Inspired to Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, VOICE)

 

This is a season in which people are either most readily willing to step out and love greater and do good works in the name of “the Christmas Spirit”, or are most in need of being blessed, as lack or loss or absence makes this season extraordinarily difficult for them. Giving trees and Random Acts of Kindness are just a few of the simple ways that we are able to demonstrate love through good deeds. Being intentionally aware of those around us is a wonderful way to start. It is not difficult to find someone in need of encouragement or a kind word. Such things take little from us, yet have the capacity to turn a day around, simply by allowing another to know that they are seen and that they matter. As we continue to walk out these last few weeks leading to Christmas, may we consider how to spur one another on in love and good deeds, so all may know the kindness of Christ this sacred season.

 

May we consider, Inspired to Love

How to best inspire;

To choose love greater,

Spread good like wild fire.

Look for the spaces,

Reach out and do good;

Help one another,

Just as we each should.

One act of kindness,

A sweet spoken word;

Make the difference,

Of how truth is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your goodness and kindness are present throughout all of our days, if we only slow down and look around to take notice. Thank You that You call us to do the same, so that we may encourage one another. Forgive us for the opportunities to do good or love well that we did not take. Teach us to rise up and love like You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in ways that bless tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we consider how to love, encourage and do good, as You are calling us to do. Amen.

 

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

 

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

Prepare

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which God prepared in advance for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things He had already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV)

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. – (Ephesians 2:10, VOICE)

 

As the calendar turns another page and we are now making our way into December, the word that keeps coming to my heart and mind, is “prepare”. I did a quick biblical word study, and discovered that the many mentions of preparing or preparation were for battles, arrivals, departures, deaths, feasts, sacrifices, celebrations and ceremonies. In each instance, those preparing were the ones whom had been called. The tenth verse of the second chapter of Ephesians, helps us recognize that we all have been called, created and prepared to do good works that God has planned for us. It is not difficult to find places where good is needed during this holy season, and we are each meant to step in and offer what we have to give – be it our time, our talents or our resources. Our heart is what requires preparation the most frequently, as the distractions all around us can dull our awareness to the places we have been prepared to extend good. May we slow down often in this sacred season, to prepare our hearts, so that we are ready and available to do the good things that God has for us to do.

 

This sacred season,Prepare

May we rise, prepare;

Set our hearts on good,

And how we can share.

For we’re created,

Each of us prepared;

With plan and purpose,

In God’s loving care.

Let us each choose seek,

So that we may find;

The good we can do,

In love for mankind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in the same way You prepared each one of us with a plan and a purpose, may we too, prepare our hearts this season, to walk out the good that You have for us to give. Thank You that we all have something to offer, be it our time, talent or resources. Forgive us for the times that we think we have nothing to give, or we neglect to slow down and look for ways to extend Your heart to others in this sacred season. Teach us to take time to listen to Your leading, and to be willing to walk out whatever You ask of us. Show us how to love those around us in tangible and practical ways this season, that make Your goodness and grace evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we prepare our hearts in the same way that You prepared each of us, to do good and represent You well. Amen.

 

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

 

Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. – Psalm 25:4

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

The Treasures of Christmas

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

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

 

Mary, the one whom God chose to bear the Savior of the world, experienced wonders and miracles both before Jesus was born, and throughout His lifetime. I love how Luke points out that Mary made a point to treasure each event in her heart and remember what the Lord had done, as this is how a mama’s heart is wired. As my own children have transitioned from baby, to toddler, to children and now into teenagers, I too, have treasured the moments of significance in my heart, and likewise, I think of the moments and movements of God often. Christmas is the gift of God with us. Heaven came to earth so that we would know the wonder of Christ’s nearness, rather that God out there. Though we may not all be mamas, we all have moments and miracles to keep in our hearts and think about often. May we take time today to celebrate God with us, and the glorious gift that came to us so that we could have life everlasting as we remember the reason for this sacred season. Merry Christmas, and may your heart ponder the treasures He has given and continues to give.

 

When Love made way down,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

From heaven to earth;

Such glory beheld,

In Christ’s sacred birth.

Though in modest scene,

No crib for a bed;

Jesus came to save,

And peace and love spread.

Just as His mother,

Held dear in her heart;

May we hold moments,

Of Love from the start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that Love could come close. Thank You that Mary modeled the importance of keeping close to our hearts, all that You have done in us and for us and through us. Forgive us for not paying attention or for not recognizing the significance of all that You do. Teach us how to treasure each moment that You give us. Show us how every movement and moment matters to You. Help us to love as You love, so that people may see Your heart through the way that we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that You have done, and think about these things often. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

Where Strength is Reborn

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

 

After a good, but seemingly extraordinarily long day, I did not realize just how weary I had become. For whatever reason, when I returned home from work, I jumped right into cleaning and laundry mode without really pausing to take a break. From there, I went to my kettlebell training session, and then onto a Christmas gathering with dear friends. Despite the joy in seeing everyone, I felt like I needed to head home to check on one of my sweet sons who had been sick and missed school. Once home, all was well, the boys were resting and content, so I went to my room to lay down for a few minutes. Of course once cozy and warm, the few minutes became many hours. I woke at 2am, and had already slept five hours. Surprisingly, I merely turned off my bedroom light and went back to sleep until a more reasonable hour this morning. Nearly nine hours of sleep later, I am better rested than I have been since summer. God knew what I needed, and rest was granted beyond what I would have sought for myself. The Lord provides where we are lacking, and longs for us to seek Him to find rest. May we remember to seek the Lord in this sacred season, and allow Him to take our burdens as He is the One who will grant us rest.

 

Come all you weary,where-strength-is-reborn

Unto Christ the Lord;

He takes our burdens,

As rest He affords.

The Lord knows our need,

And lovingly gives;

Help to the seeking,

In grace, He forgives.

Bring all your burdens,

You weary and worn;

His rest is ready,

In Him, strength’s reborn.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You when we are weary and weighed down, and You will give us rest. Thank You that at times, You provide the rest we don’t even realize we so desperately need. Forgive us for trying to gut things out in our weariness, and help us to seek You for strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our burdens before You, as You are our Source and Supply. Show us how to love those around us well, and where we can help bear the burdens of those around us through practical help and support. May many come to know You as their Savior this season as they see Your heart through the actions and encouragement that You place around them. Be glorified O God, as we come to You when we are weary and worn, and receive the rest that You so graciously give so that we may go and do likewise. Amen.

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

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

The Gift of Generosity

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. – (Proverbs 11:25, NLT)

Give freely, and you will profit. Help others, and you will gain more for yourself. – (Proverbs 11:25, ERV)

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. – (Proverbs 11:25, MSG)

 

The kingdom of God does not operate according to the rules of man. In our own limited understanding, living a life of generosity and helpfulness is almost counter-intuitive. If one is trying to get ahead, giving one’s time, resources and energy does not necessarily make sense. However, in God’s economy, this is the very way things work. The last shall be first. We gain life when we give ourselves away. He blesses as we bless others. When our motivation is otherly, we somehow end up being blessed in the process. God does something remarkable when we take our attention off of ourselves and focus on those around us. Somehow, whatever seemed to weigh us down, no longer holds as much significance when we choose to be generous with others. Often seeing those we were able to walk beside flourish, is the very blessing our heart needed most. May we choose to give freely and help others in this sacred season, as the Lord refreshes us as we honor Him.

 

Let us give freely,The Holiday of Hope

Choose to help and bless;

For through our giving,

His peace we possess.

The God of all grace,

Refreshes our hearts;

As we bless others,

His life He imparts.

May love lead the way,

Generosity;

So all might see God,

And come to believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your ways are far above our ways. Thank You that when we give of ourselves, You meet us and refresh us and never leave us depleted. Thank You that You call us to live generously, as You are overwhelmingly generous with us. Forgive us for not giving freely of our time, resources or ourselves as You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise up and help where we see need that You have given us wisdom, resources or grace to meet. Show us how to love those around us as You would love, so that Your light and life would be abundantly clear through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give, help and love others as You have done for us. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

He Has Shown Us Good

He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God? – (Micah 6:8, NKJV)

 

In this sacred season, as we recognize the birth of our Redeemer, our charge is to respond in a way that glorifies the goodness of God. If we are just, merciful and walk humbly with God, it would be impossible to not notice something different about how we conduct ourselves. People are drawn to goodness and grace. May we be light and love and life to all those in need this season, as we choose to be fair and kind, humble and full of grace, giving to others as we have so richly been given through the goodness of God.

 

For we have been shown,Submit Not to the Snare of Fear

The goodness of God;

Let our hearts respond,

And humbly choose trod.

May we do justly,

Love mercy and grace;

Extend to others,

God’s loving embrace.

For the Lord requires,

We walk in His way;

So others might come,

In His safety’s stay. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what is good and what You require of us. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to empower and equip us to do. Thank You that You are merciful and just to us, so that we are drawn to walk humbly with You. Forgive us for not conducting ourselves justly or mercifully, or for lacking humility when all that we have and all that we are is because of You. Teach us how to trust You more, and to give You glory in all things. Show us how to love all those around us with mercy and grace, so that they may come to know Your goodness for themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with 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

A Tribe that is True

Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. – (Proverbs 17:17, MSG)

A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times. – (Proverbs 17:17, VOICE)

 

Somehow, I am blessed with friends who have become family and family that I truly consider friends. For the past few days, my boys and I had the pleasure of spending sweet time together with my sister and her family. It was a joy to see the cousins carry on as if no time had passed since the last time we gathered, and for me, time face-to-face with my sister and brother-in-law is always a gift to my heart. Today, some of my most dearly treasured tribe of friends will gather for our first annual “Friendsgiving”. The very idea of gathering all together in gratitude fills my heart to overflowing. Each one of us has endured some serious storms over the past year, yet with our circle surrounding whomever was in the throes of the storm, each of us was able to endure and come through stronger, knowing that we were supported and loved. May we all continue through this sacred season surrounding our people with love and support, and giving thanks for the blessings that the Lord has brought our way.

 

May we be the friends,tribe

Who love through the storm;

A place of safety,

Where hearts become warm.

No matter what comes,

May we remain true;

In love and friendship,

Help each other through.

Let’s be family,

In good times and bad;

Through all circumstance,

Reason to be glad.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful blessings of friends and family that You give. Thank You that You use the relationships around us to show us more of Yourself. Thank You that so often, Your heart is made tangible through the encouraging words of the people You place in our lives. Forgive us for not loving the way You call us to love. Teach us to be the kind of friends and family that You have created us to be. Show us how to love and stick together, no matter what comes our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love regardless of circumstances, just as You love us. Amen.

© 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

Hearing His Voice

When Mary had gone to the tomb to see the body of her crucified Christ, she was grieved to tears when she found it empty. In fact, she was so distraught that she did not even recognize Jesus standing before her, until Jesus said to her, “Mary.” – (John 20:16) It was only when Mary at last heard His voice, that she realized that the risen Lord was right in front of her in the flesh.

 

As we spend time in prayer, in worship, and in His word, we learn to recognize His voice as well. Knowing which voice belongs to Christ is critical in walking well with Him. When we hear His heart, we listen and obey all that He is asking, rather than wandering off, following our own every whim. May we learn to listen well with our hearts in love, to the Lord’s ever-present leading.

 

Finding the quiet,Asking for Answers

in life’s busyness;

ready to listen,

to Christ, faithfulness.

Grant us ears to hear,

as You call our name;

may we know it’s You,

all truth be proclaimed.

Teach us to follow,

everything You ask;

equip us in strength,

to fulfill each task.

May we recognize,

Your presence, always;

and share the good news,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You sent Your Son to die in our place so that we could be made right before You. Thank You that through the restored relationship in Christ, You sent Your Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all who believe. Thank You that You speak to us, and call us by name. Thank You that when we spend time with You, we grow to recognize Your voice. Forgive us for neglecting to invest in our relationship with You, or for tuning into the noise that distracts us from hearing You clearly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might listen well, and obey all that You say. May many come into a saving relationship with You this sacred season, as we go forth in obedience to all that You ask. Help us to love others as we are loved by You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for Your voice. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

To Come Near

Christmas commemorates the momentous event, where at last the long foretold telling of the Savior’s arrival, had come to pass. This sacred season is our reminder of how Christ came near. Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again; so that we too, could draw near to Him, and receive the promise of a permanent place with Him in heaven forever. How, in the midst of the chaos of all of the Christmas preparations, do you draw near to our Deliverer?

“Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” – (James 4:7-10)

At first read, the above passage seems so somber. However, James was really giving us an excellent reminder of how to prepare our hearts properly, so that we may present ourselves pure before Him, and allow Him to restore and right that which is wrong. My NIV footnotes lay out the verses this way:

1) Submit to God (4:7) – yield to His authority and will, commit your life to Him and His control, and be willing to follow Him.

2) Resist the devil (4:7) – don’t allow Satan to entice and tempt you.

3) Wash your hands … and purify your hearts (4:8) – that is lead a pure life as you are cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire to experience God’s purity.

4) Grieve and mourn and wail (4:9) – don’t be afraid to express deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done.

5) Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (4:10) – Give it all to Him, and He restores, reconciles, and calls us His children.

So long ago,To Come Near

it was foretold;

that Christ would come,

peace to unfold.

To their surprise,

came infant King;

in stable born,

strange offering.

Bright shining star,

drew wise men near;

and angels sang,

that Christ was here.

Shepherds in fear,

babe laid in hay;

heaven declared,

truth for today.

Wise men still seek,

Him born that night;

Who suffered death,

to make us right.

Let us draw near,

for Jesus waits;

to welcome those,

who seek His face.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and made the way for us to draw near to You. Thank You that when we willing submit our hearts and lives unto You, You come and dwell in us and provide all that we need to live right before You. Help us to keep short accounts before You, being quick to confess our sin; and help us to rely on Your leading, so that we walk in Your way and do Your will. Forgive us for our attempts to do things on our own, and help us to turn to You first, and allow You to lead. Teach us to walk in humility before You, so that others may clearly see You in us. Let us live in love so that many may come to call You King, this Christmas. Be glorified today, Lord God. Amen.

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