Help Us Believe

“If you can?” Said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” – (Mark 9:23, NIV)

Jesus said to the father, “Why did you say ‘if you can’? All things are possible for the one who believes. – (Mark 9:23, ERV)

What do you mean, “If there’s anything? All things are possible, if you only believe.” – (Mark 9:23, VOICE)

This verse is a critical portion of a conversation between Jesus and the father of a young man who needed healing. The father was desperate to see his son healed, yet struggled to believe it was possible after so many years of suffering. Jesus recognized the father’s need for faith, as well as the need for healing for his son. His declaration that “all things are possible for those who believe”, greatly encouraged the father, and he asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief. In the verses that follow, Jesus heals the young man and increases the faith of the father. Jesus knows our need before we ever seek Him, yet requires that we have faith in Him to see Him move on our behalf. Where we lack faith in the midst of our need, we are charged, just as the young man’s father, to ask Jesus to help us with our unbelief. Our broken humanity struggles to believe that which we cannot see, however, that is the very nature of how faith works. Faith requires that we trust in that which we cannot see, and believe for that which is yet to come. May we ever seek the Lord to step into our spaces of need, and ask Him for help to grow our faith in the places where unbelief has found a foothold.

God, the Creator, Strength and Peace Supplied

Is able to do;

All that is needed,

For me and for you.

Faith is required,

To trust and believe;

Those who ask in lack,

Will by grace, receive.

Strength when we’re weary,

Healing where there’s pain;

Faith to move mountains,

To trust is to gain.

Ever let’s seek Him,

The Lord of all grace;

Trust in His goodness,

Faithful all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of real people, just like us in Your word, who sought You and learned from You, as You showed them the goodness of Your love and grace. Thank You that You are ever faithful to hear us in our need, and grant us what is needed most. Forgive us for our faltering faith, as we struggle to believe that which we cannot see before us. Show us how to trust You more, as You are ever moving on our behalf, even when we are unaware of how You are moving. Teach us to love those around us in a way that encourages faith and demonstrates the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You always, and ask You to grow our faith in spaces where it is lacking. Amen.

 

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

 

For we live by faith, not by sight. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, NIV)

 

 

Give Rise to the Songs

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV)

Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, ERV)

Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God our Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, MSG)

 

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are all ways that wise words of truth can be transferred from mind to heart, when given a voice. Music has a magnificent way of moving us from one frame of mind to another. When chosen wisely, songs selected can lift the spirit from chaos to calm, desperate to determined, sorrowful to steady, and from wounded to warrior. As we sing and give thanks to God, something shifts within us and our resolve rises up. The purpose of praise is to acknowledge and celebrate the Lord, yet in doing so, we end up strengthened and encouraged as well. May we ever choose to allow the song in our heart to rise, granting words of truth the room to rejuvenate our resolve.

 

O Lord, let our hearts, Give Rise to the Songs

Give rise to the songs;

You’ve planted in us,

To make resolve strong.

Let all that we say,

Be girded in truth;

Our words, a blessing,

In all that we do.

May Your words of love,

Flood our hearts and minds;

So the songs that rise,

Are gracious and kind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of music. Thank You that Your truth can be sealed in our hearts through songs. Forgive us for not allowing the truth planted in our hearts to rise and flow from us to encourage and lift others up. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give ear to the songs that resonate in our hearts, allowing Your love, grace and encouragement to flood every part of our being. Show us how to love those around us well, extending the same encouragement and grace to others that You so generously pour out to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing the songs that You have planted deep within us, and encourage others with Your goodness and grace. Amen.

 

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

 

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. – Psalm 96:1

Peace Planted Grows Goodness

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. – (James 3:18, NLT)

People who work for peace in a peaceful way get the blessings that come from right living. – (James 3:18, ERV)

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness. – (James 3:18, TLB)

 

The pursuit of peace can often seem like a daunting dream, especially when one is surrounded by a vast array of needs and personalities that are vying for attention. Each seed planted is not spread in vain, as the unexpected moments of goodness that crop up when least expected, are reminders that choosing to sow seeds of peace is worthwhile. May we ever pursue the path of peacemakers, for His goodness granted is worth the time and effort spent in sowing seeds of peace.

 

Be not discouraged, All Together for Good

All seekers of peace;

For each those who sow,

Will find sweet relief.

For God is faithful,

To honor with good;

All those who’ve planted,

Peace seeds as He would.

We’re not meant to live,

In turmoil, dissent;

We’re crafted for peace,

His love knows no end.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us to be peacemakers who sow seeds of peace in places of turmoil. Thank You that as we continue to extend Your peace in places of unrest, we begin to see Your goodness rise up. Forgive us for the times that we succumb to the unrest or walk away from the spaces that we are meant to stay. Teach us to trust You more so that we would bring peace to the places that are unsettled and in desperate need of You. Show us how to love others well, so that our words and deeds plant seeds of Your peace in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth as peacemakers, sowing seeds of peace. Amen.

 

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

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – Matthew 5:9

 

 

No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Every Detail Done

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. – (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. – (Colossians 3:17, MSG)

 

It is a bit intimidating to think about all things that we do, be it word or deed, being done in the name of the Lord. In our broken humanity, we do not always get it right. So often, our words or our actions do not align with what Jesus would do, and we fall short – again and again. This is where we are reminded of our desperate need for our Savior. We need Him to choose and do well each step of the way. Thankfully, if we seek Him and place our trust in Him, He will lead us and guide us in the way we are meant to go, and we can give Him all the glory for His goodness and guidance. May we turn in trust to the Lord to lead us in word and deed, so that we would demonstrate His love through the details of our lives.

 

In all that we do, When the Sun Shines In

Both word and in deed;

May we show His love,

As we seek, He’ll lead.

All thanks be to God,

For His word is true;

He’ll show us the way,

To do as He’d do.

So rise up and seek,

Ask the Lord to guide;

In action and word,

In Him, let’s abide.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You and ask You to lead us and guide us, You will direct our steps so that we may walk in Your way and do Your will. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to seek You or listen to that which we know is Your best. Teach us to trust You more, as You will give us the words to speak and the steps to take if we only ask You to lead us. Show us how to love those around us as You love, so that all may see Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to do Your will and give You praise for all of our days. 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

Joy, Patience and Faithfulness

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12)

 

True and lasting joy is not circumstantial, but rather is rooted in our eternal hope. Because we have hope in Him who holds our forever in the palm of His hand, we have reason for joy to rise, regardless of the rough road or ruin around us. Christ comes close and grants us patience and endurance in the midst of our suffering, even when we are desperate to see change. It is in such spaces, that we learn to lean into the Lord, and find our way to becoming more faithful in prayer. Why wouldn’t we want to be consistent in conversations with the King of all creation? He hand-crafted each of us, intentionally for relationship, and relationship only comes when communication continues. May we go forth this day with joy, knowing that our true hope is held in Him; with patience where afflictions are agonizing, and being ever faithful to present our prayers and petitions before our Heavenly Father.

 

Lord, grant us Your joy,Better is One Day

in Your hope alone;

there’s no greater gift,

that we’ve ever known.

Grant us Your patience,

despite pain that comes;

refined through our trials,

Your grace ’til it’s done.

Help us stay faithful,

to You, let us pray;

every answer,

found walking Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our joy and our hope, and that You grant us patience in affliction and are the reason we need be faithful in prayer. Thank You that You are faithful, regardless of our faith. Forgive us for our lack of faith when struggles and afflictions come. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up with joy, knowing where our hope is held, regardless of what lies before us. Lead us to love others well, just as You so wonderfully and individually love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Amen.

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

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

Blessed With Rest

Rest. This is not such a familiar term in my vernacular. I know I need it, yet like a small child that does not want to nap, I avoid rest as much as possible, fearing that if I actually slow down, I may never get back up again.

Normally, when my alarm sounds, I bound out of bed and begin my day with enthusiasm. (As I make my way to the cheerfully waiting coffee maker) This morning, I have no recollection of my alarm even sounding. It must have gone off, for when I awoke two and a half hours later than I normally do, my phone was buried beneath my pillow. Surprisingly, I did not feel panicked nor rushed, rather I felt something I have not felt in years – I actually woke feeling rested. I methodically made my way about the house, waking my boys, preparing each of us to exit in a timely manner, yet not once, did anxiousness enter in. It was all about efficiency and informing each boy about the time limit they had if they still wanted to make the quick stop that had been requested the night prior. Out the door we went at the time I had set before them, each of us ready to take on the day.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28)

Though I do not intend to make this later rising time a habit, God knew what I needed today. Despite challenges that awaited me when I woke, I was much more resilient to face each one, because I was rested rather than run down. He will grant us rest, even at times when we don’t realize how desperately we need it. May we have open eyes and hearts to His calling us close, and allow Christ to grant us comfort and rest, as we give our every burden to He who is more than able to bear them all.

 

Oh Lord, grant us rest,butterfly vida

From burdens that come;

Please carry the weight,

so Your will is done.

When we are weary,

Lord give us Your rest;

For only in You,

can we be refreshed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we grow weary and worn, and at times don’t even recognize the reality of our own exhaustion, thank You that You see and know what we need far better than we do. Thank You that You provide as we abide. Forgive us for not taking time to slow down and simply rest in Your presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are more aware of when You are calling us to come close and simply be seated in Your presence. Lead us to love others well, just as You so generously pour out upon each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rest and find refreshment 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

Be the Hope

The twentieth-century American educator and author Loren Eiseley wrote a short piece titled “The Starfish Story” or “The Starfish Thrower,” which has been told and retold in many versions through the years. In this classic tale, we learn a simple lesson about the difference one person can make. Here’s the gist of the story:

A man walking along an otherwise deserted beach came upon another man throwing into the sea a starfish that had been deposited on the sand by the tide. When the man asked the star thrower his purpose, the thrower explained that the starfish left untended, would be dried by the sun and eventually die. But how, wondered the first man, given that there were thousands of starfish scattered for miles along the the beach. The thrower bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean with all his might. He smiled as he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” – (excerpt from Undaunted, Christine Caine)

 

When we look at the world around us, it is easy to see that there are a multitude of starfish lying on the sand, desperate for someone to come along and extend a hand. At first glance, it may seem too overwhelming to even know where to begin, when there is so much need that surrounds us. We can either choose to turn and walk away, or we can walk toward the need, and pick up one starfish at a time. It may not seem like much in the moment, yet to that one starfish, it is a chance to live.

 

Paul was an ongoing example of a starfish thrower, as he extended hope to all whom he encountered. His circumstances mattered not, for he chose to speak truth and shine the light of Christ wherever his journey took him. When Paul was summoned to appear before King Agrippa, he worried not about his own safety, but rather about sharing the truth that would bring freedom and salvation to all who might hear. Clearly Paul had captured Agrippa’s attention.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” – (Acts 26:28-29)

May we rise up and be the change that sees not the multitude and becomes overwhelmed, but rather that we look to each need, individually, and do what we can to offer hope where hope is not.

 

Scattered on the sand,Be the Hope

a vast sea of need;

what am I to do,

to rescue, to feed?

We’re not called to meet,

every need seen;

but to offer hope,

step in, intervene.

Often so simple,

a word or a touch;

an acknowledgement,

can matter so much.

Oh Lord I’m ready,

to offer Your hope;

may Your love and light,

be the safety rope.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us so many examples of “Starfish Throwers” throughout both Your word and history. Thank You that though the need in our world is great, one life touched at a time, can make all the difference. Thank You that You can use us, individually, to offer hope to a hurting world. Forgive us for seeing the need and turning a blind eye because we are overwhelmed or think that we cannot make a difference. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and take each next step of obedience that touches lives as You ask of us. Lead us to love others well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth to be the hope, one life at a time. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Weighty Words

He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” – (Luke 18:38-42)

 

Though a seemingly simple exchange, the weight of the words are extremely significant. Religious leaders who had studied scriptures and seen Jesus speak and do the miraculous before their own eyes, did not recognize Him as the Messiah. A blind man, who begged by the side of the road and likely only heard stories of what Jesus had done, believed and called out to Christ by Name. He knew that the One passing before him on the road, was Him alone who could restore his sight. Though desperate and destitute, the blind man had enough faith to cry out to Christ. Even when he was hushed, he called out all the louder, in hope of being heard. His act of faith resulted in his being seen, heard and healed. May we too, recognize the power present in our Messiah, and call on Him in faith in all things and at all times. May our response also be to follow, praising God for all that He is.

 

Merciful Savior,Weighty Words

He hears when we call:

He gives us His time,

and loves us through all.

Christ beckons us near,

draws us closer still;

hears each faithful cry,

with His peace, He’ll fill.

We need to persist,

choose trust and believe;

the Lord is faithful,

by grace, we receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us such clear evidence of who You are. Thank You for Your Word and for sending Your Son to show us the way unto You. Forgive us for our lack of faith or our unbelief, and grant us the same sort of sight that the blind beggar had, so that we may clearly see that You alone are our only hope. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will seek You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others as Jesus loved all whom He encountered. May many come to find their hope in You alone, as we faithfully follow You. Be exalted O God, as we praise You for all that You are in our lives. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6