Each Word a Gift

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – (Ephesians 4:29, NIV) 

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need – whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. – (Ephesians 4:29, ERV) 

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. – (Ephesians 4:29, MSG) 

And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them. – (Ephesians 4:29, TPT) 

 

Words matter. They have the power to build up, or to devastate; bring tremendous joy, or pierce the heart with pain. I so appreciate the various translations of this verse, as each one clarifies the power of our words. If we consider every word we utter as a gift that we are charged to give away, perhaps we could more easily garnish each phrase delivered in grace, and be mindful of the purpose of our words. Whether our words are those of correction, direction, exhortation, devotion, appreciation, or affection, each can be delivered with grace to benefit the hearer as a blessing; a gift given with the intent of betterment. May we ever be mindful of our words, withholding ugliness, and choosing with intention, to allow our words to become “beautiful gifts that encourage others”. 

Yesterday evening, on my way home from a very long day, that had concluded with Open House at my school, I had the joy of hearing the gift of my mom’s words, as she shared her joy in the blessing of having had both physical therapy and speech therapy on the same day. Speech therapy was an assessment appointment, but physical therapy was her first “getting after it” appointment, as Monday’s time was to assess her need. Mom was encouraged and eager to have new work to challenge her and keep her growing in her recovery. Based on her response, I imagine that she too, had been the recipient of the gift of good words as she worked with the therapists.  

 

May each word we speak, unseal-my-lips

Be wrapped up in grace; 

Used to encourage, 

Choice loving display. 

Keep the unkind words, 

Where they have no voice; 

God be our filter, 

So love is our choice. 

Help us remember, 

Each word that we say; 

A powerful gift, 

To give love away. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to use our words as gifts to those around us. Thank You that You have given us the treasured gift of Your word, and Your Holy Spirit within us to model and speak to our hearts, the words that bring life and love and light to those around us. Forgive us for the times that our words have been ugly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to be silent in the moments we want to spew ugliness. Show us Your heart for others in the moments that we cannot see past our own injury. Lead us to love others in a way that our every word is a gift of grace to those around us that builds up and encourages and gives strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to utilize our words as gifts to those around us. Amen. 

 

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

 

My Lord, I will open my mouth and sing Your praises! – Psalm 51:15

Seeking Solace

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, NIV)

I ask the Father with His great glory to give you the power to be strong in your spirits. He will give you the strength through His Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, ERV)

And I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of His glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, TPT)

 

Paul’s encouragement to the church in Ephesus is still an encouragement that is applicable and relevant to us today. In fact, I had to take pause and recognize my own need to receive his words, as I realized just how much I have been missing my husband, boys, and community at home. It is not that I resent nor regret what I am doing here, as I would not trade this time with my mom for anything. I am overwhelmingly blessed with time that could have been stolen, had things gone differently, and I am witnessing daily, the miracles that come with healing and recovery from a stroke. It is a strange sort of struggle to be pulled between two places. During mom’s waking hours, I am fully engaged and focused on whatever lies before us, and we enjoy our time together, celebrating victories and giggling and the small stuff that comes in the wake of exhaustion and recovery. It is in the quiet moments while mom is resting, or her attention is fixed on a movie, that I am torn and struggle being away from my husband and boys. We talk and text daily, but it is not the same, and all of my guys are loves who are generous with their affection for me. I miss the comfort of their nearness and the easy interactions that take place so often. I know it is just for a season, and the line in the TPT version “the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life”, is the space that I need to seek His solace.

As for mom’s progress from yesterday, she walked farther than she has walked (with a walker and slight assistance), since she had her stroke! For those who have been in mom’s house, she walked up and down her entire hallway. (The length of it is over 30 feet!) What I loved even more, was the recognition of hope that mom found through the process. After Victor, her physical therapist had gone, we sat down in the living room. She looked at me and said, “It really is possible, isn’t it?” I looked at her for a moment, studying her face, and realized that for the first time, she was recognizing that walking again was indeed possible for her. I let her know that we had seen and known the possibility all along, and after today, imagined that it would come even more quickly than we might have originally thought. Hope is a beautiful thing, and I am in awe realizing that despite her not really thinking it was possible to walk again, she was positive and hard-working, loving and kind. We reminded her all along that it was possible, however, I guess she had to physically experience the possibility for herself to understand. Mom was again open and receptive to short visits with a few friends, as she met with one dear one in the morning, and another prior to lunch. Both were wonderful boosts that brought much delight to the day.

I am so thankful that He does strengthen us with His power, out of His glorious riches through His Spirit in our inner being, and He dwells in our hearts through faith. As we are rooted and established in Him, may we together, grasp how great is His love.

 

Dear Father, I pray, Be strong and courageous

From Your vast supply;

You’ll give strength to those,

On You, choose rely.

And by Your Spirit,

Where in hearts Christ dwells;

Grow stronger our faith,

So we trust You well. dsc04451587116784.jpg

Each rooted in love,

Together by grace;

May we understand,

How great all Your ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a loving and gracious God. Thank You that You know and see our need before we are aware of it ourselves. Thank You that You give us strength and grace, hope and love. Forgive us for allowing our fears or frustrations to find footing, rather than releasing all unto You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and Place of Peace. Show us how to love those around us well, so that each may be strengthened, encouraged and find faith that is ready to nourish and grow. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and at all times, praising You for Your presence. Amen.

 

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

 

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – Psalm 119:76

To Bear Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. – (Galatians 5:22-23, MSG)

 

Social media has been a valuable tool for me to stay connected with friends all over the world. I delight in sharing bits of life with those who are too far away to see in person. Sadly, there are those who use it to lash out in anger at anyone who does not share the same opinion on current “hot topics”. When words are exchanged in anger, without seeking the Spirit to be in the center, greater divisions grow between those who formerly considered one another friends. My hope is to be a purveyor of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, rather than a wrecking ball. May we ever seek the Lord and the fruit that His Spirit within us produces, instead of allowing said fruit to drop off and rot away.

 

God is our compass, To Bear Good Fruit

His love points the way;

To love as He loves,

Let Him in to stay.

Through Him we bear fruit,

That blesses with peace;

Choose give love away,

With reckless release.

Freely and boldly,

Give peace, love and joy;

Patience and kindness,

Gentleness employ.

Let’s choose self-control,

Not seek to be right;

There’s not a winner,

When we aren’t polite.

Let’s seek to listen,

Choose peace and be kind;

More is accomplished,

When hearts are aligned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grow in us that which is meant to be shared with others. Thank You that the fruit You plant is good. Forgive us for allowing that which has been planted within us to rot and waste away rather than be used to nourish the people whom You place all around us. Teach us how to operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us so that Your fruit may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love in a way that bears Your fruit. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Grow the Good

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (2 Peter 1:5-8, NIV)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness towards your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. If all these things in you are growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (2 Peter 1:5-8, ERV)

 

We should never stop striving to grow in the good to which we are called. Every avenue of growth in God grants room to grow further in the next. Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love all multiply as we dig deeper in our faith and pursue our Heavenly Father and all that He has for us. As we grow, His goodness shows, and others gain from that which is being developed deeper within our hearts. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in our faith, so that He may increase within us, allowing that which flows from us to be a reflection of Him to the world.

 

Please grow our faith Lord,

dsc044712067821502.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

So we may reflect;

All good that’s from You,

Love, honor, respect.

As our faith does grow,

So too, does the good;

Knowledge and wisdom,

Restraint understood.

With perseverance,

We start to reflect;

The heart of Jesus,

Who loves and accepts.

Affection given,

And also returned;

Increases our love,

With practice, we learn.

So, keep on growing,

In faith and in love;

This is effective,

As God’s placed above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek to grow in You, You increase all that is good within us. Thank You that as our faith grows, so too does our goodness, knowledge, self-control, capacity to persevere, our likeness to Your nature, our affection for others, and our ability to love as we are loved by You. Forgive us for not seeking You to grow in us all the good that You have for us. Teach us to trust You more so that we would rely on You to grow us more like You. Show us how to navigate our days, growing more into who You are calling us to become. Help us to love others in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart so that we may be effective in giving the good that You so lavishly give to each of us.

 

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

 

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

For Love to Flourish

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, ERV)

So this is my prayer: that your love would flourish and that you will learn not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of. – (Philippians 1:9-10, MSG)

 

Though this was Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, it is still applicable to us today. When we learn to love as Christ loves us, all those around us benefit. We must understand what is important to God, and love with our intellect as well as our heart. As we choose to prioritize that which matters most, our lives become an example of what it is to love as we are loved by Him. May we learn to love much, and love well, just as we are loved by Christ.

 

Help our love to grow,Enter With Thanksgiving

In wisdom and strength;

To see what matters,

What depth and what length.

May we use our mind,

As well as our heart;

To love as You love,

Give all, not just part.

Let us be blameless,

By Your loving grace;

So we are prepared,

For Your sweet embrace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and invest our hearts in knowing You more, You grow Your love, knowledge and understanding in us, all the more. Thank You that You show us what is important and what is not, and You lead us in the way in which we are called to love like You. Forgive us for basing our love and affection on sentiment rather than on what You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see the difference between what is important and what is not, and that we would love according to Your example. Show us how to love others in a way that makes You proud and encourages all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help our love flourish like Yours. Amen.

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

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Above All, Guard Your Heart

More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, CEB)

Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, TLB)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

 

We are called to prioritize protecting the place within us that dictates the things that we do. Our mind, heart and affection all influence our decisions, and if we do not guard these things, the life that is meant to flow from us, will fall flat. As we determine to walk in His way and seek to obey, we cannot help but exude His light and life as we go about our day. May we above all else, guard our hearts, so that what flows from us leads to life in Christ.

 

More than anything,Confidence in Christ

Let us choose to guard;

Our hearts and our minds,

From becoming scarred.

For as we seek Him,

He protects our minds;

And everything else,

His power can bind.

So, let His light shine,

In all that we do;

Protect heart and mind,

And to Christ stay true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and Your strength, You give us what we need to protect our mind, heart and affection. Thank You that through protecting these, everything else in our lives is protected too. Forgive us for neglecting to be vigilant in guarding our hearts and minds. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, to show us what is acceptable to allow in, and what we need to avoid. Show us how to love others in such a way, that Your loving kindness freely flows from us so that they may come to understand Your goodness and grace. May many come to a place of choosing to walk with You forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to protect our minds, hearts and affections. Amen.

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

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

The Focus of His Affection

For me, writing is a process that involves the tactile and the tangible, not simply sitting at the computer for each step of the process. I delight in the joy of opening a new journal for the first time, knowing that it is the beginning of a new chapter of this journey that God has designed, just for me. Typically, I purchase journals well in advance, as I find them on sale. This morning, I had three waiting in line to choose from. As I reached for the one that had the most colorful cover, I discovered more treasures about it upon closer examination. Imprinted on the cover, is the verse: Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – (Psalm 37:4) What a perfect promise to remember, as I am walking through a season of attempting to recall what exactly the desires of my heart include.

On the inside, each page is framed by a watermarked leaf pattern, and includes a quote about God or a verse.

You are God’s created beauty and the focus of His affection and delight. – Janet L. Weaver Smith

When in a season of searching and seeking, it is easy to forget how He sees us. For many of us, there is nothing beautiful about how we perceive ourselves, nor can we fathom His delight. Our brokenness can distract us from the truth that we are deliberately designed, and He delights in each of His hand-crafted kids. Just as we love and lavish our little ones with affection, His affection for us does not end. It is not limited to when we are little, as He welcomes us into His arms to be held, comforted, and encouraged, no matter our age or what we have done. He is hope and He is love. May we take delight in the Lord, and trust that He will give us the desires of our hearts, as we are His created beauty, and the focus of His affection and delight.

Delight in the Lord,The Focus of His Affection

and you’ll come to know;

desires He’s given,

and how they will grow.

He’ll open the doors,

and create the way;

more than imagined,

as we seek each day.

You are His delight,

beauty that He’s made;

and God’s affection,

aimed at You each day.

His arms open wide,

ready to embrace;

to lavish with love,

and cover with grace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and come to know You, we delight in who You are. Thank You that as we take delight in You, You begin to uncover and release the desires of our hearts. Thank You that You created each of us intentionally, and the way that we were made, You called very good. Thank You that You delight in Your children. Forgive us for not holding every human, including ourselves, in the same light as You do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see the beauty and blessing in everyone, through Your lens. Lead us to love others with lavish affection and delight. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we take delight in You, trust You with the desires of our hearts, and receive the focused affection and delight that You grant each of us if we are willing to slow down and receive it. 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

Appealing for Approval

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. – (Galatians 1:10)

 

When we try to win the approval of men, we eventually end up disappointed. However, if we are seeking God’s approval, our goal shall be accomplished simply in the seeking. God does not expect us to get it all right, rather He asks that we seek Him whole-heartedly, and live a life in pursuit of Him and His will for our lives. His grace greets us where we fall short, and His love leads us along the path that He has prepared for us. In Christ, even our disappointments can become appointments that are used for His glory. Where we have failed or life has knocked us down, may be the very places that God is preparing us to encourage another in the same position. In Christ, all things can be worked together for the good of those who love Him. May we spend our days seeking the Lord and serving Him, rather than concerning ourselves with capturing the attention or affection of those around us.

 

Seek not approval,Appealing for Approval

the pleasing of men;

the search is fruitless,

and it never ends.

Rather seek the Lord,

with a heart to serve;

His grace abundant,

and love undeserved.

The Lord, He approves,

the moment we seek;

though we come weary,

scarred, broken and weak.

His arms open wide,

He turns lives around;

beauty for ashes,

the lost become found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not seek the approval of men, but rather we are meant to serve You. Thank You that when we seek You, You are pleased, and You love us as we come. Thank You that even our brokenness can become blessings when placed in Your hands, as You often use what we see as ugliness or weakness as opportunity to encourage another in a similar space. Forgive us for trying to please people rather than You, and teach us to trust You more, so that we will seek You first in all things and at all times. Help us to find our identity and value in You alone. Lead us to love others unhindered by our own scars, and may many come into a lasting relationship with You as a result. Be glorified O God, as we seek to serve You with all that we are. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Love Your Enemies

Love is an act of the will, not a feeling of affection. We always have a choice as to whether or not we choose to love. With those who love us and are kind toward us, love is an easy decision. However, to those who mistreat us, who speak poorly of us, or are downright unkind to all whom they encounter – those are the individuals that we are specifically called to love. But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – (Luke 6:27-28)

 

In Jesus’ day, the Romans oppressed the Jews. Jesus told them to love anyway. He was not speaking of affection for their enemies, but rather He was talking about making an intentional effort to act in their best interest, in spite of their unkindness. We can pray for those who persecute, and we can extend grace to the gruff. God’s goodness transcends our guilt, so we are called to extend His love to ALL. Jesus loved all of us, despite our sinfulness. He chose to take all of our guilt and shame upon Himself, in love. May we choose to love, even those who are the most difficult for us to love.

 

An act of the will,Love Your Enemies

is our choice to love;

not something we feel,

but modeled above.

For Christ came to show,

that love is a choice;

an act of the will,

not vain empty noise.

Love chooses to act,

to pray and serve well;

it fends off the hate,

sent forth straight from hell.

May we choose to bless,

even the unkind;

so they too may know,

His glory divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not simply ask us to do the seemingly impossible in our own strength, but rather You sent Your Son, Jesus, who modeled a life of loving His enemies, doing good to those who hated Him, blessing those who cursed Him, and praying for those who mistreated Him. Thank You Jesus for sending Your Holy Spirit to equip and empower us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we do not act in love, but rather react in our own hurt. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response will be the choice to love, even when we are hated, cursed or mistreated. Show us how we can love, bless, pray for and do good to those whom we might struggle to love. Let Your love be what is evident in me. May many come to know You, as a result of our choosing to love. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love those who are most challenging to love. Amen.

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

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