Be Transformed

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. – (Romans 12:2, NIV) 

Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect. – (Romans 12:2, ERV) 

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes. – (Romans 12:2, TPT) 

Last night, my husband and I began watching “The Social Dilemma”. As we took in the ugly truth that was made all the clearer, we sat there exchanging looks of both horror and agreement, as we see, all too clearly, the evidence of the effectiveness of the algorithms. One of the patterns of this world is the constant need to be connected on our devices. At one point, someone in the documentary said something to the effect of, “it is not a matter whether a person will wake up and check their phone, but rather they either check it before they use the bathroom, or while they use the bathroom.” That struck a chord, and I made a conscious effort to not begin my day with social media apps. I was intentional to begin only with my own devotional time, rather than detour with various social check-ins. As the day wore on, and I was stuck staring at a computer screen for hours on end for remote teaching and meetings, the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time looking at a screen. My life feels the most beautiful and satisfying when I am able to fully engage in whatever I am doing, especially when it is time spent with beloved family and friends. I do not want divided time, shared with a screen in someone’s hands, but rather I want face-to-face or side-by-side conversation and companionship. Honestly, I am certain this is what we were designed for – to be in relationship with God and those around us in a way that leads us to see and know and love completely. Perhaps that is why my best days are simple escapes or spontaneous visits with loved ones, as the time feels filled with goodness and grace, much in the same way my time in the word, worship or prayer feels with God. Our mind is only renewed when we seek He who renews us, and we are only able to know God’s perfect and pleasing will if we ask Him. May we ever pursue the heart of God and His will for our lives, so that we may live lives that are transformed and renewed to live out our days in a way that is good and pleasing to the very One who grants us breath. 

Choose not to fall prey, 

To the things of earth; 

Instead look to God, 

Where we find our worth. 

Let not the common, 

Lead you on your path; 

Instead seek the good, 

And love’s aftermath. 

For in God we find, 

Transforming power; 

Beauty from ashes, 

Through our Strong Tower. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You our hearts and lives are transformed and our minds are renewed. Thank You that we are able to know and walk out the good You have for us when we seek You first. Forgive us for the ways that we get caught up in popular culture, rather that pursuing that which You have for us. Teach us to seek You first, so that we may lead lives that are good and pleasing before You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that honor You and spread light and life to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek You first to lead us and guide us in the way that is pleasing and perfect before You, as You intended. Amen. 

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

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:17

Gentle Presence

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – (Philippians 4:5, NIV) 

Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. – (Philippians 4:5, ERV) 

Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. – (Philippians 4:5, VOICE) 

The Voice translation resonates the most clearly with me, as the people I have known who have demonstrated God’s love in practical and tangible ways, have a gentle nature that makes me aware of the Lord’s nearness. Peace pours out from a gentle and kind spirit, and love begets love. Because God is always with us, we are loved and equipped in such a way, that we may have a gentle nature, even in spaces where we have to utilize great strength. Gentleness does not mean weak, but rather it is the strength to extend kindness in love, even when it seems counterproductive. God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. The more we pursue Him, the greater our desire to love as He loves; for He sees all of His creation through His lens of love. Imagine if all of us chose to allow our gentleness to be evident to all. Kindness and love would become the standard mode of operation, and God’s love would be abundantly clear all around us. May we ever seek the Lord to fill and lead us, so that His gentleness in us may be obvious. 

Lord, teach us, show us, 

To be gentle, kind; 

To love as You love, 

So Your peace we’ll find. 

Your nearness to us, 

The strength that we need; 

To walk in Your grace, 

And follow Your lead. 

Grant us eyes to see, 

How gentleness spreads; 

The more that we love, 

Do as Your word says. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You show us how to live and love with a gentleness like Yours. Thank You that You provide the strength we need to be gentle and kind. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our own ego, hurt or frustration to dictate how we respond to those around us, rather that choosing to respond gently in love. Show us how to walk in Your gentleness and love so that all those around us may be aware of the greatness of Your grace and the beauty of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength and wisdom to live out our days with a heart set on being gentle and kind. Amen. 

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

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1 

God Who Gives

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – (Romans 15:5, NIV)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

Now may God, the Source of great endurance and comfort, grace you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Romans 15:5, TPT)

 

Our capacity to receive and give patience, encouragement, endurance and comfort, all come from Christ. When we lean into Him, He grants us a heart like His toward those around us, and we are better able to be united in purpose. It does not mean that we have to agree with others on every minute detail in existence, but rather, with God’s help, we can prioritize people in the way that we are designed to do. The closer we are to Christ, the more clearly, we reflect His character and His heart to the world. Grace is essential to extend comfort and encouragement to others, even in the midst of our own messes. God can use us to bring unity, comfort, patience and endurance to those around us, despite being in the middle of a pandemic. Each day we depend on Him, we discover His peace, strength and provision. As we do, there is a filling to overflowing within us, that cannot help but be shared with those around us. May we seek the Lord who gives endurance and encouragement, so that we too, may do the same for others and be united in purpose and love.

 

The Lord God above,wp-15899803702722573446821857210172.jpg

He grants unto us;

All that we will need,

To love like Jesus.

It is up to us,

To choose seek and pray;

Allow the Lord lead,

In love, each new day.

Patience and comfort,

Strength and loving grace;

To share with others,

And walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and equipping us to love like You as we earnestly seek You. Please forgive us for the times that we neglect to seek You and respond in our own humanity to those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grow in patience and encouragement, grace and unity. Show us how to love those around us best, so that each might feel encouraged and strengthened, valued and loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continually draw near to You in pursuit of a heart like Yours, as You are the God who gives. Amen.

 

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

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:3

Six Trials and Three Denials to Good Friday

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” – (Luke 23:47, NIV)

The army officer there saw what happened. He praised God, saying, “I know this man was a good man!” – (Luke 23:47, ERV)

When the Roman captain overseeing the crucifixion witnessed all that took place, he was awestruck and glorified God. Acknowledging what they had done, he said, “I have no doubt; we just killed the righteous one.” – (Luke 23:47, TPT)

 

Good Friday. There is seemingly much irony in the name, as nothing that Jesus endured that day was good at all. Six trials, three denials, multiple beatings, abuse, mocking, disregarding, false accusations, a crown of thorns, and hanging on a cross, bearing the sin and shame of the world, all before noon that day. And yet, the things that transpired during the six hours that Friday, as Jesus hung in agony on the cross, transformed the heart and mind of a Roman army officer, whom likely was eager to crucify Jesus, when the whole scene on the hill began. He watched as Jesus forgave the criminals accused on either side of Him; he heard as Jesus told his mother that His dear friend would be her son (to care for her and help provide, as was customary and necessary back then); the officer witnessed Jesus turning down a drink that would have taken the edge off of the pain, and he heard Jesus cry out and commit His spirit into the Lord’s hands. As the darkness surrounded the scene from noon to three, I imagine the magnitude of the man, Jesus, before him, began to really resonate clearly in the heart of the Roman captain. When Jesus took His final breath, other signs and wonders transpired too. That centurion’s heart was forever changed, as he recognized a fraction of the reality of what had just taken place, and that they had indeed crucified the righteous one. In all reality, we ought to have the same sort of life-changing aha moments at the foot of the cross, as we recognize that Jesus hung in our place to extend us His grace so that we might live. All of us, without Jesus, deserve death. We all are sinners in need of mercy and grace. Jesus came, lived and loved, died and rose again, so that we could indeed refer to that horrific, painful, agonizing Friday, as good. May we take time today to kneel at the foot of the cross and give thanks. For God is so good and full of grace that He loved us with His very life.

 

Lord, help us to see, Six Trials and Three Denials

The truth through fresh eyes;

The weight sacrificed,

Saves us from demise.

The burdens You bore,

Were meant to be ours;

Your love held You there,

Enduring the scars.

There are not the words,

To ever suffice;

To praise and give thanks,

For Your sacrifice.

Today I will choose,

To kneel at the cross;

Give all unto You,

Without You, I’m lost.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to bear the weight for us all. Thank You Jesus, for living in perfect love. Thank You for showing us what it means to endure all things in love, and why that wretched, awful, agonizing Friday was actually good. Forgive us for our lack of attention to the significance of what You did for us. Teach us to look back and recognize all that You endured on our behalf in love. Show us how to embrace the grace that You have freely given, so that we might go forth and love others as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for the amazing good that came from that Friday so many years ago. Amen.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:54

Intentional Time to Grow

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – (Psalm 119:105, NIV)

Your word I like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take. – (Psalm 119:105, ERV)

By Your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. – (Psalm 119:105, MSG)

 

Psalm 119, in its entirety, is all about the word of God and how it directs our steps. As we follow His word, we find protection and direction, so pausing and on verse 105 seemed appropriate. The more we invest time in prayer and the word of God, the more clearly we understand His heart for those around us. Our mode of operation begins to take on His heart rather than our own, and the lens through which we view the world, becomes shaped by that of our loving heavenly Father. Beyond our view, that which grows within us is transformative as well. The nourishment we taking in produces good fruit that will last. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, are all the sort of fruit that the Spirit grants those who earnestly seek Him. May we be intentional to invest time in the word of God, so that we may have a clearly lit path on which to navigate all of our days.

 

The word of the Lord,

bloom blossom flora flower

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Helps make our path plain;

As we seek His will,

Direction we’ll gain.

He shows us the ways,

That we’re meant to go;

Each time that we ask,

He’ll make sure we know.

By His love and grace,

In us, He will grow;

Traits that bless others,

His love clearly shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Thank You that as we seek You and invest intentional time in Your word and Your presence, You grow in us, more of that which reflects Your heart to the world. Forgive us for neglecting to nourish the soil of our hearts. Teach us to prioritize time with You, so that we are ever growing and more clearly reflecting Your heart to those around us. Show us how to love others in ways that make Your heart tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional with our time and spend time growing in our understanding of who You are and how You love. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Patterns 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)

Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as His beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for He surrendered His life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration – a sweet healing fragrance. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, TPT)

 

When we choose to follow Christ, it is our charge to live out a life of love as His dearly loved children. Because we are loved by Him, we too, have the capacity to love others in the same way. Christ’s love is sacrificial and not self-seeking; in every way, His love is pleasing to God. On our own, such love is an impossible order. However, when we seek the Lord and spend time with Him and in His word, we learn to pattern our lives after His. This does not mean that we somehow “arrive” and suddenly love perfectly, yet the longer we pursue His path, the more clearly we are able to reflect His love. May we ever seek to follow God’s example as His dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved each of us.

 

In all that we do, patterns-of-love.jpg

May we look to God;

And pattern our lives,

Make love our response.

God’s love is immense,

Sacrificial, kind;

Never self-seeking,

With our best in mind.

May we love the same,

Throughout all our days;

So God’s love is known,

As we give Him praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us. Thank You that You gave all so that we could have life and light and love. Thank You that Your love is not self-seeking, but rather You always have our very best in mind. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved in the same way, or have attempted to navigate on our own. Teach us how to pattern our lives after You, so that we may love in the same way that You love each of us. Show us how to love those around us selflessly and lavishly, so that they may experience and know the depth and breadth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to pattern our lives after You, so that we may love completely. Amen.

 

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

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Praise Even When

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – (Romans 5:3-5, MSG)

 

I am certain that I have read this passage at least a dozen times before, but for some reason, this morning, it is sinking in a bit differently. Perhaps it is through reading The Message translation, as it speaks of praising “even when we’re hemmed in with troubles” rather than “rejoicing when we run into problems and trials”. Personally, my mind can conceive the even so concept, as God is good even when our circumstances are not, and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Each trial that we traverse, every struggle He grants us strength to navigate, further grow our faith and help our hope the next time we face difficulties. When we look back on where He has brought us from, we can see the overwhelming faithfulness of God and the generous outpouring of love lavished upon us by His Holy Spirit. May we ever give praise to He who is always worthy, as He is the one who supplies the strength and endurance needed to navigate each challenge, as He pours into our lives, His love.

 

In midst of trial,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We can, even so;

Give praise unto God,

For His love we know.

He’s faithful to help,

Grants strength as we go;

Our reason for hope,

Sure truth that we know.

Troubles grow patience,

That helps us endure;

Confidence in hope,

As His love’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have reason to praise You no matter what troubles or trials we face because You are good and You will use all things to grow us in You. Thank You that troubles develop endurance and strength of character so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for fleeing the fire before us, rather than facing the fight in Your strength as You hold us in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You generously give as we go through the highs and lows of life. Show us how to love well all those whom we encounter, so that they may see glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You on every step of our path as You provide Your presence and Your peace. 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

Strength to Stand

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. – (Isaiah 40:29, NIV)

He helps tired people be strong. He gives power to those without it. – (Isaiah 40:29, ERV)

He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. – (Isaiah 40:29, MSG)

He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. – (Isaiah 40:29, TLB)

 

How I am still functioning is clearly by the grace of God. For more than a week now, I have struggled to sleep at night. Though it is spring break, I have gone ahead and gotten out of bed long before the sun has risen, as by the time it reaches three or four o’clock, I figure I have tried long enough and may as well begin my day. Each day, I have had the strength I have needed to navigate what was required of me, and on a few of the days, found there was even time for a nap. He has sustained me with His strength where my own has been lacking. God is faithful to meet us in our weariness and weakness and fill us with His strength and power. May we ever seek Him in full surrender, trusting that He will provide all that we need to rise up and run strong.

 

In full surrender, Be strong and courageous

To You, Lord, I come;

Tired and weary,

My heart is undone.

I lean into You,

For I know Your hands;

Are strong when I’m weak,

You give strength to stand.

Power provided,

When ours is all gone;

Help we can hope in,

For You make us strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give strength to the weary and increase power in the weak. Thank You that we can always turn to You in trust. Forgive us for attempting to “muscle our way” through things on our own, rather than running to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to be our strength when we are weary and power when we are weak. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers Your strength and hope and help when they are weary and weak. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You offer to sustain and strengthen us to press on. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Deep Wells from Shallow Graves

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – (John 4:13-14, NIV)

 

When we are dry and thirsty, nothing satisfies our soul but Jesus. In the places where we have died or suffered loss, the Lord’s light and life can come and bring healing and hope that can quench not only our own thirst, but that of those around us.

God takes our shallow graves and turns them into deep wells.

The things that have only just died and are barely buried, are the very things that God will take, if we are willing, and turn them into deep wells.  These are the places where He brings beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. The losses we have suffered are the very spaces where He graces us with His great strength so that others might drink deeply from the hope that is held so clearly in a place that was once buried in darkness. New light and life shine forth to illuminate the way to His deep well, birthed within us.

 

Where hope was once lost,

Twin Falls, on the way to Hana.

Or love scorned and gone;

Lying in ruins,

How can one press on?

Barren in ashes,

Such desolate space;

Nothing left to give,

Desperate for grace.

Yet when we look up,

Our ash at His feet;

Beauty and wisdom,

By His grace, we meet.

The ugliest grave,

Often can become;

The deepest of wells,

For His chosen ones.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us beauty for ashes and hope for despair. Thank You that You are the well that waters our soul so that we are not left dry and thirsty, but rather as we drink deeply of Your word, You spring forth within us, living water that is a deep well to extend to others. Forgive us for our withdrawal when we feel dry and thirsty. Help us to ever seek You, our endless Source of living water, as You refresh and renew our strength and hope in all things and at all times. Show us how to depend on You to allow You to take our shallow graves and grow deep wells of living water from where they once lay. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love and grace available in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our days as Your vessels that continually pour out of the abundance of hope that we have found. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Pursue Righteousness

Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. – (1 Timothy 6:11b, NLT)

Always try to do what is right, to be devoted to God, and to have faith, love, patience, and gentleness. – (1 Timothy 6:11b, ERV)

Pursue a righteous life – a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. – (1 Timothy 6:11b, MSG)

 

Though this portion of passage comes from a letter that Paul was writing to Timothy to instruct him in the way in which he was meant to go, it is instruction that applies to all of us. When we pursue righteousness, we are walking towards God and His will for our lives. In doing so, we live a life of faith, love, perseverance and gentleness, as these are the very attributes of Christ, Himself. When He dwells in us, what flows from us is seasoned by His goodness and grace. The more we invest in knowing God, the more clearly we reflect His radiance through our words and deeds. May we choose to pursue a righteous life that is invested in knowing and loving the Lord, so that we can go forth and know and love others well.

 

May our hearts pursue,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

The Lord God above;

Who grants us all things,

And fills us with love.

For as we invest,

Our hearts come to know;

The depth of His grace,

Draws our hearts to grow.

Grow in His goodness,

As patience is learned;

Let gentleness lead,

As our lives are turned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue You and what You are calling us to do. Thank You that You also equip us to do the very things that You ask of us, rather than expecting us to somehow manage on our own. Forgive us for the times that we have been without faith, have been unkind, quit, and have been harsh. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk in the way that You are calling us to walk. Show us how to demonstrate faith, love, perseverance and gentleness to those around us, so that they might come to know how deeply they are loved, and see You through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue a righteous life in You, and go forth in Your strength with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Amen.

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

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