The Hope In So Much More

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love Him. – (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV)

But as the Scriptures say, “No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (1 Corinthians 2:9, ERV)

But as the Scriptures say, No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and it has never occurred to the human heart all the things God prepared for those who love Him. – (2 Corinthians 2:9, VOICE)

 

In the ebb and flow of life, it currently feels like a season of loss. Yesterday, I learned of the passing of one of my classmates from high school. We were friends on Facebook, and I was aware that she had some health challenges, but none so great that they would be life-ending. She leaves behind a husband and two children, and I am heartbroken for their loss. Additionally, I heard this past week, that the mother of a very dear lifelong friend had a massive stroke. The prognosis is grim, and my heart hurts for her kids, and her husband and best friend of more than fifty years. Two weeks ago, I attended the memorial for a wonderful lady from our church, who was about my age and lost her long battle with cancer. Her husband and four children, as well as her parents and siblings, are left with the ache of missing her. This morning, reading this verse, I am reminded anew of the hope for those who have passed or are on the verge. Each of these ladies know/knew Jesus, and I am comforted in the fact that where they are going is beautiful beyond what I can imagine – so much more than I have ever seen or heard. The same God who hung the stars, formed the majestic mountains, determined how far the sea can roll into the land, causes the sun to rise and set each day, has prepared a place far greater still. Though there is heartache and hurt for those left behind, there is great hope for those who have gone on to their eternal home. May we hold fast to the hope we know in the One who is holding us in His hands, and extend help, hope and love to those left behind in their space of great loss.

 

When I see such loss, Filled Each Morning

I find myself torn;

Between hurting hearts,

And hope in much more.

For my eye has seen,

Such beauty indeed;

Incredible views,

And heaven, exceeds.

Imagine the sights,

The angelic sound;

In the Lord’s presence,

Where all hope is found.

Embraced by Jesus,

As He ushers in;

All who have sought Him,

True glory begins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessed hope that we have in You. Thank You that You have prepared a place for us that far exceeds anything that we could ever hope or imagine. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as our eternal hope in You outweighs all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not fear our end on earth, but rather look forward with anticipation to our heavenly homecoming. Show us how to love those who are in hurting in the midst of great loss. Lead us to show Your heart in tangible ways, extending comfort and support. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the homecoming of those entering Your kingdom, and comfort all who are grieving loss. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. – 1 Peter 1:3-4

Comfort for the Mourning

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

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

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

 

This morning, I woke to discover the devastating news of another former student’s passing. His sweet mama posted the news on Facebook, likely as a quick way to communicate, without having to retell the heartbreak time and time again. When the seeming natural order of life is disrupted, and a parent outlives their child, the heartache over what should have been can steal all hope, if comfort is not sought through Him alone, who is our Comforter. Sadly, I have seen both sides of this sorrow as it has run its course in the lives of people near me. For some, comfort came as they pursued God and were not afraid to ask “WHY?!” For others, something within them died at the loss, as they seem to be stuck in a space where they cannot be comforted and restored. Though there is nothing nor anyone that can ever take the place of a loved one lost, God can heal the hole that is left in our heart over time. He turns the grief into grace, and utilizes it to comfort others in a way that only one who has walked such a road, can do. May peace and grace be poured out upon the mourning, as God is our Comfort and ready to embrace every hurting heart. 

 

In the midst of grief, Compassion in Confrontations

May we seek the Lord; 

True Source of comfort, 

All peace He affords. 

Present in heartache, 

Faithful, He won’t leave; 

He’ll love us to life, 

Grant hope to believe. 

Allow His embrace, 

Bring comfort and peace; 

He’ll carry the weight, 

Yield sorrow’s release. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless those who mourn with Your comfort. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our Source. Teach us to turn to You in our every need, and to offer Your comfort and peace to those around us. Show us how to be Your hands, heart and voice to the hurting by loving people through their sorrow and loss. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our comfort in mourning. Amen.

 

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

 

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – Psalm 119:76

 

 

Mercy When We Need it Most

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, NLT) 

Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help. – (Hebrews 4:16, CEB) 

So, let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, VOICE) 

 

I am continually in awe of God’s provision of mercy and grace when we need it most. The last day and a half have been a whirlwind for me. Sadly, on Wednesday night, I sustained an injury to my lower left leg at football practice and struggled to sleep that night because of the pain. His grace was with me, and He provided the strength I needed to get through a day of teaching and maneuvering around campus, be it ever so slowly, until I was able to go get an x-ray. As it turned out, my fibula had been fractured, and my excitement and anticipation for our first game, eight days from now, were dashed. Thankfully, I did not have time for a pity party, as I had a District Championship gymnastics meet that I had to be present and on for, as the head coach of a phenomenal group of girls. Not only was the pain kept under control, but my girls had an incredible meet. We were hopeful for a shot at a win but went in as the second placing team. Beyond His help, there was incredible blessing, as the ladies had the best meet of the season. We ended up with the win, and I was acutely aware of His kindness for me, as I embraced the blessing He provided in spite of the frustration of my own injury. He is good, and His grace and help are present. May we ever go boldly before the throne of grace, as He grants us His mercy and help when we are in need. 

 

Let us choose draw near, wp-1522410516881456130985.jpg

With great confidence; 

For the God of grace, 

Mercy to dispense. 

His help is ready, 

When we are in need; 

In kindness, He helps, 

As we trust, He leads. 

So, boldly choose come, 

Before His great throne; 

Ready to receive, 

For each need is known. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace and help when we need it most. Thank You that we can come boldly before Your throne to receive what we need. Forgive us for not seeking in our need, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to pursue You in both our struggles and our blessings, as You are present in all. Show us how to love those around us in a way that conveys Your grace, mercy, kindness and help to those who need it the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before Your throne with thankful hearts, knowing that we are heard and loved beyond what our minds can conceive. Amen. 

 

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

 

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

Comfort in Mourning

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

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

 

Yesterday was a very heavy day for me. As I made my drive in to work, word of the tragedy that had taken place the previous night in Las Vegas flooded the airwaves. Grief gripped my heart like a vice, as I thought of the families who were suffering both with loss, inexplicable harm to loved ones, and the wait in not knowing if those dear to them were safe or had fallen in harm’s way. Sadly, my grief grew as I learned of the loss of an incredible woman, who had been lovingly invested in her church, community and family, and tragically died shortly after childbirth. It is in these moments, these seasons of sorrow, that I look to the Lord for comfort and some sort of sense to be made out of all of that which seems so senseless. Though I do not think I will ever completely understand why such horrific acts and terrible tragedies occur, I must cling to the promise that God blesses and comforts those who mourn. He is our comfort and our place of peace, even when nothing seems steady nor secure. May we ever cling to Christ, who is our comfort, as He will bless and embrace those who mourn.

 

God brings His blessing,Comfort in Mourning

To all those who mourn;

He’s our safe harbor,

Through all of life’s storms.

He’ll be our comfort,

When flooded with grief;

The One to embrace,

As love grants relief.

When tragedy strikes,

And hope seems but gone;

Bring grief to the Lord,

He’ll carry us on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in the midst of sorrow and heartache and so much tragedy, You are present to provide Your comfort. Thank You that Your arms embrace us, even when we cannot bear to lift our eyes from the weight of our sorrow. Thank You that You meet us in our mourning and bless us with Your comfort. Forgive us for not turning to You in our grief. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are the Provider of comfort and the One who blesses us in the midst of heartache. Show us how to love and comfort those who are grieving, so that they may know Your comfort in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort in our times of mourning. Amen.

 

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

 

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

He Gives Good

For the Lord our God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. – (Psalm 84:11, NLT)

The Lord God is our protector and glorious king. He blesses us with kindness and honor. The Lord freely gives every good thing to those who do what is right. – (Psalm 84:11, ERV)

 

I love seeing the surprise on the face of another, when unexpected blessings are poured out upon them. Yesterday, months of planning finally came to fruition. After a time killing distraction of a drive to the Hoover Dam, I brought the Viking to our long-awaited destination. When we arrived to what he thought would be some old friends of mine’s home, he was instead, greeted by four of our dearest friends, and his brother, whom he has not seen in over a year, who drove ten hours to be with us for the birthday celebration. The tears of joy on the faces of both brothers as they embraced, blessed the rest of us nearly as much as them. Viking is a good man who loves his people well, works hard, serves, and freely gives. Good things have come to him, as he has been on the giving end for so many. May we give thanks to God, who is our sun and shield, who gives us grace and glory. All praise to Him for every good thing that He brings.

 

The sun and our shield, He Gives Good

The Lord God on high;

Gives grace and glory,

Love none can deny.

Good freely given,

To those who do right;

Who love as He loves,

Held dear in His sight.

All thanks be to God,

For good that He brings;

Let us give Him praise,

As our hearts choose sing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being our sun and our shield. Thank You for the grace and glory that You give. Thank You for the good that You bring our way. Forgive us for choosing poorly, or for not giving You glory for all of the good that You give. Teach us to trust You more to guide us in Your way and to honor You in what we do and say. Show us how to love well, all whom You place in our circle to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks and praise for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

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

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

Comfort in Mourning

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

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

 

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

 

The blessings shall come,

Comfort in Mourning

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

 

to those who do mourn;

for Christ will comfort,

the weary, the worn.

His arms will embrace,

where we’re at a loss;

He’ll speak to our hearts,

show all is not lost.

God grants us the strength,

we need to get through;

gives peace in heartache,

His hope that renews.

 

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

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

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

How Great the Father’s Love

I never grow weary of the parable of the lost son, as each time I read it, I am reminded of just how great the Father’s love is for each of us. In this story, the son had squandered wealth he should have never asked for, and had sunk to rock bottom. His found himself in the lowliest of positions, destitute and desperate. When the son assessed his situation, he realized that repentance before his father, and a willingness to work as a hired hand were far better options than his present position. So he got up and went to his father. “but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (Luke 15:20)

 

The son recognized his sin, repented, and merely hoped to be made a hired hand. Instead, his father ran to meet him from a long way off, embraced him and celebrated his homecoming. God does the same for each of us when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though we may come, simply hoping to somehow be seen as “okay”, He does so much more. Christ welcomes us, gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and we are adopted as sons and daughters of God Himself. We are granted an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken, and provided promises to propel us along our path. May we receive the glorious gift of God’s grace, and welcome with open arms, the compassion conveyed in His embrace.

 

Foolish and selfish,How Great the Fathers Love

the arrogant son;

ran off and rebelled,

lowly position.

When he had squandered,

all that had been his;

he started longing,

for what he fed pigs.

It was then he knew,

that he must repent;

for his father’s men,

lived far more decent.

Perhaps he would hire,

give a chance, employ;

no longer worthy,

to be called dad’s boy.

So the son set off,

he headed for home;

imagine the awe,

as grace was made known.

For while still far off,

his father, he ran;

to greet and embrace,

this shell of a man.

The gifts that he gave,

assured him his worth;

a chance for new life,

a sense of rebirth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You with a repentant heart, You do for us, just as the father did for his son. You meet us where we are, shower us with Your grace, robe us in Your righteousness, celebrate our homecoming, and call us Your own! Thank You that we are welcomed into Your family, no matter where we have come from. Thank You that Your grace is more than enough to cover our sin and shame, and that You celebrate and embrace each of us as we choose You. Forgive us for thinking that You could not possibly forgive us for what we have done, or that another around us does not deserve the mercy and grace that You give. Teach us to see things through Your eyes, so that we too, will celebrate and embrace each and every individual who comes into Your kingdom. Lead us to love others as You unfailingly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize how ready You are to receive everyone who comes. Be glorified O God, as we give and receive Your great love. 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

What Gift Shall I Give?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. – (Matthew 2:11)

 

This verse is from Matthew’s account of when the Magi traveled to Bethlehem to see the child to whom the star had led them. Their journey had been long, yet they were overjoyed upon their arrival. Despite Jesus still being but a very small child, they bowed down before Him in worship. As wise men, it had been revealed to them, just how significant this toddler would become. Additionally, the treasures that were given, had symbolic significance that likely funded the family’s flight to Egypt and back. Gold was a gift for a king; incense, a gift for deity; and myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die. – (NIV footnotes)

 

Though the Magi were men of great wisdom, they did not yet know the whole story. We have an advantage, as we have the greatest gift that has ever been given. That toddler, the baby Jesus whom the wise men worshiped and presented gifts to, grew into a man who paid the penalty for all of our sin. He lived a life that was without sin, yet clothed Himself with all the world’s sin and suffered on our behalf upon the cross, then rose again in power so that we too, could overcome the snares of sin. Because Jesus took our place, we have the hope of life everlasting with Him. When we come before Him, what gift can we give? Though He needs nothing from us, He longs for our hearts to seek after His. Our worship, our praise, our adoration, our days – these are the gifts that we can give… May we go forth this day as an offering unto Him, as He has already given us the greatest gift of all.

 

The greatest of gifts,What Gift Shall I Give

we’ve ever received;

was granted to us,

the day we believed.

For as we embraced,

the truth of Your grace;

You freed us from sin,

and removed disgrace.

How can we repay,

such a blessed gift?

There’s nothing You need,

all praises we lift.

Honor and glory,

and hearts that are true;

may we bring You praise,

in all that we do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to come and make the way for us to be set free from sin and restored to right relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing all of our sin and shame upon the cross, and demonstrating Your power and glory so that we might receive the gift of Your grace and Your presence as we choose to believe. Forgive us for taking the greatest gift that we have ever been given for granted, and help us to seek to give You the gift of ourselves in return – our hearts, our hopes, our time, our worship – all unto You. Lead us to love people as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to embrace the grace that You so lovingly and generously pour out upon all who are willing to receive. Be glorified, Lord God, as we give all of ourselves unto You. Amen.

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

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

Legalism Loots Lasting Joy

In Galatians four, Paul was presenting his concerns to the believers of Galatia. Those who had initially embraced the gift of grace given by Christ Jesus, were setting it aside so that they could turn back to observing the laws. Clearly, full of great concern, Paul pleaded with his fellow followers of the faith. What has happened to all your joy?… – (Galatians 4:15a) Paul perceived that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism.

 

Legalism is a dangerous and slippery slope, and a thief of joy. It can take away joy because:

(1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.

(2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.

(3) It stresses performance over relationship.

(4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us. – (NIV footnotes)

 

If guilt, self-hatred, need to perform, or inadequacy are ruling our lives, we need to check our focus. Is faith reigning in our hearts, or have the reigns of legalism somehow crept into the corners and began to steal our joy? Let us throw off every burden that hinders us and allow Christ’s grace to cover us. May we walk by faith, and leave the links of legalism that try to bind us, far behind.

 

Joy that is complete,Legalism Loots Lasting Joy

must learn to let go;

walk away from chains,

and by faith, follow.

Faith receives His grace,

and lets go of guilt;

embraces His love,

where His peace is built.

It knows not self-hate,

shows humility;

needs not to perform,

is secure, set free.

It does not point out,

how far we fall short;

but rather looks up,

to Him who supports.

May we walk by faith,

embracing what’s true;

it’s all about Him,

not how much we do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Source of all grace and joy. Thank You that You came as the fulfillment of the law, as not one of us could ever truly follow the law. Thank You that Your grace is a gift that You give freely, and not something that we can somehow earn. Forgive us for any area of our lives where we may have fallen into the trap of legalism. Illuminate the truth and lead us out of the spaces and mindsets You never intended for us. Teach us to trust You and Your glorious gift of grace with all that we are. Lead us to live and love in the fullness of Your grace as You intended, and may many come to know You as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we walk in the freedom that Your forgiveness and grace have granted. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Risking Reputation to Do Right

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. – (Mark 15:43)

 

Just after Jesus had breathed His last breath on the cross, Joseph, a secret follower of Christ, knew he had a decision to make. Either he himself ought to step up and do what he was able to do to give Jesus a proper burial, or Jesus’ body would be left for the Romans to deal with, as no Jew would dare do anything with His body on the Sabbath. By going before Pilate to make his request, Joseph was exposing his faith for all to see. He had clearly come to a point where his desire to do right, outweighed his fear of being found out. Today, Joseph is the only actual name of any of the Sanhedrin that I’ve ever known. His decision to honor Christ, regardless of what it would do to his reputation, made him among those who are greatly admired in the history of our faith. We are called to do likewise. Doing right before God must be our priority, rather than worrying about our reputation before mankind. He calls us to obedience, not notoriety. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels. – (Mark 8:38) May we move forward in the light of His grace, walking in obedience to all that He is asking. Let us throw off every hindrance that causes fear of man or risk of ruining a reputation, and rise up to do right. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. – (1 John 2:5a)

 

No matter the risk,May We Love Much

nor the fear of man;

let us do what’s right,

in Christ’s strength we can.

For there is no man,

who can take away;

our eternal hope,

in Christ where we stay.

Men may choose slander,

with words they attack;

yet God is our strength,

we need not look back.

May we choose be bold,

stand firm in the truth;

righteous before God,

embraced and made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be the ultimate example of risking reputation and doing right before You. Though He was slandered and accused, He was without sin; choosing to die for each of us who placed accusations upon Him. Thank You for loving us far more than our mere minds can comprehend. Forgive us for worrying more about our reputation than about doing what is right before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may choose to do right, regardless of what others think of our decisions. Lead us to love as You so generously love each of us, and may many come to know that the rewards of following You, far outweigh the risks. Be glorified, O God, as we do right, regardless of the risk to our reputations. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16