Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

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

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Love Each Other

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, NIV)

That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, ERV)

Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes His permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in Him, and His love is brought to its full expression in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, TPT)

 

Because we are loved, we too, are called to love one another. Though no one has seen God face-to-face, each time we are met with His love through others, we catch glimpses of His heart for us. God calls us to love one another so that His love may be made known to those around us. When we choose to love, we are allowing God’s love to be made complete in us and through us, exactly as He intended. May we love others as we are loved by God, and allow His love to be brought to its full expression in us.

As for Mom, I know she is feeling His love for her as well. The other day when I called, she was surrounded by some of her dearest friends, who were over for a visit. June, her bestie, sent a text to my sister and me, and it included the photo I am including. The sheer joy on Mom’s face makes the love that she is receiving, evident. Yes, there will be adjusting to a new space and new schedule, but the beauty of being back in her own community far outweighs any challenge presented by the new.

 

We all are well loved, wp-15821165148995020299889094046902.jpg

By the Lord on high;

Just as He loves us,

We too, must supply.

Supply well His grace,

As we choose to love;

Let Him work through us,

In Him, there’s enough.

Enough to reach out,

And love anyway;

To help, extend hope,

Show His heart each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You supply us with all that we need to love as You love us. Thank You that You call and equip us to love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be led in all things and at all times by Your unfailing love. Show us how to love those around us in every situation and circumstance, according to Your perfect plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love that You have to offer so that we can go forth and love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

All in Love

Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV)

Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, VOICE)

Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, TPT)

 

It is amazing how much better life goes when love is the motivation behind every word and deed. Though there are times that love feels like the farthest thing from what we want to extend, it is a choice. Last night, my Viking and I landed in Reno, shortly before midnight. His brother and the love of his life greeted us at the airport and handed off one of their vehicles, so that we would not have to rent one. They are early risers, so not only was the sacrifice of a vehicle an act of love, but the decision to stay up late and abandon opportunity for a full night’s sleep, also demonstrated a clear choice of love in action. When we arrived at our accommodations for the night, a lovely occasion to choose to speak and act in love, presented itself. Exhausted, the Viking and I quickly checked in and received our room keys. Upon arrival at our door, we soon discovered that the key cards did not work in the door to which they were assigned. Frustrated, we walked the quarter-mile back to the office with our things, with a less-than-loving attitude, only to communicate kindly to the gentleman who apologetically reprogrammed our room keys and sent us back to our room. Sadly, the keys still would not work. With even more aggravation, combined with the lack of sleep, I was not sure how it would go, as we walked back, yet again, to the office to remedy the situation. This time, Mark simply asked if we could please be placed in a different room, as it appeared that there was a problem with the lock on the other room’s door. The concierge obliged willingly, and we thanked him and were on our way. Sometimes love is found in what we choose to not say as well. We are grateful for the blessing of time with family, and the opportunity to love and be loved well. May we all seek our Heavenly Father for His strength and grace, so that we may go forth in love in every word and deed.

 

To love is a choice, 09061920511312738643123803600.jpg

We have all our days;

In word, thought and deed,

At work, home and play.

Each time that we choose,

To love and be kind;

We show the Lord’s heart,

For all of mankind.

Lord, help us to love,

To choose love like You;

Prefer each other,

Let Your light shine through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love. Thank You that You do not call us to anything that You are not also willing to equip and empower us to do. Thank You that You loved us first. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit that dwells in us and reminds us what it is to love in each circumstance we encounter. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen poorly and have not spoken or acted in love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Show us how to love those around us in ways that communicate love to them best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and love You, so that we may in turn love others too. Amen.

 

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

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

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