Considering a Couple’s Calling

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – (Luke 2:1, 4-5, NIV) 

During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. So, Joseph and his fiancé, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth. – (Luke 2:1, 4-5, TPT) 

 

At the time of Caesar Augustus, if a decree was issued, the people followed. Though a seemingly chaos inducing order, I imagine a four-day, eighty-some mile journey on foot, would likely be a better option than dealing with the Roman guard. Furthermore, Mary was nearing the time that Jesus was due. There was probably some honor in being connected to the lineage of David, yet this young couple was about to enter town, unwed and very obviously expecting. Back then, such a predicament would be scandalous, and may have been the cause of their difficulty in finding a place to stay upon arrival in Bethlehem. Being that it was the town both Mary and Joseph were expected to register, it is odd that there were no family members that could offer them room. And, what about each of their families? These are my ponderings as I read through this particular passage this morning and picture their journey and struggles as they traveled. Did they travel alone as a couple, or were they part of a caravan? Did they have family that turned them away, or had their living ancestors all moved to Nazareth too? What I do know is that God was with them. Though it was a long and arduous journey, they were faithful to that which they had been called. At times, we too find ourselves in strange and seemingly desolate spaces, yet when we persevere in that which we have been asked to do, we discover that God uses our circumstances to grow, equip and transform us for that which lies ahead. Perhaps the four-day walk was an opportunity for Mary and Joseph to get to know one another and share their joys and fears about what had been spoken. Whatever transpired on their journey, God was with them, and He provided what they needed when it was needed most. May we seek and trust the Lord, even when we find ourselves on paths that have not yet been made plain. God is faithful and will remain with us, no matter our circumstances. 

 

No matter the road, Considering a Couples Calling

We find we need trod; 

The Lord is faithful, 

Ever-present God. 

Through trials and joys, 

No matter what comes; 

He grants what we need, 

The Most Holy One. 

So, seek the Lord’s grace, 

Choose trust in His Name; 

He grants strength and peace, 

Does what the word claims. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son into the world to walk among us and experience the same sort of struggles and joys that we do. Thank You for the faithfulness of Mary and Joseph, as they demonstrate what it is to truly trust You with all. Forgive us for our faltering faith when things do not make sense. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, no matter what we see. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your grace, peace and presence known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You rather than what we see or think we know, for You are the answer to our every need. Amen.

 

 

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

 

For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:3

A Faithful Heritage

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, NIV)

The Lord is good! There is no end to His faithful love. We can trust Him forever and ever! – (Psalm 100:5, ERV)

Because the Eternal is good, His loyal love and mercy will never end, and His truth will last throughout all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, VOICE)

 

Every year, I am blessed with the opportunity to gather with family to give thanks. What I have noticed, is that the same goodness and faithfulness that I remember my great-grandmothers speaking of, what I saw in my grandparents’ lives, have witnessed and still see in my mom’s life, I now observe in awe, in my own life and the lives of my children. This is not to say that life has been free of trials or struggles or difficulty, but rather it is that through it all, the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness have been evident through each generation. May we take time to tell one another of the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness in our lives, as His love endures forever and His mercy knows no end.

 

Come and bless the Lord,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

He’s faithful and good;

His love is endless,

Throughout time it’s stood.

Firm in great mercy,

Generous in grace;

Faithful forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Each generation,

Make known to the next;

This love, unending,

As God loves us best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for a heritage of wise women and men who followed faithfully after You. Thank You for the example that previous generations have set for the next. Forgive us for not sharing enough about Your faithfulness with those who follow after us. Teach us to trust and rely on You, so that our children and their children cannot help but see Your faithful, enduring love forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your faithfulness, love and grace known through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever and give You praise throughout all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. – Psalm 119:90

Ever Sing Praise

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – (Psalm 13:6, NIV)

I will sing to the Lord because He has blessed me so richly. – (Psalm 13:6, TLB)

I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers. – (Psalm 13:6, MSG)

 

After an amazing day of being celebrated well, I cannot help but overflow with gratitude to God for surrounding me with people who love me as He does. He makes His heart known to me in ways that bless my heart. I am loved as I had always hoped to be loved, and now am six days away from marrying the man whom my heart loves, who gently and fiercely loves me too. God’s timing is perfect, even when we are unaware. I can look back and give thanks for the difficulties that I was carried through, as they have shaped who I have become in Him and make me appreciate the good that has followed all the more. May we ever sing praise to the Lord, for He is good to all who seek Him.

 

Each day my heart sings, wp-15316631004892234831728557638132.jpg

With thanks to the Lord;

For how He blesses,

All grace He affords.

The Lord has been good,

Throughout all my days;

He lifts me with love,

As I seek His face.

Through trial and good,

The Lord’s ever near;

To bless us with joy,

And calm all our fears.

Let grateful hearts sing,

For all of our days;

As goodness and grace,

Are God’s loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your heart for all of creation. Thank You that You are so good to us. Forgive us for not offering proper praise for Your goodness, grace and generous loving ways. Teach us to praise You daily, for You alone are worthy of all of our gratitude. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them recognize the good that we have been given through Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing Your praise for all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. – Psalm 146:2

 

 

A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. Amen. 

 

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

 

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

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)

Love Made Known

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE)

 

John, who had walked with Jesus closely as His disciple, was both reminding and reassuring those who followed Christ, that our ultimate call is to love. This charge has not changed throughout the ages. All of the wisdom and wonder that is packed in the Bible can be best explained as: we are called to love God and love people. To do so, it cannot simply be something that we theorize and discuss, but rather we must act upon it and live it out in our daily lives. Love must be evident in not only what we say, but also in the things that we do. May our lives display a pattern of faithfully living a life of love, consistent with that which we are called to do.

 

Our love shouldn’t be talk, Love Made Known

It’s much more than words;

It must be sincere,

Beyond what is heard.

For love is made known,

Through what we choose show;

May all that we do,

Be lit by love’s glow.

When all that we do,

And all that we say;

Demonstrate His love,

His heart’s on display.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are love. Thank You that You call us to love You and love those around us through our words and deeds. Thank You that You do not call us to do anything that You are not also willing to equip us to do. Forgive us for the times that our words and deeds do not align with Your gracious love. Teach us to trust You more so that we would show Your love through all that we say and do. Help us to love those around us with goodness and grace, even when the word or deeds extended toward us are kind nor warranting a gentle response. May our love turn away wrath and lead many to Your loving arms. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show love through all that we say and do. Amen.

 

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

 

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant 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

Peace and Justice Made Plain

Let there be peace and justice throughout the land, known on every mountain and hill. – (Psalm 72:3, ERV)

 

Though these words were part of a prayer for King Solomon, they still remain true as the hope for each generation that has followed. When we seek the Lord and His will for our lives, our homes, our neighborhoods and our nation, His peace and justice become made plain. The more who seek Him, the more His ways and His will are made evident everywhere we go. May we ever pursue our Provider, as His peace and justice are made clear through all who cling to Christ.

 

May the peace of God,Compassion in Confrontations

And His justice too;

Be made evident,

Through hearts that pursue.

As we seek the Lord,

May His heart be known;

From mountains to seas,

Let His ways be shown.

For none can compare,

To the Lord, our God;

Brings peace to chaos,

Justice where it’s not.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bring Your peace and justice throughout the land, and make Yourself known on every mountain and hill. Thank You that even when we cannot see the evidence of Your hand at work, You are moving on our behalf. Forgive us for our lack of faith when chaos and injustice seem to reign. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and cling to You by faith, knowing that You are doing far more than we know, even when we are unaware of how You are working in our midst. Help us to hold fast to the peace that You provide, as it is our reminder that You will do what You promise. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers peace and presence in places of pain. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your peace and justice, for You are always good. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Grateful for What is Given

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. – (2 Timothy 1:2, NIV)

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace. – (2 Timothy 1:2, NLT)

 

These words were Paul’s exhortation to Timothy as he was essentially waiting on death row. Emperor Neuro had shifted the blame for the great fire in Rome from himself to those who faithfully followed Christ. Despite being in a cold dungeon, awaiting his sentence to be carried out, Paul used the time he still had to encourage Timothy. Grace is the good we receive that we do not deserve, and mercy is not being given that which we do. Furthermore, in the midst of persecution, Paul was praying for peace. Regardless of circumstances, his hope was that Timothy would cling to Christ, and remember the promises and good that come from God alone. The very same words meant to encourage one man who was likely mourning the impending death of his dear father-like friend, are also for each of us. May we embrace the grace and mercy that God provides, and pursue the place where we can simply rest in the peace that He alone can give, despite what is going on around us.

 

No matter what comes,

Thankful for Love that Endures

Vandy Massey Watercolor

Help us look around;

See grace and mercy,

From where peace is found.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You are the way;

Calm in our chaos,

Our hope for each day.

Let us ever seek,

Your help and Your heart;

So we’ll know the truth,

Of all You impart.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our source of grace, mercy and peace, regardless of what is going on around us. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and are made aware of Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for not seeking You in the midst of our storms, and help us to trust You more, so that we would remember that all grace, all mercy and all peace are provided by Your loving hand. Show us how to love others in a way that extends Your grace, mercy and peace, so that many may come to know the hope that is held in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we are so grateful for the grace, mercy and peace that You give in both calm and chaos, as we navigate all of our days. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Rest As Required

They went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint His body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. – (Luke 23:56, NLT)

 

The women who had faithfully followed Jesus and watched in sorrow as He breathed His last breath on the cross, were without many options as to what they might actually be able to do in response to such a seeming tragedy. The only role they knew was to faithfully prepare that which would grant their Savior a proper burial. I imagine they worked feverishly and with painstaking care, to finish the preparations in hope of going to the tomb right away, prior to their required rest. Sabbath sunrise arrived just after their work was done, and the ladies were left in a holding pattern of not yet.

How often do we too, in our seeming inability to do anything to help a situation, resort to that which we know, only to get to a place where we hit a wall, and find that we are stuck in a space of waiting or not yet? Often, it is much like it was for the women. Sunday is yet to come. That which is ahead, is exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, even if it is something that has been promised before. Christ had told those who were faithful followers of His that He would rise, yet something about His foretelling did not ever really register with any of them. Often our places of pause or required rest, are strategically spaced just prior to a promise fulfilled or movement of a miracle. May we seek the Lord in our spaces of Sabbath, and simply rest in the assurance that He is good and His faithfulness never ends.

 

In that restless space,Confidence Comes Through Christ

when we hit the wall;

we can’t move forward,

on Him, let us call.

Ever so often,

that‘s the very place;

where He intended,

that we seek His face.

It’s in the seeking,

that we come to find;

His help and His hope,

He’s patient and kind.

Often the forced pause,

that space where we rest;

a season to find,

what‘s coming is best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are present and moving, even when it seems that we have hit a wall or come to a place of helplessness where we can do nothing more. Thank You that this is the very space where You bring us to rest in You. Thank You that You showed us that things were still and silent, and the world had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, just as You had said it would be. Thank You for the difference that the next day brought. Forgive us for resisting rest when it seems to be required, or for not making time to sit quietly before You to fix our eyes on You and all that You have done. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, regardless of how things appear. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too may look to You in the quiet stillness where rest is found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You on our Sabbaths, and trust You in our spaces of waiting. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19