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

Grace in the Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV) 

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT) 

 

This morning, as I checked my messages, there was a notice from a friend at church informing me that an incredible lady – a wife and mother about my age, has passed. It has been both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch, for she battled cancer with courage and strength over the last several years, as her family fought alongside her. There was a sense of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, despite the devastation that all must have been feeling. The comfort in this heart-breaking loss, is that she is free of the pain and walking in glory. That being said, her husband has lost his best friend, and the children have lost their mother. Grief is a heavy space. As I pray for the family and those closest to her, I lay hold of the promise held in this verse in Matthew. Though it is not an easy road, God will bring comfort. God will bring His perfect peace. May we hold fast to the promise that He holds the grieving in His hands, and God is our Source of comfort in every season. 

 

God of all comfort, Being Made New

We lean into Thee; 

For the ones mourning, 

Bring Your grace and peace. 

No words that we speak, 

Nor acts done in love; 

Can comfort the grief, 

Like You Lord, above. 

For You know each heart, 

How to help the ache; 

To soothe the sorrow, 

And mend the heartbreak. 

O Lord, be near them, 

As they walk through pain; 

Be their close comfort, 

‘til just love remains. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort when we grieve. Thank You that You know this family and all that they need. Thank You that You will bring exactly what they need to navigate their new normal. Forgive us for forgetting our own mortality, and not receiving each day we wake as an incredible gift of time that not all are afforded. Teach us to appreciate each new day, and to seek You in all things. Show us how to love well, those who are mourning. May we be used in the practical as well as the prayerful. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our comfort and our peace, even in the most heartbreaking of times. Amen.

 

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

(There is) A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

The Price for Free

I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to Me, for I have paid the price to set you free. – (Isaiah 44:22, NLT)

 

Christ came to grant us freedom from our sin and shame. Great men and women throughout history, have come to know the value of such freedom, and have gone on to fight injustices that prevented people from living in the freedom that was intended. God does not have favorites, but views us all as equals in His sight. If our Creator sees us each with infinite worth, then it is our responsibility to seek to do likewise. Martin Luther King Jr., and all who have fought before him, beside him and continue to fight for equality for all, are the champions of choosing to make our world a better place where the dream Dr. King spoke of aligns with the call of Christ – for us to be one body – united, rather than many parts divided. May we rise up and remember that we are all one in Christ Jesus, hand-crafted and called to freely walk out the purpose that He has placed before us.

 

For we are all called,mlk

To live in His light;

No more in darkness,

Injustice, we fight.

Just as we’ve each been,

Redeemed and set free;

We must view others,

With equality.

For God loves us all,

Sisters and brothers;

Let’s rise united,

Lifting each other.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and seek Your forgiveness, You wipe away our offenses and set us free. Thank You that You have raised up leaders throughout the ages to rise up and stand against injustices that treat any group of people as less than another. Forgive us for our offenses, for even complacency is fueling the flames of injustice. Teach us how to hear Your direction as to what our part is meant to be. Show us above all, how to love all people as we are loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as Your love transforms hearts and changes perspectives. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

In honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a few beautiful quotes:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – MLK

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – MLK

 

 

Turn to Trust

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. – (Psalm 56:3, NLT)

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. – (Psalm 56:3, VOICE)

When I get really afraid I come to You in trust. – (Psalm 56:3, MSG)

 

I so appreciate that these were the honest words prayed by the heart of David, who was a mighty warrior. As one who had fought lions, giants, armies, elements, exhaustion and having to endure the anguish of alone, he identified and admitted his fear, and recognized and ran to the One in whom he knew he could trust. God was faithful to be present and protect David, despite the times of trial that he endured. The very same God who was worthy of such trust for David, remains present, approachable and available for each of us today. If fear attempts to find footing, we have One to whom we can run. May we depend securely upon the Lord alone, for He is the One in whom we can place all of our trust.

 

When fear tries creep in,Compassion in Confrontations

May we turn to trust;

For our God alone,

Is faithful and just.

As we choose let go,

Give God all our fear;

He makes His heart known,

Through His drawing near.

To come still closer,

The Lord welcomes us;

To release each fear,

And trust in Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are afraid, we can come to You and trust You to be present and faithful to remain with us. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for choosing to remain frozen in our fears, rather than running to You and laying them at Your feet. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring You our every fear, and trust You to lead us and guide us through the spaces that seem far beyond what we are equipped to handle. Show us how to love well, every person that we encounter, so that they might gain glimpses of You through how we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You when we are afraid, knowing that You are faithful; always. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

Be Glad In It

Saturdays are typically my go and get things done day. Yesterday, the intention was very much the norm, though I woke feeling a bit off. I was dizzy and a little nauseous, but figured it would pass if I powered through. Devotions were done, boys were up and out the door for their all-day retreat with youth group, and I went on my way to workout. What I normally blast through, was quite a struggle. My stomach was stirring maliciously, and I had to breathe through each movement. Finally, during the last five minutes or so of the workout, I had to tap out. I simply sat down and waited for it to finish. Stopping is not my M.O., but wisdom told me it was stop or create a scene with how my body responds.

When I arrived home, I crawled straight into bed. All I could do was toss and turn as my body fought the fever. Food and drink did not feel like quality options, so attempted sleep was it – all day long. No errands run, no outing fun – just rest. The fever must have broken late last night, as I don’t remember waking again until this morning.

Today is a brand new day. The sun is shining, the house is quiet, and my stomach seems satisfied with some Gatorade and gluten free pretzels. Though I will likely take another day to rest (and keep my germs to myself) I am so grateful for the difference that a day can make.

 

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. – (Psalm 118:24, NLT)

 

My rejoicing yesterday, despite how I was feeling, was the blessing that my mom was in town. She stayed at my house all day, to be available if I needed anything. Her trip to the store yesterday provided that which is palatable for me today.

Each new day is a gift, despite the challenges presented. He grants us what we need to sustain us and see us through, therefore we have reason to rejoice and be glad in the blessings of today.

 

Today is the day,photo (7)

Designed just for you;

He brought you to it,

So He’ll see you through.

Let us choose be glad,

In all things rejoice;

Thanks to our Savior,

We’ve always the choice.

No matter what comes,

Hope will not delay;

With God and His grace,

There’s always a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each new day is a gift from You, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You can use even our sickness or discomfort, to show us more of Your love and provision. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude when things don’t seem to go our way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might recognize that You can take every trial and odd turn and use it for Your glory. Show us how to love others with Your goodness and grace. May many choose to seek Your face. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice and are glad in each new day that You grant us. 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

 

 

 

Go in Courage

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. – (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT)

 

Though these words were from Moses to Joshua and those who were to lead the Israelites into the promised land, they hold true for us today as well. Yesterday, as I chose to go in trust to my MRI, I kept reminding myself that God would be with me, despite the claustrophobic conditions that I would be subjected to for my impending MRI, and that no matter what, His presence would be my comfort. As I arrived, my heart was settled, for I had chosen to trust, regardless of what I was about to face. God had personally gone before me in a way that I could not have even imagined, for as the kind technician led me back to the machine, I was greeted by an open machine with a large window looking outside at blooming trees. Because the imaging was for my back, I was placed in the apparatus feet first, leaving my head quite close to the end, with permission and the ability to turn and look out the window as I wished. What could have been an hour of panic and misery, was almost restful and relaxing. I never once felt ill-at-ease, and could not stop thanking God for His overwhelming kindness in something that might be considered so insignificant to many.  My choice to seek strength and courage in Christ, kept fear and panic in check. He personally went before me, and remained present throughout the entire process. If He cares about something so seemingly insignificant as this, how much more does He care about the big stuff? The unknown is always the most unnerving, and Monday that is exactly where I am headed as I go see the specialist about this injury. As I prepare to go, I will cling to the promises that He has proven true again and again, and trust Him to be my source of strength and courage. God has already gone before me and knows the outcome. No matter what is spoken, He will neither fail me nor abandon me. May we choose courage and strength, keeping panic far from us – for God is the one who will go ahead of us without failing us nor abandoning us; for He is always faithful.

 

Do not give panic,Dispelling Discouragement

A place to take hold;

For the Lord our God,

Gives strength to be bold.

He goes before us,

And prepares the way;

He’ll never leave us,

If we ask He stay.

What we are to face,

Really matters not;

For God is greater,

Each battle, He’s fought.

Choose to trust the Lord,

For in Him, strength’s found;

Rise up and fear not,

His grace shall abound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can be strong and courageous in You. Thank You that we need not fear nor panic, for You go before us and will not leave us nor fail us. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we face the unknown. Teach us to trust You more, for You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love others so that they may see Your strength and courage in us, as it is provided by You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to trust You to be our courage and strength, knowing that You go before us and remain with us in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

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

Run for Your Life

Paul, as he was serving his final sentence in prison and awaiting his earthly demise, he knew with confidence that he had done all that he could do to love God and love people with his life. Because his hope was in Christ, he knew what was in store. Though his earthly end was drawing near, his eternity in glory, was about to begin. As He held fast to the truth, he was able to say with confidence: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

Can we with confidence, also claim that we are fighting the good fight, running the race to which we are called, and all the while, keeping the faith? It is a weighty question, and one that can only be answered with a “yes“, if we walk out our days dependent on Christ. Some days it is easier to fight the good fight than others. Just as some days are beyond difficult to get out of the house and run, so too is our faith in action. Yesterday, between the heat and the having to run solo, it nearly kept me from walking out my front door. Deep within me, I knew that if I did not get out and go, I would regret it. It was hot and hilly, and quite frankly, a bit miserable. However, when I was finished, I was so grateful to have gone. Likewise, the weariness and the worries of the world can wear us down and keep us from walking out our front door, or from reaching out where we know we are called to go. That being said, we have a Savior who calls and equips us to run and fight in faith. All that is needed He will provide. May we stand firm in our faith as we run the race to which we are called; and in His power, fight the good fight until our final breath is drawn.

 

Let our lives be led,running up a hill

by the Lord’s great love;

as He fuels our faith,

seek His ways above.

For we have been called,

to run our own race;

to fight the good fight,

stand firm in our faith.

Let our race be run,

in a mighty way;

so that “Well done’s” heard,

on our final day.

Let’s fight the good fight,

and run our race strong;

propelled by the faith,

that pulls us along.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to fight the good fight and run the race that You have set before us, through the faith that You impart to every heart who seeks You. Thank You that the reward that awaits a life lived for You, far outweighs any darkness or suffering that we endure in the here and now. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of eternity, and allowing the here and now to define us. Teach us to fix our eyes on You and what lasts forever, not on that which will one day fade. Lead us to love others intentionally and generously, just as You so love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fight the good fight and run our own race through a relentless faith in You. 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

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

 

 

 

 

Treasures to Hold

Just over three months ago, a very dear friend of mine breathed her last breath.  She had fought long and hard, a battle that would have caused many to quit, yet never in the nine years of the invasion of that devastating disease, did Anne even once, allow cancer to define her.  She knew with all certainty that she was above all, a child of God.  Her faith in our Heavenly Father did not waiver, regardless of what the doctors had told her.

Her perseverance and unwavering faith, are two of the things that I most admired about Anne.  So often, she would extend encouragement to those who were providing her medical care.  Laughter and light-hearted banter were common during many of her appointments.  The verse that brought her great comfort in her final days was 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” For she had indeed fought and finished in firm faith.

A dear friend asked me how I might remember Anne this Christmas.  I was a bit taken aback, as avoidance has been my coping mechanism of choice.  However, it is nearly impossible to navigate this season without reminders of my dear friend, as we have had many outings in this most blessed of seasons gone by.  As we spoke, I realized that perhaps part of me had avoided actual shopping in stores for gifts this year, as that is something that Anne and I have done together many times over the past few years.

I do not yet know if I am meant to do anything in particular to remember Anne, but I do know that I am to embrace her memory – the gift of friendship that I was given in her – and to be grateful for the example she set in perseverance and faith, and for the assurance that I have, knowing that she fought the good fight and is home, where I will one day see her again.

My heart will now hold,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

memories so dear;

treasures of friendship,

hope that is secure.

The faithful fighter,

no more needs to fight;

now in heaven’s hold,

our Savior’s delight.

I will remember,

the blessings I’ve known;

modeled endurance,

such steadfast faith shown.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

for Your gifts of grace;

may we be steadfast,

secure in our faith.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gifts that You give us in friends.  Thank You for the blessings that they bring, be it for a season or for a lifetime.  Thank You for the lessons that we learn from one another, when we are securely rooted in You.  Forgive us for not facing painful or sorrowful things, and help us to embrace each of the experiences that You bring, trusting that You have a purpose and a plan to use each experience for our ultimate good.  Teach us to persevere when things are difficult, and to have a faith that is unwavering, even when all seems to be shaking around us.  May our confidence and security in You, be a living testimony to all who are around us.  May many come to call You King this Christmas.  Be our hope and our help, Lord God.  Amen.

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