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. ❤

Deep Roots Bear Fruit

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV)

But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what He says. They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit. – (Jeremiah 17:7-8, ERV)

But blessed is the man who trusts Me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers – never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. – (Jeremiah 17:7-8, MSG)

 

As the need to “shelter in place” grows, so too ought our commitment to trust in the Lord. When we choose to be intentional in our time with God, our confidence in Him grows and our roots gain depth and strength. Deep roots protect us from storms and harsh weather, as depth creates a capacity to continue to draw nourishment and water from what has been firmly established, rather than being tossed to and fro, or uprooted by the unanticipated storms. Incredibly, not only are we able to be nourished ourselves, but we can produce fruit that is beneficial to those around us, as we stay securely planted in Christ. May we seek the Lord in trust, so that we grow confident in Him; ever deepening our roots to nourish and bear fruit in every season.

 

Blessed is the one, Deep Roots Bear Fruit

Who trusts in the Lord;

A tree, well planted,

Nourishing reward.

For deep roots are strong,

Always resolute;

Hold fast through the storms,

And keep bearing fruit.

So, let us resolve,

Be planted in Christ;

Secure and fruitful,

Joy in sacrifice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, we gain confidence in who You are and how You love and protect us. Thank You that our trust is like the roots of a tree, growing deep and far-reaching, granting us what we need to weather whatever comes our way. Thank You that the nourishment we receive produces fruit that can be shared with others too. Forgive us for the times that we allow trials to challenge our root system. Teach us to trust You more, so that our roots will be planted so deep, that we will not be shaken by anything that comes our way. Show us how to love well and bear fruit from where we are, however we can. May many come into a lasting, deep-rooted relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in our roots and seek You to bear fruit. Amen.

 

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

 

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. – Psalm 1:3

 

 

One Day At A Time

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.” – (Isaiah 35:4, NIV)

“Courage! Take heart! God is right here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!” – (Isaiah 35:4, MSG)

Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, “Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here – your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.” – (Isaiah 35:4, VOICE)

 

Right now, life feels surreal. It is as if we are all caught in a bizarre dream, and are merely waiting to wake up. For me, I am a one-day-at-a-time sort of person anyway, so my brain is already wired to not get too hung up on what may lie ahead over the next several weeks. When life is operating as usual, taking things one day at a time allows me to be present and focused on only what lies directly before me. If I permit my mind to wander too far ahead, it only breeds anxiety as to how everything will be accomplished in the time granted. Now, more than ever, I need to remain focused on each day as it comes. Yes, it is wise to prepare and plan in general, but there is no need, nor any point, in attempting to map out details that are too far off to determine. God grants us wisdom and insight as we ask, and He provides what we need to navigate each new day. The Lord is our strength and our strong tower; in Him we are safe and find we have what we need. May we give all of our worries and fears to God, as He comes to put all things right, and saves us with His goodness and love.

 

Take strength, have courage,

balance business cobblestone conceptual

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s nothing to fear;

All is in God’s hands,

His presence is near.

Despite what we see,

God will make a way;

Over rough terrain,

He’ll lead us each day.

The wrong things made right,

In His faithful hands;

Safety and our strength,

Firm in Him, choose stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are mighty to save. Thank You that as we seek You, You are our strength, courage and safety. Thank You that You provide where we lack, and Your love leads us in the direction we are meant to go. Forgive us for our fears and anxiety in the face of so many unknowns. Teach us to trust You more, as You are for us and faithful to lead us, always. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may know Your strength and courage, goodness and grace in the midst of uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all things in Your capable hands, and trust You to lead and guide us each day, one day at a time. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6 

Courage to Do the Work

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” –  (1 Chronicles 28:20a, NIV)

“Be strong and brave and finish this work. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord God, my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, ERV)

“Be strong, courageous, and effective. Do not fear or be dismayed. I know that the Eternal God, who is my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, VOICE)

 

In the same way that David extended these words of encouragement to his son, Solomon, as he was tasked to build the temple for the ark of the covenant, so too, does God extend the same to us, every time we step forward in faith to answer His call. These words feel a bit like a battle cry this morning, as Friday was probably my last “true academic teaching day” of the school year, and this morning, my last morning at home for several weeks. I am called and chosen to go and be with my mom, and I would not have it any other way; however, I am human, and there are elements of the unknown that cause me to constantly have to fend off fear, as well as a sort of grieving for the loss of the close of this school year with my students and time with my family and friends at home. God is good, and I know that He has called, chosen and prepared my sister and me for such a time as this. He has orchestrated time off and supplied for our every need. We are surrounded, supported and loved; tangibly. Our spouses, children, family and friends have only encouragement and love to offer, and we are eternally grateful. We are strengthened and encouraged to be effective in the work that lies ahead, because of the warriors that are battling on our behalf, behind the scenes. God is with us, and with Him, we need not fear.

As for mom, the busy days continue with her transition day drawing nearer still. Yesterday, between her morning of therapy sessions and the excitement of my brother-in-love and nephews arriving and spending time with she and my sister, she was completely exhausted and ready to call it a day, shortly after dinner. There are two wonderful things about this, as I pause to ponder what took place. First, mom advocated for herself, and let it be known that she was tired and ready to rest. (Of utmost importance, as the brain continues to heal and repair itself during rest) Second, I imagine some of her decision was the hostess in her, that desperately desired Meg to spend some time with her fellas. That too, is another indicator of her healing, as more and more of her usual ways become evident in all that she says and does. Selfless and loving, preferring others above herself, I imagine she wanted desperately for her girl to have time with her husband and boys, and she figured the rest would do her some good as well. Win. Win.

 

Be strong, take courage,

img_2019-05-26_06-29-226071714814702286098.jpg

An early morning view from Mom’s deck. ❤

For we’re not alone;

We’re called and chosen,

And completely known.

We’ve nothing to fear,

With God by our side;

No mountain’s too great,

Nor valley too wide.

Do not be dismayed,

When things seem go wrong;

For God is present,

And He’ll make us strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, even when the road ahead seems intimidating in the unknown. Thank You that we’ve nothing to fear, for You are always with us. Forgive us for allowing the unknowns to intimidate us into fearfulness. Teach us to depend on You to be our strength and resolve, trusting You to lead us and guide us, every step of each new day. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be strengthened and encouraged and shown Your love in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our strength and resolve in all things. Amen.

 

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

 

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. – Colossians 1:11

Deep Roots Produce Fruit

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit. – (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NLT)

But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what He says. They will be strong like trees planted near a stream that send out roots to the water. They have nothing to fear when the days get hot. Their leaves are always green. They never worry, even in a year that has no rain. They always produce fruit. – (Jeremiah 17:7-8, ERV)

 

The more we learn to trust in the Lord and place our hope in Him, the better we are able to weather the difficult or unexpected. As we press in and grow deep roots, we become anchored with a confidence that God is who He says He is, and that His word is true. Our decision to love God and love people carries on in strength, for the roots deeply established, provide all that we need, even when our surroundings do not. May we ever invest our time, energy and passion into things that show us more of who God is and how He loves.

 

Those who trust the Lord, Deep Roots Produce Fruit

Grow roots by His grace;

Hope comes as we know,

His loving embrace.

Living waters flow,

Nourish and revive;

Flood our hearts with hope,

As love comes alive.

We need not despair,

When challenges come;

For God remains near,

Strength to overcome.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the more we trust and have confidence in You, the more we discover that our peace, joy and love are not dependent on our circumstances, but rather are reliant on Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when challenges come, and teach us to trust in the hope we know in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that waters weary souls and grants hope where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we dive deep into Your living water and allow Your love to flood our thirsty souls. Amen.

 

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

 

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:16-18

Protection and Peace

But whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. – (Proverbs 1:33, NIV) 

But those who listen to Me will live in safety and comfort. They will have nothing to fear. – (Proverbs 1:33, ERV) 

But those who listen to Me now will live under divine protection; they can rest knowing they are out of harm’s way. – (Proverbs 1:33, VOICE) 

 

God calls us to be in constant communion with Him. As we pray and seek the Lord for direction in all things – great and small, He answers and guides us in the ways that we are meant to go. When we listen, He keeps us safe and we need not fear. Years ago, when I was flying home from Hong Kong, one of the engines on our plane caught fire. The flames were visible to passengers through the windows, and many on our aircraft were terrified. I had just spent six months traveling all over Asia, serving in schools, churches and communities in response to His leading, and I had to believe that He was not finished with me yet. Silently, I prayed for peace and protection, and somehow, by His divine grace, was not afraid. Our plane emergency landed safely and smoothly in Taiwan, and my biggest concern was continuing my journey home. After several hours of waiting, I was able to catch another flight for the remainder of my trip. He was faithful to keep me safe, and I listened as He led me securely home. Though I am not forever fearless when I find myself in potentially harrowing situations, I am frequently reminded of His faithfulness in countless scenarios prior, and discover that if I slow down and listen, God quiets my heart and brings me His peace. May we ever seek the Lord and His leading, for He is the One to lead us and guide us and keep us safe. 

 

The God of all peace, protection and peace

Is forever near; 

Ready to lead us, 

He’s faithful to hear. 

The more we know Him, 

Trust is realized; 

Loving and gracious, 

God will be our guide. 

Let us ever seek, 

We will surely find; 

The Lord’s protection, 

All fear set aside. 

For there is no room, 

For fear in our heart; 

When we pursue God, 

His peace He’ll impart. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to provide Your peace and protection as we seek You and listen to You. Forgive us for the times that we allow our circumstances to lead us, rather than our trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as we recall Your previous provision that kept us safe in Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers peace and assurance in spaces of fear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and at all times, knowing that You are faithful to protect us and keep us safe. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Fear Fades in Perfect Love

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. – (1 John 4:18, NLT) 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, CEB) 

Love will never involve fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE) 

 

To love God and know His love in return, requires a mind shift as we recognize the difference between fearing God, in the sense of awe and wonder at His power and authority, and fear of punishment, which delivers discipline without love. God loves us so much that He corrects, redirects and leads us to the paths we are meant to take. When we are walking in the light of His love, fear becomes unfamiliar as He shows us what it is to be loved in spite of ourselves. When we fall short, He still loves fiercely. As we misstep or make foolish decisions, He loves us so much that He leads us back the direction that we are meant to go. It is not a fearful thing, but rather our loving Heavenly Father, leading us in His perfect love. May we ever trust in Him who is love, as in Him and through Him we have nothing to fear. 

 

The love of the Lord, Fear Fades in Perfect Love

Is perfect indeed; 

It expels all fear, 

Grants strength where there’s need. 

When we find we’re stuck, 

Fear what we deserve; 

We need to recall, 

His sacrifice served. 

For as we know Christ, 

His cover of love; 

Our fears fade away, 

And hope’s found above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in Your perfect love. Thank You that though we deserve punishment, You already paid the price for all of our sins. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You lead us and guide us in the direction that we are meant to go. Forgive us for being fearful when we falter, rather than seeking You for forgiveness and help. Teach us to trust You more, so that we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk boldly in the light of Your perfect love. Show us how to love those around us with a love like Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to know and understand Your perfect love so that we can go and love others in the same way. Amen. 

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Listen to Live in Peace

But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. – (Proverbs 1:33, NLT)

But those who listen to Me will live in safety and comfort. They will have nothing to fear. – (Proverbs 1:33, ERV)

First pay attention to Me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy – you’re in good hands. – (Proverbs 1:33, MSG)

 

God does not promise that we will not have fear nor trouble come our way, yet when we listen to Him, His peace will be our protection and comfort, despite what we encounter. Our focus determines our feelings. If we fix our eyes on that which lies before us, fear can tend to take over. However, if we allow our gaze to reset on our Redeemer, peace is present in knowing that He is far greater than anything that lies ahead. May we look to the Lord, who is our peace, and listen to Him, as He is our provider of protection and comfort, even when chaos comes close.

 

When days seem too long, Established Peace

And fear tries find space;

May we choose to seek,

The God of all grace.

For in Him, there’s peace,

Safety to find rest;

He is far greater,

Than our biggest mess.

Those who seek the Lord,

Have nothing to fear;

For peace is present,

When the Lord is near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we listen to You, we find Your peace and are not troubled by fear. Thank You that we can find comfort in You. Forgive us for allowing the troubles of the world to overwhelm us, rather than run to You for comfort. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our safe space and our comfort, no matter what sort of chaos comes our way. Show us how to love others well, so that we may be extensions of Your peace, safety and comfort to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to You to live in Your perfect peace, no matter what surrounds 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 34:8