Willful Obedience

Just as Jesus was coming out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” – (Mark 1:10-11, NIV) 

But as Jesus was coming out of the waters, He looked up and saw the sky split open. The Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove, and a voice echoed in the heavens. “You are My Son, My beloved One, and I am very pleased with You.” – (Mark 1:10-11, VOICE) 

 

In an act of obedience, Jesus went out to His cousin, John, in the desert, and asked to be baptized. At first John was reluctant, as he knew that God was doing something incredible through Jesus, and did not feel worthy to baptize Him. After a brief exchange, John agreed, and as he did, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God made His presence known, and proclaimed from above, who Jesus was and how He felt about Him. The obedience of both Jesus and John opened the way for God to make Jesus’ significance known. I can only imagine the awe and wonder that took place in those who were nearby. Not only did they witness His willful act of obedience, but they saw the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus, as they heard the voice of God. Though we are not the Son of God, we are His children. When we choose to willfully obey, we make room for others to see His power and goodness at work in and through us. Our charge is to love God and love people. As we do, His heart is made known to those around us, whether they realize it is Him or not. May we ever seek the Lord and walk in willful obedience, so that He may make Himself known to those around us. 

 

The power of God, willful obedience

A choice to obey; 

God makes His heart known, 

When we walk His way. 

As children of God, 

We each have the call; 

To seek the Lord’s strength, 

And show love to all. 

May we one day hear, 

A similar claim; 

That God’s pleased with us, 

As we’ve walked His way. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You empower us to do all that You say. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored or delayed in walking out the things that You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that expresses Your loving kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in willful obedience to all that You ask. Amen.

 

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

 

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2

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

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Love As We Should

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. – (Hebrews 13:16, VOICE)

 

We are called to do good and share with others. God is pleased when we choose to answer accordingly. To do good requires that we consider others and have their best interest in mind. Sharing can be done through our time, talent, wisdom, or resources. Each depends upon a determination to “do” on behalf of another. Incredibly, as we opt to share with others and do good, we end up gaining a warmth of heart, knowing we have done what we were meant to do. May we each aspire to do good and share with others, as this is pleasing unto God.

 

We’re not to neglect,

dsc090346961798726223761248.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤ *My Viking & his Mom

Our call to do good;

To share with others,

Love, as we all should.

For God is well-pleased,

When we sacrifice;

A bit of ourselves,

To reach out, be nice.

So, let us do good,

Share well, with others;

Do as we are called,

Sisters and brothers.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good and share with others. Thank You that as we do, You are pleased with us. Forgive us for neglecting to reach out and do the simple things that we can do to bless, encourage or help those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would act on each prompting You place within us to reach out to those around us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that give good and help meet needs. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to sacrifice self to reach out and love others as You love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

 

 

Peace in Turbulence

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – (Psalm 73:28, NIV)

But as for me, I get as close to Him as I can! I have chosen Him, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways He rescues me. – (Psalm 73:28, TLB)

But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good. O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe – I will tell everyone what You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, MSG)

 

God is our faithful space of safety, and it is so good to know He is near. I am not the biggest fan of flying, and on our return trip from our honeymoon, we had to fly all the way across the U.S., broken into two connecting flights. As we were about to land in Phoenix, the plane barely touched the front wheels to the ground, then lifted off again. There had been more turbulence than my stomach appreciates and the very idea of having to go up and come down again was a bit overwhelming. The plane bounced around as we made another loop, changing altitudes less than smoothly, and all I could do was close my eyes and breathe, as I prayed for the landing to come quickly. Not normally one who perspires, my entire back was drenched as we circled around. Because we were in the bulkhead row, a flight attendant was seated adjacent me, facing us. He let us know what had happened, and was in communication with the cockpit. Soon the captain came over the speakers and announced what had transpired with the promise of an actual landing coming soon. Though my body was not pleased with the turbulence, my mind found peace in God’s presence and in the hand of my husband beside me. We safely landed, and I could not have been happier to get off that plane and stand on solid ground. Thankfully, our second flight, an hour later, was uneventful. May we ever trust in the Lord, be it in turbulence or in calm, for He is faithful to be near to all who call on Him.

 

A life with the Lord, fb_img_1533560993920686939278845347391.jpg

Brings promise of peace;

Though turmoil does come,

So too, His relief.

The Lord God is good,

Despite circumstance;

He holds us all up,

Gives reason to dance.

Though turbulent times,

Will happen, it’s clear;

God’s peace will be ours,

As we choose draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that life with You is good. Thank You that You are our safety and our peace, no matter what comes our way. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the turmoil. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rest our heart in Your hands as You are our Protector and Provider of peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever closer to You, our faithful space of safety forever. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Renewed Hope and Cheer

When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. – (Psalm 94:19, NLT)

Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer. – (Psalm 94:19, TLB)

Whenever my busy thoughts were out of control, the soothing comfort of Your presence calmed me down and overwhelmed me with delight. – (Psalm 94:19, TPT)

 

Just yesterday, this verse was demonstrated in a tangible way. My fiancé and I had made an offer on a house, and we were eagerly awaiting an answer. Additionally, it was the first day of state testing for my students, and the group I was to test is my most energetic group of sixth graders. I had concerns going in, as they struggle to stay on task during our usual 90-minute block class, despite the break that is given in the middle. For testing, I was scheduled to have these kiddos for a three-hour block until lunch. Between technology difficulties and an extremely rigorous test, we ended up with our same group of test-takers until the end of the school day. All but one of my cherubs had completed the assessment by the conclusion of seventh period, and it was implied that we would go on to eighth period to end the day. For whatever reason, that did not happen, and we ended up in staying together in my shrinking classroom for the final 45-minute period of the day as well. There was a bit of turmoil for all of us, yet after a short time, we all settled in and made the best of the down time. It provided room for each to decompress without academic expectations and I was pleased with the smiles and giggles around the room as kids colored, visited, played games, and some even sat in the sunshine right outside of my classroom door. Additionally, I received a text from my fiancé telling me that our offer had been accepted and we officially had acquired our new home. Comfort, hope and cheer were supplied in the midst of far too many busy thoughts. God is good, and He quiets us when our hearts are in turmoil and grants us renewed hope and cheer. May we ever seek Him when doubts fill our minds, for He is our comfort and conductor of cheer.

 

When my mind races,

img_20180508_201111_5701970752241.jpg

Our new home! ❤

And doubts enter in;

You bring me comfort,

Show me hope again.

Within my turmoil,

You come with Your peace;

Your presence brings calm,

As Your good’s released.

You still busy thoughts,

In love, You draw near;

You delight my heart,

As hope brings great cheer.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when things get hectic or chaotic and begin to cause our hearts to doubt, You bring Your comfort as You quiet our hearts and renew our hope and cheer. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to overwhelm us and steal our joy. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You in all things and at all times, as You provide all that we need no matter what lies before us. Show us how to love well so that we may offer comfort, hope and cheer to those struggling with their own busy thoughts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for Your faithfulness to meet us in our moments of mayhem and bring Your calm as You renew our hope and cheer. 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

Blanketed in Peace

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – (Luke 2:14, NLT)

“Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors.” – (Luke 2:14, CEB)

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” – (Luke 2:14, TPT)

 

Just as the host of angels sang these words after the one had brought the glorious announcement to the shepherds in their fields at night so many years ago, we are reminded of the very same peace and glory today. Last evening as our candlelight service ended, snow began falling and blanketing the earth around us. To me, there is nothing quite so serene, peaceful and beautiful as a scene freshly blanketed in snow. It reminds me that we are made new, and restores hope that the things that seem chaotic will become calm, and that which is broken or fractured can be made new. Peace on earth, goodwill to all, for the Light of the world has come to bring hope to us through the baby born in a stable so long ago. That baby grew and lived and loved with His very life, so that we could know life everlasting. May we take pause in awe and wonder, and marvel at the peace and good hope that has come to us, as gently as freshly fallen snow.

 

Just as fresh snow falls,

Blanketed in Peace

photo credit: Flickr by pixelmama

And blankets the earth;

We’re reminded of,

Our dear Savior’s birth.

For on that dark night,

A long time ago;

The angels appeared,

To shepherds below.

With heavenly voice,

They lifted a song;

All glory to God,

May peace carry on.

Great hope is granted,

To those who believe;

Who trust in the Lord,

With this He is pleased.

So, gaze and the snow,

Take in its pure light;

Remember the peace,

That came on that night.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son and the hope and peace that is found in Him. Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, and the tangible reminder of how we are made clean and new in You, just as the earth appears in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Forgive us for not recognizing the reminders of Your peace and hope that You present all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are acutely aware of Your presence and Your peace, even in the places where it does not make sense. Show us how to be ambassadors of peace and hope to a world in need, as we love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the peace that came to us through the precious gift of Your Son. 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

Write Upon My Heart

I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart. – (Psalm 40:8, NIV)

I want to do Your will, my God. Your instruction is deep within me. – (Psalm 40:8, CEB)

I am pleased to live how You want, my God. Your law is etched into my heart and soul. – (Psalm 40:8, VOICE)

 

The more we choose to invest our hearts, minds and time into God and His word, the more it takes root, deep within us. Each time His love is made evident through a decision I make, I am in awe of who He is and how He loves. Recently, I received a message that initially irritated and frustrated me. I began to respond in sarcasm, rather than in love. My spirit stirred within me, and I slowed down, and thought about what might have motivated the original message that I received, and I was filled with compassion and changed my response to one that was motivated by love, rather than selfish reacting. How I replied may or may not have had an impact on the recipient, but it had a significant impact on me. No matter what I “think” the intent might be, I must slow down, listen to the Lord, and respond in love. Even if my response is clarifying questions or silence until I am able to respond according to that which He has etched upon my heart, it is my intent to do so, regardless of how things appear in my own eyes. May we desire to do the will of our loving Heavenly Father, and allow Him to continue to etch His instruction into our hearts.

 

O Lord, I desire, Write Upon My Heart

To do well, Your will;

Follow Your leading,

Love as my heart’s filled.

For deep in my heart,

You’ve written Your ways;

To lead and guide me,

For all of my days.

Lord, above all things,

May Your great love lead;

So my life’s pleasing,

In word, thought and deed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we desire to do Your will, and choose to invest time with You and in Your word, You refine us and write Your instruction upon our hearts. Forgive us for ignoring Your still small voice within us, that shows us what to do and say that abides by Your way. Teach us to listen to Your leading in all things and at all times, so that we would extend the same love and grace to others that You give to us. Show us how to love those around us, even when we think that they do not deserve it, as that is usually when it is needed the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek after You and Your will, and allow You to etch Your instruction deep within us so that we will walk in Your way for all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

 

 

Listen for Wisdom

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. – (Proverbs 19:20, NLT)

Listen to advice and accept discipline, then you, too, will become wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, ERV)

 

Wisdom comes over time, through actively seeking to know and understand. My mom models this principle, much like her mother before her. She pursues new learning wherever she can, and reads constantly. Her circle of friends is vast and diverse, exposing her to a wide knowledge base, even in her social arena. Today is the day that we celebrate her birth, and I am beyond blessed to call her my Mom. She loves with her whole heart, and gives all of herself to those whom she loves and whatever she does. Her wisdom is not flaunted, but sweet and subtle, just as her mother before her. However, when a conversation of depth is covered, the years of actively pursuing truth is evident, and I still call my mom to ask her how to do things and want her to be pleased with the things that I say and do. May we give thanks for the moms who raised us, or those who came alongside us to show us what it is to mother well.

 

All thanks be to God, Mom

For my own mother;

Whose wisdom and strength,

Led like no other.

As she sought advice,

Her wisdom and grace;

Showed me how to live,

To run well, my race.

Thank You, dear Jesus,

For this precious gift;

For my loving Mom,

All praise to You, lift.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek advice and instruction from You, You give us wisdom. Thank You for my mom and her mom before her that have modeled this so beautifully for me. Please bless and keep her today and always, as she is a treasure that I am so grateful to have in my life. Forgive us for not seeking You for advice and instruction, and teach us to remember that all wisdom that lasts, comes from You. Show us how to love and appreciate those whom You have placed in our path to both parent us, and for us to do the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek wisdom and instruction from You, so that we might be wise in the ways that You are calling us to go. Amen.

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

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

Choose Love

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. – (Proverbs 3:3-4, NLT)

Don’t ever let love and loyalty leave you. Tie them around your neck, and write them on your heart. Then God will be pleased and think well of you and so will everyone else. – (Proverbs 3:3-4, ERV)

 

We are called to love God and love people. It is no wonder that God reminds us that when we do the very thing that He asks us to do, we will find favor with Him and those around us. Love is faithful and kind, and it is a choice to respond accordingly, regardless of what we are given. Though I do not have a reminder tied around my neck, I do have one that I wear around my wrist. Each day I encounter kids that are difficult to love. Because they are hurting, broken, or simply going through the terrible teens, I must choose to respond in kindness, despite what comes out of them. To choose love, for me, means that I make the choice to give grace when it is unwarranted, reply gently when harsh words are spoken, and attempt to correct in kindness rather than anger, when behaviors disrupt. I don’t always get it right, and there are moments where I do not respond as lovingly as I would have liked to have done, yet each morning is a new start, and God’s grace for me is just as great as that which He is willing to give to those around me. May we each choose love, and let loyalty and kindness be the response that we offer, as the favor of God and those around us shall follow.

 

Never let kindness,choose-love1

Or true loyalty;

Leave our hearts and minds,

It’s how we need be.

Find a reminder,

For both mind and heart;

Seek the Lord for strength,

To do well, our part.

As we opt choose love,

God is pleased with us;

So too, are people,

Such love shows Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and ask You for help, You grant us Your love and kindness to extend to those around us. Thank You that You extend Your favor to us when we love according to Your will. Forgive us for not choosing to love others as we are loved by You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You for the strength that we need to extend grace and kindness, even when we don’t want to. Show us how to choose love in all situations and circumstances according to Your will, so that those we encounter would see Your heart for them through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep loyalty and kindness close to our hearts, and choose to love as we are loved by You. 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