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

No Room for Them

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. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. 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

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. 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 54:8

New Life from What Appears Empty

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. Se the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.'” – (Mark 16:6-7)

These two verses are packed full of significance. They demonstrate just how personal Jesus is to people, and how specifically He cares for us, individually. He knew to have the waiting messenger first tell those who found the empty tomb to not be afraid. Jesus knew their hearts and knew that fear would be their first response. Next, he showed them where the Savior had been laid, so they could see for themselves that He had risen, just as He had said He would do. After that, the ladies were charged with the task of going to tell the disciples, (with specific mention of Peter who had just denied Jesus three times) that Christ had risen! Finally, they were assured that Jesus had gone ahead of them to Galilee, and that they would get to see Him there, just as He had promised.

Jesus knows us. He knows our hearts and our needs. He knows what we need to see and hear to understand and to fend off fear. Jesus takes our circumstances and places people in our path whom convey hope that He is good and His word is true. Christ remains present with us, and does not leave us, despite how things appear. Though the ladies approached an empty tomb, what they discovered was the risen Lord. May we approach our empty tombs with hopeful hearts, trusting that the Lord knows our needs and will lead us and stay beside us, to the place where we too, witness the wonder of what He has planned.

Our Savior Jesus,Hope in an Empty Tomb

knows us each by name;

His heart is for us,

and His truth remains.

No matter what comes,

or stands in our way;

the Lord is our help,

our peace each new day.

Seek Christ in triumph,

and when troubles come;

He’s ever ready,

where our hope is from.

Dear heart, hold not fear,

for Jesus made way;

to overcome all,

as we trust and pray.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us, individually and personally. Thank You that You know our needs before we even express them, and You love us where we are at. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we encounter the seemingly empty tombs in our lives, and teach us to trust You, and Your plan to bring life and hope and redemption from what seems like an end. Teach us to trust You more, so that we eagerly await each new thing that You bring, regardless of how it appears. Lead us to love others with the same gentleness and compassion that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to bring new life out of our empty tombs. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Recognizing the Glory

Imagine the shock of an empty tomb, only to be greeted by giant men in gleaming white…  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered this very greeting when they went to the tomb in hope of seeing where the Savior lay.  An angel went on to inform the faithful women that Jesus had risen and was not there, and that He was going ahead of them into Galilee.  “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  ‘Greetings’, He said.  They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him.” – (Matthew 28:8-9)

 

 

From fear to joy, to shock, then at last, overwhelmed with adoration for the Savior upon seeing Him face-to-face, the Marys’ had quite an eventful set of encounters.  How do we respond when we find ourselves in the presence of His greatness and His grace?  God with us, is everywhere.  In the eyes of a new baby, in the kindness of a stranger, in the heart of our worship when we gather together; He is easy to recognize if we simply slow down and allow our hearts to gaze upon all of the good that He has provided around us.  His glory radiates from His creation.  May we take time to pause and recognize the glory of God that surrounds us, and give proper praise to He who deserves all of our worship today.

 

 

The glory of God,He Seeks to Save

so much to behold;

may hearts recognize,

the good that unfolds.

All of creation,

speaks of His glory;

and each of us have,

part in the story.

May we each respond,

in worshipful praise;

to the heart of Christ,

for all of our days.

Let our hearts embrace,

and our minds receive;

all that He has done,

by faith, we believe.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know and understand who You are.  Thank You that we may embrace all that You are, as we are welcomed and received by You, as we are viewed through the filter of Your Son.  Thank You Jesus, for living, loving, dying and rising so that we may live victoriously in You.  Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable evidence of Your presence that is all around us, and help us to embrace all that You provide.  Teach us to trust You more so that we may live and love as You did.  Help us to love all those whom surround us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You as they recognize Your goodness and grace.  Be glorified O God, as we give You glory and praise for all of our days.  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

 

Do What You Can Do

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. – (Luke 23:55:56)

 

What stands out to me about these women, was that though they could not go and speak out on the Lord’s behalf before the Roman government or Jewish council when Jesus had been on trial because women we not permitted to do such things at that time, they did the things that they could do. They followed Jesus, even as He was taking His final steps to the site of the cross. As He hung in agony, they did not flee, but stood near, watching, waiting. After He breathed His last breath, the faithful women followed Joseph with Jesus’ body, so that they would know where He had been laid, so that Christ’s body could be properly preserved with spices and perfumes. To the ladies, their faithful acts may have seemed small and insignificant, yet clearly to Christ, they had great value. In fact, I imagine that their devotion had much to do with them being the first to see the risen Lord. May we each be faithful to the tasks that we are called to do, regardless of how we view them. What may seem insignificant to us, could actually be monumental in the eyes of the Lord.

 

Whatever we do,Consistent Character2

let it be with grace;

may our hearts be right,

as we run our race.

May we serve with joy,

and honor the King;

may our every breath,

be an offering.

No task is too small,

to honor the One;

Who grants us new life,

through His only Son.

May our hands and hearts,

continually seek;

to love and to serve,

Your words, help us speak.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see our hearts, and You love us where we are. Thank You that when we seek to serve You, You meet us and equip us and bless us with Your presence. Thank You that You love and forgive, the moment we ask. Forgive us for the times that we scatter, or for thinking the things that we faithfully do everyday, don’t matter. Help us to fix our eyes securely on You, and to focus on loving You and loving people. May many come to know You and Your loving kindness as we are obedient to who You have called us to be. Let the lost be found in You. Be exalted, O God, as we are faithfully devoted to You in all things. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Corinthians 16:31