The Seeming Lunacy of Lavish Love

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV)

The teaching about the cross seems foolish to those who are lost. But to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, ERV)

To preach the message of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us. – (1 Corinthians 1:18, TPT)

 

Without the cross, we would have a lengthy laundry list of laws that we would be required to follow to find way to heaven. The cross changed all that. Laws show us our sinfulness, yet Christ went to the cross to bear the burden of our every failure to follow. Rather than rules and rituals requiring strict adherence to look to the Lord, we now have hope in a Savior who calls us to love. The saving power that was presented at the cross, provides the desire and strength to look to the Lord and be in relationship with Him. Before, there was a veil that separated people from God. Torn in two, as Jesus took His last breath, His decision to die for us all destroyed the barrier between God and mankind, and made the way for us to know Him, personally. The more we know the Lord, the more we are compelled to let go of our former foolishness and follow after Him. He who knew no sin, wore all of our sin upon Himself so that we could come to know His power, individually. His mercy and grace provided us with a fresh start and a call to two things: love God and love people. When we do the two, we reflect the goodness of God to the world, and make salvation tangible for those who do not know Him. May we ever embrace the goodness and grace that was granted at the cross, and receive His power that is presented to us as we come to Him in faith.

 

Seemingly foolish,Live Right by His Light

God sent His own Son;

To take away sin,

This Most Holy One.

Bearing our burdens,

In love, chose to die;

So we might know Him,

All sins rectified.

Such power and love,

Laid bare on that cross;

All to offer life,

Horrifying cost.

Yet freely He chose,

So we could know grace;

Receive and believe,

Daily, seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the radical and unfathomable love that You have for us. Thank You for making the way for us to come to know You, personally. Forgive us for all that we think, say and do that led You to choose the cross so that we might live. Teach us to trust You more, ever coming before You with gratitude and eyes to see the depth and breadth of Your love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your goodness and grace visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for who You are and how You love, trusting our very lives into Your holy hands.  Amen.

 

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

 

When we were overwhelmed by sins, You forgave our transgressions. – Psalm 65:3

Grace that Empowers

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving and disciplined spirit. – (2 Timothy 1:7, MSG)

 

When we come to know and follow God, He deposits within us, His power, love and self-control, through the presence of His Spirit. We need not fear, for God in us is far greater than all that comes against us. Each of these three things are presented with a purpose. Power is His strength, not our own; His love equips us to love others, and self-control protects us from pursuing paths that He never intended for us to pursue. May we ever seek the Lord to be our provision, as His Spirit equips and empowers us to walk in love and self-control.

 

The Spirit of God, A Fountain of Life and Light

Deposits in us;

His power and love,

They’re always enough.

The self-discipline,

Helps us to choose well;

To love by His strength,

All fear it repels.

So, pursue the Lord,

Allow His power;

To fill us with love,

Grace that empowers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not be timid nor afraid, for Your strength empowers us to love and become self-controlled. Thank You that this is not something we do on our own, but rather as we seek You and come to know You more, You fill us with Your strength, love and self-discipline to love others according to Your good and perfect will. Forgive us for the times that we have been afraid to love like You or walk forward into all that You are asking. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Source and Strength to be bold, love well, and keep clear of the things not meant for us. Show us how to love others in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to go forth in love and discipline, so that others may see You through us. Amen.

 

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

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:3

Called to Communicate

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. – (Colossians 4:2, NLT)

Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving. – (Colossians 4:2, CEB)

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. – (Colossians 4:2, MSG)

 

Prayer is our petition and praise presented to our Provider. We are called to be in constant communication with our Creator. God designed us with relationship in mind. Like any relationship, if there is not ongoing communication of some sort, a divide of distance, time and disconnect begins to grow. Being devoted to prayer is an ongoing commitment to communicate with Christ. As we choose to be intentional to pray, we become more aware of reasons to give thanks and come to value our ability to speak to the living God whenever and however we wish. He is good and He hears our every prayer. Each word whispered in the hollows of our heart to those which we cry out aloud. May we keep on praying, ever aware of the One to whom we pray, with our hearts overflowing with praise.

 

Help us keep praying,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Guard our heart and mind;

May we ever seek,

For in You, we find.

Reason to give praise,

For Your faithfulness;

The more we know You,

More we know we’re blessed.

Blessed with Your courage,

Presence as You stay;

Wisdom to choose well,

And walk in Your way.

Faithful forever,

Unending, Your grace;

Peace ever present,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pray, and to protect our prayer with praise. Thank You that there is always reason to give You praise, even on our darkest days. Forgive us for our lack of communication with You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all things before You first, being mindful that You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude that springs forth from our constant communication with You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray and give You praise, protecting the power that we find in Your presence as we are faithful to be in an ongoing, invested relationship with You. Amen.

 

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Our Thoughts Control Our Life

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, ERV)

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. – (Proverbs 4:23, VOICE)

 

The thoughts we hold in our heart determine the direction that we take in life. If we hold onto negativity or fear or frustration, each step that we take is weighed down by the heaviness we are holding. However, if we guard our hearts and listen and trust in His word of truth, our burdens lessen and we are better able to stay the course to which we have been called. Obstacles will always stand before us, yet if we move forward with our eyes open and our hearts fixed on He who is greater, the challenges will not determine our direction; the path that has already been presented will continue to propel us to progress in the life to which we are being led. May we ever guard our hearts and minds, fixing all securely on our Savior; for in Him, we find safe harbor and a course that has been set for us to successfully navigate with Him.

 

Let us guard our hearts,

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photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography. ❤

Above other things;

For the thoughts we think,

Impact our blessings.

As we are weighed down,

Fixed on weight we bear;

We miss so much good,

That God has to share.

Protect heart and mind,

For good things shall come;

Our path is made plain,

When we seek the Son.

The blessings in life,

All good things that flow;

Are from God to us,

As we seek to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we guard our hearts and place our trust in You, You lead us on a course that is far greater than we could have hoped or imagined. Thank You that though trials and difficulties will come, as we fix our eyes on You, rather than the challenge, You lead us on and carry us through. Forgive us for not guarding our hearts from the heaviness that life can bring. Teach us to trust You more, so that we do not get weighed down by the difficulties and instead rise up in Your strength to press on. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend Your goodness, strength and grace to help others navigate the course to which You are calling them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we guard our hearts and fix our eyes on You; for with You, good and noble things light the path to which we are called to walk.

 

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

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Rise and Press On

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my Source of strength. He is mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, ERV)

I admit how broken I am in body and spirit, but God is my strength, and He will be mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, VOICE)

 

Learning something new can be the most exhilarating and frustrating thing on the planet. I know from experience that everything worthwhile, requires hard work. Currently, I am in a space where the learning curve is a bit overwhelming, as my mind attempts to grasp all the new and I commit my body to conform to the physical demands that are unlike anything I have ever done before. Nagging aches and strains are challenging my resolve, and my mind’s capacity to recall play after play as it is called seems to be compromised. Despite my feelings of lack, weakness and brokenness, the strength He provides within me, drives me to press on. Each day is new, and He refreshes and rebuilds us in our spaces of lack and leads us forward in His strength. May we ever seek God in our areas of weakness, trusting Him to empower us to move forward forever in His goodness and grace.

 

On days that we fail, You Make Me Strong

Feel broken and weak;

Let’s trust in the One,

Provides those who seek.

For strength from within,

Is from God alone;

Forever He gives,

And makes His heart known.

Power presented,

To rise and press on;

Strengthening of heart,

Resolve is made strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we feel broken and weak, You are strong and You are our Source of strength to press forward in You. Thank You that You are our portion forever. Forgive us for our frustration with our own humanity, as we fall short and fail. Teach us to turn to You to be our Source of strength in our every weakness. Show us how to love and encourage those around us when they feel broken or weak. May many rise up and come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our strength where we are weak and give You all praise for Your faithful provision. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

His Peace to Pass On

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV)

“I know the plans I have in mind for you,” declares the Lord; “They are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, CEB)

 

In my personal life, I have watched as God has brought beauty from ashes and is leading me forward into so much good. My hope is secure and I know He has my future in His hands. However, professionally, it is difficult to see the future and hope that lies before us, considering the direction that education seems to be going. With school shootings and violence on the rise, and fear among students, staff and families elevating at an equally alarming rate, I have to look at the promise presented in God’s word and trust that it is true, even when I cannot see His hand at work. His plans are for peace and not disaster… The same God who set captives free, parted the Red Sea, healed the blind, the broken and raised the dead, can meet us where we are in our current mess and bring peace and hope for the future. May we set our eyes on the One who is our solution and seek His peace to pass on to those around us.

 

The plans of the Lord, Quiet Hope

Are always for good;

To grant future hope,

His grace understood.

He does not plan harm,

Though bad’s in the world;

He has overcome,

Hope He shall instill.

So, look to the Lord,

Where our hope is found;

Seek His direction,

For the path that’s sound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for us that grant us a future and a hope. Thank You that Your plans are for peace, not disaster, despite what we see around us. Forgive us for allowing what we see with human eyes to dictate how much hope we permit our hearts to hold. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to Your promise of plans for peace that give us a future filled with hope. Show us how to love others in a way that extends hope and promotes peace in places where chaos seems to reign. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your plans because You are always good. 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

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

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

No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

May We Marvel Like the Magi

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left that territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. – (Matthew 2:9-12, MSG)

 

As I continue on my journey to dig deeper into the stories of those who first were mentioned in the Christmas story, this morning I did some searching about the Magi. What I had already learned, is that the wise men who visited bearing gifts, did not actually visit Mary, Joseph and Jesus as He lay in the manger. It was likely a year or two later. As mentioned, the wise men entered their home, not an animal shelter of sorts with Jesus in a manger. My new discovery however, is that according to what I found, the Magi were a priesthood of the Medes, known for their exceptional religious knowledge, and some proved to be experts at interpretation of dreams. This was the very same group of wise men and advisors to whom Daniel had been appointed Chief of the Magi, several generations prior. The gifts that these priestly people brought had prophetic and powerful meaning in religious realms. Gold spoke of His kingship, frankincense was a spice used in priestly duties, and myrrh was an embalming ointment anticipating His death. The wise men followed a star, knowing of the significance of Who they would find if they followed where it led. Based on the gifts that they had prepared to take, I imagine that they had already been given some dreams and insight about what had been foretold long before. It is awe-inspiring to envision what the moment must have been like for the Magi. A lifetime of studying and seeking, and then suddenly these wise men found themselves standing before the Savior of the world.  May we each have Magi-like moments this Christmas, where we recognize in awe and wonder, His powerful presence, because He chose to come and be God with us.

 

A star of wonder, May We Live Like the Magi

Led wise men afar;

Check in with a king,

Then follow the star.

The Magi arrived,

In Bethlehem town;

The way clearly shown,

As the star shined down.

With awe and wonder,

The wise men took knee;

They gave Him their gifts,

All praise unto Thee.

May we too behold,

A similar awe;

At the Gift given,

What the wise men saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly show us more and more of Who You are and all that You have done, as we seek You and ask for Your insight. Thank You for the faithfulness and obedience of the Magi, and a bit more of the story behind them. Forgive us for taking everything at face value, or for becoming numb to the depth and life that come from beholding the truth and the treasure that is found in the story of Jesus’ arrival. Teach us to seek to see it through fresh eyes, so that we never lose our awe and wonder at the glory of the Gift that You gave. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You, the ultimate Giver of all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of all that You have done for us, and the very reason we celebrate this season. Amen.

 

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

 

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

(link to Magi research)

Hope in Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! – (Psalm 42:5, NLT)

Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I tell myself, “Wait for God’s help! You will again praise Him, your God, the One who will save you.” – (Psalm 42:5, ERV)

Why are you so down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. – (Psalm 42:5, MSG)

 

It is difficult to take in the recent events in our nation, and not feel sad and discouraged. Yet, even in the darkness of such ugliness, good has been burning bright in incredible ways. When the need for blood donations was presented to the people of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, generous hearts lined up in droves. Help is being provided in a place where it is typically lacking, as it is needed most. Additionally, there have been numerous stories of individuals placing themselves in harm’s way to help those in need in the midst of this tragic event. When I see the good that rose up in people who helped because they knew that they could not just standby and do nothing – I am encouraged and remember that God is our hope and our reason to praise. He moves hearts to act with love and compassion, and despite the darkness that is in the world, God is always good. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, as He is the One who saves and is worthy of all of our praise.

 

When I’m discouraged, Hope in Discouragement

And my heart is sad;

Help me hope again,

Lord, make my heart glad.

Glad for Your goodness,

For Your light and grace;

Praise for salvation,

Our hope in this place.

Lord, help us to see,

Where to fix our eyes;

As we look to You,

All hope’s realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the darkness that befalls us and our nation, You are always good. Thank You that You demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness through the grace and love of people. Father, please be with the first responders, the officers, the medical teams and all those impacted by what took place in Las Vegas. Your healing hands are needed more than ever. Forgive us for turning a blind eye to that which overwhelms us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask of You what we are meant to do – be it to give, pray, or go do more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides comfort and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, especially in the places where Your light seems to be lacking. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19