A Glimpse of Heaven

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10) 

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! It is for everyone everywhere! – (Luke 2:8-10, TPT) 

 

Ordinary shepherds learned of extraordinary news. The men out in their fields were used to fending off predators to their flock, but angelic visits were not within their repertoire of everyday occurrences that they encountered while watching their sheep. Clearly it was an overwhelming sight, as the radiant splendor of God’s messenger caused great fright within the shepherds, and the angel of the Lord had to tell them that they need not be afraid. Incredibly, these faithful shepherds were the first to receive news of the Savior’s birth, and were quick to leave their fields to go and see what the angel had spoken of in Bethlehem. The shepherd’s rapid response to the angel’s news led to them being among the very first to witness and marvel at the miracle lying before them in a manger. The Son of God, Christ the Savior, had arrived. Just as the shepherds received the news so long ago, we are reminded each year during this season of celebration, of the great news that began with the birth of Jesus, that ultimately led to the opportunity for salvation for all who choose believe. May we take time to meditate on the splendor of Christ’s majesty, and recognize the remarkable way in which He came into the world. No palace nor throne, but a simple stable in the open air of night, as an angel proclaimed the arrival of Christ the Lord to some faithful shepherds. Ordinary men received extraordinary news, and because they chose to listen and go see, their lives were changed for all eternity. 

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

In the fields that night; 

Met by an angel, 

Terrifying sight. 

Radiant glory, 

Overwhelmed the men; 

Unprepared to see, 

A glimpse of heaven. 

The angel told them, 

“Do not be afraid; 

For I bring good news, 

To tell you this day.” 

Birth of the Savior, 

In the town nearby; 

They rushed to go see, 

The sweet babe that night. 

Imagine the sight, 

As shepherds arrived; 

Just as they had heard, 

The hope for mankind. 

Though but an infant, 

The shepherds, they knew; 

What had been spoken, 

Was certainly true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be among us. Thank You that though He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He came in a way that is approachable and relatable. Heaven came to earth through a miraculous birth, and was declared to ordinary people, just like us. Forgive us for not recognizing in wonder, the magnitude of what took place. Teach us to see and imagine the mountains You moved to bring heaven to earth, so that we all could come to know You, personally. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects the depth and willing sacrifice that Your love has given through Jesus. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe and wonder at the humble and incredible way that Jesus came to make the way for us all to know You. Amen.

 

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

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – Luke 2:15

Rejoicing Over Rest

Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will rest secure. – (Psalm 16:9, NIV)

I’m happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed. – (Psalm 16:9, MSG)

This is a good life – my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest. Who could want for more? – (Psalm 16:9, VOICE)

As I woke with my mind leaning toward rest, with a bonus hour and a half of sleep this morning, I determined to see where I was to go with the thought. Yesterday was an extended day, with the intention of making student-led conferences possible for all families. Though a long day, it was good, and the reward that follows is a short day today, and a three-day weekend, providing plenty of opportunity for real rest. The sort of rest that refreshes my soul may not sound restful, but long runs with my best running buddy, time celebrating my best friend’s birthday, loads of family time, and time with my church family, are all blessings that await me this weekend and make my heart glad. Knowing that rest is coming provides room to remember all of the reasons that I am grateful for the good that God has granted. May we take time to find joy in the little things, the sweet blessings He bestows upon us through the people He has placed in our lives.

 

My heart will find joy,img_2018-11-09_06-09-462423785359695814316.jpg

And my body rest;

Who could ask for more,

As my life is blessed.

Blessed well with people,

To walk along side;

Who listen and love,

In whom I confide.

All thanks be to God,

From whom blessings flow;

Who grants us each rest,

The good things we know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessings You bestow upon us. Thank You for Your rest that restores our joy and reminds us of what matters most. Forgive us for not seeking You when we are weary. Teach us to trust You more, as You supply all that we need and are the joy within us, no matter what surrounds us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses, encourages and provides rest where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for providing the rest we need when we need it most. Amen.

 

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

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

Rest from the Heaviness

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

“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)

“Come to Me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, CEB)

 

It is good to work hard and complete the tasks that lie before us, yet there comes a point when we have to listen to our bodies and choose to slow down and rest. God provides the time and space necessary for us to rest, if we only choose to do so, and He grants us help and hope and relief when all seems too much to slow down. Often the thing that keeps us from resting is a busy mind. When the day is done and we actually lie down to rest, our mind continues to plan, prepare, and ponder ways to accomplish the long list that is yet to be done, further removing the rest that is so desperately needed. Thankfully, true to His word, when we turn our attention to Him, rather than what needs to be done, peace comes and rest enters in. May we ever seek the Lord in our times of weariness, for He is the perfect Provider of the rest our bodies and minds require.

 

Jesus is calling, Rest from the Heaviness

For He says to come;

All who are weary,

Seek the Holy One.

For He grants us rest,

And His perfect peace;

He loves us to life,

Grants heavy relief.

So, let us draw near,

To our God above;

As He grants us rest,

And fills with His love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our weariness with our heavy burdens, and You will give us rest. Thank You that Your rest refreshes and provides relief so that we can press on in Your strength. Forgive us for not slowing down to rest, even though it is intended for us all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would take time to rest and refresh in You, as You lighten our load and make our burdens bearable. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps shoulder the heavy loads and encourages rest as it is needed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You when we are weary and heavy burdened, knowing that You will grant us rest. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. 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

The Skies Speak of His Splendor

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. – (Psalm 19:1, NIV)

The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what His hands have made. – (Psalm 19:1, ERV)

God’s splendor is a tale that is told; His testament is written in the stars. Space itself speaks His story every day through the marvels of the heavens. His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky, showing His skill in creation’s craftsmanship. – (Psalm 19:1, TPT)

 

Some of the many blessings found in living in the Pacific Northwest, include the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges out in plain sight, the glistening waters of the Puget Sound, and the plentiful places of green found in the woods, as the forests and parks are still abundant in our area. Each time I catch a sunrise making its debut over Mt. Rainier as I drive into work, I am reminded of the incredible work of God’s hands that are all around me. In the evening, as the sun fades in a flame of orange against the purple sky atop the waters of the Sound, and the first stars begin to make their appearance, the tale of God’s glory is being told. Reminders of His goodness and glory are all around us, as is the evidence of His intentional and overwhelming love. May we take the time to recognize the tale of God’s splendor being told and give Him all thanks and praise for the goodness of His love.

 

The heavens declare, Breaking Free from Barriers

The glory of God;

Announcing His work,

Worthy of applaud.

The sun and the moon,

The stars in the sky;

Hand-crafted in love,

As each testify.

They show God’s glory,

The work of His hands;

Hand-crafted in love,

So we’d understand.

All of creation,

And all that draws breath;

Made by the Father,

To bring life from death.

Let’s look all around,

See with heart and eyes;

Beauty created,

Glory recognized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the beauty You have created all around us declares Your glory and the work of Your hands. Forgive us for not taking pause to stand in awe of all that You have made, as Your craftsmanship tells the story of Your incredible love and intentional design for each one of us. Teach us to slow down and appreciate the work of Your hands, as the beauty of Your creation is all around us. Show us how to love and encourage those with whom we interact, so that they too, may come to understand the purpose and precision with which they were created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the incredible work of Your hands that is all around us and in each one of us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Recognizing and Responding to Good

Mary responded, “Oh how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, NLT)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, ERV)

My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, VOICE)

 

Mary both recognized and responded to the glory of God and the good gifts that He gave. This morning, as I rose long before it was necessary, I find myself in a similar space of gratitude. Though Mary’s circumstances were far different than my own, I share the very same God, and He comes closer still, because of what was done so long ago through the willingness of His faithful. I am regularly in awe of His grace and mercy, and can see how His hand has carried me through the times of trial. He is good, and my whole heart celebrates His loving kindness. May we look to the Lord in awe and praise, for His love and goodness granted all of our days.

 

Let us set our hearts, Believe Instead of Striving

In a poise of praise;

Because the Lord saves,

For all of our days.

The Lord is our help,

May spirits rejoice;

Celebrate our God,

With mind, heart and voice.

Praise for what He’s done,

And who the Lord is;

Our life, love and song,

Why all praise is His.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, whom You sent to us to save us. Thank You for the great things that You have done for us, in us and through us. Thank You that we can call You our Savior. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and praise for all that You have done throughout all of our days. Teach us to take time to look around and see the work and wonder of Your hand, help and great love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and points people to Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in all that You have done; for You are great and worthy of all of our praise. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Who Are We?

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me thus far?” – (2 Samuel 7:18, ESV)

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?” – (2 Samuel 7:18, NLT)

King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed: “Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that You have brought me to this place in life?” – (2 Samuel 7:18, MSG)

 

David had gone from being a faithful young shepherd boy in his father’s fields, to a good and powerful king, who was blessed and anointed by God. He had to endure many trials in between, yet recognized the faithfulness of God through it all. As he sat before God and prayed, he acknowledged in awe and wonder, how it is that God had granted him such kindness and favor. Though I am not in a seat of public power (nor would I want to be), I am the daughter of the Almighty King. When I look back, even over the last few years, I can ask the very same question that David asked: “Who am I, Lord God, and who is my family that You have brought us this far?” I am in awe at the faithfulness and goodness of God, and how He has provided and blessed and covered my boys and me. He has brought us love and laughter and life in places where such things had grown dim, and has provided all that we have needed and more. Verses like this one are a terrific reminder for us to slow down, take some time, and give thanks for the grace we’ve been given to carry us thus far. May we ever look to the Lord to be our help and hope, and give Him praise for the many blessings throughout our days.

 

O God, who are we, not-defined-by-a-day

That You would show care?

What glorious grace,

You lovingly share.

Lord God, as we seek,

In awe, we are found;

You lead us to life,

Show us to sure ground.

Always You are near,

Through our highs and lows;

Your love surrounds us,

And helps us to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see each of us as Your children whom You dearly love. Thank You that though we know we do not deserve it, You give us grace and mercy, and lead us through our trials and bring us to places of blessing. Thank You that no matter where we are on our journey, You are faithful to be present as our Help and our Hope. Forgive us for not seeking You in the seasons we need You the most, or for not giving You glory where glory is due. Teach us to honor and praise You in all seasons and stages of life, as You are the One who gives us strength and hope to persevere and overcome. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps others feel blessed and loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remain in awe of all that You have done, and ever rely on You for what is yet to come. 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

In Quiet Hope

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

I must calm down and turn to God; He is my only hope. – (Psalm 62:5, ERV)

God, the One and only – I’ll wait as long as He says. Everything I need comes from Him, so why not? – (Psalm 62:5, MSG)

My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, VOICE)

 

In the quiet of Saturday morning, while much of the world still sleeps, I am reminded again, where my hope comes from. It is in the quiet waiting that gentle whispers of His love flood my heart and mind, reminding me that all that I need comes from God. He is my hope, my source and my supply, and in Him, I need not fear. The Lord brings comfort when chaos seems to reign, and grants His peace and strength when the hectic pace of the wearying week has stolen the last ounce of resolve within me. May we wait quietly before our God, and allow Him to fill us with His hope anew.

 

Let all that’s within, Quiet Hope

Wait upon the Lord;

In quiet stillness,

As hope He affords.

It is in silence,

That our God will speak;

Bring peace to chaos,

And strength where we’re weak.

May we take the time,

In silence, to seek;

The presence of God,

So we hear Him speak.

Speak to the weary,

Those in need of peace;

Our God is faithful,

As love is released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we quietly wait before You, You are faithful to meet us where we are, and fill us again with hope and peace and rest. Thank You that we can come to You in our weariness, and You will be our strength. Forgive us for attempting to run on empty, rather than slowing down and seeking You for strength. Teach us to trust You to be our Source and Supply, as You are faithful to meet us whenever we earnestly seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers help and hope and peace in a chaotic world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in the quiet spaces and hold fast to the hope that is found in You alone. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! – Psalm 34:8

Stones of Remembrance

After this Samuel set up a special stone to help people remember what God did. Samuel put the stone between Mizpah and Shen and named the stone “Stone of Help.” Samuel said, “The Lord helped us all the way to this place.” – (1 Samuel 7:12, ERV)

 

I love how often in the Old Testament that those whom had seen a mighty move of God’s hand on their behalf, would set up a special stone to signify His help. They were intentional to mark the place where their Maker had moved mightily, and such a stone created a talking piece for many generations to come so that they too could speak of the faithfulness of God to their people. Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost, the miracles and mighty movement of God in the lives of people for the generations since, has been astounding. Imagine if each of us created our own stone markers for every time that we saw the hand of God move mightily in our lives – our homes, yards, and cities would have stones everywhere! Perhaps it is a positive practice to picture each time we are aware of His hand in our lives. Where would our remembrance stones be standing? May we take time to pause, reflect, and give God thanks for the help of His hand in our lives, as so often we take for granted the good that He gives on a daily basis.

 

Let us remember, Stones of Remebrance

The help of God’s hand;

As He walks with us,

Grants strength to stand.

In the midst of mess,

His presence is clear;

By His grace, He helps,

Makes known He is near.

Imagine our stones,

Where should they each stand?

Mile markers of grace,

Turning “can’ts to “cans”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the practice of the people in the Old Testament of establishing stones to remember where You moved mightily on their behalf. Thank You that there has been tangible evidence of Your help and hope for us throughout the ages. Forgive us for not establishing stones of remembrance in our own hearts, as You move mightily on our behalf so often. Teach us to recognize and remember the help You have given, so that we may give You praise, and tell of all that You have done. Show us how to love others well, so that some of the stones of remembrance in their lives may be seeing Your love made tangible through people around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional about remembering and sharing the goodness and grace of who You are as You help us in ways that are worthy of praise. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Nature Sings

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! – (Isaiah 55:12, NLT)

So you will go out from there with joy. You will be led out in peace. When you come to the mountains and hills, they will begin singing. All the trees of the field will clap their hands. – (Isaiah 55:12, ERV)

 

Yesterday morning, as we approached the hills with the sun rising behind us, it felt as if the hills were singing before us. Though we were in the desert canyon of Red Rock, color was everywhere before us. I am constantly amazed at the beauty of God’s creation. Before, when I thought of desert canyons, I thought of brown, dusty hills. What my eyes beheld yesterday was far from that. Everywhere we looked, there were vibrant, living greens growing, with lovely red rock behind them. Jackrabbits bounded between bushes, and we even spied some tortoise lumbering along at the conservatory, as it was bath day for them. I think each of us left the park a bit more in awe of all His hands have made, as we drove away with joy and peace that directed our path. May we ever take time to notice in awe and wonder, all the beauty that His hands have made, and give Him praise for the joy that is ours to take it in.

 

Go to the mountains, Red Rock Canyon

The canyons or sea;

Observe and behold,

Gifts God grants for free.

You’ll find joy and peace,

For creation sings;

Of His mighty hand,

And the love He brings.

Wherever you are,

Look and take it in;

His glory unmatched,

Such grace found therein.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your glorious creation. Thank You that You created such beautiful diversity for our eyes to behold and enjoy. Thank You that when we take the time to observe what You have made, we walk away with restored peace and joy. Forgive us for not celebrating all that You have made, or for taking it for granted. Teach us to appreciate everything, as each moment of everyday is a gift. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes moments count. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live in joy and peace as we stand in awe of all that Your hands have made. 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