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

The Right Word at the Right Time

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

There is great joy in having the right answer, and how sweet is the right word at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, VOICE)

 

The right words at the right time are a gift from God that come when we are sensitive to His leading and choosing to love. There is joy in it for both the speaker and the hearer, and peace in knowing that what has been spoken has been done from a heart that has His very best in mind. So often, God will use those around us to convey that which He wants us to hear. A word of encouragement, correction, exhortation or affirmation – each is well received when it is delivered in love at the time that it is needed most. May we have hearts that are tender and ears that are open, so we are willing to speak what He places in our hearts, and hear that which is spoken for our benefit.

 

May we each find joy, Watching Our Words

In knowing what’s right;

Through words that we speak,

And hear with delight.

For God knows our need,

He longs to lift up;

Grant us words to speak,

That fill others cups.

And in the same way,

God gives unto us;

Words that encourage,

Hope when we’re hopeless.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue Your heart in all that we do, You provide the answers that we seek. Thank You that You give us the right words to speak at the right time when we depend on You for wisdom. Forgive us for speaking without listening, or ignoring words of wisdom spoken unto us. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide the answers that we are seeking, if only we slow down and listen for Your voice. Show us how to love those around us well, and give us the words that encourage and build them up, and point them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for Your voice and speak what You place on our hearts so that there may be joy in the answers that You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people… – Psalm 85:8

 

 

Help Us to See

Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods, they thought they were in control, but look what God did! – (Exodus 18:11, ERV)

Now I know with all my heart that the Eternal is greater than all gods because of the way He delivered His people when Egyptians in their arrogance abused them. – (Exodus 18:11, VOICE)

 

These words were spoken to Moses by his father-in-law, Jethro, after Moses led his people out of captivity in Egypt. Like so many of us, Jethro needed something solid to see to truly believe. The very same God that led Moses to set the captives free from slavery in Egypt, is still alive and active today. When we seek Him and call on His Name, He moves mightily on our behalf. Though Moses never had aspirations to lead the masses out of Egypt, God showed up and called him to something great. If we are willing to ask the Lord and believe in faith, there is no limit to what He will do. God is not like man that His ego will be bruised if we ask for Him to make Himself known to us in a tangible way. Our asking demonstrates our desire to know Him. The Lord is loving and kind and full of grace, and His hope is for all to one day seek His face. May we ever ask in spaces of uncertainty, and keep our eyes and hearts open to the everyday miracles as God moves all around us.

 

At times we need see, Healed Hands Reach Out

The hand of the Lord;

Power tangible,

All grace He affords.

For though we need faith,

It too helps to see;

The movement of God,

To help us believe.

Oh Lord, by Your love,

Make Your heart be known;

So people seeking,

In Your grace, find home.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make Yourself known in tangible ways. Thank You that You have moved mightily throughout the ages. Thank You that we can come to You and ask to see You move in ways that are visible to our human eyes. Forgive us for our lack of faith or for our blind eyes to the work of Your hand that is all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize the countless miracles that take place all around us, and have faith in all that we cannot see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives hope and grace and peace where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ask for evidence of the things that we are unsure about, and give You praise for the faith that You grow greater in us each day. 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

Being Loved Well

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT)

 

As I sat down to write, after reflecting on my week, I am in awe as I recognize that I have been the recipient of not only Christ’s love, but people who love me well. Despite the busy and chaos that seem to accompany this season that I both teach and coach, I have been loved well in multiple ways in my world. At school, we kicked off a secret pal exchange among staff members. Not only was it a joy to select a surprise for a colleague, but I was blessed by the kindness of whomever treated me. A beautiful bouquet was delivered to me at work on Valentine’s Day, and I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness and sweet sentiment that accompanied the card. My fellow coaching staff continues to step up and work together to coach our 135+ gymnasts well, and their kindness and encouragement to kids blesses my heart. Treasured friends remain steadfast, and grant ongoing love and support as I navigate my days. Last evening, I was swept away for a fancy dinner out, and treated like royalty. Both the words spoken and the actions shown, were tangible demonstrations of loving well. My heart is bursting because it has been filled to overflowing, and I am loved, just as I am called to do likewise. May we each embrace the grace that God so generously gives, and go forth in obedience and love each other well.

 

What a joy to see,being-loved-well

The tangible ways;

Where we are loved well,

Throughout all our days.

We’re not only called,

To go forth and love;

But He shows to us,

The hope from above.

Where we have been placed,

He often will show;

His love through others,

So we see and know.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

For all I’ve received;

Help me to love too,

So Your love is seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and showing us what love is through the hands and hearts of those who surround us. Thank You that You call and equip us to go and love likewise. Forgive us for not choosing to love as we are loved. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hear Your heart for those around us, and know how to love as we are loved. Help us to be Your hands, heart and voice to all whom we encounter, allowing Your light to shine brightly through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love that You shower upon us with gratitude, and as we go forth and love others well. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

From Peace to Health

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body. – (Proverbs 14:30a, NLT)

A serene heart can add years to one’s life. – (Proverbs 14:30a, VOICE)

Peace of mind makes the body healthy. – (Proverbs 14:30a, ERV)

A sound mind makes for a robust body. – (Proverbs 14:30a, MSG)

 

Our head, heart and body are all intricately interwoven by our Maker. When one is not well, the other two are affected also. It is no wonder that peace is so often mentioned in the Bible, for when our heart is at peace, our mind and body follow.

I have experienced seasons in my own life, where peace was seriously lacking. Though I sought and loved the Lord, my mind and heart were wrestling to grasp His peace in my surroundings. The unrest actually took a terrible toll on my body, and it got to the point that I had to make a change for my health – physically, emotionally and spiritually. When I moved in obedience to that which I had been called – the space that delivered me from the chaos to a place of peace – I suddenly found peace again. Not only was peace restored to my heart and mind, but my body began to be restored as well. With a renewed sense of His peace, it was well with my soul.

This is not to say that I have perfected finding His peace amidst the chaos. However, I have seen and know how faithful our Father is to meet us in the middle of our mess if we are only willing to allow Him entry. As we choose to walk in obedience, the direction to which we are called, His peace permeates our existence, regardless of what surrounds us. May we allow the Lord to be the peace of our hearts and minds, so that we may know the beauty that His presence brings to all things – body, mind and soul.

 

The God of all peace,

He Sees and Attends to His Created

Wants our hearts to know;

That in Him we’ll find,

Calm where chaos flows.

When the Lord’s peace comes,

Our health is restored;

Heart, body and mind,

Come let us adore.

We need choose listen,

And then opt obey;

For His perfect peace,

In love, lights our way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we find peace. Thank You that when we have peace in our hearts, our bodies and minds know peace too. Thank You that our health and wellness are found in You, not in our surroundings. Thank You that even in times of great chaos, we can have peace in Your presence. Forgive us for our anxiousness that sits idle, rather than reaches out to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would look to You and listen to Your direction, as You are faithful to lead us to Your place of peace, regardless of the wreckage around us. Show us how to love those around us who are desperate for Your peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You – the Prince of Peace. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your peace to permeate our bodies, minds and souls, no matter our circumstances or surroundings. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Praise All of Our Days

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your Name forever. For great is Your love toward me; You have delivered me from the depths of the grave. – (Psalm 86:12-13)

 

Fire has always frightened me to my core, ever since I was a little girl. In fact, when the fire department did a fire safety talk at my elementary school, I would not sleep at night until my parents installed smoke detectors in our home. Right now, we are experiencing an unusually hot and dry summer in Washington State. On the eastern side of the state, in Wenatchee where my Mom resides, their first big fires of the season just hit yesterday. Typically, they are far from where my mom lives, so all that is observed is the constant flying of helicopters to the river to fill giant containers that are then flown over the flames, and poured out to douse them with water. Unfortunately, yesterday evening the fires were crawling closer and closer to where my mother lives. Her neighborhood was on voluntary evacuation, but she and her neighbors decided to stay and be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Late into the evening, flames burst forth from the ravine on the far side of her vacant lot. Suddenly her home was surrounded by firefighters and her exit blocked by fire trucks. Even if she had wanted to leave, there was no way out, as the fire was burning too near the only road out. For hours, I watched, waited, and prayed. I imagine she did much of the same.

 

This morning’s Psalm really resonates as to how I feel on behalf of my Mom and the many in her housing development whom are dearly loved friends. His love has been great as He has delivered and protected them from what could have been catastrophic. My heart is overflowing with praise, for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

No matter what comes,

Image from my Mom's driveway...

Image from my Mom’s driveway…

I will give You praise;

for You are my God,

help all of my days.

With all of my heart,

to You, glorify;

forever, always,

hope to testify.

You have delivered,

me from the great depths;

and spared me the grave,

of unrighteousness.

Though we walk through fire,

You lovingly keep;

us in Your safe hands,

as You tend Your sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love for us is so great, that You sent Your Son to deliver us from the depth of an eternal grave. Thank You that You are worthy of our praise, with all of our heart, for all of our days. Forgive us for losing sight of the truth when storms rage or fires burn. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will glorify You in every circumstance, as You are worthy of our praise forever. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see Your heart for them through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we offer our praise until the end of our days. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Jesus is… God of the Miraculous

As I continue to unpack all that Jesus is through the reading of the Gospel of Mark, something that clearly stood out in today’s chapters, was that Jesus is the God of the miraculous. There are two specific stories in chapter six alone, that demonstrate the miraculous power of God, presented in Jesus Christ.

 

First, when Jesus and the disciples had sought a solitary place to rest and reflect, they ended up surrounded by a crowd of more than five-thousand. Late in the day, the disciples recognized the people’s need for nourishment. They asked Jesus to send them away so that they could find food, but Jesus had another option in mind. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. – (Mark 6:41-42) Though the disciples did not recognize the miraculous power present in Jesus to provide for all of the people prior to that point, Jesus patiently demonstrated His deity as He delivered nourishment to meet the needs of the people.

 

After all had been fed, Jesus had His disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, so that He could go up on the mountainside to pray. While the disciples were crossing the lake, the wind came up and they were struggling and straining to cross. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, the thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. – (Mark 6:48-50a) Jesus had to tell them that they did not need to be afraid. Rather than continue walking past them, …He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. – (Mark 6:51) Jesus again presented the miraculous power of God, as He walked on water and calmed the storm. He did not just speak for the storm to cease from far away, but Jesus walked to the disciples and climbed into the boat – He met them exactly where they were, and then all became calm.

 

The very same Jesus is alive and active today. The miraculous power of God is present and available to all who earnestly seek Him. Jesus sees and knows our needs, and is ready to sit beside us in our storms. May we seek Him with all that we are, and recognize the miraculous power of God that is present and active all around us.

 

The power of God,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

miraculous One;

united in Christ,

magnificent Son.

Jesus is able,

to love and provide;

to touch and draw near,

to all whom abide.

He sees where we lack,

every need known;

Jesus is able,

miraculous shown.

And when the storms come,

He’ll draw close, be near;

bring calm to our soul,

and cast out all fear.

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You are God of the miraculous. Thank You that You know our needs before we do, and You are ready and able to provide. Thank You that You come close, and remain present, even when storms rage around us. Forgive us for not turning to You in our times of need, and for not reaching for You in the throes of the storm. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response in all things and at all times, is to cling to You. Help us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Jesus. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your provision and rely on Your presence. 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

Refreshment Through Repentance

After Peter and John had been used to heal a beggar in Jesus’ Name, they suddenly had a captive audience that was ready to hear what they had to say. Peter capitalized on the opportunity, as he unpacked all that had recently taken place with Jesus, before the open onlookers. As he did so, Peter pointed out (1) who Jesus was, (2) how they had rejected Him, (3) why their rejection was fatal, and (4) what they needed to do to change the situation. (NIV footnotes for Acts 3:11) The solution Peter presented was delivered a few verses later. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. – (Acts 3:19)

 

Restoration and refreshment from God, come when we repent and turn in trust to Him. In doing so, He wipes away all of our sin and shame, and refreshes our hearts and minds in Him. To repent, we must turn away from our own unrighteousness, and turn toward Christ. Repentance is both an act of our will and an exercise of His power within us. We cannot turn away from what entangles us if we do not trust that He will set us free. God is far greater than anything that attempts to attack or create anxiety – we however, must trust that God is who He says He is. May we turn to God, repent, and receive His refreshment.

 

The Name above all,Refreshment Through Repentance

rejected and killed;

a fatal mistake,

change need be instilled.

The solution clear,

presented quite plain;

repent before God,

Who wipes away stains.

Refreshing shall come,

when God has been sought;

for He sets us free,

our redemption bought.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You with repentant hearts, and You receive us as we come. Thank You that You forgive us, refresh and renew us, so that we are made right before You again. Forgive us for our reluctance to repent, or for keeping hidden that which is seen by You anyway. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might keep short accounts before You, quick to confess and rapid to receive, all that You have for each of us. Lead us to love one another with the same sort of mercy and grace that You extend to each of us. May many come to know You personally, as we live and love according to Your purpose. Be glorified O God, as we repent and receive Your refreshment. 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

Blessing Our Boys

Though not intended to be read in isolation, the portion of the passage that stands out to me the most this morning, is a verse from Jacob’s blessing to Joseph’s sons. The Angel who has delivered me from all harm – may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth. – (Genesis 48:16)

 

Today, our household celebrates the coming of age of our two boys, as they traverse into the trials and triumphs of their teen years. Cautious and Adventurous made their debut into the world thirteen years ago. It is my ongoing prayer that they be protected from all harm, that they walk in the way of the Lord, and follow Him all the days of their lives. Both are tender-hearted young men, who love the Lord and are seeking to serve Him. God’s grace and an army of faithful family and friends have brought them from premature newborns to the bright and kind young lads that they are today. May Christ continue to grow them into the men they are called to become, and may they serve Him all of their days.

 

Double the blessing,Blessing Our Boys

two times as much grace;

so lavished in love,

in seeking Your face.

For given to us,

our duo of joy;

far more than we’d hoped,

from our little boys.

God keep them from harm,

in Your tender care;

may they bear Your light,

O Lord, hear my prayer.

Grow them in Your grace,

and strong in Your love;

proud to praise You, Lord,

our Father above.

Let their life purpose,

be known early on;

grow them and lead them,

in You, make them strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful blessings that my boys have been. Every single day I am in awe of how You grow and use them to show me more of Yourself. Thank You for the gift of children. Forgive me for my frustration and lack of patience at times, and grant me wisdom and grace to grow them ever closer to You and Your purpose for their lives. Lead me to love them as You love me. May we together, love others, so that they might see You. Let many come to know You as Savior and King, as we each pursue the fulfillment of our purpose. Be glorified O God, as we love our children as You love us. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the dream that has come so far, enjoy a previously written poem by clicking the highlighted link. Let Freedom Ring.

Darkness into Light

You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light. – (2 Samuel 22:29)

 

These words are part of the Song of Praise, penned by David, when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. David had known some desperately dark times, as he had been on the run, hidden out in caves and acted insane, in order to escape with his life. All the while, he had known the Lord’s provision and protection. As the promises that had so long ago been spoken, at last came to pass, David gave God the glory. He recognized that it was the Lord alone, who had turned the dismal into dancing and the darkness into light.

 

The very same God who was with David, is alive and active in the hearts of all who believe today. We have access to all that David had and more. Jesus came to be the light of the world, and when we place our trust in Him, darkness cannot remain. Though trials and heartache still happen, we have a Help and a Healer who is present always. As we allow His light in, all of our darkness dissipates. Darkness and light cannot coexist. Where there is light, darkness no longer remains.

Darkness into Light

Where darkness resides,

and freedom is lost;

desperate our need,

to look to the cross.

For Christ is the lamp,

Who will light the way;

all darkness must flee,

when He comes to stay.

So invite Him in,

grant access to all;

no darkness shall last,

He answers each call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You turn our darkness into light, and that You are the lamp unto our path. Thank You that as we invite You to take Your proper place in our lives, You lead us and guide us in the light of Your love. Thank You that You are not put off by our darkness, but rather Your light brings life to places where it has been absent. Forgive us Father, for fearing exposure of our own dark places before You, and grant us courage to allow You to illuminate and dissipate all that does not belong in our lives and hearts. Lead us in the light of Your love, to love others as we are loved by You. May many come to know Your saving grace, as we walk out each day living for You. Be glorified through all that we say and do. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6