen.

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

A Moment to Marvel

Such a long Sabbath

image by Kat Kutash

image by Kat Kutash

for us to have to wait.

The hours dragged on,

since our Savior’s fate.

We watched Him hanging,

in aguish and pain;

our Healer and Lord,

how will He now reign?

We have our spices,

to anoint our King.

What about the rock?

We can’t move that thing.

At our arrival,

the shock and surprise.

The stone rolled away,

the sight for our eyes.

Empty was the tomb,

except white-robed man,

who said, “He has risen,

it is all in His plan.”

He said to go tell,

yet silent we stayed;

trembling, bewildered,

frozen and afraid.

How could such sorrow,

become bountiful joy?

The weight of our weeping,

fuel hope to employ.

(Responding to Mark 16:1-8)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the remarkable reminder of the hope we have in You.  As the days grow longer and the temperatures begin to rise, the tangible signs of spring and of new life and new growth are excellent reminders of that which is always at the ready and available in You.  Forgive us for allowing the darkness around us to eclipse Your amazing light, and help us to be ever aware and in tune with Your permanent presence that is not dependant on time, place, nor conditions.  Teach us to be truly intentional in our time with You, and may many be blessed and brought into relationship with You as a result of our obedience.  Be glorified in all that we say and do today and always.  Amen.

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