Such a Humble Start

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. – (Luke 2:6-7, NLT) 

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle fed. She put him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV) 

 

There are so many details about the birth of Jesus that are beyond my ability to grasp. First, as a woman about to give birth, I cannot fathom the exhaustion Mary must have been feeling after their four-day journey. Then, after travelling eighty-some miles on foot, to be told that there were no rooms available, anywhere, would have been enough to send most over the edge. No mention is made about anyone aiding Mary with the delivery of Jesus. As far as I understand, it was Mary, Joseph, and perhaps the nearby animals in the stable that night. Modern medicine and midwives were not a reasonable option. I think that this was a space where the grace of God was made known in a tangible way, as the young couple brought the Son of God into the world. This brave, strong, young mother, made use of what she had, and wrapped Jesus in strips of cloth and laid him in a bed that was probably far from where she had imagined the precious Prince of Peace would be set to sleep as a newborn. Such a humble beginning made God-with-us all the more relatable and approachable. Though He is King of Creation, He came to us as a newborn baby, in need and dependent on His parents for ordinary things. However, He did not remain an infant in a stable, but grew and became the Overcoming One who saves, and ultimately returned to His rightful throne in heaven. May we remember the humble beginnings of our Savior, recognizing that He understands and can relate to our earthly struggles, yet He is God with us, ready to help and equip us to overcome anything that stands before us. 

 

Weary, in wonder,when-love-came-close.jpg

At their journey’s end; 

Where were they to stay, 

What did God intend? 

No room in the inns, 

But a stable found; 

To bring forth Jesus, 

The image, profound. 

Such a humble start, 

For the Prince of Peace; 

Try fathom the grace, 

To them, God released. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much, that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank Your that because He came as a baby, in such a humble space, we find comfort as we seek Your grace. Forgive us for either forgetting that baby Jesus grew, became, overcame and is now seated at Your right hand, or for not recognizing that Jesus experienced the same joys and pains as we do and understands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all before You in faith. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your heart tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your purposes that are accomplished through that which does not seem to make sense. Amen.

 

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

 

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came to us from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

 

 

All Praise is Due

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, NIV) 

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, ERV) 

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. – (Luke 1:68-69, VOICE) 

 

These verses are a portion of Zechariah’s song, which are sung in a praise-filled celebration of sorts, following the birth of his son, John (the Baptist). As a faithful follower of God, Zechariah understood the significance of all that was taking place, as it had long before been foretold. The birth of his son was the prelude to the coming of Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer and Savior. Zechariah’s stretch of silence, after his holy visitation that left him mute, ended with the faithful obedience of writing down the name he was told to give his son. The first thing he did with his reopened lips was give glory and honor to God for His faithfulness. May we each embrace the incomprehensible grace that came to us through a virgin birth, and praise the Lord for being faithful to fulfill His promises forever. 

 

All praise to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

For all praise is due; 

For what He promised, 

Was provided true. 

A Savior to come, 

The Light for mankind; 

Entered a baby, 

Yet fully divine. 

The hope of the world, 

Had come down to earth; 

To set captives free, 

And grant us rebirth. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You for those who set the example of recognizing who You are and how You love. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same God who set aside His throne to be God-with-us, still dwells within the hearts of those who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on You for all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for Your faithfulness, and conveys Your heart and character to all those with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wonderful things that You have done to extend Your grace and send us Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

Anna’s Answer

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up and broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. – (Luke 2:36-38, MSG)

 

Though Matthew does not reveal to us whether or not Anna had been promised to see the Messiah before the end of her life, I imagine that her presence in the Temple was no accident nor coincidence, as Mary and Joseph brought Jesus on the eighth day after his birth. It is difficult to fathom the life of Anna. Widowed, likely at a very young age, she chose to remain in the Temple area day in and day out, for decades. Matthew describes her has a prophet, and her heart was clearly connected to God as she worshiped and prayed day and night. Likely, one of her often prayed prayers was for the Savior to come to rescue Israel, as had been foretold in scripture. Incredibly, after all of her faithful time spent serving and honoring God, she suddenly found herself standing in the presence of a promise coming to fruition. Immanuel, God with us, came near in a tangible way to Anna, who had waited nearly a lifetime to behold the very One who was held before her. May we worship with the same sort of wonder and celebration as those first few whom God blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of our Savior. The glory of the first Christmas remains the same, as we celebrate God with us, now and forevermore.

 

Remarkable the faith, Annas Answer

And hope she held dear;

Faithful for ages,

Prayers that God come near.

In awe and wonder,

Her eyes did behold;

The promised Savior,

Scriptures had foretold.

She could not help speak,

To all others tell;

This most holy news,

Rejoice! It is well.

The hope she had held,

Was found in the eyes;

Eight-day-old baby,

Future realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to save us. Thank You that Jesus made the way for us to be in right relationship with You, despite our shortcomings. Forgive us for forgetting all that Jesus went through to not only redeem us, but to know and understand our struggles and pain. Teach us to trust You with a relentless faith like Anna. Help us to faithfully pray and worship You, regardless of what we see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope where there is none, so they too may look to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done through the precious gift of Your Son. 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

Established Peace

Lord, You have established peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. – (Isaiah 26:12, NIV)

Lord, You have succeeded in doing everything we tried to do, so give us peace. – (Isaiah 26:12, ERV)

Eternal One, You are preparing peace for us; in fact, everything we have accomplished has come from You. – (Isaiah 26:12, VOICE)

 

Peace has already been established on our behalf; it is a matter of choosing to receive what the Lord freely offers and allowing it to take root rather than continue in the chaos that corrupts contentment and steals joy. No matter what is going on around us, peace is available within us. Emanuel means God with us, and His presence provides perfect peace, regardless of our circumstances. Each time that I find peace in places where chaos surrounds me, I am acutely aware of God’s goodness and grace, as He meets me in my need and provides His peace despite my circumstances. The Lord is willing to grant us peace in all things. May we ever seek our Savior and His perfect peace, recognizing the remarkable resilience He provides as we turn in trust to Him.

 

All that we have done, Established Peace

The good that’s in us;

Is because of You,

Our Savior, Jesus.

You establish peace,

Where chaos seems reign;

And bring us comfort,

To places of pain.

O Lord, You are light,

In each darkened space;

The depth of Your love,

Gives hope through Your grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You establish peace for us, and provide the strength and the grace to do any good that we have done. Thank You that You are with us, be it in chaos or calm. Forgive us for seeking peace and comfort anywhere other than in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide Your perfect peace in all things and at all times, no matter what surrounds us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your peace to those in chaos, and brings hope to those in despair. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your perfect peace that You establish for us, and gratitude for all that You have done in and through us. Amen.

 

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

 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – Isaiah 26:3

To Reflect His Radiance

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. – (Exodus 34:29)

 

Moses was returning from spending forty days and nights alone in God’s presence. There were no distractions, no agendas; it was just Moses in the Lord’s presence, gaining wisdom and insight as to how God wanted the people to follow Him. God’s radiance was evident on the face of Moses, because he had spent time alone in His presence. Though we may not light up a room reflecting the very glory of God, we should appear different, changed somehow – through the time we spend in prayer, in the Word, and in the intentional presence of our Savior. God out there, is now God with us, so we have all the more opportunity to reflect the radiance of the living Lord. May we invest our hearts and minds in time alone with Christ, so that we too, may reflect His radiance wherever we go.

 

Time alone with God,To Reflect His Radiance

is our space to grow;

gain understanding,

so His truth we’ll know.

As insight is gained,

His love light will show;

a tangible change,

sets our hearts aglow.

So seek time alone,

the Lord shall bestow;

His grace and mercy,

all goodness to sow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that time with You is well spent. Thank You that the more time we spend in Your presence, the more we reflect Your heart to those around us. Forgive us for our lack of investment in our relationship with You, or for covering the countenance that You crafted within us to reflect Your glory. Teach us to trust You more, so that others may see and know that there is a difference in us, through You. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified Lord God, as we reflect Your radiance to those around 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

Only Through Him

Before the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, coming close to God, was but an annual option, available only to a select few priests.  Once a year, the high priest would be allowed to enter the holy of holies to offer sacrifices for the people.  For all else, the temple courts were about as close to God as folks could come.  Life was a rigid set of rules and regulations; and when an infraction was made – blood had to be shed on the offender’s behalf.  Not to say that God didn’t move and do mighty things, for surely He did; however, the opportunity to truly understand and know Him, was rather elusive.

One holy night in Bethlehem, changed the course of human history forever.  God out there, became God with us.  Jesus came so that  the barrier between God and man could be broken down; providing the path to a personal relationship with the Redeemer, Himself.  He later told the disciples during the last supper, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” – (John 14:6) 

His statement, though seemingly narrow to some, is actually expansive enough for the whole world.  He died, so that ALL who come to Him and choose to accept what He has done, will be welcomed into eternity with Him.  Jesus is the only way  to the Father.  When we receive Him, we receive the One who sent Him.  Christ too, is truth.  He is the reality of all of God’s promises.  Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled through His life, death and resurrection, and His very nature, shows that God’s word is true.  As the life, Jesus joins His holiness to our brokenness, covering all of our sin and shame, making us acceptable and righteous before the Father – ready and welcome to enter eternity with Him.

O Holy Night,Only Through Him

born unto the earth;

sweet blessed sight,

Christ-child, Savior’s birth.

God had come near,

sending His own Son;

friends, do not fear,

He shall overcome.

Jesus, the way,

our lifeline to God;

follow today,

His path we’re to trod.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose to send Your Son, so that we would have a way to come close to You.  Jesus, thank You that You stepped down from Your throne, and willingly endured all of the anguish on our behalf, so that we would be made righteous in You.  Forgive us for taking lightly this magnitude of this most glorious gift that You have freely given to all who choose to receive it, and help us to daily receive and embrace this treasure anew.  May we live and love as You love us, so that many may come to know the way, the truth and the life found in You.  Be glorified, our Prince of Peace.  Amen.

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

Beholding What Will Become

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men(and women), and He will live with them.  They will be His people, and God Himself will be their God.” – Revelation 21:3

photo by Lenon Honor

Our hope, the promises provided by God, tell us that one day – be it the end of our days or the actual end of days – we will have so much more than we could ever hope for.  Our Father in heaven will reside with us, among us, as not just a spiritual presence, but a physical one as well.  We will be His, and He will be ours.  We will belong to one another for all time.

Right now, we have His Holy Spirit, who is alive and active in all who ask, and is ever available to lead, guide, correct and encourage, as we walk out our purpose in this place.  Can you imagine His holy presence where we could clearly see and touch our Creator?  The very though of running into the actual arms of the Almighty, is beyond amazing!  Can you begin to sense how quickly all of our sorrow, suffering and shame would be set to flight, as we stand in the holy light of God, our Heavenly Father?

This place of perfect peace in the presence of our powerful and protective Papa, will be ours forever!  I want to walk in this world with my heart holding fast to my hope for the next.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that we might glimpse the grace and greatness of You, God.  Thank You that through His death and resurrection, You made way to send Your Spirit so that we would have an ongoing Guide to lead us from this life into the life with You, everlasting.  Teach us to trust Your voice and to hold heaven in our hearts, so that others too, may be joined with You, as You write their names in the Book of Life.  Amen.

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