The Ultimate Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NIV)

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

Because God loved us, His created, so much, He sent His Son to make Himself tangible and approachable to all. Jesus made the way for all who choose to believe, to have life eternal in Him. This blessed assurance provides hope, peace, comfort and removes fear from all that lies ahead. No matter how tumultuous life can become, there is so much more waiting for us when our time here is done. Though we mourn loss of loved ones as we have to adjust to life without their tangible presence, we may also rejoice for those who know Him, as they enter into eternal glory. Additionally, when we know the Lord as well, goodbye is really just a “see you later.” One day, we will be reunited with those who have gone before us to be with the Lord. Imagine the celebration that will take place when we see Jesus face-to-face, and again join with loved ones who have gone ahead of us. May we rejoice in the incredible love that God has for each of us, as His Son showed us what He is like and how greatly He truly loves.

 

The ultimate love, Healed Hands Reach Out

Chooses truly see;

Past every flaw,

And looks to meet needs.

There’s no greater love,

Than God’s sacrifice;

A love undeserved,

Paid ultimate price.

A death undeserved,

In our place He chose;

Faced the darkest grave,

And third day, He rose.

He went on ahead,

To prepare a place;

For all who believe,

His welcome embrace.

May we look to God,

Ever seek His face;

Trust all that He is,

And unending grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that because You loved, we too, may come to know love. Thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, who made love tangible for all to see and understand. Forgive us for the times that we let go of hope and allow our struggles to define what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that despite the hard things that we walk through and endure, there is everlasting hope to be held in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your love and provides hope for what is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for our everlasting hope, and embrace the grace that You alone give. Amen.

 

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

 

In Your unfailing love you will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling. – Exodus 15:13

All Praise is Due

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, NIV) 

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, ERV) 

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. – (Luke 1:68-69, VOICE) 

 

These verses are a portion of Zechariah’s song, which are sung in a praise-filled celebration of sorts, following the birth of his son, John (the Baptist). As a faithful follower of God, Zechariah understood the significance of all that was taking place, as it had long before been foretold. The birth of his son was the prelude to the coming of Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer and Savior. Zechariah’s stretch of silence, after his holy visitation that left him mute, ended with the faithful obedience of writing down the name he was told to give his son. The first thing he did with his reopened lips was give glory and honor to God for His faithfulness. May we each embrace the incomprehensible grace that came to us through a virgin birth, and praise the Lord for being faithful to fulfill His promises forever. 

 

All praise to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

For all praise is due; 

For what He promised, 

Was provided true. 

A Savior to come, 

The Light for mankind; 

Entered a baby, 

Yet fully divine. 

The hope of the world, 

Had come down to earth; 

To set captives free, 

And grant us rebirth. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You for those who set the example of recognizing who You are and how You love. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same God who set aside His throne to be God-with-us, still dwells within the hearts of those who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on You for all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for Your faithfulness, and conveys Your heart and character to all those with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wonderful things that You have done to extend Your grace and send us Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

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

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Filled Again

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NLT)

God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, MSG)

He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight. – (Job 8:21, VOICE)

 

I love how God makes His word tangible to me. Yesterday, the verse I had studied and set my heart on, was about rest and relaxing in Him. Both last night and the night prior, I slept nearly eight hours per night! For some, that may sound insignificant or normal, yet for me, it is tremendous. Typically, I am doing well if I get close to six hours on a given night… Now, this morning, the verse speaks of laughter. For the last two evenings, I have been blessed to gather with friends and my love, and simply enjoy each other’s company. The first evening was a game night, filled with much laughter, and last night was a birthday celebration for my best friend that had me laughing so hard that there were tears. This morning, I woke feeling refreshed and full of joy, recalling His goodness and how He provides people in my life to love and enjoy the blessings of how He has made each of us, individually. As Thanksgiving approaches this week, may we each find time to seek Him and receive the gifts of laughter and joy that He provides as loved ones gather together in gratitude.

 

Despite heaviness, Filled Again

Trials and life’s pain;

The goodness of God,

Shall always remain.

He will bring laughter,

Fill our hearts with joy;

Give us hope again,

His peace, He’ll employ.

In all things, seek God,

For He’s our safe space;

Dispenser of joy,

And Giver of grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill our mouths with laughter and our hearts with joy. Thank You that despite the heaviness and heartache and struggles that we face, You are near and You remind us that there is so much good. Forgive us for not seeking You in our sorrows or struggles, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and brings laughter to lighten heavy hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your goodness and praise You for the joy and delight that You bring when we need it most. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Joining Together

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, as I attended the memorial service for little Eli, the four-year-old grandson of my mom’s best friend, I was not sure what to expect, other than the weight of grief as we walked into the church. What I observed, was really this verse being made tangible. There were those who were greeting people in their shock and grief as they walked in, (and wisely, the ones who handed out the program for the memorial were the cousins of Eli, so we were greeted by sweet, smiling children), family members were mingling among those waiting to go inside to be seated, friends who had gathered from near and far, an auntie and uncle who spoke from the heart and demonstrated the depth of love that the family shared for Eli, and a pastor who beautifully balanced the celebration of who Eli was and the reality of how much missing and mourning would take place. Even after the service, different people operated in their various strengths. Some were in the kitchen preparing and serving, others were greeting people as they came into the reception area, still others were engaging in sweet conversation about how Eli had touched and blessed their lives, personally. Because they were surrounded and supported, I imagine that together, the family was able to get through far more than they would have thought possible, than had they been on their own. Though it was an agonizing reason to gather, there were tender moments of laughter and smiles at the memory of the incredible life this little boy lived in his four years. May we ever remember that we are each a part of the body, and what we contribute, helps the whole become more than it would be without us. We need each other; that is the way we have been designed.

 

No matter the why, Joining Together

We are meant to join;

Together as one,

As God does anoint.

For as a body,

With so many parts;

Together there’s strength,

To encourage hearts.

Each of us alone,

Find there is a lack;

But joined together,

We rise and come back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that just as a body has many different parts with different functions, that we too, as the body of believers do as well. Thank You that You created us this way with intention. Thank You that when we come together and support one another with the gifts that You have granted, the entire body becomes stronger. Forgive us for not rising up and joining in to offer what You have given us to contribute. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would naturally extend Your heart and hand through who You have made us to be. Show us how to love those around us well, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we join with each other to become what we cannot be alone. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Praise in Mourning

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, I find myself in a strange space – torn between grief and gladness; sorting between sorrow and surrender. My whole life, my grandmother has been a very real and powerful presence. Her faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, paired with the gifts that He birthed within her that she used without restraint, have been the model that I have looked to, and one whom I admire most. Gram has always been the glue that bound our family to one another. Despite differences, each of us has had a unique and treasured gift in the bond that she has formed with us, individually. The ability to see the value in people and set their heart at peace simply by being in her presence, is a trait that drew so many unto her.  She lived a live unrivaled, faithful in all that she endeavored. Gram served her family, her church, her community, and above all, God. The love grown deep in the quiet time on her knees, overflowed to all who knew her. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was covering me in prayer. After ninety-eight years on the earth, and a long year of colon cancer taking root and stealing the independence she had always known, she went home to be with Jesus last night. I am grateful that her suffering was not prolonged, yet grieve not getting one more visit. God is compassionate, and He offers comfort to us as we mourn. Though there is much sorrow for the personal loss of the phenomenal person my grandmother was, it is tempered with great joy in knowing that she is singing with our Savior. No more sorrow, no more pain. I imagine a great celebration as she is reunited with so many who have gone before her. May we all take comfort in the Father of compassion and comfort, as we give praise for the blessings we’ve been given in the time we had.

 

This morning, it seems appropriate that I share one of my grandma’s poems rather than write my own. Her words are likely the echo of what she is singing right now.

 

Song of Praise – by Rosemary Steiner

Glory and majestyPraise in Mourning

To the Lord God,

Who created the Heavens

And the Earth;

And breathed life

Into all creatures,

Even us, His people.

He gave meaning to our being;

He called us brothers

And prepared a place

For us with Him

Eternally.

He breathed life into us,

Transcendent life of the Spirit –

Gave us eyes to see beauty,

Ears to hear truth,

Wills to choose His way.

The heavens reflect His omnipotence

Time without end.

God enjoys the music of the spheres,

But hears our dissonance

With compassion,

How worthy is He.

How infinite His love.

Holy be His Name forever. Amen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that so many of us were given through the long and loving life of Gram. Thank You that though we mourn her passing, we can celebrate her homecoming with You. Thank You that we have the blessed hope of being together again for all of eternity in heaven. Forgive us for our fears and regrets, and teach us to trust You so that we might fully live out each of our days, according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love with compassion and comfort, all those who grieve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the faithfulness that has been fulfilled through the life of my grandmother. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You praise, even as we mourn. Amen.

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

There is a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

The Gift of Presence

I will make My home among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NLT)

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NIV)

 

Long before the arrival of Christ, God had His plan in place to make things right again so that He could dwell among us. Humanity had become so broken and disconnected from God, that the only way to be restored to a right relationship with Him, was through the sending of His Son. This season marks the celebration of Jesus’ arrival; the beginning of the relationship that restored us to our Redeemer. Without Christ, we would be limited to only drawing as near to God as the outer courts of the temple. However, because Christ came, we can invite Him to be Lord of our lives, and He will come and make His home in us and among us. He no longer is God out there, but He is now the Lord who is always near. May we fix our eyes and hearts on Him who came from heaven to earth to make the way for us to know His nearness, both now and forevermore.

 

From heaven on high,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

He came down to dwell;

So people might know,

The hope His life tells.

As we lift our eyes,

To the Lord above;

He calls us His own,

Showers with His love.

Let us fix our gaze,

This holy season;

On Christ born to us,

Our hope and reason.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it has always been Your plan to dwell among us. Thank You that despite our sinfulness and brokenness, You made the way to restore a right relationship with You through the sending of Your Son. Forgive us for not fixing our eyes on You and the reason for the season, as we get caught up in the chaos of things that “need” to get done. Help us to slow down and settle in, so that we may meditate on the real meaning and the weight of what You have done for us all. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads hope and points them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the treasured gift of Your presence this most sacred season. 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

Stronger Together

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NLT)

Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, ERV)

Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, VOICE)

 

This holds true for nearly every area in our lives. We were created to be in community, and not intended to be isolated and alone. Spiritually, when we are invested in relationships with people who share our commitment to our faith, we find encouragement, covering, questions that need to be asked, and company to keep in both celebration and heartache. For our intellect, this also holds tremendous value. When planning, preparing or facing a problem, having another to discuss ideas with makes all the difference in finding a reasonable solution. Likewise this is true for our bodies. It is far easier to remain healthy and choose wisely when we train with others seeking to do the same. When given the option, two are always better than one, as working together increases resolve and return. May we seek to invest in the people placed around us, so that we can help one another succeed in all that we have been called to do.

 

For where there are two,stronger-together

More strength can be found;

Resolve unshaken,

When two hold their ground.

Together the two,

Can accomplish more;

There’s a great return,

As each part outpours.

Work is divided,

And more goals succeed;

Each one better off,

Together complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us to be in community. Thank You that we are far better off when we work with others than when we go alone. Thank You that You use people in our lives to encourage us and grow us spiritually, mentally and physically. Thank You that You allow us to do the same for others if we are willing to be invested. Forgive us for not reaching out to those around us and isolating ourselves when we are meant to be invested. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would step outside of what is “comfortable”, and work together with those whom You bring beside us to get things done. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they might be encouraged and built up through our every interaction with them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we work together with others to do that which You have called us to do. 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

Steps for the Seekers

The naïve are heirs to foolishness, but the clever are honored with insight. – (Proverbs 14:18, VOICE)

 

This evening will be a unique experience for me. As a teacher, I have attended my school’s 8th grade celebration/graduation numerous times over the past nineteen years, yet tonight will be the first time in that my role is both as a parent and a teacher. My boys are finishing up their final days of middle school. It is bittersweet, as I have loved having them with me each morning and afternoon on the way to and from school, and there is a certain comfort in knowing that your own children are present on the campus on which you teach. That being said, they are ready for more. Neither of them has allowed themselves to get caught up in the foolishness of which some of their peers partake, and consequently, they have gained great insight and earned good grades, preparing them for that which lies ahead. Although I will miss their daily presence, I am excited to see all that awaits them in their high school experience and beyond. May we each embrace every opportunity for growth that is placed before us, so that we would operate in a space of His wisdom, rather that from our own foolishness.

 

Those who are clever,photo (5)

Are rewarded well;

Insight is granted,

In wisdom they’ll dwell.

With feet both planted,

Secure on the ground;

Future before them,

Their path has been found.

It’s about moving,

Where you’re meant to go;

For that is how we,

Each learn and we grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and we are rewarded with wisdom and insight through our seeking. Thank You for all of the young people who have earnestly sought You, as they are preparing for next steps in their lives – so many transitioning from elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to college or work, and beyond. Thank You that whatever the transition, You are present and leading. Forgive us for forgetting how big You are, and give us the strength to trust You more with the next steps for our progeny. Show us how to continue to lead them well, and help us to love those around us in a way that points people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and insight in all of our next steps. Amen.

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

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

Comfort in Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

 

I find myself surrounded by many in a season of loss. So many mourning, as the loss of loved ones has been a common theme among dear ones in my sphere of influence. For some, I did not know the one whom was lost, and am at a loss for what to offer, other than sincere condolences, and be available in a tangible way. Late last evening, was the first loss in a long while, that has really hit my heart personally, as I had known and dearly loved she who has departed. His comfort came quickly, in that I was reminded that her heart was deeply rooted in Christ. Though there will be grief in her absence, there should also be celebration in knowing that she is home. I can only imagine the look on her face as she saw Jesus and heard the words spoken just to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The look of pure delight that so many of us saw every time we would greet her… Our loss is heaven’s gain. May we take comfort in Him who is our Comforter, as we walk through seasons of mourning, and may we offer the very same comfort to others, as they do the same.

 

The blessings shall come,

Comfort in Mourning

Imagine the smile as she dances on streets of gold… Love you Jan, and look forward to the day we meet again.

 

to those who do mourn;

for Christ will comfort,

the weary, the worn.

His arms will embrace,

where we’re at a loss;

He’ll speak to our hearts,

show all is not lost.

God grants us the strength,

we need to get through;

gives peace in heartache,

His hope that renews.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort those who are mourning. Thank You that our hope in You reminds us that this life is not the end. Thank You that those who know and follow You, have a future with You forever. Thank You that Your love is made tangible through the kindness of those whom You place around us. Forgive us for not seeking You in our seasons of grief, and help us to trust You with all. Show us how to hand You our heart – heaviness and all – and allow You to embrace the heartache and love us back to life. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we may extend the same comfort and hope that You give, as they walk through their own seasons of mourning. Help many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to be our comfort in times of mourning. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3