Hope Rises

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” – (Matthew 28:2-6, NIV)

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” – (Mark 16:6, NIV)

“He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day, be raised again.” Then they remembered His words. – (Luke 24:6-8, NIV)

 

Mary and Mary Magdalene had been with Jesus consistently throughout the previous three years. They had witnessed miracles and listened to His teachings, again and again. On the day that He was crucified, the two were mentioned as they stood at the foot of the cross, and the two were there watching as Pilate’s guards placed the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb. In the morning, on the third day, the day following the Sabbath, Mary and Mary Magdalene hurried to the place where Jesus lay, hoping to at least gain a glimpse of His body, likely to honor the Savior with their mourning. I can only imagine their shock and disbelief at the sight of giant gleaming angel, seated on the enormous stone that had been rolled away. I wonder if their hearts leaped within them as the angel of the Lord reminded them of Jesus’ own words, when He had foretold of His resurrection. As soon as the words settled in, they viewed the empty tomb, and realized that all Jesus had spoken, had come to pass. Today, we remember the remarkable way that Jesus came to offer salvation to all who believe. He died in our place, but not even death, a dreadful death on a cross, could overcome our Giver of Life. Death was defeated and Jesus is alive! His death, so we may live; His resurrection, so that we have hope for eternity with Him. May we celebrate this glorious day in the knowledge that He is Risen and we can forever dwell with Him!

 

Early one morning, Hope in an Empty Tomb

Many years ago;

While others still slept,

Two ladies did go.

They walked to the tomb,

Where Jesus did lay;

Angelic greeting,

The stone rolled away.

The tomb sat empty,

Jesus was not there;

“The Lord is alive”,

The angel declared.

In awe and wonder,

The women recalled;

Jesus said He’d rise,

New hope was installed.

Jesus is alive,

Death has lost its sting;

All sin, defeated,

Through Christ’s offering.

Celebrate in faith,

His power to rise;

Through death and new life,

Our hope realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that death was defeated and our sins, forgiven. Thank You for the hope and the power that is planted in us through the resurrection. Forgive us for not recognizing both the weight and the wonder, as Jesus took it all so that we might live. Teach us to look upon the cross with great gratitude, and recall the empty tomb with resurrected hope. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays the hope we hold because death was defeated for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, our Risen Redeemer. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your ultimate victory and praise You for the power You impart to us, so that we too may be overcomers, with hope that is secure for our eternity. Amen.

 

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

 

“Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.” – Matthew 28:7

A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. 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

Overcoming Power

“He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” – (Luke 24:6-7, NLT)

 

Grief does funny things to our ability to think clearly. I can only begin to imagine the weight of the sorrow shared by those who had walked closely beside Jesus, prior to His crucifixion. Despite His having told those dear to Him what had to happen, and what would happen after, if they were anything like most of us, they probably could not grasp anything beyond His having to die. Even more surreal to see in one’s mind, is the arrival at the empty tomb. What began as shock, horror, and perhaps even outrage that Jesus’ body was missing, was quickly turned to worshipful awe, as they were greeted by angels who told them what had happened. It had to have been quite a sight to see, if the first words from those whom God had sent, was, “Don’t be afraid.” I envision it being a two-fold extension of kindness. Don’t be afraid of us, and do not be afraid of what you do not see. It did not take long for the truth that they had been told prior to Jesus’ death to be recalled, and suddenly, everything changed. Mourning turned to gladness, and sorrow surrendered to great joy! Jesus had risen! May we rise this day and remember the reason for the festivities. The Light of the world defeated death and conquered the grave so that we could have life everlasting in Him.

 

Two days of darkness,Hope in an Empty Tomb

Then third day, He rose;

Defeating the grave,

All hope to disclose.

Greeted by angels,

At the empty tomb;

Awe and amazement,

Minds blown at the truth.

Though He had foretold,

Was hard to believe;

No more was Christ dead,

He’d risen indeed.

What joy they had found,

Their sorrow, no more;

Jesus has risen,

Worship and adore!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not stop at the death on the cross on our behalf, but You showed us Your power as You defeated death and overcame the grave so that we could have life everlasting in You. Thank You that the very same power that conquered the grave is available to all who trust in You. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to defeat our resolve, rather than turning to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone have the power to carry us through every circumstance. Show us how to live and love boldly, as we have been given all that we need to love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to fill us so that we may live and love in the overcoming power You place in each of us. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 54:8

Remember

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

 

On this day, I cannot help but take pause and remember what occurred fifteen years ago. As I was driving in to work, the information that was conveyed on the radio was surreal. How on earth could a perfectly good airplane crash into a major structure in the heart of Manhattan? The day continued to unfold, as the tragedies grew and the shock and horror that swept our nation was staggering. However, in the midst of the chaos and destruction, there was a rising rally of hope. First responders and volunteers flocked to the center of destruction, and worked tirelessly in hope of finding survivors. People banded together to help the hurting and support rescue efforts. Even in the darkest hours, the hands and heart of God could be seen. In addition to all of the coordinated rescue efforts, there are countless stories of others who were somehow spared that fateful day. Flights that were rerouted, grounded for days and provided for by the people of small towns, individuals who missed flights that were booked on those that crashed, and still others of how rescuers assisted in bringing people to safety in the midst of mayhem. Though we cannot begin to grasp why one life was lost and another was spared, we can hold onto the hope that our help comes from the Lord. He is our strength and our source, and the One on whom we can depend even on the darkest of days. May we seek Him and trust Him in all things and at all times, as we remember that despite circumstances, He is always good.

 

On the darkest days,

The Lord still is light;

He’s present to help,

No matter our plight.

When tragedy strikes,

The Lord is still good;

His hands and His heart,

He makes understood.

So often people,

Are who He will use;

To extend His love,

And share the good news.

News that what’s today,

Is not where it ends;

For hope shall arise,

And new life begins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope no matter what comes our way. Thank You that despite the devastation and destruction that took place fifteen years ago today, we can also remember the stories of communities banding together, of brave men and women who willingly placed themselves in harms way to help, and of our nation that came together to support one another and to mourn. Forgive us for not lifting our eyes to You, as You alone our where our help comes from. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others as an extension of Your hands and heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You for help and then reach out to others. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

He Climbs in the Boat

Then He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. – (Mark 6:51)

When the disciples were rowing across the lake, having left a miraculous evening in which Jesus had fed a multitude with a mere five loaves and two fish, they somehow lost sight of their story when a storm set in. Waves were crashing around them, and then, as if an apparition, Jesus was walking beside these men on the water. To say they were frightened, would likely be an understatement. Jesus reassured them, and then, what really brought about comfort and peace to each stirred up soul, was when He climbed into the boat beside them. As He did, the wind and waves were calmed, and so too, were the hearts of those who He came near.

As storms rage around us, do we look up from our oars? If even for a moment, I imagine we’d find similar shock at just how near the Lord is to us, and how willing He is to climb in beside us and still the storm in our soul. Our charge is to look for Him in the midst of both the calm and the storm, as He stays beside us in each. His miracles are available and He moves on our behalf, more often than we realize. When we really look, we too, will be completely amazed at how the Lord is moving among us.

As storms are raging,

we strain at the oar;
crying to the Lord,
“Dear Jesus, no more.”
But do we look up,
and bother to see;
how near the Lord is,
on standby, waiting?
For He never leaves,
He’s promised to stay;
through calm and through storms,
both now and always.
He’s gentle and kind,
will come close beside;
if we only ask,
trust Him and abide.
There’s no storm too strong,
nor crisis too great;
He always shows up,
and is never late.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when storms rage around us, You don’t just look down on us from afar, but You come close and climb in the boat beside us, commanding the chaos within us to become calm. Even if the storm that surrounds us continues for a season, You bring stillness to our soul. Thank You that You are our comfort and our peace, and that You do amazing things when we look to You. Forgive us for focusing our attention on surviving the storm, rather than on You, the One who can still the storm with a word or Your presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will look for You, and discover just how often You are seated beside us in the boat. Lead us to love others well, so that they too may discover Your nearness for themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You who draws near to us and calms the storms within us, and help us to stand amazed at the mighty ways in which You move. Amen.

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

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

Recognizing the Glory

Imagine the shock of an empty tomb, only to be greeted by giant men in gleaming white…  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary encountered this very greeting when they went to the tomb in hope of seeing where the Savior lay.  An angel went on to inform the faithful women that Jesus had risen and was not there, and that He was going ahead of them into Galilee.  “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  ‘Greetings’, He said.  They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him.” – (Matthew 28:8-9)

 

 

From fear to joy, to shock, then at last, overwhelmed with adoration for the Savior upon seeing Him face-to-face, the Marys’ had quite an eventful set of encounters.  How do we respond when we find ourselves in the presence of His greatness and His grace?  God with us, is everywhere.  In the eyes of a new baby, in the kindness of a stranger, in the heart of our worship when we gather together; He is easy to recognize if we simply slow down and allow our hearts to gaze upon all of the good that He has provided around us.  His glory radiates from His creation.  May we take time to pause and recognize the glory of God that surrounds us, and give proper praise to He who deserves all of our worship today.

 

 

The glory of God,He Seeks to Save

so much to behold;

may hearts recognize,

the good that unfolds.

All of creation,

speaks of His glory;

and each of us have,

part in the story.

May we each respond,

in worshipful praise;

to the heart of Christ,

for all of our days.

Let our hearts embrace,

and our minds receive;

all that He has done,

by faith, we believe.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come to know and understand who You are.  Thank You that we may embrace all that You are, as we are welcomed and received by You, as we are viewed through the filter of Your Son.  Thank You Jesus, for living, loving, dying and rising so that we may live victoriously in You.  Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable evidence of Your presence that is all around us, and help us to embrace all that You provide.  Teach us to trust You more so that we may live and love as You did.  Help us to love all those whom surround us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You as they recognize Your goodness and grace.  Be glorified O God, as we give You glory and praise for all of our days.  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