Wrestling for Blessing

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  – (Genesis 32:28, NIV) 

Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel. I give you this name because you have fought with God and men, and you have won.” – (Genesis 32:28, ERV) 

You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed. – (Genesis 32:28, VOICE) 

 

After twenty years of hard physical labor and dealing with a father-in-law who had repeatedly changed Jacob’s wages and the agreement that the two had made, Jacob determined to take his wives, children and livestock back to the land from which he had come. After a week of traveling with the massive group of folks and flocks, Leban, his father-in-law, caught up to the caravan and had a discussion with Jacob. After the tension subsided, the two men reached an agreement, and parted ways. As the journey continued, they group neared the land of Jacob’s father. Jacob was afraid of how his brother, Esau, would respond to his return. He selected a large number of his livestock to gift to him, and sent servants with groups of animals ahead, in hope of pacifying his brother. Once everyone had gone on ahead of him, Jacob met a Man, with whom he wrestled all night. The One with whom he struggled, told him to stop, but Jacob insisted that they continue until he was blessed by Him. Verse twenty-eight is the response given by the One with whom Jacob wrestled. Jacob had struggled with man and God, and now was receiving the blessing for which he was asking. Both commentaries that I read surrounding this passage, pointed out that with the change of name, came also, a change of heart. A personal encounter with God changed Jacob forever. Likewise, an encounter with God changes us forever too. Our persistence to persevere, even in the struggle, results in the Lord’s presence and His help. Though it is unlikely that any of us with physically wrestle with God Himself, (or an angel messenger, as different commentaries suggest that it was either God Himself, or one of His messengers) we will however, struggle with our circumstances and our faith. The more we seek Him, the stronger our trust becomes, fueling faith for every future endeavor. May we fearlessly wrestle with the struggles that come our way, as we depend on God to strengthen and sustain us, in all things and at all times. 

 

Though we may wrestle, f9d3a1df-a6ed-4149-9c89-54ddf9a6f9788443963905273144234.jpg

With our circumstance; 

Lord God, Almighty, 

Will help us advance. 

For as we seek God, 

He hears our heart cry; 

Strengthens our resolve, 

And hope to choose try. 

The blessings do come, 

As we choose persist; 

Hope, strength and His love, 

Things that prayer enlist. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us as we call out to You. Thank You that though we may wrestle with our circumstances and our faith, You never falter, and hear our heart’s cry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You and lay our need before You, knowing that You hear and help those who seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays Your faithfulness, strength and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we press on and pursue You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:2

Empowered to Love

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit of God does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. – (2 Timothy 1:7, TLB)

 

This morning, though earlier than my summer schedule, I woke feeling rested and refreshed. Normally, the night before the first day of school is a bit restless, and I struggle to sleep through the night. Perhaps sweet sleep came as a result of long hours invested in preparing my classroom over the last several weeks, with the final push to finish yesterday. Though I do not yet have chairs (hopefully stools) in my classroom, I walked away from school yesterday afternoon, feeling ready to pour into the lives of the kids who come into my class, just as I had poured into preparing the room. Additionally, I feel supported more than I ever have before. Not only do I still have an incredible community – through colleagues, friends, family and church, but I have a husband who is willing to jump in and do the difficult work and provide whatever support I may need. God loves me well, and makes His love tangible through my community. As I am loved, so I am empowered to do the same. May this be a year where each of us are empowered to love and enjoy those whom we are given to teach, fearlessly.

 

We’ve not been given,

wp-15360615740967735885644230007656.jpg

My classroom and favorite painting partner. ❤

A spirit of fear;

For God, in His strength,

Loves as He stays near.

He provides power,

Strength, wisdom and love;

Discipline, passion,

All grace from above.

Lead us in power,

Fearless to love well;

May joy be present,

As doubts He’ll dispel.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip us for all that You call us to do. Thank You that You empower us with strength, love and self-discipline to walk in Your way. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubts, as You are our Source and our Supply. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love fearlessly and listen carefully as You lead. Show us how to love those who seem less loveable, as we know You are especially fond of the hard and the hurting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love and enjoy each one whom You bring into our care. Amen.

 

 

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

Never tire of loyalty and kindness. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Made With Purpose

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – (Ephesians 2:10, NLT) 

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things He had already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV) 

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. – (Ephesians 2:10, VOICE) 

 

This is an incredible thought. WE – you, me, and everyone we see – have been created with purpose for good! When we seek Him, He makes us new and through Jesus and equips us to accomplish the good things that He has planned for us already. It is easy to get frustrated when we do not accomplish that which we think we ought to, but God, in His goodness and grace, wants us to faithfully seek His face. As we do, and continue to move forward in that which He has called us, we are completing the things He has planned for good. The timeline is His, not ours, and we have to trust that He will accomplish the good He intends through our faithful pursuit of Him as we walk out our days. May we ever seek the Savior who considers us His masterpiece, who has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. 

 

God’s own masterpiece, Made With Purpose

We’re each works of art; 

Made with true purpose, 

From finish to start. 

He long ago planned, 

The good meant for us; 

And brings it to pass, 

Through His Son, Jesus. 

May we each pursue, 

His glory and grace; 

Walk in His purpose, 

As we seek His face. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with purpose as Your own work of art. Thank You that as we pursue You, You direct and equip us to walk out Your plan for good. Forgive us for doubting our worth or ability to contribute. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would fearlessly and faithfully walk in the direction to which You have called. Show us how to love those around us in a way that supports and encourages each to move in the direction and purpose for which they are created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You daily, and continue to move forward in the direction which we have been called. Amen. 

 

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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Confident in Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. – (Hebrews 11:1, TLB)

 

Faith is trusting in the unseen and holding hope in that which is not yet fully known. Marriage is an excellent example of faith in action. We may know our spouse-to-be quite well, yet rarely are they fully known as we enter into the very relationship that God has ordained. It takes two people who have confident hope in a lifetime together, as well as the commitment to trust in God and each other for all that lies ahead. When our hope is in God and the good things that He has in store for us, we find assurance in that which is yet to come. Though I know there is no “perfect” nor easy existence with one another, I have confident hope that when two people are pursuing God’s best for themselves and one another, that His grace will be the glue that holds hope steady in each heart. May we ever seek the Lord and have faith in who He is and all that He has in store for those who place their hope in Him.

 

Faith’s the foundation,

img_2018-07-25_07-11-352723375306556626680.jpg

Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography. ❤

On which we can stand;

As we seek the Lord,

And all He commands.

For confident hope,

In all that’s unseen;

Exemplifies faith,

And what God’s grace means.

Though we cannot see,

All that lies ahead;

When we trust in God,

Faith rises and spreads.

The Lord is faithful,

In what we can’t see;

Choose confident hope,

Through trust and belief.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have confident hope in that which we cannot yet see, for You are faithful to all who believe. Forgive us for doubting the good that You have in store for us, and help us to hold firmly in faith all that You are and all that lies ahead. Teach us to trust You more, in our relationships with You and one another. Show us how to love confidently and fearlessly, the way that You intended, so that many may be encouraged and find faith where it has been absent. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold confident hope in You and trust in that which is yet to come. Amen.

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Our Answer in Times of Trouble

I was in very bad trouble. I called to the Lord for help, and He answered me. I was deep in the grave. I cried to You, and You heard my voice. – (Jonah 2:2, ERV)

He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!” – (Jonah 2:2, NLT)

 

God is overwhelmingly patient and full of grace. Despite Jonah’s rebellion and refusal to go where God was calling him to go, He met Jonah in the middle of his mess and showed His mercy. Most of us have heard the story. Jonah is called to Ninevah and doesn’t want to go. Instead, he hops a boat the opposite direction for Tarshish to escape dealing with people whom he did not believe deserved God’s grace. Fast-forward to the middle of trip, and a horrendous storm stirs the seas and spins the ship so violently, that the crew believes that God has to be mad at someone onboard. They cast lots and determine that it is Jonah, and throw him overboard. As Jonah is sinking in the sea, he cries out to the Lord for help, and is swallowed by an enormous fish. There, in the middle of the ocean, in the belly of a whale (or comparably large fish), Jonah discovers the grace and mercy of God, and the wrong of running from God and the call He had on his life. Long story short, the great fish spit Jonah out, and he went and did what he had been called to do. God heard his cries and answered his pleas for help. The very same God who rescued Jonah from his own path of destruction, can do the same for you and me. When we call on the Lord and ask for His help, He hears and He answers us. May we ever seek our Savior, as He hears our cries and makes way where there seems to be no way.

 

In calm and in storms,

Wielding Words Wisely

The Lord’s ever near;

If we call on Him,

Our cries, He will hear.

Ever He listens,

As we seek and pray;

He’s willing to make,

Way where seems no way.

So trust in the Lord,

Choose call on His Name;

He hears and He helps,

Our hope to proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our help in times of trouble. Thank You that we can always come to You, no matter what we’ve done, and You will hear us and love us the same. Forgive us for the times that we run the opposite direction of that which You are calling. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would go where You lead, even when it does not make sense, or it is terrifying. Give us Your strength and power to do and be all that You ask of us. Show us how to love those around us fearlessly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call to You in times of trouble, and trust You to be our answer. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Upheld By His Hand

Change is inevitable. At times, change is a choice that we embrace and make with enthusiasm, yet there are other times that change must occur in response to our present circumstances. During the latter, we seldom are responding with enthusiasm, and often it is instead a space of fear or dread. There is sorrow in such seeking, and a desperate need to know that the Lord is present in the catalyst of change that we feel called to make. Our difficult decisions for change that Christ calls us to, He also strengthens and upholds us as we move forward in faith.

 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10)

 

Despite how things appear in the here and now, when Christ calls us to change, it is for our ultimate good. Though there may be a season of mourning, His joy does come again. We need not fear, for His presence is promised. We need not dismay, for we know Who is with us. He will strengthen, help and uphold us with His hand, not our own. It is not up to us to power through, rather we are meant to move in obedience; dependent on Him, each step of the way. May we release every fear to He who is our strength and our help, and trust Him to uphold us in His righteous right hand.

 

Lord help me embrace,Generous Giving

what You call me to;

though changes are hard,

I have help in You.

Even when sorrow,

accompanies change;

help me to trust You,

and call on Your Name.

Lord, help me not fear,

keep me from dismay;

be my strength and hope,

as I choose obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear, because You are with us. Thank You that we need not be dismayed, for You are our God. Thank You that You strengthen and help us; and that You hold us up in Your righteous right hand. Forgive us for our fearfulness, in spite of Your faithfulness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be certain of all that You have promised and walk in obedience accordingly. Lead us to love others fearlessly and relentlessly, even if they are afraid to receive the love that You are providing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we surrender our fears and our fretting, and choose to embrace the strength and help that you provide as You hold us up in Your righteous right hand. Amen.

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

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

Where Joy Resides

“Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.” – (Philippians forward in NIV Study Bible)

 

Paul had plenty of reasons to be unhappy. He wrote Philippians while imprisoned in Rome, yet the concept of rejoicing or joy appear sixteen times in this four chapter letter he had written to the church in Philippi. At a time when most would have been miserable, Paul was proudly preaching boldly before anyone who would give ear to what he had to say. Paul recognized that his purpose was far more important than his comfort, and he embraced every opportunity to speak truth before those who were around him.

 

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. – (Philippians 1:14)

 

Local believers were challenged and encouraged by Paul’s faithfulness, (even while he was imprisoned and in less than ideal circumstances), and compelled to rise up and reach out to share the good new with courage and fearlessness that they had not previously known.

 

When life presses down,

My beautiful Gram - Always joy, regardless of her circumstances. <3

My beautiful Gram – Always joy, regardless of her circumstances. ❤

hope seems far away;

do we reach for Christ,

to show us the way?

For in Christ alone,

true freedom is found;

where joy shall reside,

even when we’re bound.

Happiness happens,

only when life’s good;

but joy’s eternal,

when Christ’s understood.

Let’s run to the Lord,

whether free or chained;

so His joy may dwell,

and His hope sustain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our joy is not dependant on what happens around us, but rather joy depends on You alone. Thank You that we may have joy, despite the most desperate of circumstances, when we are rooted and established in You. Thank You that You utilize our faithfulness in the trials to touch hearts and minds of others. Thank You for those You have placed in our path who have encouraged us, and for the opportunities You provide for us to do the same. Forgive us for our search for happiness, or for depending on our circumstances to bring us joy. Thank You that You are our Source, and NOTHING can separate us from You. Help us to be courageous, as we move fearlessly where You call us to go. Let the lost be found in You, as they come to know You personally, as their Lord and Savior. Be glorified, O God, as we encourage others, even in the midst of our unfavorable circumstances. Let us bring Your love and light to dark spaces that are desperate for Your touch. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me.

– Psalm 69:16

 

 

Remember the Fallen

 

Today is a day designated and set aside to remember the faithful who have fallen, as they fought fearlessly to defend the freedoms we know and enjoy. Countless men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice, as they selflessly served. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – (John 15:13) May we take time to remember the fallen, as they willingly laid down their lives so that ours would be secure.

 

 

How I will remember today...

How I will remember today…

Remember the ones,

who never came back;

so valiantly fought,

while under attack.

Siblings and spouses,

the daughters and sons;

too soon they were lost,

but not forgotten.

We rest from our work,

we pause in our play;

for lives lost and peace,

we humbly shall pray.

Also for those still,

on the battlefield;

faithfully serving,

Lord, please be their shield.

May those who have served,

know our gratitude;

please keep them, dear God,

may blessings ensue.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the faithful men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation. Thank You Jesus for Your sacrifice, as it is only through the gift of Your life that we are able to truly live ours. Thank You for the sacrifice that so many families and soldiers have made, so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we know and love. Forgive us for taking our freedom for granted, and help us to lift up our service men and women regularly, and remind us to pray too, for peace. May we live and love with grateful hearts, and encourage all whom we encounter towards the same. Let hearts turn to You, and many come to know true freedom in a lasting relationship with You, our Redeemer. Be glorified, O God. 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