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

Peace Planted Grows Goodness

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – (James 3:18, NLT)

People who work for peace in a peaceful way get the blessings that come from right living. – (James 3:18, ERV)

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. – (James 3:18, TLB)

 

The pursuit of peace can often seem like a daunting dream, especially when one is surrounded by a vast array of needs and personalities that are vying for attention. Each seed planted is not spread in vain, as the unexpected moments of goodness that crop up when least expected, are reminders that choosing to sow seeds of peace is worthwhile. May we ever pursue the path of peacemakers, for His goodness granted is worth the time and effort spent in sowing seeds of peace.

 

Be not discouraged, All Together for Good

All seekers of peace;

For each those who sow,

Will find sweet relief.

For God is faithful,

To honor with good;

All those who’ve planted,

Peace seeds as He would.

We’re not meant to live,

In turmoil, dissent;

We’re crafted for peace,

His love knows no end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us to be peacemakers who sow seeds of peace in places of turmoil. Thank You that as we continue to extend Your peace in places of unrest, we begin to see Your goodness rise up. Forgive us for the times that we succumb to the unrest or walk away from the spaces that we are meant to stay. Teach us to trust You more so that we would bring peace to the places that are unsettled and in desperate need of You. Show us how to love others well, so that our words and deeds plant seeds of Your peace in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth as peacemakers, sowing seeds of peace. Amen.

 

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

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

 

 

Hope Deferred and Dreams Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, NLT)

Hope that is delayed makes you sad, but a wish that comes true fills you with joy. – (Proverbs 13:12, ERV)

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, CEB)

 

Hope is a powerful thing, as it reminds our hearts that things will turn out for the best. When something comes along and interrupts our hope, the heaviness that hangs in our hearts can make us feel sad to the point of sickness. However, just the opposite is true when we delight in a dream fulfilled. The joy that floods our hearts makes hope soar as we witness what we’ve longed for come to fruition. Presently, I am in a paradoxical position. One hope that I was holding was dolefully dashed yesterday, yet daily, I am in the midst of walking out a dream being fulfilled and am experiencing joy and blessings that my heart has not known before. God is good, even so, and we have to recognize that He can use both the hopes dashed and dreams fulfilled to bless and encourage those around us as we walk forward in faith, trusting in His goodness. May we rise up in assurance, holding fast to the One in whom all hope dwells, as He is the fulfiller of dreams and granter of joy.

 

When hope is deferred,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Heaviness does dwell;

For dreams that are dashed,

Make the heart unwell.

Yet, dreams that come true,

Bring life and great joy;

Our longings fulfilled,

New faith to employ.

Both dashed dreams and joy,

Are places for good;

For His love’s made known,

His peace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us when hopes are dashed and when dreams are fulfilled. Thank You that Your grace and love remain with us through it all. Thank You that You can use both to bless and encourage those around us, as our story is an opportunity to demonstrate Your faithfulness. Forgive us for allowing the heaviness of our disappointment in a hope deferred to weigh us down too long. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grieve our loss and seek comfort in You. Show us how to encourage those in a space of deferred hope, so that they may see fulfillment in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the One who truly fills our hearts with joy as the granter of new life. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our hope in You, no matter what comes and goes around us. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

To Honor the Dream

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, NIV)

Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, ERV)

You shall not take revenge nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor (acquaintance, associate, companion) as yourself… – (Leviticus 19:18, AMP)

 

Historically, there have been many groups of people that have had reason to hold a grudge for the wrongs done against them, yet for change to occur, the right to revenge had to be released, and love had to prevail. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was a phenomenal example of choosing love, despite his circumstances. Dr. King found ways to bring truth in love, and fight for change through peace. Hate was not his motivation, but rather a heart of love. As a husband, father, minister, leader and spokesperson for civil rights, he let his faith shape the way in which he lived and loved. His words, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”, still remind us of the way in which we ought to choose to live. Be it an acquaintance, an associate, or a companion, may we choose to stick with love; for it is the very way in which we are called to live.

 

The only true way, mlk

To find peace at last;

Is to stick with love,

Let go of the past.

When we choose forgive,

Our hearts are set free;

The burden of hate,

Is far too heavy.

May we stick with love,

And choose to redeem;

Value all people,

And honor the dream.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the men and women who have chosen to rise up and stick with love, despite the barriers and difficulties that have stood before them. Thank You that when we choose love, You move mightily among us. Forgive us for the times that we have held grudges rather than chosen love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stick with love, and not allow the weight of hate to destroy that which You intend for good. Show us how to love every acquaintance, associate and companion as You would have us love ourselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. May your peace prevail, and love win where hate has tried to reign. Be glorified O God, as we choose love again and again, knowing that You will use every decision of love to bring the dream to further fulfillment. 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

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

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

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

(link to Magi research)

Courage to Continue

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, NLT)

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. – (Psalm 27:14, MSG)

 

It is amazing how this applies to every area of our lives – the things hoped for, the dreams being pursued, and often in our daily devotion to what needs to be done. I appreciate how The Message phrases the verse best, as it reminds us that in the wait, we are often still very actively engaged in whatever we are working towards, yet we need to remember our Source of strength and hope, light and life. Even when things are difficult, (which most things that are worthwhile do indeed require hard work) we must take heart, dig deep and press on. God will supply the strength that we need as it is needed, we ought only continue in the direction to which we are called, and take courage in knowing Who is both with us and for us. For me, I was reminded again of how this applies in a dream being pursued, as we began to walk through plays at football practice. At first, it seemed a bit mind-boggling and overwhelming, but with persistence and commitment to continue, and trust in He who gives me strength, things began to make sense. Though I know there is much to learn, I can take heart in knowing that the courage and strength I need will be supplied as I continue to trust in the Source.  In all things, may we take heart and press on, trusting the Lord to provide the strength and courage that we need to do all that we are called to do, now and forevermore.

 

Be brave, have courage, Courage to Continue

Choose wait on the Lord;

He’s our source of help,

All grace He affords.

Take heart and don’t quit,

Don’t ever give up;

For God is our strength,

Filler of our cup.

Have faith, He will hear,

Each cry of the heart;

As we ask for help,

His strength He imparts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength and courage, help and hope, no matter what our situation or circumstances. Thank You that You care about the things that matter to our hearts. Thank You that no hope nor dream goes unnoticed by You. Forgive us for thinking that the desires of our heart don’t matter. Teach us to trust You with all things at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives strength and courage, so others too, take heart and continue to pursue that which pulls upon their heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stay with You and trust You to answer and be present in all things, as You are our source of all that we need. Amen.

 

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

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

So Much More

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)

With God’s power working in us, He can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. – (Ephesians 3:20, ERV)

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. – (Ephesians 3:20, MSG)

 

When we are willing to invest our hearts and lives in the Lord and His plans, He takes us places we would have never imagined we’d go, and does so much more than we ever believed was possible. In my own life, I am in awe of the things He has done and the places He has taken me. Because I have been willing to go places that I have not known, He has shown me things that I never even dreamed that I might be able to one day see. The glorious gift in it all is that the journey is far from over. In a few weeks, I will be traveling with a team to Belize, to serve in whatever capacity He asks of me. Though I am going with a medical team, I am NOT a medically trained (nor equipped) person. As I go, I will be leaving simply with a heart to serve; whatever that looks like. God has given me a strong body and a capable mind. If I am being called to move heavy equipment to set up clinics – great. If my job is to file paperwork to help organize what is being established – I’m in. Whatever He is asking, I am willing. So often when He takes us out of our comfort zone, it is more about the work that He does in us, than what He is going to do through us. It ought to be quite an adventure! No matter what He has in store, I know that He is gentle and kind, and will do more than any of us can even hope or imagine as we prepare to go, even now. May we ever trust in God, who is able, through His mighty power, to work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

 

To God, all glory, So Much More

Who’s able to do;

Infinitely more,

To carry us through.

More than we can dream,

Imagine or ask;

God can accomplish,

Impossible tasks.

He will never force,

Nor push us around;

But by His Spirit,

Gives strength to gain ground.

So rise up in faith,

Follow where He leads;

Watch what He will do,

As His plans succeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ask or imagine through us by Your power within in, when we trust and follow You. Thank You that it has nothing to do with us or our strength, but rather with our willingness to listen to Your leading and follow where You call us to go. Forgive us for neglecting to do as You ask, or for staying stuck when we are meant to move forward from where we are now. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would get out of the way, and give You room to move in us and through us to accomplish the things that You have in mind. Show us how to love well, all those whom You have intended for our hands and hearts to help, hold or heal. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all the glory for the incredible things You do in us and through us. 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

Rediscovering Dreams

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along His path. – (Psalm 37:34a, NLT)

We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. – (Psalm 33:20, NLT)

 

For the past few months, there is a part of me that has been stirring and not able to settle at rest. Though I would pray, and look for answers, I could not figure out what I was meant to do next. A little over a week ago, I had an exchange with someone that at first, felt offensive. Perhaps it was, but really, it matters not, as God used it to propel my heart in a direction that I would never have explored, if not for that brief conversation. What was discovered as a result of the consequential agitation, was a dream that had all but died. Possibility presented itself before me, and I am now pursuing something that I never thought obtainable. Whether it comes to fruition or not, the excitement of imagining and hoping is enough to remind me that God has more than what I see. He is reminding me that He has wired me with gifts and talents, dreams and desires, that He longs to honor just as much as I hold hope to use them for His glory. May we rise up and remember that God has handcrafted each of us with gifts and talents, plans and purpose, and what we see now is not all that there is. Let us hold fast to the hope we have in Him, and be willing to take steps of faith forward as He leads.

 

Be not discouraged,Rediscovering Dreams

By all that you see;

Often there’s movement,

Waiting within reach.

For what seems unkind,

Horrible, unfair;

Could be the movement,

That leads us from there.

Remember to hope,

Not in what is seen;

But rather in God,

Who as we trust, leads.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope who leads us where we are meant to go. Thank You that despite what we see, You have so much more for each of us. Thank You that You take the seemingly horrible things and use them to propel us in the direction that You intend for us to move. Thank You that You have good things for Your children. Forgive us for our lack of hope and for allowing our dreams to die or lie dormant. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and pursue the path You place before us to utilize the very things that You have created within us to share with those around us. Show us how to love well, everyone whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You and travel along the path You place before us. Amen.

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

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

The Price for Free

I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to Me, for I have paid the price to set you free. – (Isaiah 44:22, NLT)

 

Christ came to grant us freedom from our sin and shame. Great men and women throughout history, have come to know the value of such freedom, and have gone on to fight injustices that prevented people from living in the freedom that was intended. God does not have favorites, but views us all as equals in His sight. If our Creator sees us each with infinite worth, then it is our responsibility to seek to do likewise. Martin Luther King Jr., and all who have fought before him, beside him and continue to fight for equality for all, are the champions of choosing to make our world a better place where the dream Dr. King spoke of aligns with the call of Christ – for us to be one body – united, rather than many parts divided. May we rise up and remember that we are all one in Christ Jesus, hand-crafted and called to freely walk out the purpose that He has placed before us.

 

For we are all called,mlk

To live in His light;

No more in darkness,

Injustice, we fight.

Just as we’ve each been,

Redeemed and set free;

We must view others,

With equality.

For God loves us all,

Sisters and brothers;

Let’s rise united,

Lifting each other.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and seek Your forgiveness, You wipe away our offenses and set us free. Thank You that You have raised up leaders throughout the ages to rise up and stand against injustices that treat any group of people as less than another. Forgive us for our offenses, for even complacency is fueling the flames of injustice. Teach us how to hear Your direction as to what our part is meant to be. Show us above all, how to love all people as we are loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as Your love transforms hearts and changes perspectives. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

In honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a few beautiful quotes:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – MLK

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – MLK