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

Such a Humble Start

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. – (Luke 2:6-7, NLT) 

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle fed. She put him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV) 

 

There are so many details about the birth of Jesus that are beyond my ability to grasp. First, as a woman about to give birth, I cannot fathom the exhaustion Mary must have been feeling after their four-day journey. Then, after travelling eighty-some miles on foot, to be told that there were no rooms available, anywhere, would have been enough to send most over the edge. No mention is made about anyone aiding Mary with the delivery of Jesus. As far as I understand, it was Mary, Joseph, and perhaps the nearby animals in the stable that night. Modern medicine and midwives were not a reasonable option. I think that this was a space where the grace of God was made known in a tangible way, as the young couple brought the Son of God into the world. This brave, strong, young mother, made use of what she had, and wrapped Jesus in strips of cloth and laid him in a bed that was probably far from where she had imagined the precious Prince of Peace would be set to sleep as a newborn. Such a humble beginning made God-with-us all the more relatable and approachable. Though He is King of Creation, He came to us as a newborn baby, in need and dependent on His parents for ordinary things. However, He did not remain an infant in a stable, but grew and became the Overcoming One who saves, and ultimately returned to His rightful throne in heaven. May we remember the humble beginnings of our Savior, recognizing that He understands and can relate to our earthly struggles, yet He is God with us, ready to help and equip us to overcome anything that stands before us. 

 

Weary, in wonder,when-love-came-close.jpg

At their journey’s end; 

Where were they to stay, 

What did God intend? 

No room in the inns, 

But a stable found; 

To bring forth Jesus, 

The image, profound. 

Such a humble start, 

For the Prince of Peace; 

Try fathom the grace, 

To them, God released. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much, that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank Your that because He came as a baby, in such a humble space, we find comfort as we seek Your grace. Forgive us for either forgetting that baby Jesus grew, became, overcame and is now seated at Your right hand, or for not recognizing that Jesus experienced the same joys and pains as we do and understands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all before You in faith. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your heart tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your purposes that are accomplished through that which does not seem to make sense. Amen.

 

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

 

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came to us from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

 

 

Our Faithful Forever Rock

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal. – (Isaiah 26:4, NIV)

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is a rock for all ages. – (Isaiah 26:4, CEB)

 So trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great Rock – strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting. – (Isaiah 26:4, VOICE)

 

The Lord was and is and always will be the One in whom we can trust. Because God is strong, we can depend on Him for strength. His stability steadies us when life brings the sort of storms that shake us to the core. Our trust is secure in the hands of He who knit us together and knows the number of hairs on our head. Each time I have placed my trust in the Lord, rather than my circumstances or own strengths, He has been faithful to meet me and provide what was needed to carry me through, according to His good and perfect will. Even through the seasons of struggle, I can look back and see His hands and His heart that held me and delivered me, as He grew my understanding of His faithfulness and His grace. God is good, and He is strong and secure for all who trust in Him, forever.

 

Choose trust in the Lord,

dsc083293936009573389116774.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

For He is our Rock;

Strong, ever steady,

Faithfulness won’t stop.

He has always been,

Is now and shall be;

The One we can trust,

To eternity.

No matter what comes,

In good times and bad;

Trust in the Lord God,

Faith and grace He’ll add.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You forever to be our Rock, who is strong, steady and secure. Thank You that Your faithfulness knows no end. Forgive us for the times that we have failed to trust in You and have either attempted to power through difficulty on our own or changed direction due to the challenge we were designed to walk through. Teach us to trust and depend on You more. Show us how to love those around us, so that they may come to know and understand Your goodness and faithfulness through how we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever and stand firm in Your promises. Amen.

 

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

For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? – Psalm 18:31

Blanketed in Peace

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – (Luke 2:14, NLT)

“Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors.” – (Luke 2:14, CEB)

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” – (Luke 2:14, TPT)

 

Just as the host of angels sang these words after the one had brought the glorious announcement to the shepherds in their fields at night so many years ago, we are reminded of the very same peace and glory today. Last evening as our candlelight service ended, snow began falling and blanketing the earth around us. To me, there is nothing quite so serene, peaceful and beautiful as a scene freshly blanketed in snow. It reminds me that we are made new, and restores hope that the things that seem chaotic will become calm, and that which is broken or fractured can be made new. Peace on earth, goodwill to all, for the Light of the world has come to bring hope to us through the baby born in a stable so long ago. That baby grew and lived and loved with His very life, so that we could know life everlasting. May we take pause in awe and wonder, and marvel at the peace and good hope that has come to us, as gently as freshly fallen snow.

 

Just as fresh snow falls,

Blanketed in Peace

photo credit: Flickr by pixelmama

And blankets the earth;

We’re reminded of,

Our dear Savior’s birth.

For on that dark night,

A long time ago;

The angels appeared,

To shepherds below.

With heavenly voice,

They lifted a song;

All glory to God,

May peace carry on.

Great hope is granted,

To those who believe;

Who trust in the Lord,

With this He is pleased.

So, gaze and the snow,

Take in its pure light;

Remember the peace,

That came on that night.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son and the hope and peace that is found in Him. Thank You for the beauty of Your creation, and the tangible reminder of how we are made clean and new in You, just as the earth appears in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Forgive us for not recognizing the reminders of Your peace and hope that You present all around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are acutely aware of Your presence and Your peace, even in the places where it does not make sense. Show us how to be ambassadors of peace and hope to a world in need, as we love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the peace that came to us through the precious gift of Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

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

 

 

Christ in Christmas

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

 

This is the night where the world takes pause to remember the most sacred occasion where heaven came to earth in the form of a baby boy. Born in a stable, not fit for the Savior of the world, yet God gave incredible assurance that this was indeed the way Mary and Joseph were meant to walk as they brought this blessed bundle forth in a stable surrounded by animals. Angelic visitations had announced that He would be born, heavenly hosts proclaimed His arrival – flooding the night sky over the heads of shepherds as they watched their flocks by night, and a bright star shone on His behalf to lead the way for those who were meant to find Him. Though not necessarily the beginning we might envision for the One who saves the world from sin and shame, Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Because He came, grew, walked in obedience, willingly laid down His life in our place, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we have way to be restored to right relationship with God. May we stop the activity on this day long enough to really recognize the significance of this most holy night that we celebrate. Jesus is the gift, and the reason we can give. Our Counselor, our God, our Father, and our Peace – these are the reasons we have light and life and love. Joy to the world, the Savior has come!

 

For a child was born,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

A Son was given;

The weight of the world,

He has forgiven.

The great Counselor,

Most mighty our God;

The Father who lasts,

Let our hearts applaud.

For He is our peace,

Born so we might live;

May we honor Him,

Through gifts that we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your only Son into the world so that we might be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You love us so much that You willingly laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for not having our priorities in place and for forgetting the real reason for this most sacred season. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on You, so that all that we do is a reflection of You. Show us how to love and give as You do, so that our words and deeds are Your heart being made known to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as so many take the time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Let Christ be lifted high this Christmas. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Christ Came Down

For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

 

Jesus came in a way that was relatable and approachable. There was no fanfare, nor kingly setting. Born in a lowly stable on a quiet night in an overcrowded town, He arrived with the weight of the world on His shoulders. Christ stepped down from heaven to become like us, so that we would know who He is, and how much He loves. How He lived as He was among us, demonstrated what love looks like. He touched the untouchable, healed the bruised and broken, dined with the despicable and gave His very life for ours. Today, many of us participate in candlelight services where we pause to celebrate and declare the goodness of Christ and who He is. That child born to us, grew, lived, loved, died, rose, ascended and sent His Spirit to us, so that we could have everlasting life. Because of His love and His life, we can confidently call Him: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. May this day be filled with reminders of His goodness and grace, and may we give proper praise to He who is all of these things and so much more.

 

For born unto us,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

a Son is given;

in still quietness,

He came from heaven.

Though angels proclaimed,

to shepherds at night;

most were unaware,

of this baby bright.

For though just a babe,

the weight of the world;

would rest upon Him,

as His life unfurled.

The way that He loved,

and gave all away;

brought hope to the world,

and light for our way.

Wonderful Counsel,

our great Mighty God;

Everlasting One,

creation applauds.

The sweet Prince of Peace,

delight of our days;

may we offer Him,

all honor and praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us. Thank You, Jesus for taking it all upon Yourself, so that we could be set free. Thank You for Your grace and goodness, for light and life. Thank You that You are our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and our Prince of Peace. Forgive us for forgetting just how powerful You are. You are no longer a baby in a manger, but the mighty, risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, contending for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You are so much more than what the world sees. Show us how to love in such a way, that others too, may see Your majesty through our love. May many come to know You as their Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace this Christmas. Be glorified O God, as we gather to give You glory. 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

 

Pleasing in His Sight

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the one who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to You, O Lord my Rock and Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, TLB)

The cry of David’s heart was to please God with his thoughts and his words. He was acutely aware of the role that the Lord filled in his own life, as God had shown Himself faithful to save and protect, even when his very life was on the line. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still the Rock on whom we can rest, and our Redeemer who will rescue us from ruin. Because the Lord is worthy of all honor and glory and praise, it would indeed be good if we took captive every thought and word, so that all that leaves our heart and lips are things that please the Prince of Peace. May our words and thoughts be pleasing unto the Lord, for He is our Rock and our Redeemer.

Let every thought,The Power of the Tongue

and word that I speak;

be pleasing to You,

as my heart You teach.

For You are my Rock,

the One who redeems;

who rescues my heart,

from chaos unseen.

All praise unto You,

my God and my King;

it is by Your grace,

I’ve reason to sing.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Rock and our Redeemer. Thank You that You are our safe and stable ground, and that You rescue us from chaos and trouble that comes near. Forgive us for the words that leave our lips and the thoughts in our hearts that have not brought glory to You. Teach us to take captive every thought and word, so that we would more clearly reflect Your heart to all those around us. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see You through the way in which we care. May many choose to live their life for You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You completely, and seek to make the words of our mouth and meditations of our heart, pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

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

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

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.