Seeking Solitude for Strength

When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. – (Matthew 14:13a, NIV)

When Jesus heard what happened to John, He left in a boat. He went alone to a place where no one lived. – (Matthew 14:13a, ERV)

When Jesus got the news, He slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by Himself. – (Matthew 14:13a, MSG)

This passage in Matthew 14 is an account of when John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) was beheaded by Herod and Jesus had just received news of it. Jesus, in His grief, sought some solitary space to grieve. However, soon after His retreat, crowds of people caught wind of His whereabouts and followed Him. Though Jesus was likely attempting to process and pray, when He saw the large crowd of people in need, “…He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (vs. 14)

Jesus was the Son of God, yet on earth, He was also fully man. The grief, suffering, sorrow, and struggles that we all experience, He experienced too. Much like us, He desired room to grieve and pray. That being said, in His perfect love, Jesus recognized the needs in front of Him and set aside His own desires, in order to help. How do we navigate spaces of suffering, sorrow, and struggle like Jesus? He sought the Father, and then He saw the need before Him. Only Jesus is able to provide what we need to do both – to navigate our own trials and simultaneously reach out to those around us who are in need. We cannot allow the challenges of life to keep us from loving people the way we were created to love. Incredibly, when we do choose to look and reach out, the weight of our own burdens become lighter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love and compassion, so that we may walk out our purpose, even when the road is rough.

Lord, teach us to pray,

To ever seek You;

Please lead us in love,

Grant us hope anew.

When challenges come,

For they always do;

Give us compassion,

To keep loving true.

It is by Your strength,

That we are made new;

Equipped to answer,

How we’re called by You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example that Jesus set before us to remind us that even in our darkness, we are called and equipped to be Your light. Forgive us for staying in our space of withdrawal when struggles come, rather than turning to You, then continuing to look forward. Teach us to trust You completely, for You bring comfort and compassion to the weariest of souls, and empower us to love all the more. Lead us to love those around us in ways that soothe the struggles and calm the chaos. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to pick us up, dust us off, and keep moving forward into all that You have created us for. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Made to Praise

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – (Luke 19:40, NIV)

But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if my followers didn’t say them, these stones would shout them.” – (Luke 19:40, ERV)

Jesus responded, “Listen to me. If my followers were silenced, the very stones would break forth with praises!” – (Luke 19:40, TPT)

During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a whole crowd of disciples was shouting praises to announce His arrival, and yelling out the truth of Jesus’ rightful roles. Some of the Pharisees who were in the area, were not having it. They ordered Jesus to rebuke those who were praising Him. His response reminds us that all of creation was indeed made to praise Him and speak the truth of who He is. The power, grace, goodness, and love of the Lord demands our praise. We were created with an innate need to worship. Where we place our praise matters. If we praise the One who alone is worthy, the truth is declared and we discover the perfect peace that comes as we do what we were created to do. All of creation was made to reflect the Lord’s radiance. The rocks, the mountains, the oceans, rivers and seas – everywhere we look, we can see the evidence of the Lord’s loving and powerful hands. As we draw ever nearer to the day that we celebrate His birth, may we take time to lift our voice in praise for who God is and how our Savior loves.

All of creation,

Was made to give praise;

To honor Jesus,

Throughout our days.

The rocks will cry out,

If people do not;

For He is worthy,

Of our praise and thought.

Let us lift His Name,

For He’s always good;

He came to save us,

Make love understood.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be our Savior and salvation. Thank You that we were created to praise. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to give praise where praise was due, for all belongs to You. Teach us to see Your goodness, power, and love throughout our days. Show us how to love others in a way that honors You and demonstrates the depth of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and love all of Your creation. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick 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

Don’t Conform; Be Transformed

Do not conform to the patterns 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) 

Who do we live to please? If it is God, then we will not always share the ideas and opinions of the culture around us, yet God is the One whom we ultimately answer to; if we bend and conform to whatever is popular opinion, we are not seeking the Lord and His will. It is far better to pursue God and His best for us; for it is through our seeking that He transforms us to have a heart like His. Ultimately, it is only through knowing what is good and pleasing to God, that we are able to live our life with purpose for His glory. We all are a work in progress, and it is only through seeking and learning, changing and growing, that we are better able to become who we have been created to be. Each one of us have been designed with gifts and talents and a heart to love, so that we might love God and love people with our lives. Incredibly, as we begin to live and love how we are designed to do, we discover the beauty in and around us to share with the world. May we ever seek the Lord and His best for us, so that we may be transformed to bear His love and His light to all those around us. 

Choose not to be swayed, 

By things that surround; 

For only in Christ, 

Is our purpose found. 

We’re not meant to go, 

Along with the crowd; 

But rather choose love, 

And live it out loud. 

Popular thoughts change, 

Yet God’s shall remain; 

He’ll teach us to love, 

And honor His Name. 

For what is this life, 

Without purpose known; 

We need to listen, 

So His best is shown. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call us to ebb and flow with popular thought or opinion. Thank You that Your call to love does not change. Thank You that as we seek You to listen and learn, we are transformed to better reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for allowing popular opinion to sway our thoughts, rather than seeking You and Your heart. Teach us to lean into You and learn. Show us how to love those around us, as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to learn and grow according to Your plan, so that we may love well. 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 3:18

Jesus is… God of the Miraculous

As I continue to unpack all that Jesus is through the reading of the Gospel of Mark, something that clearly stood out in today’s chapters, was that Jesus is the God of the miraculous. There are two specific stories in chapter six alone, that demonstrate the miraculous power of God, presented in Jesus Christ.

 

First, when Jesus and the disciples had sought a solitary place to rest and reflect, they ended up surrounded by a crowd of more than five-thousand. Late in the day, the disciples recognized the people’s need for nourishment. They asked Jesus to send them away so that they could find food, but Jesus had another option in mind. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. – (Mark 6:41-42) Though the disciples did not recognize the miraculous power present in Jesus to provide for all of the people prior to that point, Jesus patiently demonstrated His deity as He delivered nourishment to meet the needs of the people.

 

After all had been fed, Jesus had His disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, so that He could go up on the mountainside to pray. While the disciples were crossing the lake, the wind came up and they were struggling and straining to cross. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, the thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. – (Mark 6:48-50a) Jesus had to tell them that they did not need to be afraid. Rather than continue walking past them, …He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. – (Mark 6:51) Jesus again presented the miraculous power of God, as He walked on water and calmed the storm. He did not just speak for the storm to cease from far away, but Jesus walked to the disciples and climbed into the boat – He met them exactly where they were, and then all became calm.

 

The very same Jesus is alive and active today. The miraculous power of God is present and available to all who earnestly seek Him. Jesus sees and knows our needs, and is ready to sit beside us in our storms. May we seek Him with all that we are, and recognize the miraculous power of God that is present and active all around us.

 

The power of God,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

miraculous One;

united in Christ,

magnificent Son.

Jesus is able,

to love and provide;

to touch and draw near,

to all whom abide.

He sees where we lack,

every need known;

Jesus is able,

miraculous shown.

And when the storms come,

He’ll draw close, be near;

bring calm to our soul,

and cast out all fear.

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You are God of the miraculous. Thank You that You know our needs before we do, and You are ready and able to provide. Thank You that You come close, and remain present, even when storms rage around us. Forgive us for not turning to You in our times of need, and for not reaching for You in the throes of the storm. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response in all things and at all times, is to cling to You. Help us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Jesus. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your provision and rely on Your presence. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

When Faith Intersects

It is incredible to see what God will do when faith intersects. As one in need and another obedient to pour out, both by faith say yes to the Lord, mountains are moved and miracles happen. In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. – (Acts 14:8-10)

 

Despite having been inflicted since birth, the man received hope when it was offered. Imagine hearing of a Healer, when all you’d ever known was brokenness… Additionally, Paul, as he shared the great news of Christ, was sensitive to the Spirit, and was aware of the Lord’s leading for that moment in that place. Two men chose to say yes to God, despite the crowd and chaos around them. Each opted for the hope that Christ was offering in that time and space. May we too, find the faith to both hold hope in the seemingly impossible spaces, and obediently reach out, wherever Christ calls us to offer a word, a touch, or a helping hand.

 

God constantly moves,When Faith Intersects

we need be aware;

as we choose by faith,

to offer each prayer.

When we are in need,

He knows what to do;

by faith we must trust,

He will see us through.

In our times of strength,

as He has us move;

may we obey well,

what we’re called to do.

As faith intersects,

hope is on the rise;

He heals the broken,

and opens blind eyes.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see our small seeds of faith, and call on us to rise up. Thank You that when we do, miracles happen in our hearts, homes and communities. Thank You too, that You have placed You Holy Spirit in the hearts of all who believe. Thank You that if we will be still and listen, You will speak to our hearts and show us the ways in which You are calling us to go. Forgive us for not heeding the call, or for being too busy to truly listen so that we will clearly hear from You. Teach us to trust You more and to quiet our hearts and minds before You, so that we will not miss all that You have for us. Lead us to love others in a way that helps them find faith in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we follow in faith for all of our days. Amen.

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

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

An Unlikely Faith

Jairus was a synagogue ruler and a man of societal standing.  He had a tender father’s heart, and an unlikely faith in Christ. Despite his elevated position in society, he went and knelt before Jesus after his daughter had died, and asked Him to come and heal her. Jesus, who recognized his faith, went with Jairus at once.

 

When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, He said, “go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him. After the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all the region. – (Matthew 9:23-26)

 

The synagogue ruler did not come to Jesus until his daughter was dead – it was too late for anyone else to help. But Jesus simply went to the girl and raised her! In our lives, Christ can make a difference when it seems too late for anyone else to help. He can bring healing to broken relationships, release from addiction, and forgiveness and healing to emotional scars. If all looks hopeless, we must remember that Christ can do the impossible. – (NIV footnotes)

 

Where have death, brokenness, despair, or hopelessness entered in? Though we can do nothing in our own strength to restore life where such destruction lies, we serve the One who can. May we, like Jairus, set aside our pride, and kneel before Him who heals and restores all hope.

 

When all hope seems lost,Approaching the Throne of Grace

we need not despair;

for we serve a God,

Who’s present, aware.

For He knows our need,

before we come ask;

He’s faithful and true,

with us through each task.

Where brokenness reigns,

and hope seems far gone;

healing can occur,

if Christ we lean on.

Forgiveness is found,

and scars are made whole;

impossible done,

O God, we extol.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even when all hope seems lost, there is always hope in You. Thank You that the very same power that raised Jesus from the grave, can restore relationships, heal illness, bring health and wholeness, and grant new life in You. Forgive us for losing sight of just how powerful You truly are, and help us to remember that all things are possible in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may walk by faith and not by our limited sight. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come to know the saving power found in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we kneel before You, trusting You to do the seemingly impossible in and around us. 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

The Purpose of Perseverance

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. – (Acts 14:19-20a)

 

Perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action or purpose, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. It is also the continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. – (www.dictionary.com)

 

Paul’s unwavering commitment to deliver the message he had been commissioned to preach, is the epitome of perseverance. He endured every possible obstacle, difficulty and discouragement, yet he continued in the grace that God gave. The very same power that resided in him, dwells in the heart of all who believe. We too, have the capacity to persevere in difficulty, and are able to overcome obstacles to accomplish all that He calls us to do, if we choose to rely on His grace as we go. Paul never delineated from the purpose of his calling, and stayed the course of sharing Christ with all whom he encountered. How has God called us to persevere? Where are we meant to persist and stay the course, in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement? May we take heart in He who is faithful, for in Him, we are more than conquerors.

 

Let not opposition,The Purpose of Perseverance

steer our hearts off course;

for our faithful Father,

has for us, much more.

If we will persevere,

when trials come near;

the truth shall be made known,

dispelling all fear.

To overcome challenge,

rely on His grace;

and seek the Lord always,

for all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we find the strength and grace that is needed to persevere. Thank You that no difficulty, obstacle or discouragement is too great for Your grace. Thank You that You are more than enough. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the problem, rather than on You, our solution. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may fully embrace the grace that You are granting. Lead us to love and encourage all whom we encounter, just as You so love and encourage each of us. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as our hearts respond to the grace You bring. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere in Your glorious grace. 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

Present Within

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” – (Acts 2:37)

 

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples who were gathered together, they were empowered as they had never been before. As they went out to address the crowd who had heard them speaking in other languages, Peter told them the truth of Christ. He proclaimed that which had been foretold, and all that had come to pass. Peter was equipped in power to preach the truth to the people, and those who were present, could not help but hear and respond. The truth that had been told helped them to see their own need for the Savior, and compelled them to ask the very question, “What shall we do?” What follows is Peter’s unpacking of the basic necessity of all believers to repent and be baptized, resulting in a multitude being added to the number of new believers that day.

 

That very same power that was present in Peter, is alive and active in all who believe. Christ equips each of us to tell the truth to those around us in such a way, that each have the opportunity to be set free from sin, and come into His Kingdom. We need not be great orators nor Biblical scholars; we need only be willing and available to hear from Him, and choose to open our mouths to speak as He asks. Our own story of salvation and redemption cannot be refuted, as it is our own experience of how God out there, became God right here. May we faithfully go forth, ready to share our story of God’s faithfulness, so that all whom we encounter may have the opportunity to come to know the truth.

 

Faithfully waiting,Present Within

in the upper room;

group of disciples,

unsure what to do.

When suddenly fire,

came like a loud wind;

empowering each,

Christ’s Spirit came in.

All began speaking,

in various tongues;

language not their own,

these daughters and sons.

Those gathered outside,

were shocked and amazed;

in their native tongue,

they heard the Lord praised.

Once Peter explained,

the truth in power;

many chose believe,

in that very hour.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that when we choose to give our life to You, You grace us with Your presence within. Thank You that You are no longer God out there, but You are living in the hearts of all who follow You. Forgive us for neglecting all that You are offering each of us at times, and help us to slow down and listen for Your voice. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are completely dependent on You in all things and at all times, regardless of our circumstances. May we move in love, responding to that which You so generously pour out upon us. Let our light shine bright before all whom we encounter, and may many come to know You as their Savior and King as a result. Be exalted, O God, as we embrace the gift of Your Holy Spirit within. Amen.

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

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

He Knows His Sheep

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know Me – (John 10:14)

 

Jesus was again addressing a crowd, trying to help them understand who He was, and what that could mean in their lives if only they would choose to believe for themselves. To be counted among His sheep, is everything. As the Good Shepherd, He lovingly guides us and knows us by name; yet fiercely protects us from the enemy, to the point of willingly laying His life down for ours. Our very human make-up has an innate need to know and be known. We are wired to be in relationship with our Good Shepherd. May we embrace the grace that He so freely gives, and seek to follow Him all of our days, as we choose to listen to His voice.

 

We are the sheep,Unfettered Forgiveness

of His pasture land;

granted His grace,

held up by His hand.

He calls our name,

and we know His voice;

kept safe from harm,

when He is our choice.

Not free from storms,

yet future’s secure;

promised presence,

His nearness assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Good Shepherd and that You call us by name. Thank You that when we choose to follow You, You help us to hear and know Your voice. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your love, and You willingly laid Your life down for ours, so that we have hope not only for today, but for all of eternity. Forgive us for becoming distracted by the dangers that lie outside of the pen of Your protection, and help us to fix our eyes securely on You, trusting that You are with us and will hold us steady, even in the strength of the storm. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love us, and may many come to know You as their Good Shepherd too. Be exalted, Lord God, as we follow Your voice today. 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

Living Waters Flow

Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. – (John 7:38)

 

In this passage, Jesus was speaking to a crowd in the temple courts. His words of life were offered before all who stood around Him, and despite the antagonizing of the Pharisees, many among them, believed. The streams of living water Jesus spoke of indicated the promise of eternal life. His Holy Spirit is our Source from which living water flows – not only for today, but for all of eternity. If we choose to believe and trust what His word says to be true, and allow Him to be Lord of our lives, living water will dwell in us and flow from us, both now and forevermore. May we each embrace the entirety of His word, and allow Jesus to rule and reign in our lives. Let Your living water flow from us, Lord God.

 

Nothing satisfies,Living Waters Flow

our insatiable thirst;

except for Jesus,

with His love, we’re immersed.

As we choose believe,

our soul comes to know life;

His living waters,

come fill up and revive.

When our hearts are filled,

from us too shall outpour;

our eternal hope,

a life that models more.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we believe in You, and place our trust in You, You come and fill us with Your living waters to the point of overflowing. Thank You that You send Your Spirit to dwell in us, so that we may extend some of what has been given to us, unto others. Thank You that in You, we have security and hope, not only for today, but forever. Forgive us for losing sight of eternity when life gets difficult, and help us to keep a proper perspective on the finite. Teach us to trust You in all things at all times, so that Your living water may continually be pouring out of us, as Your vessels of hope to those who do not yet know You. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, and hold the hope that Your living waters bring. Be exalted as we allow Your living waters to dwell in us and flow through us today. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78