Treasure the Blessings

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant. – (Luke 2:19, TPT)

 

Can you begin to fathom all that Mary had to hold in her heart and ponder? A young girl, most likely in her mid-teens, had been visited by an angel, conceived by the Holy Spirit, traveled some ninety miles to the city of David, discovered there were no rooms available, given birth in a barn, visited by shepherds who had been told of the Savior’s birth by an army of heavenly hosts singing praise, and there she was, left gazing at the face of God in her newborn infant son. What a crazy, wonderful, whirlwind of a journey to arrive at that space. I imagine there was great reassurance as the shepherds came near, after the young couple had been ostracized and rejected for Mary being with child out of wedlock. To treasure things is to hold them in great value, and it reveals to us even more, the heart of the young girl who was well-chosen to carry Christ and bring Him into the world. I love that God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. By human standards, why one so young? However, God saw her heart. Mary was willing to walk the difficult road, despite not knowing where it would lead. She chose to say yes, understanding the risks involved in being with child as a virgin, and treasured the faithfulness of God each step of their journey. May we pause and ponder the power and presence of God in our own lives, and take time to treasure all of the times that we can testify of His goodness and faithfulness unto us.

 

Angelic visit, Treasure the Blessings

Hard to fathom news;

Called to carry Christ,

What would this girl do?

“Let your word be so,”

Her faithful reply;

With no thought for self,

Except perhaps, why.

For just a young girl,

With little to give;

A heart, so willing,

For Christ, she chose live.

It all came to pass,

As it was foretold;

Mary was with child,

A treasure to hold.

In meager stable,

Christ entered the earth;

Among the cattle,

The humble Lord’s birth.

Swaddled and set down,

Where animals fed;

It’s what Mary had,

For Jesus’ bed.

Army of angels,

Announced the Lord’s birth;

To nearby shepherds,

Who would see Him first.

So much to take in,

In awe and wonder;

Mary chose treasure,

Each step, to ponder.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You that He lived and loved and grew in ordinary ways so that He would know and understand what we go through, personally. Thank You that He did all without sin in order to take all of ours upon Himself. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder all of the treasures we have in You. Teach us to slow down and reflect upon Your goodness, grace, love and light that floods our hearts and lives with evidence of You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your love, goodness and grace to all, so that they too may pause and ponder the treasures that You place in their lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure the blessings and ponder the powerful ways You move in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Today the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. – Luke 2:11

Born As Blessed News

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – (Luke 2:11-12, NIV)

“Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This is how you will know Him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.” – (Luke 2:11-12, ERV)

“Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.” – (Luke 2:11-12, VOICE)

 

The good news announced more than two-thousand years ago, is still the good news that we celebrate today. That baby, announced the Messiah and Lord at birth, grew and made His power known. He did this not be demanding reverence and obedience, but rather through living and loving in a way that made His peace, power and provision visible and tangible, so that we might understand His heart for us. Being a visual learner, I try to imagine what it might have been like to take in such an incredible announcement from an enormous angel, hear praise from the angelic hosts, and then attempt to find a swaddled baby, lying in a manger. Were there many families with farm animals and feed boxes in Nazareth? How did the shepherds know where to go? I know there was a star, but I imagine that is what made the way to Nazareth clear for the wise men, not so much the final details once in town. Maybe it was small enough that the shepherds (and later the wise men) could simply ask where the couple was that were staying out with the animals and just birthed a baby. No matter how the minute details of history unfolded, I am forever grateful that they did. May we all look at the truth told so many centuries ago, that transformed hearts and lives in such a way, that we may all access the holy, living God, personally.

 

The Light of the world, And the Word Became Flesh

Entered our darkness;

Humbly He was born,

To make right our mess.

His love restores hope,

Grants strength to the weak;

Brings peace where it’s not,

As we choose to seek.

Holy announcement,

By grace, entered in;

Born Lord and Savior,

To take away sin.

Willingly He died,

So we’d come to know;

Salvation, free life,

Love that nurtures growth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and love that sent Your one and only Son to earth as an infant, so that we would see what it is to live and love and grow in You without sin. Thank You that Jesus modeled the sort of life that we are called to lead, as He loved people without limits. Forgive us for the times that we do not live or love like You. Teach us to trust You more, as we recall the sacrifices made on our behalf to bring us life everlasting. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the gift of Your presence this most holy season. Amen.

 

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

 

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

The Significance of a Shepherd

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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

 

It is so interesting that God chose to announce the arrival of the birth of His Son to a group of shepherds who were out in their fields, guarding their flocks at night. The more I pause and ponder, the more fascinated I become with the significant roles and references to shepherds throughout the Bible. David was a shepherd boy who became a great king. Jesus was from the line of David, which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census in the first place. Additionally, there are many references throughout the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the good shepherd, as He tends to us and watches over us as His flock. Shepherds care for and protect their sheep, and know them each by name. Back then, shepherds had to fight off wild animals and protect the sheep from all harm, as well as tend to the sick and injured among them. Their livelihood was dependent on the well-being of their sheep, and from what I have read, the shepherds that tended their own flocks, did so in much the same way as Jesus did for the people all around Him. The shepherds in the fields that night, though well-trained in fending off predators, had no exposure to a visit from heavenly hosts. It is no wonder that the first words prior to announcing the arrival of Jesus, was “Do not be afraid.” Between shock and awe, the shepherds took in the announcement and acted upon it. With great urgency, they hurried off to see what the heavenly hosts had proclaimed.  Lastly, in the same way that shepherds care for their sheep and that Jesus modeled for us what it is do love and shepherd those around us well, we too are called to be shepherds of God’s flock; watching over them and caring well out of our own eagerness to serve. (see 1 Peter 5:2) May we seek the Lord to have the heart of a shepherd; humble, protective, and willing to go to great lengths to love and care for those who are placed in our reach.

 

Fiercely protective,

With hearts full of love;

We’re called to shepherd,

Like the Lord above.

Watch and extend care,

Throughout night and day;

Listen to God’s lead,

So none go astray.

For God chose the hearts,

Of the faithful ones;

In love, tending flocks,

To announce His Son.

He seeks the faithful,

To shepherd and keep;

All His beloved,

His people; His sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the faithful and protective ones to be the recipients of the great news of the arrival of Your Son. Thank You that You call each of us to faithfully love and protect those around us in much the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not been as vigilant as we ought to for those who we are called to care for and protect. Teach us to love and protect like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your comfort, protections, peace and presence known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, the Good Shepherd, to direct our steps as we seek to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. – 1 Peter 5:2

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

Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Weighty Words

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” – (Luke 18:38-42)

 

Though a seemingly simple exchange, the weight of the words are extremely significant. Religious leaders who had studied scriptures and seen Jesus speak and do the miraculous before their own eyes, did not recognize Him as the Messiah. A blind man, who begged by the side of the road and likely only heard stories of what Jesus had done, believed and called out to Christ by Name. He knew that the One passing before him on the road, was Him alone who could restore his sight. Though desperate and destitute, the blind man had enough faith to cry out to Christ. Even when he was hushed, he called out all the louder, in hope of being heard. His act of faith resulted in his being seen, heard and healed. May we too, recognize the power present in our Messiah, and call on Him in faith in all things and at all times. May our response also be to follow, praising God for all that He is.

 

Merciful Savior,Weighty Words

He hears when we call:

He gives us His time,

and loves us through all.

Christ beckons us near,

draws us closer still;

hears each faithful cry,

with His peace, He’ll fill.

We need to persist,

choose trust and believe;

the Lord is faithful,

by grace, we receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us such clear evidence of who You are. Thank You for Your Word and for sending Your Son to show us the way unto You. Forgive us for our lack of faith or our unbelief, and grant us the same sort of sight that the blind beggar had, so that we may clearly see that You alone are our only hope. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will seek You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others as Jesus loved all whom He encountered. May many come to find their hope in You alone, as we faithfully follow You. Be exalted O God, as we praise You for all that You are in our lives. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

He Seeks to Save

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. – (Luke 19:10)

 

Jesus broke down every barrier of expectation that people had for the coming Messiah. They expected One who was high and lifted up, to come in power, and claim what was rightfully His. Instead, Christ came as a humble servant, One who came close to the sick, the sinners, and those whom society deemed unworthy and lost. Jesus sought out the seeking, and they were found by Him.

 

Christ continues to come close to the seeking today. He does not have a checklist of qualifications required in order for us to draw near, rather He longs for us to choose Him, to invite Him in, and allow Him access to our life and our heart. Jesus alone, will bring about the necessary changes, we need only allow Him access, followed by willing obedience to that which He asks of us. May we go forth in our sweet salvation, and share His hope with those who are still in search of Him.

 

Humbly He entered,He Seeks to Save

by lowly a birth;

no pompous fanfare,

when He came to earth.

Born in a stable,

announced by a star;

worshipped by angels,

wise men from afar.

The nearby shepherds,

were stricken by fear;

when angels proclaimed,

that Christ had come near.

The Savior, He grew,

wise and without sin;

it took many years,

for His call begin.

He healed the broken,

and touched the disdained;

showed that there’s new life,

and washed away stains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son in a way that was approachable, reachable and touchable. Thank You that You came near, rather that remaining God out there. Thank You Jesus, that You came and made the way for us to seek You and find You forever. Thank You that when we seek You with our whole heart, we are found by You. Thank You that You love and forgive and grant us new life in You. Forgive us for all that we say and do that does not give glory unto You. Help us to live and love as You love us, so that many may come to know the saving grace that brings salvation to the seeker. Be glorified through our every word, act, and deed today, Lord God. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

A New Name

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). – (John 1:40-42)

 

There are several remarkable occurrences in this short passage of scripture. First, Andrew, after only hearing what John the Baptist had said, and then meeting Jesus, he immediately believed and felt compelled to act on his belief. He wanted to not only follow Christ, but he wanted to be sure to share the good news with his brother as well. Second, Simon trusted his brother enough to listen to what he had to say, and chose to follow him to where Jesus was staying. When Simon met Jesus face-to-face, Jesus saw Simon not only for who he was, but for who he would become. The name Peter, in Greek, means “a rock“.

 

When we encounter Jesus, He sees us the same way. Christ knows who we are today, but He also knows what we will become. Each one of us has a new name from the moment we are saved. He calls us confident, joyful, overcoming ones, faithful, friends of God, and ones who seek His face. He counts us as His children, and we are adopted into His holy family forever.

 

No matter our name,A New Name

or state when we come;

Lord Jesus, He hears,

and all are welcome.

He loves us right now,

wherever we are;

and knows what’s ahead,

our bright Morning Star.

He takes what’s been crushed,

and grants us His strength;

joy for our sorrow,

He’ll go to great lengths.

He calls us His friends,

despite what we’ve done;

He forgives, makes new,

the battles, He’s won.

Let go of the things,

that will hold us back;

surrender it all,

and nothing we’ll lack.

For in Him, all things,

we have all we need;

an eternal hope,

from our past, we’re freed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us as we are, yet You see where we are going and all that we can become. Thank You that You give us a new name in You. Thank You that You bring beauty from our ashes, and hope from our despair. Thank You that You utilize the things that we once thought were the most ugly or broken, to help others for Your glory. Forgive us for allowing the old names to have a voice, and help us to silence the lies and allow Your voice to be heard. May our hearts hold fast to what You call us – confident, overcoming ones – Your children. Let us live and love as such, and may many be led unto You as a result. Be glorified as we walk boldly in the new names that You call us. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

To watch a lovely visual to an old favorite, I Will Change Your Name, click the highlighted song title in green.

Misconception

MisconceptionJesus, our Savior,

He quietly came;

He cured the diseased,

and He healed the lame.

The evil spirits,

before Him fell down;

they knew His power,

sans visible crown.

Each time they’d cry out,

“You’re the Son of God!”

He’d order silence,

not wanting applaud.

People’s perception,

was He who would come;

would rule all of Rome,

false misconception.

As the Messiah,

His kingdom won’t end;

salvation for those,

whom on Him depend.

The Leader who gave,

His own life away;

so we might have life,

in glory one day.

Their expectations,

were shattered and torn;

beautiful exchange,

grace to be reborn.

(Responding to Mark 3:11-12 & NIV footnotes)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways, and Your thoughts are higher than our own. Thank You that Your plan far exceeded the expectations of the people of the time, for if a leader had risen up and ruled Rome, it would have been temporary – yet You sending Your Son to save souls – is eternal. Thank You that Your word is alive and active, and that Your Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts as we invest time in Your word. Thank You that You continue to show us new things in Your word, even after we have read a passage many times prior. Please forgive us for any misconceptions or faulty expectations we might have of You or of ourselves before You. Teach us what is truth and what is not, and grant us the ability to hear You clearly, and hearts that are willing to obey. Lead us to love as You love, and may many come to know Your power and sweet presence, personally. Amen.

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

Gazing Upon the Gift Before Us

“The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When He comes, He will explain everything to us.’  Then Jesus said, ‘I who speak to you am He.” – John 4:25-26

The context of these verses is found in the story of when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well.  He had already told her of her sin and announced to her that He alone offered living water that lasts.  This led to partial understanding as she recognized His ability to prophesy, yet she still had questions about worship and truth.  I imagine it was somewhere in the midst of the exchange mentioned above, that her eyes were opened to see the gift that was standing before her.  Wonder, to shock, to sheer joy, to be standing in the presence of the promised Prince of Peace, and accepted; even offered living water that lasts.  In but a brief encounter with the Eternal, all her sin and shame were set aside, and with bold enthusiasm, she went and shared with everyone she could find.  This woman who was likely shunned by society for her lifestyle, now boldly went before her scoffers to share the great news.

I love that Jesus broke so many societal boundaries as He chose to speak to a sinful Samaritan woman.  His priority was not about perfect packaging nor about pleasing people, but instead was to present the truth in love to those who need it most.  In doing so, she was so blessed that she dropped all that she was doing (abandoning her water jar) and had to go and tell the townspeople so that they too, might come close to Christ.

image by Simon Dewry

image by Simon Dewry

Christmas is just that, our reminder to celebrate that Christ came close.  His entry into earth – for everyone.  We too, are meant to receive His living water that lasts, and be ready to share it with all who are thirsty.  May our joy abound and His song resound as we celebrate this holy season.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came close.  Thank You that You are not put off by our sinful state, but instead, are drawn to deliver Your goodness and grace to those who need it most.  Forgive us for neglecting to receive what You freely give, and for not sharing the greatest gift ever given with those who need to know You.  Lead us to lavish Your love upon all whom we encounter, and may we truly embrace Your grace so that in return, we might freely give.  May many come to know You as the Messiah this Christmas.  Amen.

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