Choosing Circles

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, NLT)

Good people are careful about choosing their friends, but evil people always choose the wrong ones. – (Proverbs 12:26, ERV)

Lovers of God give good advice to their friends, but the counsel of the wicked will lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, TPT)

 

Yesterday morning, our pastor spoke about the significance and power of our circles. Our relationships have the power to shape our lives emotionally, physically and spiritually. We have the freedom to choose who holds space in our circle, as each person’s circle begins and ends with themselves. Those whom we surround ourselves with ought to encourage us and hold us accountable. Who we walk with determines the person we will become. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – (Proverbs 27:17, NIV) “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” – (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV) We have been created for relationship. The intention is for us to sharpen one another, not to corrupt. The circle we choose can make all the difference in who we become. May we seek the Lord and His wisdom as we learn to grow our circle with grace, so that we may encourage and sharpen one another for His glory.

 

We’ve the grace to choose,

wp-15365818485874977245676892055719.jpg

Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Our circles ourselves;

We need the Lord’s help,

To choose people well.

Those who will build up,

When we’ve fallen down;

Will challenge with grace,

And straighten our crown.

We’re apt to attract,

Whatever we give;

Let wisdom and grace,

Define how we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the freedom to choose our own circles. Thank You that You give wisdom and grace as we ask, leading and providing the people that will encourage and challenge us the way You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected investing in our circles, or for forgetting that we have the freedom to choose. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading as to which friends sharpen us and which distract. Show us how to be the friend to those around us that encourage and challenge in love in a way that builds up and points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to surround ourselves with circles that are pleasing unto You. Amen.

 

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

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

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

 

 

Advise to Grow Wise

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. – (Proverbs 19:20-21, NLT)

Listen to advice and accept discipline; then you, too, will become wise. People might make many plans, but what the Lord says is what will happen. – (Proverbs 19:20-21, ERV)

Heed counsel, act on instruction, and you will become wise later in life. The impulses of the human heart may run wild, but the Eternal’s plan will prevail. – (Proverbs 19:20-21, VOICE)

 

The heart of this is that we are created for community. From the start, the intent was for us to be in relationship with God and with those around us. As we seek the Lord and His will, and listen to the wise counsel of the trustworthy whom God has placed among us, we will become wise in His ways and walk according to His plan. On our own, we might make many plans, yet when checked through the lens of the Lord, only that which aligns with His, will remain. May we ever seek the Lord and the counsel of those whom He has placed in our lives, so we will walk in His way, rather than running with whatever whim our hearts desire.

 

Choose to seek advice, IMG_2491

Accept all you can;

It’s how wisdom grows,

Learn to understand.

Though many our plans,

The Lord’s will prevail;

As we pursue Him,

His heart will not fail.

He’ll show us the way,

Grant wisdom and grace;

For all of our days,

As we seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we listen to advice and accept discipline and counsel, we grow in wisdom. Thank You that though we may make many plans, Your plans and purposes prevail. Forgive us for going our own way and pursuing our own plans, rather than seeking You. Teach us to seek advice and act on instruction in all things, so that we may grow in Your wisdom as we walk out our days. Show us how to love those around us with wisdom and grace, so that all might long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to advice and instruction from You and those whom You have given to us as wise counsel, and grow our hearts in Your wisdom as we walk in Your ways. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Love Can Be Found

Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by Your counsel. – (Psalm 119:64, MSG)

Lord, Your faithful love fills the earth. Teach me Your laws. – (Psalm 119:64, ERV)

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord; teach me Your decrees. – (Psalm 119:64, NIV)

 

Everywhere the human eye can see, there is evidence of the Eternal’s love for us. The intentional, exquisite design of each individual we encounter, the beauty of nature, the intricacy of the countless systems set in place by His hands – I stand in awe when I give even a moment to think about the complexity of messages it requires to send information from my mind to my fingers to movement on the keyboard, yet the words that are typed on the screen occur so often with little thought or thanks for He who designed my body to function in this way. Just as it required training to learn to type without having to think about where each key is located, we need to be intentional to train our hearts and minds in the word of God, so that we don’t agonize to know what is right in His sight. May we take time to notice the love of the Lord that surrounds us, and be intentional to allow His word to train us in the ways we are meant to go.

 

The love of the Lord, IMG_3721

Fills the earth, surrounds;

Wherever we look,

His love can be found.

May we ever seek,

To walk in His ways;

Do right by the Lord,

For all of our days.

Lord, train up our hearts,

To walk in Your will;

Do what pleases You,

Your counsel, instill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is evident everywhere! Thank You that the earth is filled with Your love. Thank You that when we ask, You are faithful to answer and train us to live according to Your will. Forgive us for not seeking You and Your will as we walk out our days, and teach us to trust You for all of our days. Show us how to live according to Your counsel so that we love others in the way that You intended them to be loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize Your love all around us, and listen to Your leading in all that we do. Amen.

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

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

Trust His Will

But then again, if God is in this, you won’t be able to stop it – unless, of course, you’re ready to fight against God! – (Acts 5:39, VOICE)

But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You might even be fighting against God Himself! – (Acts 5:39, ERV)

 

Just as the religious counsel recognized that though they did not like the path the disciples were taking, they really needed to wait and see what was to happen. If it fizzled, it was of human origin, yet if it continued, they would have been opposing God. The same often holds true today. We see friends or family following a path that might not make sense to us, however, they feel it is where the Lord is leading them. Rather than oppose them, we ought to prayerfully support their endeavors, and ask that the Lord continue to show them the way they are meant to go. Our opposition may be in direct violation of God’s will. We are not God, nor can we determine His will for another man’s life. May we be wise with our counsel and encouraging with our words, so that whatever we do, our words and deeds direct those who are seeking unto the Lord.

 

The path of a man,given-to-show-goodness

Is paved by the Lord;

He’ll show us the way,

As He opens doors.

Although to others,

It might not make sense;

We’re meant to follow,

Trust there’s no pretense.

Though we may not see,

Where other’s paths lead;

We need trust God’s will,

It’s how to proceed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your will for us is good. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and that we are all designed differently to walk the road that You have laid out for us, individually. Thank You that You equip and empower us for whatever You call us to do. Forgive us for questioning the call that You have on our lives or the lives of those around us, despite what our human eyes can see. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would wait in trust, knowing that You move in mysterious ways, even when we cannot see how You are moving. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us as they seek to be obedient to that which they have been called to do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our lives and the lives of those around us. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Let Our Hearts Listen

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, NLT)

 

We are called to pursue the Lord and all that He has to offer. The truth of His word fills our hearts and lives if we give room to allow it in. Even more, Christ calls us to share what we learn with those around us. As we choose to allow the richness of life rooted in our Redeemer to take hold, we learn and grow, plant and sow, with wisdom that comes from the Lord. In growth, comes gratitude. May we pursue the Lord and all He brings to our lives, and respond to His goodness and grace with songs of gratitude that flow from a thankful heart.

 

May God’s holy word,grasping-the-greatness-of-love

Fill our hearts and lives;

So we can offer,

The hope that He gives.

As we are filled up,

May we do the same;

Share of God’s goodness,

With truth we proclaim.

Let us sing out songs,

To God, give our praise;

May gratitude flow,

To Christ all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word fills our lives and gives us the capacity to share of Your goodness and wisdom with those around us. Forgive us for not allowing the truth of Your word to sink in and take root. Teach us to slow down and listen to all that You have to say, so that we might be filled with all that You have to offer. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they may recognize Your redemption through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to seek You and allow Your word to fill us to overflowing. 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

Instruction and Protection to the Seeking

The Lord is a friend to those who fear Him. He teaches them His covenant. My eyes are always on the Lord, for He rescues me from the traps of my enemies. – (Psalm 25:14-15, NLT)

God-friendship is for God-worshipers; they are the ones He confides in. If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t trip over my own feet. – (Psalm 25:14-15, The Message)

God is faithful to instruct and protect those who earnestly seek Him. He is our Father and friend, and will teach us which way to walk, so that we will not stumble nor be snagged in the enemy’s snare. We are to fix our eyes on Him with reverence and awe, as He rescues us from that which comes against us. May we ever look to the Lord, who makes our path plain and keeps us in the shadow of His wings.

When we fear the Lord,The Direction of Discipline

the Lord is our friend;

He’ll teach us His ways,

His help will not end.

He rescues from foe,

the snares that are set;

show us where to walk,

say, “Go”, and “Not yet.”

For all who choose seek,

with faith in the Lord;

He reveals the truth,

and calls us adored.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a friend to those who fear and revere You. Thank You that You teach us Your truth. Thank You that as we fix our eyes on You, You rescue us from the traps that are set before us, and lead us to safe passage. Forgive us for not seeking You and Your counsel in truth and how we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You enough to seek You first in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others in the same way that You so generously and graciously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with reverence, and obey Your counsel. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Unity, Liberty and Love

Be willing to accept those who still have doubts about what believers can do. And don’t argue with them about their different ideas. – (Romans 14:1, ERV)

 

There will always be differences of opinion among believers, as there are things that the Bible does not deem right nor wrong; and therefore each are a matter to be taken up individually, between God and man, personally. What is acceptable for one, may be off limits for another. Our charge is not to dispute our differing views, but rather to be accepted and handled with love. If each of us is acting according to our conscience (the leading of the Holy Spirit), then we are doing right in the eyes of the Lord – even if it is not the same as our sister or brother. “Our principle should be: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in everything, love.” – (NIV footnotes for Romans 14:1)

 

What the Bible clearly establishes, these are non-negotiables. The things that have not been clearly laid out nor established, for these we must trust each to walk in the wisdom and counsel that the Lord provides, so that we may maintain united as a body of believers. In all things, whether we stand in agreement or not, we are called to operate in love. May we accept one another in love, choosing our conversations with wisdom and grace. Let the Lord be our guide and example as to how we are to operate in unity, liberty and love.

 

For the Lord calls us,Intended for Obedience

to accept in love;

any uncertain,

of His law above.

For some things it’s clear,

God’s way is laid out;

yet still there are some,

we must pray about.

We’re not to argue,

with differing views;

in love, just listen,

God’s voice will ring true.

What is yes for one,

not for another;

we’re not meant to judge,

sisters and brothers.

Stand firm in the truth,

liberty in grey;

all things done in love,

is walking God’s way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and know us individually. Thank You that what may be acceptable and safe for one, can be a resounding “NO” for another, because of Your love and protection for us individually. Thank You that You know our hearts and minds, and You determine what will lead us down a path of destruction, and what will not bring harm at all. Forgive us for either assuming that Your answer should be one way or another for those around us, or for not listening well to the answer that You are clearly offering before us. Teach us to trust You more so that we may be united in the essentials, grant liberty in the nonessentials, and in all things, operate in love. Lead us to love with Your wisdom and grace, so that many may come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are united as a body, and gracious and loving to all. 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

Credible Counsel

At times, if we can simply hold fast to the promise of the Lord’s presence and the hope of our future forever with Him, whatever we are facing presently, becomes a bit less overwhelming. Asaph, the writer of the seventy-third Psalm, recognized and declared the truth and his confidence in God’s presence and guidance.

 

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. – (Psalm 73:23-24)

 

Whether we feel His presence or not, the Lord is with us. He hears our every cry, and He holds us in His hands. Our hope is secure in the safety of our Savior. We need only remember to turn to Him and listen, as He is present and prepared to guide us with wisdom and insight as to which we we are meant to go. May we ever look to the Lord and listen, trusting in His counsel now and the glory that is yet to come.

 

The Lord’s always near,Credible Counsel

He’s holding our hand;

guiding with wisdom,

to fulfill His plan.

He’s hope for us now,

and promise to come;

our future glory,

the battle’s been won.

For it matters not,

the trials we face;

for God is with us,

both now and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always with us, holding us up by Your hand. Thank You that You guide us with Your counsel, and that You provide us the hope of the promise of entering the glory of Your presence forever. Forgive us for our fears and failure to recognize Your power and presence within us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up in Your strength and face whatever comes our way with the courage that comes from You alone. Lead us to love others with the sort of love and care that points people directly to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go where You guide us. 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

Calling for Counsel

Acts 15, for me, has two terrific take-aways.  The first, is when there is a question or dispute about what is right according to God’s will, seek the word and the wisdom of godly counsel.  Second, if there is a point of disagreement that seemingly has no resolution that is not foundational in our faith – agree to disagree and move on.

It was brought to the attention of Paul and Barnabas, that some men from Judea and Antioch were teaching in such a way, that they were attempting to place the yoke of the old law upon the necks of Gentile believers, rather than recognizing that the inner working of the Holy Spirit in their lives was more than enough.  “This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.  So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.” – (Acts 15:2) After meeting with the counsel of elders, who examined the scriptures, they recognized that there was no longer a need to place the former regulations required for Jewish believers upon the neck of the Gentiles who had come to Christ.  Instead, they were given a few simple instructions to follow that were to protect their physical and spiritual well-being.

Paul and Barnabas were great friends and brothers in Christ.  They had traveled many miles together, and shared miraculous moments that the Lord had provided both through them and in them along the way.  After they had met with the counsel, the two men disagreed about whom they should bring along on the next leg of their journey.  Ultimately, they parted company and each took a new traveling companion, thus doubling the ministry teams that were sent out.  Both men had very effective ministries, that were eventually reunited and ultimately combined (as the point of contention had been over bringing Mark along, and Mark later became a vital part of Paul’s ministry).

When things are unclear,Calling for Cousel

seek that which is true;

first God, then the word,

then wise counsel, too.

If disputes arise,

try first to resolve;

let not opinions,

true friendships dissolve.

For there will be times,

when it will be best;

let disagreements,

lay down, put to rest.

If we truly love,

then we’ll be okay;

if not eye to eye,

in every way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace.  Thank You that You provide us with Your wisdom through Your Holy Spirit and through Your word.  Thank You too, that there are godly men and women around us whom we can seek together, when questions arise, or answers seem unclear.  Thank You that You create us for community so that we may learn and grow with one another.  Thank You too, that as humans, it is okay to disagree on some things.  Forgive us for attempting to make snap decisions without seeking You and further counsel when necessary, and also for not being okay with others having opinions that differ form our own.  Please grant us the wisdom to know to always seek You first, and to know when we are meant to seek further counsel.  Help us to know when it is okay to agree to disagree.  May we live in the light of Your love, so that those who know You not, might come to see the goodness and grace that is available through a relationship with You.  May many choose to live for You.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  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