A Glimpse of Heaven

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10) 

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! It is for everyone everywhere! – (Luke 2:8-10, TPT) 

 

Ordinary shepherds learned of extraordinary news. The men out in their fields were used to fending off predators to their flock, but angelic visits were not within their repertoire of everyday occurrences that they encountered while watching their sheep. Clearly it was an overwhelming sight, as the radiant splendor of God’s messenger caused great fright within the shepherds, and the angel of the Lord had to tell them that they need not be afraid. Incredibly, these faithful shepherds were the first to receive news of the Savior’s birth, and were quick to leave their fields to go and see what the angel had spoken of in Bethlehem. The shepherd’s rapid response to the angel’s news led to them being among the very first to witness and marvel at the miracle lying before them in a manger. The Son of God, Christ the Savior, had arrived. Just as the shepherds received the news so long ago, we are reminded each year during this season of celebration, of the great news that began with the birth of Jesus, that ultimately led to the opportunity for salvation for all who choose believe. May we take time to meditate on the splendor of Christ’s majesty, and recognize the remarkable way in which He came into the world. No palace nor throne, but a simple stable in the open air of night, as an angel proclaimed the arrival of Christ the Lord to some faithful shepherds. Ordinary men received extraordinary news, and because they chose to listen and go see, their lives were changed for all eternity. 

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

In the fields that night; 

Met by an angel, 

Terrifying sight. 

Radiant glory, 

Overwhelmed the men; 

Unprepared to see, 

A glimpse of heaven. 

The angel told them, 

“Do not be afraid; 

For I bring good news, 

To tell you this day.” 

Birth of the Savior, 

In the town nearby; 

They rushed to go see, 

The sweet babe that night. 

Imagine the sight, 

As shepherds arrived; 

Just as they had heard, 

The hope for mankind. 

Though but an infant, 

The shepherds, they knew; 

What had been spoken, 

Was certainly true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be among us. Thank You that though He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He came in a way that is approachable and relatable. Heaven came to earth through a miraculous birth, and was declared to ordinary people, just like us. Forgive us for not recognizing in wonder, the magnitude of what took place. Teach us to see and imagine the mountains You moved to bring heaven to earth, so that we all could come to know You, personally. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects the depth and willing sacrifice that Your love has given through Jesus. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe and wonder at the humble and incredible way that Jesus came to make the way for us all to know You. Amen.

 

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

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – Luke 2:15

Jettison Judgment

Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. – (Romans 14:13, NIV)

So, we should stop judging each other. Let’s decide not to do that will cause a problem for a brother or sister or hurt their faith. – (Romans 14:13, ERV)

So, don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong. – (Romans 14:13, TLB)

 

This is a two-fold instruction for us to follow. First, we are not called to judge one another. Rather, we are called to love. The very nature of loving others includes making choices that will not bring harm to them. If we are mindful of the things that are a struggle for those around us, we will be abiding by the second part of what we are instructed to do. We each have a different level of what is and is not acceptable in our own eyes and within our own walk with God. If we know that another cannot or does not do something because it is what they feel is right before God, then it is not that difficult to refrain from it in their presence, so as to not lead them to be tempted to judge us. Above all, if we are guided by God in choosing to love one another first, the latter is less likely to be as much of a struggle. May we ever seek the Lord and His eyes for others, so that we would see through the lens of love, rather than judgment.

 

Seek first to choose love, choose-love1

So we will not judge;

Brothers and sisters,

Whom we’re called to love.

Likewise, let us seek,

To walk in a way;

That does not distract,

As we live each day.

If we are aware,

Of stumbling blocks;

Simply choose avoid,

Those things as we talk.

It is far better,

To build others up;

Love with open hearts,

And fill well their cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us and love us as we are. Thank You that when we seek You, You will lead us and direct our steps as to how to love best. Forgive us for judging others or for saying or doing things that cause those around us to stumble. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom as to how to best navigate each encounter with others to demonstrate love above all else. Show us how to love without judgment and to walk in Your grace so that we do not draw judgment from others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to show us others through Your eyes so that we do not judge, and to grant us wisdom to walk upright and not cause those around us to stumble. Amen.

 

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

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. – Matthew 7:1

 

Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Seek to be Shown

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. – (Proverbs 3:6, NLT)

With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way. – (Proverbs 3:6, ERV)

In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. – (Proverbs 3:6, TLB)

 

The road of life is a journey that takes many twists and turns. Often, we follow the road in the way that feels right, only to discover that He is leading us in a different direction. Though seemingly trivial, my fiancé and I are finding this principle to be true as our house hunt continues. The home we loved and seriously thought could be ours, had fees that were not at first disclosed, and will likely be part of a bidding war that will go far beyond our reach. At first, we were discouraged because it seemed to be such a perfect fit for our merging families and what we need, yet as we talked and prayed and chose to trust, we have discovered that there are more out there that will meet the hopes that we hold, for far less money than the first home. In fact, we found a house yesterday that is literally a few blocks from the home that my boys and I live in currently. It has the space that we need, rooms, restrooms, parking, and even a potential place to build a shop for my fabulous Viking. Even more, my favorite scent of spring is in bloom to the left of the front door, and the entire neighborhood seems to be teeming with English Laurel plants to welcome and invite me in. I know not whether this home is “the one” or not, but we will continue to trust that He will show us which path to take and meet our efforts with success. May we ever seek the Lord in all that we do, as He will be faithful to direct our steps.

 

Choose to seek the Lord, Seek to be Shown

In all that you do;

For He is faithful,

To direct us through.

He’ll show us the path,

We are meant to take;

And grant us the strength,

To walk in His way.

Sometimes where He leads,

Seems disappointing;

But hold on in trust,

And watch what He’ll bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You in all things, You are faithful to meet us and show us the right way to go. Thank You that though we may feel disappointment when things don’t go the way that we had hoped they might, You have something better than we could have imagined in store for us. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith when we cannot see how You are moving on our behalf. Teach us to trust You even when we cannot see what You are doing, as You are always faithful. Show us how to love others well as we follow wherever You lead us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your will in all that we do and give You praise for showing us the right way 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

Remain in His Love

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. – (1 John 4:16b, NLT) 

God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. – (1 John 4:16b, CEB) 

God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in them. – (1 John 4:16b, VOICE) 

 

God is the Author and Creator of love, as He is Himself, love. In order for any of us to truly lead a life that exhibits love as we were created to give and receive, we must first know and embrace God’s love for ourselves. When we believe, receive and walk in the light of God’s love, we are able to give out of the abundance of what we have come to know. May we seek, find and faithfully remain in His love, so that we are able to go forth and live the lives of love we have been designed to display. 

 

For God is our Source, Remain in His Love

Where true love comes from; 

As we live in Him, 

Our hearts are restrung. 

He fills us with peace, 

Overwhelms with grace; 

So we may go forth, 

In love all our days. 

Let us choose remain, 

In the love of God; 

So His love in us, 

Is what we pass on. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are love and that all who truly live in love are living in You and You in us. Forgive us for the times that we have not exhibited Your faithful love to those around us. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would give the very same goodness and grace that we are given by You, to all those around us. Show us how to love all whom we are called to love according to Your perfect plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live faithfully in You so that we may live out our days in light of Your perfect love. Amen. 

 

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Faithful Love Never Ends

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. – (Psalm 107:1, NLT) 

Say thank you to the Lord for being so good, for always being so loving and kind. – (Psalm 107:1, TLB) 

Let everyone give all their praise and thanks to the Lord! Here’s why – He’s better than anyone could ever imagine. Yes, He’s always loving and kind, and His faithful love never ends. – (Psalm 107:1, TPT) 

 

This is a month where society floods us with messages of “love”. For some of us, it is a seemingly sweet sentiment, as we are in a good space, and know and appreciate that we are loved well. However, there are others who are in spaces of mourning, either for the love they have lost, or the love than is yet to be. The challenge in either space is to keep a proper perspective toward the love that matters most. God’s love has always been and will always be, and is not dependent on our feelings nor performance. No matter what sort of relationships we are in, our relationship with God ought to come first. When we love God and know His love well, we are equipped to give and receive love in a way that is lasting. May we rise up and give thanks to the Lord for His good, faithful and lasting love and receive what He gives, so that we can go and give in the same way. 

 

All thanks be to God, Love Made Known

For goodness and love; 

He’s always faithful, 

To help from above. 

He gives us kindness, 

For all of our days; 

Love overflowing, 

He’s present always. 

No matter status, 

Together, alone; 

When we go with God, 

Our heart’s always home. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your faithful love endures forever. Thank You that when we are single, You fill the places in our hearts that lack. Thank You that when You bring love to us, You show us Your heart for us in new ways through the other person. Thank You that in all things, You are loving and kind. Forgive us for our impatience and desire to see things go our way, rather than trusting You and Your perfect timing. Teach us to trust You in the waiting. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may gain glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for all our days for Your faithful love that never ends. 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

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Where Greatness is Found

They began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. – (Luke 22:24, NLT)

Later, the apostles began to argue about which one of them was the most important. – (Luke 22:24, ERV)

The disciples bickered over which one of them would be considered the greatest in the kingdom. – (Luke 22:24, TPT)

 

Even after spending nearly every day with Jesus for the previous three years, the disciples still argued and postured for position. What this shows me is that even those who walk closely with the Lord, are subject to the frailty of the human condition. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we all desperately need a Savior to lead a life of love, according to His good and perfect will. A bit further in the same chapter, Jesus let the disciples know that to be great, is to serve rather than to be served. He reminded them to follow the example that He had set before them all along. As always, the main message can be simplified to loving God and loving people. If we do both of these things, we will not worry about being greater, because we will prefer one another in love. Love lifts up, it does not tear down nor posture for position. May we ever seek the Lord and His ways, so that we can love Him and others for all of our days.

 

Let’s fix not our eyes, Enter With Thanksgiving

On how to be great;

But instead choose serve,

Lift up, elevate.

Choose prefer others,

Let love lead the way;

For this is God’s plan,

To share well His grace.

Never be worried,

About being great;

For God looks at you,

And He celebrates.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us not because of what we do, but because we are Your created. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and love us anyway. Forgive us for our foolishness that argues or seeks position rather than Your affirmation. Teach us to trust You more, so that the only approval that concerns us is Yours. Show us how to love those around us in a way that prefers others first and meets needs wherever they may be. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love You and love people as You call us to do. Amen.

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Value Everyone

Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. – (1 Peter 2:17, NLT)

Recognize the value of every person and continually show love to every believer. Live your lives with great reverence and in holy awe of God. Honor your rulers. – (1 Peter 2:17, TPT)

Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. – (1 Peter 2:17, MSG)

 

Considering the climate within our country right now, this is a very timely verse. If we each could recognize the value of one another, regardless of what is perceived, there would be far less tension and more movement toward solutions. The church is not exempt from the struggle. The body of believers is called to love one another. If we all choose to love, then our primary mode of operation should be to seek to understand first. In all things, we are called to live in reverence of God. When we remember Who ultimately is in control, our priorities and perspectives begin to align with His, and love flavors all that we say and do. Finally, we are called to respect the governing body. How do we do this? There are so many conflicting views and opposing opinions, how are we supposed to honor and respect that which seems so unreal? For me, the best way I know to do this is to choose to pray. Pray for wisdom and insight for those who are in positions of leadership. I do not have to agree with who is in position, nor what their position is to pray for them to lead well and make decisions that are best for our city, state, or country. May we ever rise up and recognize the value of every person on this planet that has been placed here by the most holy God. Let us live in reverence of Him as we treat others with dignity and choose to love.

 

For we each are called, Show the Love

look and recognize;

The value of all,

To see through God’s eyes.

Among believers,

We’re meant to love well;

To be family,

God’s story to tell.

To honor rulers,

Let us choose to pray;

For wisdom to lead,

The very best way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to give us the strength and grace to do. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You loved us. Thank You that when we choose to respect and love those around us, You break down barriers and make a way for Your light to shine where darkness once reigned. Thank You too, that You work in ways that we cannot see and can use leaders that we don’t understand to do things for eventual good. Forgive us for not choosing love and respect for others when that is what we are called to do, regardless of what we receive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend Your love and grace to all whom we encounter, no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love like You, so that barriers are broken down and Your peace may prevail. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to value everyone and love as You love us. 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

Pray for People

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, give thanks for them. – (1 Timothy 2:1, NLT)

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. – (1 Timothy 2:1, ERV)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. – (1 Timothy 2:1, MSG)

 

This is exactly the reminder that I needed this morning. I have one class during my day that feels like a battle zone. No matter what I try in my teacher bag of tricks, I cannot come to a consistent calm in that class. Between the attention seekers, the noise makers, and the downright disrespectful, each day it is a struggle to walk in with new hope that it might be better. Some days I pray, but really more for survival than for specific kids. I do like each of the kids individually, yet when combined together, a different dynamic arises, and there is rarely joy in what I am doing. Today, I am going to pray differently. I will be praying for these young ones individually, and with gratitude. My prayer will be for God’s blessing and provision to be poured out upon them. My hope is that as I reset my heart’s focus, there would be a change in me that somehow overflows to them. May we run to our Redeemer in prayer, ever lifting up all people before Him – interceding on their behalf as we give thanks for them.

 

O God, here I am, Pray

Before You in prayer;

Lifting up others,

Who need know Your care.

Father, please help them,

In every way;

Bless them and keep them,

Throughout their whole day.

Provide all they need,

May Your love be shown;

Thank You for each life,

I’m blessed to have known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and pray to You, You hear us and meet us where we are. Lord, I lift up people who are struggling to fit, be it students in a classroom, people in a workplace, or community members in their given community. Thank You for each person that You have given us. Please bless them and provide for their every need – spiritual, emotional and physical. Forgive us for not looking past our own frustrations with the behaviors that people display. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see others through Your eyes so that we may respond in love, even when frustration rises. Show us how to pray for people in a way that matters. Help us to be an extension of Your hands and heart to those around us through the way in which we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray for all people and give You thanks for them. Amen.

 

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

 

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