Bound Together

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, TLB)

 

For years, this verse has been my hope and prayer, held in my heart, especially the last sentence about a cord of three strands being so strong. As my Viking and I prepared to wed, we did a bit of research about Nordic wedding traditions. Incredibly, we found that often, in Nordic weddings, there is a hand-tying portion of the ceremony where the bride and groom’s hands are bound together in a triple-braided cord to represent the two coming together and be bound to one another with God. The visual representation of this joining together very closely matched an image that has stuck with me for a very long time. Consequently, together with our Pastor, we incorporated this tradition into our wedding ceremony.

Already, as we drove home from Wenatchee yesterday, (where our wedding took place) this verse proved itself true for us. We came upon horrendous traffic, and the typical two-and-a-half hour drive turned into eight hours. On our own, either one of us would have been ready to tap out; however, with the support of one another and the grace of God, we successfully navigated our way home through the heat and traffic, unscathed and still speaking to one another.  The wonderful thing about the promise held in two being better than one, is that it perpetuates our charge to be engaged in the body. If we love God and love one another, we are not alone and have the strength of that three-strand cord. May we ever invest in our relationship with God and one another so that we may stand together in His strength, no matter what comes our way.

 

Our God has designed, wp-15323501515116858327490790099683.jpg

Us not be alone;

Binds us together,

In heart and in home.

Wherever two stand,

Their strength is greater;

As joined by the Lord,

Loving Creator.

Let two choose unite,

And in God abide;

For their strength shall stand,

With grace found inside.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with each other. Thank You that when two join together and invite You to be the center, You come and intertwine Your heart with ours and grant us strength. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to take on what lies before us on our own. Teach us to trust You and those whom You have given us to walk beside. Show us how to love each other in a way that joins hearts and minds in Your purpose to walk out Your plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand with You as a three-strand cord, bound in Your strength, hope and love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth  (Moreno) Grabrick and Revelations in Writing,

May 2011 – present

 

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together. – Psalm 34:3

Good That Overcomes

Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. – (Romans 12:21, MSG)

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. – (Romans 12:21, NLT)

Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good. – (Romans 12:21, ERV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – (Romans 12:21, NIV)

 

Though a seemingly simple concept, it is often difficult to carry out. Humans have a natural inclination to seek justice when we have been “wronged“. When someone intends us harm, the last thing we want to do, is extend kindness or grace. Jesus was the ultimate example of not allowing evil to overcome Him; for even as He hung on the cross He cried out for the forgiveness of those who placed Him there, rather than for their destruction. Most of us struggle to not use ugly words when we are cut off in traffic. I had a friend growing up that used to yell, “Bless you, in Jesus Name!“, each time someone cut him off or did something stupid on the highway that could have potentially caused harm while driving. When I asked him about it, he replied that it was a way to begin to train his heart to do good, even when he wanted otherwise. He intentionally chose words that were for good, rather than for harm, even if the tone did not yet match. Granted, I know that traffic violations are hardly comparable to gross acts of evil, but if we are able to do good with the small things, perhaps our hearts will be tender and receptive as God asks us to choose to overcome evil with good in the larger things later on. May we ever seek the Lord and His wisdom and strength, so that evil may not get the best of us and we can rise up and do the good He asks of us.

 

Flying Butterfly

Do not let evil,

Get the best of you;

For it’s overcome,

By good that we choose.

God provides the strength,

To rise and do well;

As we move in grace,

We overcome hell.

Evil cannot stand,

Where grace and love flow;

Let’s keep doing good,

So all may come know.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that evil can be defeated when we choose to do good in Your Name. Thank You that this is not something that we have to attempt to do in our own strength, but rather You equip and empower us to do that which You call us to do, so that we may overcome the darkness that would attempt to destroy us. Forgive us for thinking that we have to fight alone, or for allowing the darkness around us to overwhelm us, rather than looking to the light within. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You in all things and at all times, as You alone can overcome anything that would try to get the best of us. Show us how to love those around us, so that we would be light in dark places and do the good that overcomes that which attempts to destroy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we conquer evil by doing the good that You call us to do. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Be the Change

Injustices are everywhere, we simply need open our eyes and look around us to see suffering that need not be present. There is homelessness, abuse, hunger and human trafficking, and those are but a few out our own front door. The needs are far beyond what one person could conquer, however, if we do nothing, change will never occur. As I continue my book study, Undaunted, by Christine Caine, one of her passions is to help fight human trafficking. She goes far beyond sympathy for the suffering, as Caine goes into the places of known need, and seeks to save those stuck in the shackles of slavery. Her heart is for healing and restoring the victims to wholeness, and she works tirelessly to help establish safety nets for victims once they have been rescued.

 

27 million are in bondage around the globe. That number is staggering. The average age of trafficking victims is twelve, nearly the same age as my own precious progeny. Only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued. That means that 98-99% of those twelve-year-olds, are trapped in bondage until the day they die… (Statistics from www.thea21campaign.org)

 

So what are we to do? When Jesus saw an injustice, He walked toward it, not away from it. When He found out there were merchants misusing the temple and keeping the Gentiles from worshiping, He did not sit idly by. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. – (Mark 11:15-16)

 

If Jesus responded that way to defiling the temple with extortion, imagine how He would respond to human lives being bartered… Our charge is to do something. We are not all called to go into the dark and scary spaces and rescue the captured. However, there are numerous roles to fill. We can pray. We can support. We can educate. We can advocate. We can protect. We can prevent and we can partner with those who are called to go and reach right into the lives that would have otherwise been lost, and be a part of the change. May we each give ear to God’s heart, so that we hear clearly what He would have us do.

 

Change only happens,Be the Change

when people choose rise;

to stand up and fight,

to open blind eyes.

Awareness becomes,

the mightiest sword;

striking injustice,

as lives are restored.

May we be the change,

that sees and then acts;

let’s go forth in love,

our fire to fight back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know all of the injustice in the world, and that not one is lost from Your sight. Thank You that You are greater than the ugliness and evil that permeates society. Thank You that in You, we can be the change that ends injustice for individuals everywhere. Thank You that even one life rescued and restored is reason for rejoicing. Forgive us for shying away from injustices we see, and help us to take things head on, just as Jesus did. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hear Your specific instructions for us, individually, as You have a specific role for each of us to play. Help us to know what we are meant to do, and then grant us the strength and the courage to obey. Lead us to love others more than we ever thought possible, just as You love us. May many who are trapped in captivity – be it physically, emotionally or spiritually – be set free and find life everlasting in You. Be glorified Lord God, as we seek to be the change that You are calling us to be. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Abundant Grace

Have you ever walked into something, not knowing how you will get through it, only to look back, and see that His grace was clearly present, as Christ poured out His love in a tangible way?

 

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. – (I Timothy 1:14)

 

Though we may feel inadequate on our own, we can be confident that Christ in us, will grow our faith and deepen our love, as we are intentional to invest in our relationship with Him. He provides what we lack. We need not worry whether or not we are enough to take on that which He calls us to. On our own, we are not. Yet as we ask, He will provide that which is needed to rise up in strength and He will remain beside us as we walk forward in faith. All we are that is worthwhile, is because of His work in us. Let us press on, as He has poured out all that we need, to faithfully do as He asks of us.

 

May we walk forward,Abundant Grace

confident in grace;

He will not call us,

to half run our race.

All that is needed,

our God will provide;

He’s setting our pace,

He’ll mark out our stride.

At times it may seem,

more than we can do;

we are called to trust,

let Christ see us through.

He asks us to move,

the strength He provides;

faith grows with footsteps,

as we choose abide.

So rise up and run,

wherever He asks;

His grace is with us,

to conquer His tasks.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You pour out Your abundant grace, faith and love upon us, as we seek You. Thank You that You do not call us to anything that You are not also willing to equip us to walk through. Thank You that Your grace is enough. Forgive us for our feelings of inadequacy, and our fears of failure. Help us to hold onto the reality that our confidence is in You, and that You provide all that is needed, when it is needed. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us. May we be bold in the faith and love that we’ve found in You, and may many come to know You, personally, as a result. Be exalted, O God, as we run the race marked out before us with confidence in You. 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