Hope Rises

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 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 where He lay.” – (Matthew 28:1-6, NIV)

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as He said. Come and look at the place where He was placed.” – (Matthew 28:1-6, MSG)

 

The more I dig into the scriptures to unpack the details of Holy Week, the more I notice things that either have escaped me previously, or that I had somehow forgotten over time. This morning, after reading about Jesus’ resurrection in all four gospels, I had a moment of “Wow, how did I miss that before?”  In Mark, Luke, and John’s telling of the resurrection, the accounts each begin AFTER the stone had been rolled away. So, what does this matter, you ask? For me, this added to the already miraculous resurrection, as Jesus had risen and left the tomb BEFORE the stone was rolled away. In the same way that He “appeared” in the locked room where the disciples were meeting after all of this had taken place, Jesus had “disappeared” from the tomb, only to “appear” before Mary in the garden by the tomb. Next, Jesus “appeared” to the two disciples along the road to Emmaus, then among the disciples gathered in the locked room, and later at the Sea of Galilee, where He reinstated Peter, as well as in a variety of other places and spaces to teach and equip His followers before He ascended into Heaven. (Read John 20:11-21:25 for specifics) For me, this is a reminder of the incredible power of Christ. We, in our frail humanity, cannot begin to fathom the power held in the hands of our Creator. The very same God who created heaven and earth, bore the sin of the world to redeem all humanity, and then rose from three days dead. Beyond that, He lived and loved and touched and equipped those around Him further, before He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where He is ever moving on our behalf. It is no wonder they say that “Hope Rises.”  It does indeed. Christ rose. The sun rises each new day. As the weight of fear, suffering, sin and sorrow are laid at His feet, we are empowered and strengthened to rise. I wonder if that is why God created day and night the way that He did. Each morning as the sun rises, we have the opportunity to be reminded that the Son rose for us; new hope, new help, every single day. May we embrace the truth that HE HAS RISEN, and allow hope to rise in all of us on this glorious Easter morning. Let the world rejoice, for hope has risen, HE is alive!

 

 

Imagine the tomb, Statements of Praise

Cold, lifeless and still;

Guarded, protected,

O God, what’s Your will?

All of a sudden,

The earth starts to shake;

Terrifying light,

Moves the stone away.

From atop the stone,

A voice then declares;

“Do not be afraid,

He’s no longer there.”

Guards frozen in fear,

Ladies look in awe;

Just grave clothes remain,

This scene that they saw.

What He had promised,

Had now come to pass;

Jesus had risen,

Our hope that shall last.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to live and love, to die and rise again, so that we might know the hope that is found in You alone. Thank You that today is a day to remember how powerfully hope rises, as You rose up out of the grave and defeated death for our sake. Forgive us for forgetting the power held in hope that rises, for You have the power to resurrect anything. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our hope, strength, light and life. Show us how to love well, all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look into the empty tomb and see that the Son has risen for us anew, so that we may know hope in You. Amen.

 

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

 

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20

 

*If you need an Easter service to join, please join me at Grace Church, 10am, PST. ❤

Great Comfort in Knowing

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, VOICE)

 

There is great comfort in knowing that there is nothing that surrounds us, comes against us, nor that we could go through, that can separate us from the love of God. His love is eternal and knows no limits. Whether we are having a wonderful day or a day that we would rather have remained in bed, God’s love for us is constant, consistent, and secure. Being loved when we are least lovable, demonstrates the true depth of love granted to us. It is not earned nor somehow rewarded, but rather freely given as the Creator loves His created. May we receive and recognize the remarkable love of our Redeemer, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way.

 

O Lord, as I rise, wp-15820303444235351272726723109852.jpg

Make Your love so clear;

No matter what comes,

Show me that You’re near.

There’s no height nor depth,

That can keep away;

The goodness You give,

When to You, we pray.

Go before us Lord,

With Your love and light;

Be near and guide us,

To choose what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is nothing that can separate us from Your love. Thank You that as we receive the love You offer, You equip us to go forth and love others in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have either not received what You freely give, or have withheld what we were meant to extend to those around us. Show us how to love one another well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your limitless love, and seek You to love others in the same way. Amen.

 

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

 

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – Titus 3:4-5a

The Significance of a Shepherd

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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

 

It is so interesting that God chose to announce the arrival of the birth of His Son to a group of shepherds who were out in their fields, guarding their flocks at night. The more I pause and ponder, the more fascinated I become with the significant roles and references to shepherds throughout the Bible. David was a shepherd boy who became a great king. Jesus was from the line of David, which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census in the first place. Additionally, there are many references throughout the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the good shepherd, as He tends to us and watches over us as His flock. Shepherds care for and protect their sheep, and know them each by name. Back then, shepherds had to fight off wild animals and protect the sheep from all harm, as well as tend to the sick and injured among them. Their livelihood was dependent on the well-being of their sheep, and from what I have read, the shepherds that tended their own flocks, did so in much the same way as Jesus did for the people all around Him. The shepherds in the fields that night, though well-trained in fending off predators, had no exposure to a visit from heavenly hosts. It is no wonder that the first words prior to announcing the arrival of Jesus, was “Do not be afraid.” Between shock and awe, the shepherds took in the announcement and acted upon it. With great urgency, they hurried off to see what the heavenly hosts had proclaimed.  Lastly, in the same way that shepherds care for their sheep and that Jesus modeled for us what it is do love and shepherd those around us well, we too are called to be shepherds of God’s flock; watching over them and caring well out of our own eagerness to serve. (see 1 Peter 5:2) May we seek the Lord to have the heart of a shepherd; humble, protective, and willing to go to great lengths to love and care for those who are placed in our reach.

 

Fiercely protective,

With hearts full of love;

We’re called to shepherd,

Like the Lord above.

Watch and extend care,

Throughout night and day;

Listen to God’s lead,

So none go astray.

For God chose the hearts,

Of the faithful ones;

In love, tending flocks,

To announce His Son.

He seeks the faithful,

To shepherd and keep;

All His beloved,

His people; His sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the faithful and protective ones to be the recipients of the great news of the arrival of Your Son. Thank You that You call each of us to faithfully love and protect those around us in much the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not been as vigilant as we ought to for those who we are called to care for and protect. Teach us to love and protect like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your comfort, protections, peace and presence known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, the Good Shepherd, to direct our steps as we seek to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. – 1 Peter 5:2

Love is a Safe Shelter

(Love) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, ERV)

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, TPT)

 

God always knows what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. Part of the His design when He made me, includes a strong “mama bear” protective nature, a heart that clings closely to the hope I have in Him, and a spirit that does not understand the concept of quitting. That being said, the last eight hours seem to have stolen my ability to always protect. Though I know that ultimately, protection is in His hands, I want to do everything that I can to keep my loved ones safe at all times – physically, spiritually and emotionally. At 1:45 am, I heard a sound in the monitor that was frighteningly unfamiliar. Mom was making a sort of moaning sound that did not sound like she was sleeping. I bolted upright in bed and dashed across the hall into her room. My fear was realized as I saw her sitting on the floor, beside her bed, looking frightened and a bit dazed. Sitting beside her, I began checking for injury and looking for signs of need for emergency care. Thankfully, it appeared that she had, out of a lifelong habit of rising to use the restroom as needed, simply gone to stand up out of bed, and her legs did not support her standing for long. Before leaving acute care, we had practiced how to get up from the floor, if ever we were in such a position. Though it did not go quite as smoothly as one might hope, we managed, and all is well. Once mom was securely back in bed, with the exit side of her bed blocked better, I returned to my room and checked my phone to be sure my sister had made it home safely. In addition to her text, there was one from my boys’ dad, letting me know that they had not been treated kindly by some of their music people after their spring concert, when everyone gathered at Red Robin. I know that there is nothing that I could have possibly done to protect or prevent these things, however, the protector in me, dies a little when such things transpire. My heart hurts for my mom, as she struggles to regain movement and independence, and for my boys, who are wonderful, loving and sensitive young men, who deserve only kindness, yet are subject to the cruelty of this world. I have to remember that the love that always protects, is His, not mine. God is a far better protector that me. Though only a fool would mess with my people in front of me, I have to trust, hope and persevere, as God is greater and He always protects.

 

Love is the always,08021808042583917494678544150.jpg

That keeps things aligned;

Trust, hope, protection,

All in God’s design.

Life is a faith walk,

Where we have to choose;

To trust in the Lord,

No matter our view.

Sometimes what we see,

Seems dismal at best;

Trials and valleys,

Life’s endurance tests.

No matter what comes,

Keep trusting the One;

Who grants all we need,

‘til each day is done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You always protect; You are always trustworthy, You are and will always be our hope; and in You, we will always have all that we need to persevere. Forgive us for our frustration when we cannot protect our loved ones from all the ills of this world; for it is broken and fallen and fallible. Thank You that You are not. Teach us to trust You more so that we would cling to You and depend on You in all things and at all times, not just for ourselves but for those we love as well. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You, hope in You, persevere in Your strength, and protect in love, allowing Your love to lead our every step. Amen.

 

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

 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

 

 

Joy and Trust

Bring joy to Your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You. – (Psalm 86:4, NIV)

My Lord, I put my life in Your hands. I am Your servant, so make me happy. – (Psalm 86:4, ERV)

Restore joy to your loving servant once again, for all I am is Yours, O God. – (Psalm 86:4, TPT)

 

What a wild ride the last twenty-four hours have been! The day began in anticipation, knowing that we would be bringing mom home to her house by the day’s end. As with any scenario that has a plan, the plan never works out exactly as one thinks it might. On our way to the acute care facility, my sister and I had to stop at a medical supply store to check on a few things to be delivered to the house, just prior to our scheduled arrival. Due to the close timing of the two, we had decided to drive two cars, just in case. While in the store, we noticed a device that appeared to be a genius invention, took a photo, and brought it back to show mom’s favorite physical therapist. She concurred that it would indeed be a fantastic idea for mom, and proceeded to have the attending physician write a prescription for it, so that insurance could cover the cost. In between this process, mom’s temporary wheelchair was delivered, and it was a “hot mess”. Megan and I looked at it, and something in me rose up (I am guessing the fierce mama bear protector) and I very firmly refused to receive the chair, letting the poor delivery guy know that it simply would not work for mom. This began my somewhat comedic quest to retrieve all of the appropriate supplies to help make certain we had what we needed to take mom safely home. First, I visited the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization of retired men that offers free medical supplies to anyone who needs them. The gentlemen that run the place are some of the kindest and most helpful fellas you will ever meet. Not only did they have the walker I was looking for, but the armrest piece that I was given the prescription for as well. My entire demeanor was transformed as I had such a kind exchange with the gentleman who shares a birthday with mom, but is ten years her senior. Joy along the journey through the kindness of strangers. Next, I went back to the medical supply store to see if I could straighten out the wheelchair situation and bring back something that would work to mom. The sales representative was kind and helpful, and very willing to make things work. It was quite an endeavor to fit the wheelchair in my Jeep, but somehow, it happened. I am fairly certain that when I unloaded the supplies at the acute care place, it looked a bit like the clowns exiting a tiny car act at the circus, as large equipment was being pulled from the small space in my vehicle. No more than twenty minutes after I had been back with mom and Meg, we received the call from the delivery truck driver at mom’s house. They were supposed to call when they were on the way, but had not; so off I went again to let the guy in to set up the garage ramp and receive supplies. By the time I returned to the hospital, Megan was walking to the parking lot to get the car to begin loading up to leave. At long last, we were on our way. Once we finally arrived home, mom was completely exhausted. All she wanted to do, was rest in her own bed. All of the anticipation, the hurry up and wait, the preparation, and transportation, at last had brought her to her own space. We sat at the kitchen table together for dinner, then in the living room to watch a movie before we were all ready for bed. It was a very good end to an extraordinarily long day.

As for the now what, that is the portion of placing our trust in His hands. We are in uncharted territory, and having to navigate a whole different sort of new. Already this morning, we are witnessing the potential challenges to being home. Mom is a strong independent woman, and not used to asking for help. Thankfully we bought monitors and I am a very early riser. Shortly after I had risen to get coffee and sit down to do my devotions and begin writing, I heard mom stirring. I walked back to her room to check on her, and she was sitting up in bed, moved to the edge, as if to hop out of bed on her own. (She is not safe or able to do that yet, so it could have been a very bad scene) As I greeted her, helped her transfer to her chair and make way to the restroom, Megan heard us and came in to help as well. There is joy in the journey and we trust our lives in His hands. He is good, and His love never fails.

 

Joy in the journey,

05281920375868101642771744796.jpg

Mom relaxing on the couch, watching a movie. ❤

On this path we roam;

Seeking and trusting,

As You lead us home.

Show us the best way,

Each step we’re to take;

Strength each new morning,

Love that won’t forsake.

Glorious, His grace,

His peace is divine;

There’s no greater love,

That we’ll ever find.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You in every situation and circumstance that comes our way. Thank You that our lives are in Your hands. Thank You that joy is a gift that You deposit deep within our soul, rather than something circumstantial and dependent on what happens in our day-to-day lives. Forgive us for allowing anything to steal our joy or take away our trust in You. Teach us how to trust more, as You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and demonstrates trust. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk out this journey in joy and trust. Amen.

 

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

 

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. – 1 Chronicles 16:27

Preserving His Promises

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.’” So, he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. – (Genesis 12:7, NIV) 

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” Abram built an altar to honor the Lord who appeared to him there. – (Genesis 12:7, ERV) 

God appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your children.” Abram built an altar at the place God had appeared to him. – (Genesis 12:7, MSG) 

 

What stood out to me is that Abram heard God, trusted Him, and built an altar to commemorate a promise spoken. How often do we hear a promise from God, and then carry on with our existence, just as before? Abram did not wait for the promise to be fulfilled to create a memorial, but rather, by faith, built an altar because God had spoken a promise. There is a lesson to learn from Abram’s faithfulness. He took God at His word, and moved forward accordingly. We too, ought to take time to signify the promises God speaks to our hearts, and place them where we can look back and remember what He has spoken to encourage our hearts to press on. Additionally, it is a reminder of His faithfulness, for we are able to look back, see what has been spoken, and celebrate with thanksgiving, the fruition of promises fulfilled. Though I am a writer, I am not sure that I am intentional enough to commemorate the promises spoken for me, so that I have something tangible to look at and remind me to press on, even when what has been promised seems out of reach. In hindsight, I can speak of the Lord’s faithfulness for days, yet I seldom have something to look back upon to identify the promise that has now been fulfilled. All of us have promises from God. He speaks to our hearts and His word is for all who trust in Him. God has a plan to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future(Jeremiah 29:11) He promises to: never leave us nor forsake us… (Deuteronomy 31:8) The list goes on as we dig into His word and discover His heart for us. May we seek our Savior with all of our heart, and mark out the promises He places in our hearts. As we do, we will have reminders of what is true and will be able to look back in awe, at the faithful way that He has worked things out in our lives. 

 

Promises spoken, preserving his promises

Will surely come true; 

For God is for us, 

And makes all things new. 

What God speaks to us, 

He’s faithful to do; 

His word’s forever, 

He will see it through. 

Perhaps we should mark, 

What He says He’ll do; 

Reminders to trust, 

The Lord for breakthrough. 

As His word is kept, 

And we see the truth; 

Our trust ever grows, 

Fulfillment in view. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promises spoken and Your faithfulness to fulfill. Thank You that despite what we see, You are ever moving on our behalf and are always true to Your word. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubt, despite the promises You have made. Teach us to trust You more and to find way to commemorate that which You have spoken, so that we may look back and be encouraged to press on and then give You praise for Your faithfulness as Your word is fulfilled. Show us how to love those around us when they grow weary in the waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we record the promises that You have spoken and look to Your words to encourage and strengthen us as we press on in faith to their fulfillment. All praise to You for Your eternal faithfulness. Amen.

 

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

 

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. – Joshua 21:45

Announced Arrival

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – (Luke 2:13-14, NLT) 

Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest realm of heaven! For there is peace and good hope given to the sons of men.” – (Luke 2:13-14, TPT) 

 

One of my favorite moments to anticipate each year, is candlelight service on Christmas Eve. There is a moment in the evening when a single flame is lit, the lights are extinguished, and people then begin to pass the flame, candle to candle, as songs of praise in remembrance of that most holy night, are sung by all. Soon, the entire sanctuary is full of the glorious glowing light, and an army of angelic voices floods the room. Though but a glimpse, it is such a sweet reminder of that most holy night when heaven came to earth and the armies of heaven announced the arrival of Christ, as they sang in celebration of what God had done. May we each find a moment in the so often hectic season of preparation, to take in the tangible reminders of that most holy night. Let the glory of all that God has done flood our hearts and minds as we give our praise to the Ancient of Days. 

 

Darkness was flooded, Glory to God in the highest_sermon

With heavenly hosts; 

Singing out praises, 

To men at their posts. 

In awe, they watched them, 

In wonder and fright; 

As heaven drew near, 

On that holy night. 

This declaration, 

Such wondrous good news; 

Savior’s arrival, 

What would shepherds choose? 

The men in wonder, 

Left their fields that night; 

To see for themselves, 

The glorious sight. 

A glimpse of Jesus, 

In the stable lay; 

Their lives ever changed, 

That sacred birthday. 

May we find moments, 

Where we’re caught in awe; 

Of all that God did, 

Through the babe they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your Son. Thank You for the heavenly hosts who announced His arrival to shepherds in their fields that night. Thank You for the moments in this sacred season that grant us glimpses of Your glory. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and wonder at the marvelous miracle of Jesus and all that surrounded His arrival. Teach us to recognize the remarkable reminders of all that You have done to bring heaven to earth and make way for us to know You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they make recognize the radiance of Your glory through the good that You send us in this sacred season. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the most holy arrival of Your Son, and give all glory to You. Amen.

 

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

 

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. – Acts 10:36

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

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10