Announced Arrival

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – (Luke 2:13-14, NLT) 

Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest realm of heaven! For there is peace and good hope given to the sons of men.” – (Luke 2:13-14, TPT) 

 

One of my favorite moments to anticipate each year, is candlelight service on Christmas Eve. There is a moment in the evening when a single flame is lit, the lights are extinguished, and people then begin to pass the flame, candle to candle, as songs of praise in remembrance of that most holy night, are sung by all. Soon, the entire sanctuary is full of the glorious glowing light, and an army of angelic voices floods the room. Though but a glimpse, it is such a sweet reminder of that most holy night when heaven came to earth and the armies of heaven announced the arrival of Christ, as they sang in celebration of what God had done. May we each find a moment in the so often hectic season of preparation, to take in the tangible reminders of that most holy night. Let the glory of all that God has done flood our hearts and minds as we give our praise to the Ancient of Days. 

 

Darkness was flooded, Glory to God in the highest_sermon

With heavenly hosts; 

Singing out praises, 

To men at their posts. 

In awe, they watched them, 

In wonder and fright; 

As heaven drew near, 

On that holy night. 

This declaration, 

Such wondrous good news; 

Savior’s arrival, 

What would shepherds choose? 

The men in wonder, 

Left their fields that night; 

To see for themselves, 

The glorious sight. 

A glimpse of Jesus, 

In the stable lay; 

Their lives ever changed, 

That sacred birthday. 

May we find moments, 

Where we’re caught in awe; 

Of all that God did, 

Through the babe they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your Son. Thank You for the heavenly hosts who announced His arrival to shepherds in their fields that night. Thank You for the moments in this sacred season that grant us glimpses of Your glory. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and wonder at the marvelous miracle of Jesus and all that surrounded His arrival. Teach us to recognize the remarkable reminders of all that You have done to bring heaven to earth and make way for us to know You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they make recognize the radiance of Your glory through the good that You send us in this sacred season. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the most holy arrival of Your Son, and give all glory to You. Amen.

 

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

 

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. – Acts 10:36

Faithful the Shepherds

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, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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

Christ in Christmas

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

 

This is the night where the world takes pause to remember the most sacred occasion where heaven came to earth in the form of a baby boy. Born in a stable, not fit for the Savior of the world, yet God gave incredible assurance that this was indeed the way Mary and Joseph were meant to walk as they brought this blessed bundle forth in a stable surrounded by animals. Angelic visitations had announced that He would be born, heavenly hosts proclaimed His arrival – flooding the night sky over the heads of shepherds as they watched their flocks by night, and a bright star shone on His behalf to lead the way for those who were meant to find Him. Though not necessarily the beginning we might envision for the One who saves the world from sin and shame, Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Because He came, grew, walked in obedience, willingly laid down His life in our place, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we have way to be restored to right relationship with God. May we stop the activity on this day long enough to really recognize the significance of this most holy night that we celebrate. Jesus is the gift, and the reason we can give. Our Counselor, our God, our Father, and our Peace – these are the reasons we have light and life and love. Joy to the world, the Savior has come!

 

For a child was born,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

A Son was given;

The weight of the world,

He has forgiven.

The great Counselor,

Most mighty our God;

The Father who lasts,

Let our hearts applaud.

For He is our peace,

Born so we might live;

May we honor Him,

Through gifts that we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your only Son into the world so that we might be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You love us so much that You willingly laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for not having our priorities in place and for forgetting the real reason for this most sacred season. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on You, so that all that we do is a reflection of You. Show us how to love and give as You do, so that our words and deeds are Your heart being made known to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as so many take the time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Let Christ be lifted high this Christmas. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Praise as Majesty Moves

Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough? – (Psalm 106:2, NLT)

No one can describe how great the Lord really is. No one can praise Him enough. – (Psalm 106:2, ERV)

 

Keeping proper perspective in the constant chaos that so often accompanies this time of year is critical. Though all of the activities and festivities are fabulous, that which matters most is our intentional pause to remember the reason for the season. There were a myriad of miracles that took place surrounding the arrival of Christ. A virgin birth, a bright star to show the way, numerous angelic visitations, shepherds serenaded and informed by heavenly hosts, wise men traveling from distant lands to bring gifts, and the list continues… God is so much more than a baby in a manger. That baby grew and healed the downtrodden, the outcast, the sinner and the sick, so that all might come to know Him. More than that, He bore the weight of all of our sin so that we could be in relationship with Him forever. There are not enough words, and not enough time to offer Him the praise He is due. The best that we can do is honor Him with our words and deeds, and extend love and life in tangible and practical ways to those around us. May we seek to honor the Lord in all that we do, so that our very lives are an expression of praise unto Him.

 

Who could ever list,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

The glories of God?

For His miracles,

Too vast and too broad.

Who could offer praise,

That would be enough?

The greatness of God,

Whose love covers us.

So let us go forth,

May our lives bring praise;

As we recognize,

The Ancient of Days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your miracles are far too numerous for us to list, and the praise You deserve extends far beyond what we could ever offer. Thank You that You love us where we are, and lead us where we are meant to go. Forgive us for not slowing down in the chaos of the season to really fix our eyes and hearts on You. Teach us to intentionally focus our gaze on You in all things and at all times, so that we may recognize Your miraculous in the everyday, and offer You praise through how we walk out our days. Show us how to love those around us in a way that glorifies You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize Your majesty on the move, and give You praise for all of our days. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Pray and Praise Always

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – (James 5:13)

 

No matter our circumstances, our response should be to run to the Lord. If trouble, seek His help. If joy, give Him thanks and praise. In all things and at all times, God is near and He is still good. He is available and present to help and hear our every offering of gratitude. Every circumstance offers us the opportunity to grow in His grace, if we choose to rely on Him. Through perseverance, we gain insight to the Lord’s power and might, despite our own lack. When we sing songs of praise, we gain a glimpse of the glory that is yet to come, when we will one day join in the chorus of heavenly hosts that worship together before the very throne of God. May we turn to trust in He who deserves all of our trust and praise, in all things and at all times.

 

When troubles do come,

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

let us turn and pray;

for the Lord will help,

He’s promised to stay.

When great joy abounds,

let’s sing songs of praise;

to the Lord above,

let our voices raise.

No matter what comes,

let’s run to the Lord;

for He is our help,

all grace He affords.

May we offer up,

everything we are;

to honor and serve,

our great Morning Star.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in times of trouble and times of joy. Thank You that You are available and ready to hear our prayers and praise, no matter what our circumstance. Thank You that You are merciful and full of compassion. Forgive us for not seeking You in times of trouble, or not offering You praise when we are full of joy. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will come before You in all things and at all times, offering You the first of whatever is going on in our lives. Lead us to love others well, so that they may see You in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we pray and praise You throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Go and See

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)

 

Ordinary shepherds with extraordinary faith, had been tending their flocks by night. Suddenly, the night sky was illuminated with the glorious light of the Lord, and the shepherds were full of fear. An angel offered them comfort, and let them know that he was there to share great news, and that there was nothing to fear. As the heavenly hosts praised God after the announcement of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds were so moved by what they had seen and heard, that they dropped everything to go and see for themselves. I can’t imagine it was convenient, nor easy; yet clearly the shepherds were determined to see the Savior whose birth had just been declared to them in the dark of night.

 

How often are we compelled to move where we have been called, despite the inconvenience, as a result of the recognition of His voice? He still speaks to us today. Though few have the experience of the heavenly hosts bringing an announcement by song in the night sky, His Spirit now dwells in the very hearts of all who call Him Lord of their lives, and His words are whispered to our hearts continually. Our response ought to be to eagerly go and see what He will do, rather than fear or anxiousness of the unknown. Learning to trust Him more, is an ongoing, ever-growing, challenge in life with Christ. May we seek to hear Him clearly, and ask for His strength to trust Him more.

 

Let our hearts receive,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

each word from the Lord;

with strength to trust Him,

by faith He affords.

May we quickly heed,

whatever He speaks;

choose walk in His ways,

as Christ our heart seeks.

May we learn to trust,

with all that we are;

no matter the call,

be it near or far.

For the Lord our God,

will ever remain;

present, God with us,

truth we can proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You speak to us and challenge us to go and see and do things we never thought possible. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of all who trust and believe. Thank You that as we choose to take steps of faithful obedience where You call us to go, You remain present, with us, strengthening and equipping us, for all that we are called to do. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and help us to grow in our trust in You. Lead us to love others, just as You so completely love us. May many come to know Your faithfulness and Your grace, personally, as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we go forth trusting You. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Acceptance As We Acknowledge

“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.” – Luke 12:8

photo by Joan Davis

If we give honor and glory to God before the people around us, He will hold high our hands as His kids, before all of the heavenly hosts.

I find it easy and natural to talk or write about anything that is exciting to me.  When passion is present, it becomes contagious.

How much more easily ought I communicate about the Lover of my soul; my Source and Supply in every circumstance?

Sometimes, it does seem easy.  When conversations come, and it is clear that Christ has prepared each heart for a moment such as this – it feels as if every breath is ordained by God, and our very souls sing of His glory, as we speak freely of our forgiving and faithful Father.

However, there are times when wisdom eludes me, and weakness and weariness have found way into my walk.  The hurt of another heart threatens harm to all who hear, yet Jesus would still have drawn near.  He needed not an invitation to be present.  His touch, His kindness, His healing, and His provision, provided way to get to the heart of the matter, and guide lost souls toward a safe and forever dwelling place.

We can only acknowledge Him before others, if we know Him for ourselves.  We can only know Him if we hold fast to He who dwells in our hearts, and spend time in His presence, soaking in His word.

I don’t know about you, but the very image of God the Father being pleased with me and proudly presenting me as His daughter before all of the hosts of heaven, is such a sweet space of hope that I can hold.  It is not dependant on perfection; rather it is reliant of the receiving of redemption.  Freely He offers, and it is lovingly granted to every heart that asks…

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us each by name, and that You long for us to become Your beloved as we turn to trust in You.  Lead us in love so that we too, might love well as we share of all that our Savior has done before everyone whom You have prepared to hear.  Grant us wisdom and courage, grace and direction, so that we might share the story You have scripted on our hearts.  Let our very lives lead others straight into Your sweet and holy presence.  Amen.

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