Hope Rises

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see where He lay.” – (Matthew 28:1-6, NIV)

After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God’s angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn’t move. The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as He said. Come and look at the place where He was placed.” – (Matthew 28:1-6, MSG)

 

The more I dig into the scriptures to unpack the details of Holy Week, the more I notice things that either have escaped me previously, or that I had somehow forgotten over time. This morning, after reading about Jesus’ resurrection in all four gospels, I had a moment of “Wow, how did I miss that before?”  In Mark, Luke, and John’s telling of the resurrection, the accounts each begin AFTER the stone had been rolled away. So, what does this matter, you ask? For me, this added to the already miraculous resurrection, as Jesus had risen and left the tomb BEFORE the stone was rolled away. In the same way that He “appeared” in the locked room where the disciples were meeting after all of this had taken place, Jesus had “disappeared” from the tomb, only to “appear” before Mary in the garden by the tomb. Next, Jesus “appeared” to the two disciples along the road to Emmaus, then among the disciples gathered in the locked room, and later at the Sea of Galilee, where He reinstated Peter, as well as in a variety of other places and spaces to teach and equip His followers before He ascended into Heaven. (Read John 20:11-21:25 for specifics) For me, this is a reminder of the incredible power of Christ. We, in our frail humanity, cannot begin to fathom the power held in the hands of our Creator. The very same God who created heaven and earth, bore the sin of the world to redeem all humanity, and then rose from three days dead. Beyond that, He lived and loved and touched and equipped those around Him further, before He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where He is ever moving on our behalf. It is no wonder they say that “Hope Rises.”  It does indeed. Christ rose. The sun rises each new day. As the weight of fear, suffering, sin and sorrow are laid at His feet, we are empowered and strengthened to rise. I wonder if that is why God created day and night the way that He did. Each morning as the sun rises, we have the opportunity to be reminded that the Son rose for us; new hope, new help, every single day. May we embrace the truth that HE HAS RISEN, and allow hope to rise in all of us on this glorious Easter morning. Let the world rejoice, for hope has risen, HE is alive!

 

 

Imagine the tomb, Statements of Praise

Cold, lifeless and still;

Guarded, protected,

O God, what’s Your will?

All of a sudden,

The earth starts to shake;

Terrifying light,

Moves the stone away.

From atop the stone,

A voice then declares;

“Do not be afraid,

He’s no longer there.”

Guards frozen in fear,

Ladies look in awe;

Just grave clothes remain,

This scene that they saw.

What He had promised,

Had now come to pass;

Jesus had risen,

Our hope that shall last.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to live and love, to die and rise again, so that we might know the hope that is found in You alone. Thank You that today is a day to remember how powerfully hope rises, as You rose up out of the grave and defeated death for our sake. Forgive us for forgetting the power held in hope that rises, for You have the power to resurrect anything. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our hope, strength, light and life. Show us how to love well, all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look into the empty tomb and see that the Son has risen for us anew, so that we may know hope in You. Amen.

 

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

 

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20

 

*If you need an Easter service to join, please join me at Grace Church, 10am, PST. ❤

Restore to Me the Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, VOICE)

 

As I sat down to read my devotions this morning, the words that kept resonating in my heart and mind, were “restore to me the joy”, despite the lack of connection to the passages I was reading. For the last few days, I have been in a bit of a funk. I seemed to reach my breaking point yesterday, as I could not coax the normal joy from within, to make any sort of appearance externally. The weight on my heart and mind was just too heavy. Between sickness, disease, and pending death in family members, work, home, and numerous responsibilities and demands that go far beyond what one person is meant to bear alone, I was beginning to crumble on the inside. Kindness extended from colleagues made my eyes threaten to defy me, and it took everything in me to fend off tears. Isolation and work best suited my sullen state during lunch, and God granted me the strength to navigate the remainder of the day. Thankfully, gymnastics practice after school is a place that brings joy, as I delight in the doing that offers help and encouragement in an arena outside of the classroom, where I am not being assessed on every move that I make. Post practice I had the privilege of meeting up with my running buddy for a run, and that too, reminded me of the joy that is within me as I moved freely, pounding out the pain into the pavement. Upon arriving home, my amazing husband was set to love me well. He was aware of my struggle, and took care of dinner preparations, clean up, and then just sat with me, in silent support loving me all the while. This morning, I feel lighter somehow. God is faithful, and He is willing to restore His joy in us as we seek Him. His joy is not happiness with our circumstances, but rather a deep delight in Him, despite what we are walking through. The smile that is typically so readily seen on my face is not because life is always easy, but rather it is rooted in the joy granted through knowing who holds me in the hollow of His hands, every minute of every day. Perhaps yesterday I lost sight of that for a time, or my frail humanity reared its ugly head. Either way, sorrow and heavy took a spot not designated for them, and today, they are being placed back in the palms of He who can carry it all. May we ever seek the Lord to hold our heart and our hands in our heaviness, and pursue Him to restore the joy that comes in knowing our eternity is secure forever in Him.

 

O Lord God above, Restore to Me the Joy

May I ever seek;

Your joy in sorrow,

And strength when I’m weak.

For You are faithful,

You’re mighty to save;

You love us to life,

Through all of our days.

Help us to place all,

In Your mighty hands;

As Your love restores,

Faith we need to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One who restores true joy within us. Thank You that You love us and take our burdens upon Yourself, when we are carrying more than we should. Forgive us for losing sight of where our true joy resides. Teach us to trust You more, so that Your light will shine through us, always. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore our joy in You. Amen.

 

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

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12

Give Thanks for the Love that Lasts

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)

Oh, thank God – He’s so good! His love never runs out. – (Psalm 107:1, MSG)

Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good and His loyal love lasts forever. – (Psalm 107:1, VOICE)

 

This verse is a two-fold reminder. First, it helps us remember Who is always good and loving, and consequently, it ought to serve as a reminder that people, despite having the best of intentions, are not. In our frail humanity, we are bound to do or say things that hurt others. God, however, in His infinite goodness, never runs out of love for us. If we look to people to be our source of love and light, we will end up disappointed and hurting; yet if we seek the Lord and His unending love, we will not be wounded nor left wondering how He feels about us. May we give thanks to God for His unending love, and ever turn to Him first for love and acceptance.

 

All thanks be to God,Give Thanks for the Love that Lasts

For His love and grace;

It is eternal,

In every way.

Let us ever seek,

The Lord first for love;

As it shall endure,

Our hope from above.

When we come to know,

This love that is good;

We choose trust in Him,

Give grace where we should.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, and that Your love endures forever. Forgive us for looking for validation through people, rather than through the eyes and heart of our Creator. Teach us to trust You and Your love for us, so that we would be confident in our value in You, rather than what we think others see. Show us how to love and value others in a way that pleases You and makes people aware of their worth in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for Your goodness and Your lasting loyal love. 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

Trust in the Face of Fear

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. – (Psalm 56:3, NLT)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. – (Psalm 56:3, NIV)

 

Both versions of this verse are a great reminder of how we are meant to respond to fear. One is an action statement for the right now, and the other is anticipating an action plan for whatever lies ahead. In each circumstance, our response ought to be to trust the Lord, as He is our help and our hope for today, tomorrow and forever. Despite the faithfulness God has shown before, in our frail humanity, we often lose sight of how great our God is, and focus instead on how overwhelming the obstacle in our path. This is the place where we must slow down, breathe deeply, and remember Who is far greater than anything that lies before us. When the rubber meets the road and fear stares us directly in the face, this, this is the space where we have to choose whether or not we will trust. God is patient, and it seems that even when I choose panic over trust, He waits lovingly until I come to the place where I am ready to turn to Him, and walks beside me and guides me to lead me from a place of fear to one of resolve. God is good and worthy of all of our trust. May we place our trust in Him when we feel fear fighting for a foothold.

 

When I feel afraid,Be strong and courageous

The Lord’s ever near;

If I choose to trust,

He will always hear.

Whatever we face,

God is so much more;

His presence provides,

Love, strength, hope and more.

He goes before us,

And He stands beside;

There’s nothing we face,

That He can’t supply.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are afraid, we can place our trust in You. Thank You that You are worthy of all of our trust, as You alone supply the strength, courage and grace that we need to overcome every obstacle that lies before us. Forgive us for our fearfulness that keeps us from moving forward. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in faith, believing that You are who You say You are and that You will do what You say You will do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps alleviate fears and gives strength and courage to persevere in the face of adversity. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You when we are afraid. 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