Promises Seen

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, NIV) 

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. “Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, VOICE) 

 

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God, they met a man named Simeon, who had been waiting for a promise to come to pass. God had spoken to Simeon that he would see with his own eyes, the promised salvation for all people. For Simeon, this was the fulfillment of a promise long awaited; for Mary and Joseph, it was more to ponder in awe and wonder as they sought the Lord to raise this precious gift properly. This passage is a powerful reminder that what God promises, He will do. Simeon had been waiting and trusting that what God had said, He would do. His faith was met by him holding the Son of God in his own arms, as He dedicated Jesus to the Father. Not only did Simeon see the Savior, but he held Him and faithfully fulfilled his role in the temple as he dedicated Jesus to the Lord. God followed through on His promise to Simeon in an extraordinary way. Not only did Simeon see Him with his own eyes, but he held the Son of God, and proclaimed truth about Jesus and what was yet to come. A long-awaited promise was answered faithfully, and in a way that went beyond simply seeing. May we ever trust the Lord that His promises are true, and wait patiently for the fulfillment, as it is always worth the wait.  

 

When the time had come, Simeons Story

His parents, they knew; 

Go to the temple, 

To give God what’s due. 

Dedicate this child, 

To the Lord on High; 

And trust in His grace, 

For all of their lives. 

When the three arrived, 

They set to the task; 

Of honoring God, 

Just as He had asked. 

Simeon met them, 

And burst into praise; 

For soon in his arms, 

The Savior was laid. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a promise fulfiller and faithful Father to all who seek You. Thank You that You equip us for all that You ask of us, and that Your promises are true. Forgive us for our impatience in the wait between a promise and its fulfillment. Teach us to trust that what You say, You will do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings comfort in chaos and peace in seasons of waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our faithful Father forever. Amen.

 

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

 

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

Called to Task

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. – (Luke 1:76-77, NIV) 

Now you, little boy, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go first before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. You will make His people understand that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven. – (Luke 1:76-77, ERV) 

 

As Zechariah’s song of praise continued, he proclaimed words of truth, as God revealed the role that his son, John, would play in preparing the hearts of people for all that Christ had to offer. John was a faithful proclaimer of truth, and he spent his life, even unto his own death, speaking of the way to salvation through the forgiveness of sins. As the parents of John, Zechariah and Elizabeth knew their son was called to a task that was beyond their own human understanding. Both, likely spent John’s formative years, educating and raising him close to God, guiding him in the direction that he was meant to go. I imagine it took tremendous faith and dependence on God, to lead a child who was called to such specific work for the Lord. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Raising children who have been set apart from infancy, or even earlier, would be a task that takes trust beyond measure. In my own experience, simply being responsible for two tiny humans at the same time, took formidable faith, as premature twins in the care of a first-time parent was slightly terrifying. God’s grace, mercy and strength made the unknown and unyielding, manageable and marvelous. May we seek the Lord and His strength, as we recognize that He is our help and our hope in raising up the next generation of faithful followers of Him. 

 

O Lord, let our faith, 0119180406679500301.jpg

Be rooted in You; 

Our strength and our hope, 

For Your love is true. 

However You call, 

Whatever our way; 

Your help, grace and hope, 

Will lead us each day. 

Faithful forever, 

O Lord God, You reign; 

Please show us each day, 

The path we’re to take. 

  

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness, grace and faithfulness forever. Thank You that You never call us to anything that You are not also willing to equip us to do. Forgive us for our fearfulness when the call seems far beyond our ability to navigate. Teach us to trust You more, for You are greater than any seeming impossibility that lies before us. Show us how to faithfully navigate the roles to which we are called. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and grace tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things at all times, and faithfully walk wherever You lead. Amen.

 

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

 

When I called to You for help, You answered me and gave me strength. – Psalm 138:3

Mercy Like Our Maker

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” – (Matthew 1:20, NIV) 

Now when Joseph had decided to act on his instincts, a messenger of the Lord came to him in a dream. Messenger of the Lord: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to wed Mary and bring her into your home and family as your wife. She did not sneak off and sleep with someone else – rather, she conceived the baby she now carries through the miraculous wonder-working of the Holy Spirit. – (Matthew 1:20, VOICE) 

 

Much like Mary, Joseph found himself in a difficult situation. Normally, the law would lead Joseph to bring public disgrace and likely death upon Mary, yet even before the appearance of the angel of the Lord, he had determined to walk away quietly. However, his plans were transformed when a messenger of God appeared to him to announce the truth of what had happened to his fiancé. His faith held fast to what was spoken, and he willingly walked a likely trying road, as he moved forward with the plans to wed a woman whom few knew or understood the truth about her visible unexpected condition. Joseph chose to obey, and became the earthly father to the Son of God. Though our willing obedience will not lead to parenting the Prince of Peace, we never know the lasting impact our decision to do the things that the Lord asks of us may have. Our extension of mercy and grace when it is not deserved can be utilized by God to change hearts and transform communities. May we seek the Lord to be our strength and our guide, so that we may walk in His ways and love others as He intends us to love. 

 

When actions deserve, No Room for Them

Seeming punishment; 

We ought to ask God, 

What is His intent. 

For often what’s seen, 

Mere part of the whole; 

Wisdom is needed, 

To serve well, our role. 

God’s mercy and grace, 

Made the way for us; 

To love as He loves, 

Just like Lord Jesus. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us the willing hearts of those before us who have extended mercy and grace, when it was seemingly undeserved. Thank You that what we see is not always the whole story. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy and grace, and simply acted on what we observed. Teach us to slow down and seek You, so that we will know best how to love and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends mercy and grace, and seeks to listen and understand first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to love others as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Will to Walk in Love

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – (2 John 1:6, NIV) 

And loving means living the way He commanded us to live. And God’s command is this: that you live a life of love. You heard this command from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, ERV) 

Love is defined by our obedience to His commands. This is the same command you have known about from the very beginning: you must live by it. – (2 John 1:6, VOICE) 

 

There are days that choosing love is extraordinarily difficult, particularly when what is received feels miles away from loving. When this occurs, it takes a decision of the will to walk in obedience to His command. Love is not about a feeling, but rather it is a choice to love others as we are loved by God. Love is patient and kind, and does not have qualifications as to whether or not patience and kindness are extended. In fact, it is often the seemingly least deserving that need to observe love in action the most. The negative behaviors that come our way, seldom have anything to do with us, and have everything to do with individual circumstances or what took place prior to our interaction. Walking in obedience is not an easy road, but choosing to live a life of love is never for naught. Even when we do not see the impact of choosing love, we may be at peace in knowing that we have chosen well, and have operated in accordance to His will. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He fills us with His love to extend to others as we navigate each new day. 

 

To love is a choice, Tether Our Hearts

An act of our will; 

Commanded by God, 

Our role to fulfill. 

For we are all called, 

To love as a choice; 

With actions and words, 

His grace to employ. 

So, let us choose love, 

In each circumstance; 

For as we do so, 

Love gets to advance. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us when we are so unlovable, and give us grace when we are completely undeserving. Thank You that You call us to give the very things that we have received to those around us, even when it is difficult. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to empower us to do. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend love, as we allowed our own egos, agendas or hurts to get in the way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would get out of the way and give You room to move in and through us in love. Show us how to love those around us best, especially those who are the most challenging to love in the moment. Grant us Your patience and kindness and the ability to see others through Your lens of love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to lead us in love in all things and at all times. 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. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Sowing Seeds of Peace

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. – (James 3:18, NIV)

Those who make peace sow the seeds of justice by their peaceful acts. – (James 3:18, CEB)

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoys its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. – (James 3:18, MSG)

 

Typically, the role of a peacemaker has served me well in the classroom. When kids are escalated, remaining calm most often leads to peace restored. However, despite the difficult work that has already been invested, there is clearly much more to be done, as there are a few students throughout my day that continue to struggle to get along with others and treat others with dignity. In the wait, I will continue to promote peace with each group of young people that enters my classroom, by modeling the very things that I ask of each of them. May we depend on the Lord to sow in peace, so that we may reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

May we ever choose, Sowing Seeds of Peace

To sow seeds of peace;

Kindness and honor,

To others increase.

The more we feel known,

The more we’re at ease;

Able to settle,

Calm down and sow peace.

Keep on investing,

Choose love others well;

With honor and grace,

May peace in us dwell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we sow seeds of peace, we reap a harvest of righteousness. Thank You that what we invest in extending peace does not go out void, but You use every intentional word and deed to plant seeds of peace. Forgive us for our frustration in the wait, as at times it appears our efforts are for naught. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the One who brings lasting peace and righteousness to those who seek and follow after You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that promotes peace for all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sow seeds of peace and rely on You to return a harvest of righteousness. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth 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)

Fresh Hope Reconciled

He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, NLT) 

He came to the world that was His own. And His own people did not accept Him. But some people did accept Him. They believed in Him, and He gave them the right to become children of God. – (John 1:11-12, ERV) 

He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him. But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed and would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. – (John 1:11-12, MSG) 

 

Under the law, God was One to be approached from a distance, rather than One whom we could draw near and be in relationship with personally. Jesus came to break the barrier that separated us from God and give us access to our Heavenly Father as dearly loved children. Our part is to believe and trust in Him. As we do, we are adopted as daughters and sons of the living God. The reality that we are considered children of God when we believe and accept Him as our own, is overwhelming. He sees and knows everything about us, and yet He loves us more than we can even begin to grasp. My role as a mom likely only begins to give a glimpse of the depth and breadth of His love for us. The love I have for my children feels limitless. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are doing well, I am full of joy. How much greater is the capacity to love of He who created all that is and ever was, as He knit us together and breathed life into our being? May we embrace the glorious grace that we have been given, as we receive the gift of being called daughters and sons of the living God through believing in Him and accepting His word is true. 

 

Often rejected, Risk to Reward

Jesus, He still came; 

To offer His love, 

As we call His Name. 

For all who believe, 

Accept His word’s true; 

Become His own kids, 

As we are made new. 

No longer from far, 

But we can draw near; 

Speak to Mighty God, 

We have Daddy’s ear. 

Just as a parent, 

Loves deeply their child; 

We’re loved by the Lord, 

Fresh hope reconciled. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and made the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that when we believe and accept Your word, You call us Your own. Forgive us for rejecting the truth that You make known to us, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to walk in Your way and honor You in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us so that they might gain glimpses of You through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we accept, believe and receive all that You show us of Yourself and Your word. Amen. 

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

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

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Simeon’s Story

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

 

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

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Loving the Next Generation

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – (Proverbs 22:6, NIV)

Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path. – (Proverbs 22:6, ERV)

Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. – (Proverbs 22:6, MSG)

 

This verse is a powerful reminder of my purpose; not only with my own children, but in my classroom each day. My role as a classroom teacher goes beyond the curriculum that I am asked to deliver. If I can meet kids where they are, and help them know that they matter, the learning that takes place is far more significant than the reading and writing that is required. I know in my own life, there were people, teachers, youth leaders, my mom, my grandmother, and various other family and friends, who greatly impacted the path on which I chose to travel. Their words often echoed in my mind as I reached crossroads, and aided me in choosing wisely, when I could have decided differently. Each of the voices that spoke to my heart had met me in a way that fit my own need, individually, and made an impact that has lasted a lifetime. We are able and called to do the same. May we love the next generation by meeting them where they are, and pointing them in the direction that they are meant to go.

 

Help us to teach kids, 1506783915220

The ways they’re to go;

Meet each in their need,

So Your path’s made known.

When we’re shown what’s right,

Through love on our way;

We’re drawn to follow,

On the right path stay.

Let us show our kids,

The right way to go;

So when they’re older,

They will always know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when children are started off in the right direction, You are faithful to continue to call them to remain close to You. Thank You that though educators are not in a role to spiritually lead students, we have the ability to meet kids where they are in a way that fits their need, and help them know that they are valued, loved, and capable of great things. Forgive us for not investing enough into pointing kids in the right direction, as each future has eternal value. Teach us to turn to You for wisdom as to how we can love best, each young person that You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we point kids in the right direction, trusting You to keep them close as they grow older. Amen.

 

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

 

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