Mercy Like Our Maker

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

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

 

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

 

When actions deserve, No Room for Them

Seeming punishment; 

We ought to ask God, 

What is His intent. 

For often what’s seen, 

Mere part of the whole; 

Wisdom is needed, 

To serve well, our role. 

God’s mercy and grace, 

Made the way for us; 

To love as He loves, 

Just like Lord Jesus. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Focus on the Good of Others

Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. – (1 Corinthians 10:24, NLT)

Try to do what is good for others, not just what is good for yourselves. – (1 Corinthians 10:24, ERV)

We should stop looking out for our own interests and instead focus on the people living and breathing around us. – (1 Corinthians 10:24, VOICE)

 

I never cease to be amazed at how quickly things change when my focus shifts from self to others. Even if my situation does not change, my perspective inevitably does. If someone around me needs encouragement and I find ways and words with which to offer encouragement, I discover that I too, am encouraged in the process. Joy and hope accompany each act of extending ourselves to others. May we fix our gaze outward rather than in, so that we may seek to do good for others, just as the Lord has done for us.

 

Do not be concerned,The Power of the Tongue

For your sense of good;

But do for others,

That which Jesus would.

For we’re being called,

To look out, not in;

Encourage, build up,

Love others like kin.

God in His goodness,

Meets us as we give;

Strengthens and equips,

New life as we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to look outside of ourselves to seek to do good for others. Thank You that we need not worry about ourselves, as You are far more capable than we are, so it is best for us to focus our attention on loving You and loving people, allowing You to be who You say You are. Forgive us for not trusting You to be big enough to carry our concerns. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place the weight of our worries in Your hands, and look to You to show us how to do what is good for those around us. Help us to have open eyes and willing hearts, so that we may see opportunities to love well and act on them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we focus on loving You and the people that You place all around us. Amen.

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

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

A Clearly Marked Course

A clearly marked course makes all the difference in our ability to navigate where we need to go. Road signs, mile markers, and definitive directions, make reaching one’s destination, doable. The same holds true in how we navigate our lives. We need clear direction from the Lord, to know how He intends for us to run the race that He has placed before us. Our race plan will not unfold before us unless we seek the Lord and His will for our lives. If we just run about aimlessly, we miss the mark on the more that the Lord intends for our lives.

 

I’ll run the course You lay out for me, if You’ll just show me how. – (Psalm 119:32, MSG)

 

May we seek the Lord with willing hearts, ready to run the course He sets before us. Let our eyes see, our ears hear, and our hearts understand His direction with the faith to follow wherever He leads.

 

The Lord, in His love,1 Ragnar 1 Mile to go

Remains ever near;

He’ll show us the path,

If we’ll only hear.

May we choose listen,

Run swift where He leads;

No matter the course,

He’ll meet all our needs.

Choose trust each new day,

As we run His course;

Allow faith rise up,

For Christ is our Source.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek Your direction, You show us the course that You have laid out before us. Thank You that You do not just point to something and say “Go!”, but rather You show us the way and then strengthen, equip us, and walk beside us as we go. Forgive us for our lack of seeking direction as we go. Teach us to trust You in all things – great and small, as You care about them all. Show us how to love others in a way that equips and encourages them to pursue the path that You have planned for them as well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your guidance and direction for each new leg of our journey so that we may run in a way that represents You well. 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

Evidence is Everywhere

Despite all of the horrendous happenings in the world today, there is still overwhelming evidence of a good and loving Creator.  Each morning, we question not whether the sun will rise, and we know too, that it shall set again each evening.  Mighty mountains and vast oceans reflect the radiance of our remarkable Redeemer.

In Acts, when Paul was speaking to a crowd that had attempted to honor he and Barnabas as if they were gods in human form, Paul spent time clearing the air and making certain that all the hearers were clear that they were mere men, serving the living God.  “Men, why are you doing this?  We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In the past, He let all nations go their own way.  Yet He has not left Himself without testimony:  He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” – (Acts 14:15-17)

Though the evidence of a Creator is overwhelmingly clear, the greatest gift we will ever know, only becomes known to those who are given the opportunity to hear.  Jesus came so that ALL might have life and trust in Him.  Our charge is to share the truth of His great love with the world around us, so that all might have the opportunity to come to know of the saving grace that is available through our great and loving Lord.  May we go forth in peace and make His love known to all mankind.

Go forth in peace,Evidence is Everywhere

tell of His great love;

trust in His grace,

point hearts to above.

Let His light shine,

through the way we live;

His glory shown,

as our life, we give.

Direct credit,

unto Jesus Christ;

honor to Him,

paid redemption price.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for those who have gone before us, faithfully following You.  Thank You for the gift that their obedience brought, as the truth of Christ was made known to us.  Thank You that it was not anything that they did in their own strength, but that You equipped and empowered their willing hearts to do that which You had called them to do.  Forgive us for being fearful to step out in faith, or for staying silent, when we are meant to speak.  Teach us to trust You more, and to remember that if You call us to it, You will bring us through it.  May our faithful obedience be an instrument to deliver the truth of Your love to those who have been lacking it for so long.  May many come to know Your saving grace, as we step out wherever we are called.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  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

Knowledge to Know

While Paul went on journey three,

image by Amy Vander Vliet

image by Amy Vander Vliet

to Ephesus came a Jew.

The learned man, Apollos,

thorough the scriptures he knew.

He had been brought up proper,

taught in the way of the Lord.

He spoke with such great fervor,

yet knew not the three-strand cord.

He knew of God the Father,

of the one-day coming Son.

He knew not it had happened,

war over sin had been won.

Pricilla and Aquila

invited him to their home.

Shared the salvation story,

he received it as his own.

Apollos full of vigor,

went out to spread the great news,

he helped his fellow believers,

and proved the truth to the Jews.

(Responding to Acts 18:23-28)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word.  Thank Your for the easy and immediate access so many of us have, that we often take for granted.  Thank You that You take our strengths, the natural giftings You deliberately designed in each of us, and You use them for good, even before they are fully developed or refined.  Thank You that You continue to teach, stretch and grow us as we come to You with willing hearts.  Forgive us for not trusting You completely, and help us to appreciate every blessing You bestow upon us.  May our attitudes of gratitude be contagious today, and may many be inspired to join in giving You all the glory.  Amen.

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

Faith Fuels a Firm Foundation

photo by Chris Esty

“God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them (the Gentiles) by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith.” – Acts 15:8-9

God is not interested in our pedigree nor our position (though He can and will use both if we are willing); rather He cares only for the condition of our hearts.  He accepts and blesses with the presence of the Holy Spirit, all, who by faith, come to believe.  Our hearts are not made pure by piety (works), but instead by our faith in the Father, and through the work of His Spirit in us.  We each hold equal and infinite value to our Creator.

God grants each of us the grace that is needed to share our story, and to impact the internal condition of the hearts of all whom we call our community.  It matters not to Him, our position, nor history, and yet He utilizes both to breathe life and hope to all who hear.  He uses the least of us to touch lives and transform communities, when we have a willing heart that is founded in faith.  Our influence reaches far beyond what our eyes can see.  Who but God, truly knows the reach of a redeemed heart that is ready to serve?

For me, it was the willing hearts of teachers, Sunday school staff, grandparents, great family and friends, who were full of faith and obedient to the Father, that led me to believe and trust our Beloved, from a tender age.  Though I knew not the full historical significance, nor the Hebrew, I knew that Jesus had come into my heart, and was granted the grace to grow my faith that taught me to trust that He would remain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son because You love us, and longed to make a way to lead us back to a restored relationship with You.  Forgive us for when our faith is lacking, and remind us again of the mountains You can move, if only we are willing to walk in Your way.  Teach us, lead us, and guide us I pray, so that a firm foundation of faith will fuel us to follow You all of our days.  May our willing obedience open hearts to hear the truth.  Amen.

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

Given for Glorious Growth

photo by Avalon Revisited

“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to God.” – Acts 11:21

The powerful presence of our Provider will make His heart heard through willing vessels.  As they hear, they will not be able to help but believe, and will turn hearts and hands to Him.

God will take our tiny offering extended in faith, and will bless all brethren with the capacity to believe; and many hearts will come to call Him King.

Our acts of obedience, our words of exhortation and encouragement, will not go out void when we are listening to the leading of the Lord.  Some will reap, some with sow, and still others will help in the harvest.  Each of us has a part to play in furthering His kingdom.  Would His will be done without us?  Of course!  However, we are blessed with the privilege and trusted with the honor to be His heart, hands and voice to the hurting.  We need not to all be scholars or speakers, rather each of us has been given both gifts and the grace to share them for the glory of God.

If it is through song, sing out loud.

If through prayer, pray without ceasing.

If through teaching, teach as He has entrusted.

If through preaching, share of all that He has done and who He is.

If. Then. Go!

Boundless blessings have been granted so that His grace might be given through a resource that resonates with each individual.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your hand is upon us, and that all You ask is that we offer all that we are, to be used to express Your loving kindness to a world in need.  Thank You that this is not something done in our own strength, rather it is a strength that You supply, as we step out, listening and allowing Your Spirit to lead us.  Take our willing hearts and teach us to trust You more as we receive Your tender mercies and extend the same to all whom we encounter.  May our every breath extend the sweet scent of salvation to each individual in our own sphere of influence.  All glory and honor to You, our good and faithful Father.  Amen.

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