Blot Out Barriers to Love

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT)

 

Selfishness and pride are both barriers to love. To love others as we are called to love, we have to take a genuine interest in people and care about their lives. As we set aside self and allow our focus to becomeotherly, pride is dispelled and love flows freely. This is not to say that goals are not good, but rather we ought to look to discover how we are best able to help others succeed in their goals as we work toward that which we too are pursuing. May we worry less about what we can attain or achieve on our own, and instead set our sights on how we might love others well.

 

Lord, help us to keep, Blot Out Barriers to Love

Aware of others;

May our hearts know well,

Sisters and brothers.

Remove within us,

Pride and selfishness;

And teach us to love,

With true tenderness.

Show our hearts the way,

To love and invest;

To put others first,

And support them best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love others in the same way that You love us. Forgive us for our selfishness and pride that prevent us from investing in the lives of those around us. Teach us how to place others above ourselves in a way that encourages and values people, without losing our own sense of purpose in the process. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside the parts of ourselves that withhold or withdraw, and move forward with open hearts and arms, set to support and serve. Amen.

 

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

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

 

 

To Rest and Recharge

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

Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from Him! – (Psalm 62:5, CEB)

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

 

Yesterday was an unusual day for me. Though I easily woke at the typical time, the more I moved around, the more I became aware of my own weariness from my lack of sleep the night prior. After doing my devotional reading, and even determining which verse stood out to me, I was struggling to stay alert as my fingers kept missing the keys they were aiming for on the keyboard. Thinking perhaps a shower would help, I set aside finishing my reflecting and writing, and went downstairs. However, after that, my head felt heavy, and all I wanted to do was lie down; so, I did. At first, I thought a short “power nap” would do, but soon discovered that my body really needed real rest. What I realized is that He was providing me time to recharge, as God did not demand that I finish writing, and that He was ready to grant me the rest needed if I would only slow down and just rest. The extra hour plus of sleep that I gained yesterday morning carried me through a full day of meetings, followed by a long union meeting in a hot high school gym to learn about and vote upon our newly proposed teaching contract. The vote was ratified and our district is pleased to have a nearly unanimous “Yes” vote on the new three-year contract. I went to sleep easily, knowing that hope in Him and the rest I’d found had carried me through a day that would have otherwise been difficult. May we ever seek the Lord to be our rest, for our hope comes from Him alone.

 

When weariness comes,

wp-153571736527478849930734026922.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We need to find rest;

In Christ, choose recharge,

For His grace is best.

The Source of all hope,

On God we depend;

As His love for us,

Does not know an end.

So, ever choose seek,

The Lord God above;

Our hope and our rest,

He grants us in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing faithfulness and love. Thank You that You see us and know us, and are ever ready to grant us the rest and hope that we need. Forgive us for not slowing down to recognize our own spaces of need or for neglecting to seek You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our grantor of hope and rest. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides the help and hope that is needed to lighten hearts and loads, and ultimately draw people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we find our rest in You, our holder of hope. Amen.

 

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

 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Jettison Judgment

Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. – (Romans 14:13, NIV)

So, we should stop judging each other. Let’s decide not to do that will cause a problem for a brother or sister or hurt their faith. – (Romans 14:13, ERV)

So, don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong. – (Romans 14:13, TLB)

 

This is a two-fold instruction for us to follow. First, we are not called to judge one another. Rather, we are called to love. The very nature of loving others includes making choices that will not bring harm to them. If we are mindful of the things that are a struggle for those around us, we will be abiding by the second part of what we are instructed to do. We each have a different level of what is and is not acceptable in our own eyes and within our own walk with God. If we know that another cannot or does not do something because it is what they feel is right before God, then it is not that difficult to refrain from it in their presence, so as to not lead them to be tempted to judge us. Above all, if we are guided by God in choosing to love one another first, the latter is less likely to be as much of a struggle. May we ever seek the Lord and His eyes for others, so that we would see through the lens of love, rather than judgment.

 

Seek first to choose love, choose-love1

So we will not judge;

Brothers and sisters,

Whom we’re called to love.

Likewise, let us seek,

To walk in a way;

That does not distract,

As we live each day.

If we are aware,

Of stumbling blocks;

Simply choose avoid,

Those things as we talk.

It is far better,

To build others up;

Love with open hearts,

And fill well their cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive us and love us as we are. Thank You that when we seek You, You will lead us and direct our steps as to how to love best. Forgive us for judging others or for saying or doing things that cause those around us to stumble. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom as to how to best navigate each encounter with others to demonstrate love above all else. Show us how to love without judgment and to walk in Your grace so that we do not draw judgment from others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to show us others through Your eyes so that we do not judge, and to grant us wisdom to walk upright and not cause those around us to stumble. Amen.

 

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

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. – Matthew 7:1

 

The Power of Praise and Worship

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

Let the teaching of Christ live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – (Colossians 3:16, ERV)

Remember what Christ taught, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, TLB)

 

On Sunday, a friend of mine, who happens to be our worship pastor, appropriately spoke about the power of praise and worship. She gave several examples in scripture where it specifically calls us to praise and worship. Next, she defined praise as the expression of admiration, thanks, appreciation and approval for all that God has done. Worship, she explained was an attitude of the heart that should be reserved for God alone; the surrendering of every part of our lives to God’s control. As I went about my day yesterday, I mulled over the words she had spoken. I was intentional in my music selection as I went about my day, both driving and when I slowed down to work on a seated task. The three main benefits found in worship and praise are: 1) It realigns our focus on God. 2) It increases our awareness of God’s presence. 3) It pushes back darkness.

For me, I found all three to be true, as I had discovered myself frustrated and in a less than stellar space having spent the morning cleaning, only to happen upon sugar ants in my kitchen cupboards. After having cleaned out and throwing away many things, I left to spend time in our new home. While seated on the couch writing thank you notes, I selected some of my favorite praise and worship music to listen to. In the process of writing out notes of gratitude and hearing lyrics that gave God glory, my irritation was erased and I found thankfulness overflowing from my heart. The simple act of writing out thanks with music that set my heart right, realigned my focus on the blessings that God has granted, made me aware of His love for me, and pushed back the darkness that had attempted make way through my frustration. God is good and He is faithful to meet us and set our hearts right as we seek Him. May we ever offer our praise to He alone who is worthy, allowing our every breath and heartbeat to worship our Maker.

 

Let all that we know, The Power of Praise and Worship

Of Christ come and dwell;

In our hearts and minds,

As our lives shall tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Sing of His great grace;

With thanks, choose worship,

Both now and always.

For songs sung to God,

With hearts fixed on Him;

Chase away darkness,

And let His light in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of praise and worship. Thank You that we are called to do both. Thank You that as we do, our hearts are realigned and we become more aware of You. Thank You that worship and praise push back darkness and allow Your light to fill us again. Forgive us for allowing the chaos and challenges to avert our focus from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise with a song in our hearts, reminding us of the goodness of Your love and Your power within us as we praise You. Show us how to love those around us as we walk out our days as an offering of praise and worship unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise with hearts set to worship You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

 

 

The Hand of Blessing

You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head. – (Psalm 139:5, NLT)

You have surrounded me on every side, behind me and before me, and You have placed Your hand gently on my shoulder. – (Psalm 139:5, VOICE)

You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness You follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With Your hand of love upon my life, You impart a blessing to me. – (Psalm 139:5, TPT)

 

Though there are disappointments and struggles (as it is a part of human existence), I am acutely aware of God’s bountiful hand of blessing in my life. Through the most trying seasons, He has gone before me and been behind me, and His hand was gently upon me. Never, even on the worst of days, did I feel as if I were on my own. Yesterday, marked one more step towards the fulfillment of this beautiful forward momentum that He has set into place in my life. My fiancé and I received the keys to our new home and were able to go and get started on a bit of yard work, despite having each worked full days, with responsibilities to attend to in the evening. We have been given the gift of time, as we have just the right amount for he and his son to move into our new home after his son’s graduation, time for my boys and me to gradually move things over as we can, and the flexibility in my rental agreement to not move in completely until the day we all depart for Wenatchee for the wedding. May we ever remember Who surrounds us and prepares the way, as He imparts blessings upon us by His love.

 

Before me You go, img_20180531_191403_1463527364648733055004.jpg

In love, make a way;

You follow behind,

Ever near You stay.

Your great hand of love,

It rests upon me;

As You grant blessings,

So abundantly.

Though trials will come,

I need never fear;

For Your love’s greater,

And Your presence clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You go before us and behind us and You place Your hand of blessing upon us. Thank You that You prepare the way ahead and protect us from the harm of what has past. Forgive us for not recognizing Your presence and Your blessings in our lives. Teach us to have open eyes and open hearts so that we would be ever aware of Your presence and Your hand in our lives. Show us how to love those around us in a way that imparts abundant blessings. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your presence and thank You for Your hand of blessing in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

May God Almighty grant You mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Confident Hope

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. – (Jeremiah 17:7, NIV)

But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what He says. – (Jeremiah 17:7, ERV)

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. – (Jeremiah 17:7, TLB)

 

God is faithful, even when our faith waivers based on what we see. However, the more we trust in Him in spite of what we think we know, the more we begin to become aware of just how much His blessings flow. We can either be confident in Christ or confident in other things. Sadly, a third option seems to be to be confident and hopeful in nothing. When days are long and things get difficult, I have to remember where my hope truly lies. If I begin to focus on what I see, I start to lose heart, rather than recognize the bountiful blessings that I already hold. Our perspective shifts as we trust the One who holds us in His hands. May we ever trust the Lord and place our confidence in He who is worthy of all of our trust, as He blesses those who truly trust in Him.

 

Let not our eyesight, Be Full of Joy

Determine our trust;

For God is faithful,

Keeps His word to us.

All that the Lord says,

We can trust is true;

With confident hope,

Know He’ll follow through.

For God is not man,

Where hope may fall flat;

In Him we are blessed,

He’s where all good’s at.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One in whom we can trust and place all of our hope and confidence. Thank You that as we trust in You, we are blessed as we come to know Your faithfulness for ourselves. Forgive us for placing our hope or trust anywhere other than You, or for losing hope when we cannot see Your hand in our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have confident hope in Your faithfulness, knowing that You are true to Your word and will be faithful to do all that You say You will do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may find hope in spaces that feel hopeless. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with confident hope, and recognize the blessings of Your faithfulness in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

 

Growing Good

Large cypress trees will grow where there were thorn bushes. Myrtle trees will grow where there were weeds. All this will happen to make the Lord known, to be a permanent reminder of His goodness and power. – (Isaiah 55:13, ERV)

In place of the thorn the cypress will grow; in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow. This will attest to the Lord’s stature, an enduring reminder that won’t be removed. – (Isaiah 55:13, CEB)

Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good. And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever. – (Isaiah 55:13, VOICE)

 

Just as God promised to replace the harsh and harmful places with those that are beneficial and blessed, He does the same in the lives of those who place their trust in Him. It takes little to look back and discover the spaces within our own hearts and lives where God has taken the things that brought harm and redeemed us with His blessings that overflow and offer good to those around us. God is faithful, and each place where we see new growth of good, we have a lasting reminder of His goodness and power – both in us and for us forever. May we seek the Lord and His everlasting love, as He is the One who brings new growth of good where destructive and harmful things once stood.

 

In place of the thorns, How Faith Grows

God will grow new good;

As we see Him move,

His heart’s understood.

This amazing grace,

That makes broken new;

Shows with great power,

That His word is true.

For as bad gives way,

To new, good and sweet;

The Lord is made known,

Our sacred retreat.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that where dead and destructive things once grew, You have brought new that is good and beneficial. Thank You that in every space where You have turned the harmful into good, we have an enduring reminder of Your goodness and power. Forgive us for our frustration and fearfulness of the prickly and nasty spaces – both inside and out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to be our strength in the pruning process, and our guide to navigate through the new. Show us how to love others well, so that we may be reminders of Your faithfulness forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep our eyes and hearts open to be aware of the good that You are growing in and around us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Love Endures

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, NIV)

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, NLT)

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best in others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, TPT)

 

The longer I am a parent, the more abundantly I become aware of our Heavenly Father’s heart for us. Each attribute of love mentioned in these two verses, really resonate from a parental perspective. I delight in truth winning out in the lives of my children. I will never give up, never lose faith, will always be hopeful, and will endure through every circumstance to be present and love my children well. Loving this way is present with those nearest my heart also. God uses the tangible around us to make His heart for us known. The love we have for those closest to us, pales in comparison to that which He has for us. My heart is full to overflowing for those whom He has gifted me, therefore how much more ought my heart hold for He who has given me life and love from the start? May we ever rejoice in the truth as we always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere.

 

Love does not delight, Love Made Known

In things that go wrong;

But celebrates truth,

Rejoices in song.

Love always protects,

Trusts our hope secure;

Always keeps up faith,

Chooses persevere.

Love is a shelter,

Where we rest assured;

Where hope never ends,

As God’s love endures.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when the truth wins out. Thank You that love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance that we will ever face. Thank You that You are with us in all things as we seek You. Forgive us for allowing our perspective of love to become tainted by human understanding, rather than relying on You, the author and creator of love. Teach us to turn to You in trust, so that we would love as You love. Show us how to protect, trust, hope and persevere in love in a way that believes the best in others and points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your heart to show us how to love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Mortality Known is Wisdom Grown

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NLT)

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, VOICE)

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set Your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept Your correction. – (Psalm 90:12, TPT)

 

Life is short, and not one of us knows the number of our days. What we do each day matters, and God’s wisdom is the best way to have a heart to live according to His purposes. Each day that we draw breath, we have the opportunity to love God and love people, just as He loves us. The more aware we are that not one of us is guaranteed another day, the more the present is valued as a gift, and lived out accordingly. May we treasure the gift of today and walk in His wisdom and love so that we may honor the One who gives us life and bring hope to those who need it most.

 

With a grateful heart, given-to-show-goodness.jpg

For all of our days;

May we seek wisdom,

To walk in His ways.

Show us plain Your path,

Each day we draw breath;

So we truly live,

Our lives until death.

And even in death,

We know there is peace;

For when our days end,

To You, we’re released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all who seek You can find a heart of wisdom to walk in Your ways for all of our days. Thank You that when we are willing, You use each day for Your good. Forgive us for the times that we choose to ignore Your direction, and try to go our own way. Teach us to trust You more, knowing that all of Your plans and purposes for us are good. Show us how to love well, all whom we encounter, so that each may see a glimpse of Your goodness through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for each new day, and seek You for direction as to how to walk it out. Amen.

 

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

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

The Hand that Steadies

I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely. – (Psalm 63:8, NLT)

I stay close to You, and You hold me with Your powerful arm. – (Psalm 63:8, ERV)

My soul clings to You; Your right hand reaches down and holds me up. – (Psalm 63:8, VOICE)

 

Much like a small child who has not quite yet learned to walk on their own, who reaches for the strong hand of a loved one to help steady them and hold them up, we too ought to do likewise with the Lord. Though we no longer need the help of a hand to walk, His nearness and His strength are necessary to navigate the obstacles that rise up before us. Just as a toddler has absolute trust in the hand that holds them, we too need to cling to Christ and trust that He has us in His outstretched hands. His arms are far greater than our adversaries and obstacles. As we stay close to Christ, we become acutely aware of His presence and His provision to persevere in all things and at all times. May we have faith like little children, as we trust completely in the nearness and greatness of our God to whom we cling.

 

I cling to You, Lord, the-hand-that-steadies.png

For Your strength is great;

Your hand holds me up,

Hope to celebrate.

His mighty right hand,

Reaches where we are;

Holds our heaviness,

Grants strength to go far.

No matter what comes,

Have hope and believe;

The depth of His love,

Too much to conceive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we cling to You, You hold us up with Your mighty hands. Thank You that we can seek You in all things, and trust You to be our strength, our help and our hope. Forgive us for not coming to You in trust. Teach us to know in our hearts the truth of Your promises for ourselves. Show us how to love others well, just as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cling to You and become aware of Your hands holding us secure. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8