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

Sharing Hope

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have. – (1 Peter 3:15, ERV)

But give reverent honor in your hearts to the Anointed One and treat Him as the holy Master of your lives. And if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be read to explain your faith with gentleness and respect. – (1 Peter 3:15, TPT)

 

To revere is to view with respect and awe. How often do we truly look at Christ through the proper lens? God is love, hope, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness and self-control for all who call on His Name. The hope we hold is not due in part to anything that we have done, but rather as a result of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He died so that we might live. Few would willingly lay down their life for another, (and typically only for someone whom they dearly love) yet Christ died for us, while we were still sinners. Jesus loved us, even when we knew nothing of His love to return. It is the unconditional love of Christ that grants us hope, not only for today, but for all of eternity. Our story, our own experiences of discovering the hope that is found in Christ, is the most gentle and respectful way to share what we have found with those around us who ask. May we ever maintain a posture of reverence for the Lord, and be ready to tell of His faithfulness and the hope that is ever held in Him.

 

With honor and awe, Sharing Hope

Let’s look to the Lord;

Our hope Provider,

The One we adore.

The hope that we hold,

Dwells deep from within;

As we’ve discovered,

Love time and again.

It is by God’s love,

We come to know grace;

That grants us all hope,

Eternal embrace.

Let’s ever recall,

How we came to know;

Hope that’s forever,

So His grace we show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all hope is found forever in You. Thank You that You ask us to partner with You to share what we know with those who are seeking. Forgive us for not maintaining a proper perspective of You, or for neglecting to share the hope we know with those around us. Be glorified O God, as we remember with awe and reverence, the hope that You placed within us. Amen.

 

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

 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

Grow Not Weary in Doing Good

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, ERV)

So, let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. – (Galatians 6:9, MSG)

 

We are called to give as we have been given. God has shown us what it is to do good – to walk in the light of His love before all others, for as we do, they too may come to know Him. The “not giving up” part can often be the biggest challenge. It can become exhausting to extend God’s goodness and grace to those who are unkind or rude to those around them. Daily, this is a portion of my reality, as kids are seeking to discover their way. Keeping calm and seeking to understand first, can be quite arduous when that which is directed at others is intended for harm. Often, when harsh words or unkind actions are met with calm words, a change in behavior occurs. Though it does not change the trajectory of the path they are on, repeated kindness, goodness and grace, can begin to wear away and the tough exterior that acts out. Ultimately, persistent good extended, changes us, even if it does not adjust attitudes of those around us. We are called to persevere on the path He has placed before us, depending on Him to love others as we are loved by Him. May we ever persist in doing good, for at the right time, we will receive His reward, regardless of the response of those around us.

 

Let’s not grow weary,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

In choosing do good;

For we’re called to give,

God’s love, understood.

Without conditions,

May we extend grace;

Love and God’s kindness,

To all in our space.

For if we persist,

God says He’ll reward;

Faith to choose follow,

Walk in one accord.

So, do not give up,

When love seems too hard;

God will be our strength,

His grace, our reward.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to do good without giving up through the life, death and resurrection of Your Son. Though persecuted, pursued, and ultimately hung on a cross, Jesus chose to give love and grace, according, to Your perfect plan. Forgive us for not extending good when we receive unkindness, as You do not intend us to repay evil with evil. Help us to seek You for strength to respond and reach out in the opposite spirit of those intending anything other than good. Show us how to love those around us in practical ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good, regardless of how we feel in the moment. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. 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

The Love That Remains

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)

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. – (Romans 8:38-39, MSG)

 

These are incredibly powerful words of declaration, meant to remind and encourage each of us of just how vast the love of God is for us all. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, God loves us in spite of ourselves. We have the choice to receive or reject His love, but His love remains. The closest comparison I can come up with is the love I have for my children. My love for them is not situational, circumstantial, nor dependent on whether or not they receive and give love in return – I love them because they are mine. If we in our broken humanity have the capacity to love those whom He has gifted us to love, how much more does He who is love, love us in spite of ourselves? When we slow down and are ready to receive that which He offers freely, the depth and breadth of His love surrounds and overwhelms. May we each choose to receive that which God offers to each of us, as His love shall always remain.

 

There isn’t a thing, The Love That Remains

Created on earth;

That can take away,

Our infinite worth.

Because we are God’s,

Made by His own hand;

His love shall remain,

Forever will stand.

No height nor great depth,

For there is nothing;

That can take away,

The love that God brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love for us is not dependent on our circumstances, surroundings or on what we do or do not do. Thank You that You love us because we are Yours. Thank You that Your love is ready to receive for all who choose to call on Your Name. Forgive us for rejecting what You freely offer and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love others with the same tenacity that You have as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love that never ends and seek to go and love likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

The Greatest Gift

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. – (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into the world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. – (Galatians 4:4-5, VOICE)

 

God knew that humanity needed a Savior. For most, the law was a list of do and do not from a distance out of fear and reverence, rather than being rooted in relationship. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. God out there, became God is here. Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension gave way for us to be adopted into God’s family as His children. No more are we simply subjects attempting obedience out of fear, but rather we are children of the Most High, saved by grace and dearly loved. From this position of freedom, it is difficult not to desire to do what is pleasing to the very One who set us free. May we rise up and recognize the sacrifice that was given so that we could be free, and walk out our days honoring God with our words, deeds and praise.

 

God saw all our need, The Greatest Gift

And set forth a plan;

Redemption and grace,

By His loving hands.

Hands that chose to send,

His beloved Son;

To bear all the weight,

Of what we have done.

Freely He took on,

All our ugliness;

So we may be called,

His in righteousness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You saw mankind’s need for a Savior and sent Your Son to redeem us. Thank You that not only do You forgive us of all of our sin, but You adopt us as sons and daughters of Your own. Thank You that You lovingly receive all who come seeking You. Forgive us for forgetting the magnitude of Your sacrifice to be called sons and daughters. Teach us to treasure the gifts of Your mercy and grace far more than we do. Show us how to love others in a way that extends the same sort of mercy and grace to others, so that they might see glimpses of You through the good we give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the greatest gift ever given through the sending of Your Son. Amen.

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

 

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Love Each Other

This is my command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NIV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

This is My command to you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, VOICE)

So this is My parting command: Love one another deeply! – (John 15:17, TPT)

 

In each translation, the message remains nearly identical, as there is no substitution nor synonym for loving one another. This is a command and a calling. Jesus gave this charge to His disciples (and to us) shortly prior to His sacrifice on the cross. He modeled how to love through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, and empowers us to go and love like Him. It takes little effort to discover the deep need for love all around us. So many are broken and hurting and in need. Though we cannot solve all of the world’s ills, we can choose to love wherever we are. Often, a smile, a friendly greeting or a simple, kind exchange of conversation extends love in ways that reach far beyond what we might imagine, and remind the recipient that they are valued and worth our while. Jesus will use our willingness far more than we could hope or imagine, if only we choose to love. May we rise up in obedience to what God requires of us, as He calls us to love in word and deed, just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord.

 

The Lord, He commands, Love Made Known

We love each other;

He values us all,

Sisters and brothers.

The light of His grace,

Is meant shine through us;

As we choose to love,

Show the world Jesus.

So much of our love,

Is not simply words;

But through what we do,

That God’s love is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, as You demonstrate Your love to us so often through the words and deeds of others. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions did not show Your love, and teach us to do better each time we have the opportunity to love. Show us how to love those around in a way that demonstrates Your loving kindness and faithfulness through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to obey what You are asking, and go forth and love one another as we are loved by You. Amen.

 

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

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

To Be Wise With Our Words

Speak without thinking, and your words can cut like a knife. Be wise, and your words can heal. – (Proverbs 12:18, ERV)

Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword, but the speech of the wise is a healing balm. – (Proverbs 12:18, VOICE)

 

Words have power. They have the capacity to offer life and hope and healing, or they bring heartache, death and destruction of dreams. What we say and how it is spoken matters immensely. Thoughtless words spoken cannot be revoked nor erased from the mind and heart of the recipient. Yes, there is forgiveness and healing, but it is far better to think before we speak and seek the Lord for wisdom as to what we are meant to say. No, not one of us gets this right all of the time, and He is the God of grace; but it is far better to pursue a path where we become people who offer peace and healing and health with the words that we speak to those around us. If our mode of operation is using wise words, then, even when we extend words of correction or redirection, they will be received well, as the intent behind what we do and say will have already been clearly established. May our lips be sealed to thoughtless words spoken, and that which we say bring healing to the broken.

 

O Lord, guard our hearts, The Power of the Tongue

From words without thought;

For they can destroy,

When intent was naught.

Help us stop and think,

Seek You and be wise;

So our words speak life,

Healing realized.

For just as we’ve seen,

How much this is true;

Lead us to be wise,

So we speak like You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You model life and healing and hope for us in Your every word. Thank You that You do not ask us to do anything that You are not also willing to equip and empower us to do. Forgive us for speaking without thinking, as our words can cause much harm. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your wisdom for the words we are meant to say to offer life and health and hope and healing to all whom we encounter. Show us how to love well with our words, and back them up with our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stop ourselves from speaking without thinking, and choose to be wise with our words. Amen.

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

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

Just Believe

Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.” – (Luke 8:50, ERV)

But when Jesus heard what had happened, He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” – (Luke 8:50, NLT)

 

Need has an interesting way of breaking down barriers as people reach the point of desperation. Jairus, despite being a high official in the synagogue, did not hesitate to drop to his knees in need before Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter. The desire to see her healed was greater than his concern about societal norms. Faith and hope brought Jairus to Jesus, and it was likely the comforting words that Jesus offered upon hearing the news that his daughter had died that kept him from losing his mind with grief. What Jesus says, He will do, and Jairus had to choose to either trust Him and believe, or lose hope and his only daughter to death forever. I can only imagine the wrestling match that must have been going on in his mind as they walked the long road back to his home to where his dead daughter was waiting. “Can He who healed the bleeding woman with the hem of His garment, bring life back to my dead daughter?” My mind’s eye imagines that Jairus gained a bit more boldness with each step, as he recalled what he had just witnessed with the woman who had suffered for twelve long years and then was healed by her unwavering faith. Perhaps each step was taken to an internal cadence that he simply spoke to himself, “Believe, believe, believe!” Regardless of how Jairus traveled, when Jesus and the disciples went up to his daughter with he and his wife, their daughter was brought back to life, and their lives were never the same. May we listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our scary spaces, and hear Him as He reminds us to have faith and just believe.

 

In uncertainty,Our Map and Our Guide

Trial or in pain;

We’re called to believe,

Trust in Jesus’ Name.

For the Lord is good,

He alone can save;

Bring comfort to fears,

When we feel afraid.

God of all wonder,

Your power and might;

Is what we can trust,

To set all things right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and loving. Thank You that You move mountains when we have but a mustard seed of faith. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters because we rely on what we see, rather than what we know to be true in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have faith, even when things do not make sense, as You see the entire outcome. Help us to live and love in such a way, that our faith is infectious to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and have faith, no matter what we see; for You are alone are the One who directs our path. 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