Follow the Example of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

I so appreciate the Message translation of this passage. The reality that what God mostly does is love us, is incredible and undeserved. If we spend time with Him, He teaches and shows us what it is to live a life of love. Christ’s love is selfless, not selfish. He loved without expecting anything in return. We are called to do likewise. This kind of love is not natural for the human heart, however, the more we seek and spend time with the Lord, the more we learn to love like Him. In a world where so much adversity and animosity exist, we need to love all the more. Love is a decision, not a feeling. We must choose to love one another as we are loved by God. In order to do so, we must seek the Lord, know Him, and depend on Him to equip us to do exactly what we were created to do. May we ever lean into the Lord to show us what it is to love in every situation and circumstance.

As children of God,

May we seek to love;

All people, always,

Like the Lord above.

It is a free gift,

With no strings attached;

Yet it draws us in,

In thanks, we react.

Respond with kindness,

God’s grace, love and peace;

The more we choose love,

Enmity released.

The Lord’s love gave all,

We’re called to the same;

To extend His grace,

Instead of placed blame.

Lead us in love, Lord,

Show us love Your way;

Help us be better,

Each waking new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us – completely and extravagantly, despite what we deserved. Thank You that You call us to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose love. Show us how to love like You in all things and at all times. Instruct us as You grow our hearts to more closely reflect Your own. Use us as Your ambassadors of peace as we seek to love You and people well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You and seek to be a reflection of Your radiant love. Amen.

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

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – Psalm 86:5

All Through Him

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. – (Philippians 4:13, NIV) 

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. – (Philippians 4:13, ERV) 

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. – (Philippians 4:13, VOICE) 

Well, today was clear evidence of exactly what this verse conveys. Despite feeling as if I were drowning in a sea of screen switching and multitasking, my first day of remote teaching was completed, albeit, rough and raw with countless flaws. Seeing and interacting with my new groups of sixth graders, made the struggle worthwhile. They answered questions, followed along, and even asked for my help to navigate to their next class or activity. His strength was present throughout, as I persevered in spite of the snags, and I have fresh resolve to try again tomorrow, trusting that I can only improve from here. So, for today, I can be content in our current circumstance and trust that He will continue to give me the strength I need for each new day. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He supplies all that we need to do what we are called to do. 

PowerPoints, attendance, 

And “chatting” with all; 

The margin for flaws, 

Is truly not small. 

Yet, in the crazy, 

His strength is enough; 

To keep pressing on, 

Even when it’s tough. 

So, dig deep, listen, 

Trust we can do all; 

Not in our own strength, 

In His, who holds all. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can do all things in Your strength, as You call us to do. Thank You that our capacity to do difficult things is not dependent on our ability, but rather on Yours. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters in the face of adversity. Teach us to trust You and draw strength from You. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they too, may discover how much can be accomplished in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, knowing that we can accomplish more than we could hope or imagine, when we place our lives in Your hands. Amen. 

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

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Fixed Eyes Stand Firm

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – (Psalm 16:8, NIV) 

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so nothing can defeat me. – (Psalm 16:8, ERV) 

Because You are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience Your wrap-around presence every moment. – (Psalm 16:8, TPT) 

This is the part that we have to remember, even when times are tough. It is as we keep our eyes on the Lord that we recognize that He is near, present, and will help us navigate every situation and circumstance. We will not be shaken if we place our confidence in Him. For me, the greatest challenge is to keep my eyes on Him, rather than allowing my attention to divert away from Him, and fixate on the challenge before me. If I look to Him in the face of struggle or adversity, I begin to see things through His lens rather than my own. Mountains look less treacherous, valleys appear less abysmal, and long stretches with no end in sight, are not so arduous nor lonely. God is faithful to meet us every moment of everyday as we seek and trust in Him. May we always keep our eyes on the Lord and remember that He is with us, so that we will not be shaken, despite the trials that come our way. 

I’ll not be shaken, 

As I know You’re near; 

With You by my side, 

There’s no room for fear. 

You are my anchor, 

In every storm; 

The light and the love, 

That keep my heart warm. 

Lord, You are the hope, 

In whom we are safe; 

Help us keep our eyes, 

On You, all our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we keep our eyes securely fixed on You, we discover our hope, our help and our security lie within You. Forgive us for the times that our gaze, our focus, shift away from You and onto what lies before us. Teach us to align our view through Your lens, so that we would remember Who is beside us, with us, and for us, always. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that Your light gives hope wherever it is absent. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fix our eyes securely on You, and trust You to be our help, hope and safety, always. Amen.  

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

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Rise Again

Good people might fall again and again, but they always get up. – (Proverbs 24:16a, ERV)

God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet again. – (Proverbs 24:16, MSG)

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. – (Proverbs 24:16, NIV)

 

When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. I have witnessed incredible strength demonstrated in the lives of people in the midst of crazy adversity. What I noticed, is that each of those who had strength to rise when most would have crumbled, were firmly established in their faith. Despite their circumstances and what they were able to see before them, their faith did not waiver. Each time I observe such unflappable faith, I am both in awe and inspired to invest more of my heart in the spaces where I struggle to trust. The goodness of God gives way to strength and hope and help in such spaces, if we are willing to place our trust in Him. We must ask in order for Him to answer, as God does not force His way in, nor does He overtake our hearts and minds. We have a free will and must choose. May we ever make the choice to use our voice and intentionally trust in the Lord and His strength, so that each time we fall, we rise up again.

 

We can be certain,Rise Again

That trials will come;

Our resolve tested,

Where will we choose run?

When we trust the Lord,

Seek His strength and might;

We gain the resolve,

To rise up and fight.

No matter the falls,

The times we’re knocked down;

If we trust in Him,

Strength to rise is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, You give us the strength and resolve to rise again, each time we fall down. Forgive us for the times that we have fallen from Your grace with the choices we have made, and stayed stuck, rather than seeking You for help and forgiveness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You when we are down, and when things are going well. Help us to keep short accounts, so that we do not divert from the path that You have placed before us. Show us how to love and lead those around us well, so that they too, may rise again, each time that they fall. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your strength to help us rise again, each time we fall. 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

To Find Favor

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. – (Proverbs 3:3-4, NIV)

 

Though God’s word has been carved in the corners of my heart, this is the time of year that love threatens to leave me and my faithfulness falters when facing the ongoing adversity of the end of the year. There are days that school feels more like a combat zone than a place of teaching and learning, and I question my calling to this career. I manage, by the grace of God, to keep my responses calm, but internally, that which is bound around my neck and nearly choking me, is not necessarily the most loving. This week, I was granted favor that was not deserved on two occasions that made all of the difference in the moments in which they occurred. Part of my investment in such early rising, is to prepare my heart and mind for whatever may come my way each day. Without time to quietly reflect on the goodness of God, His love and faithfulness would likely feel out of reach for me. I need reminders often for things to resonate and remain at rest within me. God is good, even when our circumstances are frustrating or trying, and He loves us more than we can fathom. May we let His love and faithfulness be what we display, and allow His truth to take hold of our hearts; for favor and a good name in the sight of God and man come through walking in His ways.

 

Let God’s faithfulness,Delivering Dreams

And love remain near;

Write truth on our hearts,

So His way is clear.

As we choose follow,

Walk right and obey;

We gain the favor,

Of those on our way.

To have a good name,

Before God and man;

What faithful love does,

It’s part of God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love and faithfulness never leave us, and that as we bind them around our neck and write them upon our heart, You use them to grant us favor and a good name in Your sight and the sight of others. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to hijack our emotions, rather than running to You for strength and help and hope when the burden is too heavy to bear. Teach us how to seek You in all situations, so that love and faithfulness never leave us. Show us how to love those around us as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we bind Your love and faithfulness around our necks and write them on the tablets of our hearts. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant to go. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Trust in the Face of Fear

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. – (Psalm 56:3, NLT)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. – (Psalm 56:3, NIV)

 

Both versions of this verse are a great reminder of how we are meant to respond to fear. One is an action statement for the right now, and the other is anticipating an action plan for whatever lies ahead. In each circumstance, our response ought to be to trust the Lord, as He is our help and our hope for today, tomorrow and forever. Despite the faithfulness God has shown before, in our frail humanity, we often lose sight of how great our God is, and focus instead on how overwhelming the obstacle in our path. This is the place where we must slow down, breathe deeply, and remember Who is far greater than anything that lies before us. When the rubber meets the road and fear stares us directly in the face, this, this is the space where we have to choose whether or not we will trust. God is patient, and it seems that even when I choose panic over trust, He waits lovingly until I come to the place where I am ready to turn to Him, and walks beside me and guides me to lead me from a place of fear to one of resolve. God is good and worthy of all of our trust. May we place our trust in Him when we feel fear fighting for a foothold.

 

When I feel afraid,Be strong and courageous

The Lord’s ever near;

If I choose to trust,

He will always hear.

Whatever we face,

God is so much more;

His presence provides,

Love, strength, hope and more.

He goes before us,

And He stands beside;

There’s nothing we face,

That He can’t supply.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are afraid, we can place our trust in You. Thank You that You are worthy of all of our trust, as You alone supply the strength, courage and grace that we need to overcome every obstacle that lies before us. Forgive us for our fearfulness that keeps us from moving forward. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in faith, believing that You are who You say You are and that You will do what You say You will do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps alleviate fears and gives strength and courage to persevere in the face of adversity. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You when we are afraid. 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 Won’t Take It Back

For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn. – (Romans 11:29, NLT)

God never changes His mind about the people He calls. He never decides to take back the blessings He has given them. – (Romans 11:29, ERV)

You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. – (Romans 11:29, VOICE)

 

When God calls us and equips us to do that which we are designed to do, He does not change His mind and ask us to change direction. As broken and fallible humans, we often interpret difficulties we face as either a change in His plan, or a removal of His equipping us to do that which we thought we had been called to do. God is not like man that He changes His mind. What He calls us to, He empowers and equips us to do – despite hardship and adversity. Our charge is to persevere and continue to trust Him, even when all that surrounds us no longer seems to make sense. His plans and His ways are far higher and greater than our own, so it doesn’t matter what we see, but rather what we believe that is essential. May we rise up and trust the Lord in all that He has called us to do; for He is for us and He will not remove the gifts that He has given to go forward, nor will He change His mind about us being a part of His plan.

 

The Lord is gracious,

Thankful for Love that Endures

Vandy Massey Watercolor

Gifts given are good;

Granted for purpose,

His call, understood.

To all we are called,

He also equips;

Gives us what we need,

Trust relationship.

He’ll never take back,

Nor choose change His mind;

For what the Lord gives,

We always shall find.

Blessings flow freely,

Of His love and grace;

As we keep moving,

In this lifelong race.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not like mankind – for You are not fickle nor foolish, and You do not change Your mind. Thank You that when You call us, You equip us, and You do not withdraw either the call nor the gifts granted to move forward, regardless of our decision to stand. Forgive us for our foolishness that would doubt You and the calling and gifts that You place in each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would continue to move confidently in the direction to which You have called, trusting that You will walk beside us, lead and guide us, no matter what surrounds us or stands before us. Show us how to love others in the same way that we are loved by You, as Your loving kindness grants us the courage and strength necessary to keep moving in the direction to which we have been called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust the steadfastness of all that You are and all that You give, as You remain the same both now and forever. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

 

The Scope of Suffering

Suffering is a natural part of our human existence. Sinful and broken people cause harm that results in adversity, as well as the mere existence of illness and disease that also provide places of pain, distress and hardship. We are not promised a life that is free from suffering, but rather we have hope and help for comfort and strength in the midst of our struggles, and the hope that is held in the promise of that which is yet to come.

In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. – (1 Peter 5:10, NLT)

Hardship and suffering seem to be seasonal. We go through seasons of struggle and seasons of blessing. In our most challenging times, God affords us the opportunity to seek Him and find Him in ways that we never have before. When we do, we come to know His strength, power and presence, in a tangible way, and recognize the hope we hold in Him. Though the suffering and struggles are never pleasant, they are the spaces in which we grow most, and if we are willing, God can use our trials to touch and encourage the lives of others to draw them closer to Himself. May we recognize the kindness of God, even in the midst of our storms, as He has called us to share in His eternal glory forever. Let His love lead us, as He restores, supports and strengthens us, again setting our feet on His firm foundation so that we may walk wherever He calls.

The God of all grace,Hold My Heart

has called unto us;

to forever trust,

His own Son, Jesus.

For in suffering,

our hope is made known;

as we’re granted strength,

by God on the throne.

He stays by our side,

no matter how rough;

the battle we face,

our God is enough.

He’ll set our feet sure,

both firm and steadfast;

and our hope in Him,

forever shall last.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the suffering and trials that all of us endure at one point or another, You are present and willing to strengthen us and be our help and our hope. Thank You too that though You do not bring the trials nor suffering, You use them to grow us closer to You. Thank You that You can use even our ugliest ashes to bring beauty, hope and strength to another. Forgive us for allowing fear or anxiousness to reign in the midst of suffering and trials. Teach us to place all of our hope in You, so that we would recognize that though the suffering is for a season, glory with You will be for all of eternity. Lead us to love others with an eternal perspective, so that our desire will be that each will come into a saving knowledge of who You are and how You love. May many choose to trust in You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to restore us, strengthen us and make us firm and steadfast for You, despite our trials. Amen.

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

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

Staying the Course

There are times when the Lord leads us to a space of unknowns. It is dark and terrifying and without Him, we know not where to go. However, the Lord is good and His plans for us are good. He leads us to freedom, where we had once been held captive, and strength, where we had previously been with none. Though it may be a long and arduous journey, His path for our lives leads to perfection. Knowing how the story ends is enough to hold fast to the hope that is found in Christ alone. Because the nature of God has been made known, we can respond to these spaces of darkness just as David did.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.” – (Psalm 39:7)

May faith rise in us as we face our spaces of unknowns, and the Lord’s strength be ours as we trust in Him.

Lord, in the darkness,A Wondrous Way to Walk

Your hope is my light;

when facing unknown,

Your love fends off fright.

For You are so good,

and You never change;

though obstacles come,

Your path You’ll make plain.

Please lead us, Lord God,

no matter the fears;

remind us again,

that You are so near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are whom we should look for, as You are where our hope is assured. Thank You that though there will be legs of our journey that are long and difficult, You will never leave us nor forsake us, and in the end, perseverance will have been worthwhile. Forgive us for our fears in the face of adversity and unknowns, and help us to fix our eyes on You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will look to You, no matter what lies before us. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too, will fix their eyes on You. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 25:6