The Fullness of Grace

Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – (John 1:16, NIV)

Yes, the Word was full of grace and truth, and from Him we all received one blessing after another. – (John 1:16, ERV)

And now out of His fullness we are fulfilled! And from Him we receive grace heaped upon more grace! – (John 1:16, TPT)

 

The grace of God has been evident from the beginning of time. When Jesus came for the forgiveness of all who seek Him, grace was made all the more perceptible. Grace is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. (dictionary.com) Often, I find myself in awe of God’s grace that is provided in visible and tangible ways. Obviously, the greatest gifts of grace have come through life, love and salvation. However, the grace of God is granted in small and seemingly insignificant ways as well. Yesterday, I had a dental appointment to take care of a few small fillings. I was dreading the appointment, and wished very much, that I could just cancel it. It is not the dentist, as he and his staff are wonderful, but rather that my mouth does not stay numb through and entire procedure – EVER. Feeling the drill grind on nerves in my teeth is one of my least favorite sensations. After arriving at the office and getting seated, the sweet receptionist looked at me, looked at her computer screen, and said, “We don’t seem to have you on the schedule today.” In both joy and disbelief, I let her know that I was just fine with that. Though I had it in my calendar, which I only enter on the spot, in the office, to be certain I record the correct information for appointments, somehow, it did not get entered on their end. Not only did I not need to stay for a procedure, she actually handed me a Starbucks gift card for my “trouble”. It truly was NO trouble. Anyway, for me, this series of small things that transpired in a span of mere moments, were sweet gifts of grace. Yes, I realize that I will still need to have that sort of appointment, however, for yesterday, the time returned to my day, (and the bonus coffee) were evidence of God’s goodness and grace that is given when we need it the most. I was tired and in need of rest, and ended up having time to come home and relax for a while before preparing dinner and the usual evening routine. May we ever be aware of the grace upon grace given by God, as His love for us is made evident, individually.

 

God, in His goodness, Ambassadors of Love

Created all things;

And then sent His Son,

Great love offering.

Always there was grace,

And with Jesus, more;

Love tangibly shown,

Through Him we adore.

May we be aware,

Of the grace You give;

Extending our praise,

Each day that we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us in ways that show us Your loving kindness. Forgive us for missing the moments of grace that You give us throughout our day, or for failing to recognize Your goodness being granted in great and small ways. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are ever aware of Your freely given, unmerited favor and love throughout all of our days. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your goodness and grace, and make Your love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank and praise You for the countless ways that You love us and grant us grace each day. Amen.

 

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

 

What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me? – Psalm 116:12

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

A Silent Saturday

Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – (Mark 15:44-46, NIV)

 

After the devastation of the cross, a faithful few prepared Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. By sun up, it would be the Sabbath, and no one would be going anywhere or doing anything. The disciples and other followers of Jesus likely spent the day in mourning. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees were not at all at ease. They went to Pilate because they recalled the words of Jesus, and clearly had concerns about what might transpire in the coming days.

 

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – (Matthew 27:63-64, NIV)

 

Consequently, Pilate ordered his guards to make the tomb secure and to stand guard at the tomb. That Saturday, all seemed to be silent. Jewish law kept mourners from moving about and doing much of anything, and I imagine that each of the faithful followers of Jesus retreated to their own homes and pondered all that had transpired in the previous twenty-four hours. It is as if the world stopped spinning, and all were stuck in a silent space of grief and disbelief. For me, knowing the whole story, I am in a space between awe and agony at the weight of all that Jesus bore on my behalf, and the anticipation of celebration, knowing that He conquered death and rose again the very next day.  Today is a space of waiting. Silent reflection and appreciation are what flood my heart and mind. I mourn my own sinfulness, yet overflow with gratitude for the salvation that is granted because He bore it all for me. May we each find our own quiet moments to reflect on the magnitude of what our Maker did for us all as we stay in this space of sacred silence.

 

This day of waiting, A SIlent Saturday

Sabbath long ago;

The Savior, buried,

Seemed hope’s final blow.

The world lay silent,

The Savior was dead;

Where were they to go,

What could have been said?

Silent reflection,

Such grief on that day;

What could have been done,

Unrealized grace.

O painful waiting,

To go to the tomb;

Observe in anguish,

Savior’s seeming doom.

The stillness gave way,

For we know the end;

Death could not hold Him,

As He rose again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin upon Yourself; for we are the ones deserving sanctions of suffering, not You. Forgive us for not fully embracing the weight of what You have done for us, or for questioning whether or not Your sacrifice truly covered it all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the mercy and grace provided at the cross, and demonstrate our gratitude by living a life that ever seeks Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes the promise that joy comes in the morning no matter how dark the night appears, evident. May many come to embrace the grace that You made possible through Your death and resurrection on this holy weekend so long ago. Be glorified O God, as we set our hearts in silent reflection over all that You did to make us acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

 

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

 

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

Love Always

(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)

 

This is the time of year that I find myself shaking my head in frustration and disbelief at times, as students struggle to settle into the routine that has been established and carried out all year long. It requires regular self-reminders that it takes very little to disrupt the balance in a young person’s life, and something as simple as sunshine, can contribute numerous distractions. My charge is to never give up, to hold hope and choose to persevere. How I spend the remaining twenty-six school days with my students matters. My prayer is that my classroom would be a safe space where students know that I believe the best in them, that they would see that failure is not defeat, and that perseverance pays off. May we each choose to protect, trust, hope and persevere in the places where we are called.

 

Love is the answer,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

When all goes awry;

For where there is hope,

There’s reason to try.

Love never gives up,

Because things are tough;

It chooses persist,

Love provides enough.

Love always believes,

The best for others;

It will not relent,

For love’s what matters.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the perfect example of love unto us, as You always protect, always are trustworthy, always give us hope, and always grant us the strength to persevere as we seek You. Thank You that You grant us the strength to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we grow weary in choosing love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to supply us with all that we need to never give up on those around us, no matter how difficult things seem. Show us how to love others in a way that provides safe shelter, shows others that we have their very best in mind, and that we are for them; always. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love others as You so completely love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Rendering Reconciliation

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Pleasant words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I met with a student who often struggles to make good choices behaviorally and academically in the classroom for our one-on-one reading conference, I was reminded of how much truth lies in the words of this verse. As we began, he did an excellent job of explaining what he had learned in the book he had read, and then easily defined words from the vocabulary list. Throughout our meeting together, I praised and encouraged him, as I let him know how impressed I was with his hard work and reminded him how much I believed in his ability to do well each time he invested himself in whatever task the class was being asked to take on. Seemingly out of nowhere, his gaze dropped to the floor, and tears silently began to slide down his cheeks. In disbelief, I sat there for a moment, unsure of what I was meant to do. After taking a moment, I encouraged him a bit more and then asked him if there was anything that I could do to help. He shook his head “no”, so I followed with the question, “I can see that things are pretty tough right now. Do you have hope that they will get better?” He nodded his head up and down and accepted the tissue I offered. Our brief exchange reminded me yet again, just how much kind words matter. May we ever seek the Lord for His guidance to fill us with the words that others need to hear most that are sweet to hear and bring healing to places that are hurting.

 

Kind words do matter, Patient Acceptance

Far more than we know;

They heal the hurting,

And help goodness grow.

Sweet, just like honey,

Such help to the soul;

A salve for our wounds,

As His mercy flows.

Let us choose kindness,

With words that we say;

Healing can happen,

When Love leads the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your word that You continue to show us again and again in tangible ways. Thank You that kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the body. Forgive me for the times that kind words were not the first thought to come to mind or that which escaped my lips. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would listen to Your leading and speak the words that You would have me say. Show me how to love others well with my words, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we extend kind words to others in such a way, that healing comes to the recipient. Amen.

 

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Grow Not Weary of Doing Good

It is a hard road when blatant opposition is directed at us, individually. The temptation to retaliate either with words or actions, is far greater than the pull to take the high road. However, when we are rooted and established in Christ, we are called to a higher standard. Despite direct assault on our countenance, character, or any other aspect of who we are or what we do, we are directed to do the right thing. This is not to say that we are meant to stand and submit to being someone’s doormat, but rather, when opposition comes, we must choose to do right by God. Rather than retaliation, we are to return kindness for cruelty and silence for slander. Walking away from what we were never meant to be a part of, is also a method of mimicking our Maker. Throughout the gospels, Jesus did each of these, when He stood in the face of opposition. He healed despite disbelief; He kept quiet when He was slandered and spit upon; and He slipped away quietly through the crowd when they intended to harm Him.

 

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. – (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

 

This is both a charge and a calling for all who believe. Though we may tire and grow weary of doing the right thing in our own strength, the Lord will lead and equip us to continue to choose to do the next right thing, if we are willing to trust and rely on His leading. Each of us has the choice. We can respond in anger and frustration when opposition comes, or we can model the character of Christ, despite the desires of those who intend to defeat us. May we trust in Him who is more than able to lead and equip us in every situation to choose well, so that we do not grow weary of doing what is right.

 

Let’s not grow weary,Faith and Hope in Action

of doing what’s right;

stand strong in the Lord,

and fight the good fight.

Sometimes in silence,

always staying bold;

for we know the truth,

may justice unfold.

When we’re called to speak,

may truth and grace reign;

so all that is false,

returns to the flames.

Our God is able,

to lead and supply;

us through our trials,

on Christ, let’s rely.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to not grow weary in doing good. Thank You that You do not just call us to do this, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like, and Your Spirit to equip and empower us to do the same. Forgive us for our weariness in the fight, especially when opposition seems relentless. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and return kindness for cruelty, silence for slander, and wisdom to know when to stay, and when to walk away. Lead us to love boldly, just as You so brilliantly and individually love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we rely on Your strength, so that we do not grow weary in doing good. 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