Surrounded

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, NIV)

“You will not have to fight this battle. Just stand there and watch the Lord save you. Judah and Jerusalem, don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, because the Lord is with you. So go out to stand against those people tomorrow.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, ERV)

“Stand and watch, but do not fight the battle. There, you will watch the Eternal save you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or worry. Tomorrow, face the army and trust that the Eternal is with you.” – (2 Chronicles 20:17, VOICE)

 

After waking up and preparing my coffee, and settling to begin my devotions, I heard mom stirring in her room. Her movement is my cue to go check and see if she is ready to get up for a restroom run. Of course, she gladly took me up on the early morning offer, and after all was said and done, she determined that she would try to go back to bed and sleep a while longer. When I returned to my spot at the kitchen table with a view, the lyrics from a simple worship song kept playing on repeat in my head and heart:

This is how I fight my battles

This is how I fight my battles (repeats)

It may look like I’m surrounded 

But I’m surrounded by You (repeats)

(To listen, click here. )

As I looked in the word for similar, I found the story in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20. The gist is about God’s faithfulness in fighting on behalf of Judah and Jerusalem when they were surrounded on all sides. Reading verse seventeen, it was as if Jesus was saying to me: You will not have to fight this battle(alone). Just stand there and watch Me work. Shannon and Megan, don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, I am with You. Go out and take each tomorrow as it comes, for I will be with you. Now, I am not trying to twist scripture, nor change the meaning of a passage, but rather, I am attempting to share the encouragement gained from reading about God’s faithfulness to Judah and Jerusalem when they likely felt completely overwhelmed. For my sister and me, we too have had such “surrounded” moments as we navigate this road to recovery with mom. Just as the song came in like a flood and surrounded my heart and mind, so too has God’s faithful provision for mom, Megan and myself, when we needed it most. He knows our need and is full of goodness and grace, ready to move on our behalf. Personally, after my sister had to return home Thursday, I was a bit intimidated to take on the care giver role alone. I want to bless, protect, help and encourage mom every step of this journey as I love her well, and I feel completely inadequate and ill-equipped to do all that needs to be done. None of us are ever fully equipped nor prepared for the things to which we are called. I imagine that is part of God’s wise design. It keeps us dependent on Him to be our help, hope and strength, and helps us recognize His grace and provisions, both great and small.

Yesterday, mom and I were surrounded well by my husband and boys. It was so good to share meals together, visit together, and enjoy a family favorite game before bed. Watching the delight on mom’s face as she interacted with my guys, and the same look, mirrored on their faces, filled the places in my heart that were feeling a bit depleted. We have a bit more time altogether today before they head home, so I know that our cups will be fuller still, before the day’s end. May we ever seek the Lord to fight our battles, and know that we are surrounded by Him.

 

When life overwhelms,

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Surrounded by family. ❤ (Christmas 2018)

And battles rage on;

Turn in trust to God,

Whose help makes us strong.

Strong for the battles,

We’re chosen to fight;

Wisdom to listen,

Gain the Lord’s insight.

The courage to wait,

And trust in His plan;

Soak in surrender,

As for us, He’ll stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fight on our behalf, even when we are unaware of how You are moving. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and equip us for each new day, and that You supply all that we need as the need arises. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we appear to be surrounded by more than we can bear. Teach us to recognize that we are actually surrounded by You. Show us how to walk by faith and not by sight, as You fight for us and through us. Lead us to love those around us well, so that they too may come to know and understand Your strength and grace and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fight our battles by surrendering to Your surrounding of us all. Amen.

 

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

 

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

The Wonders of His Word

Open my eyes so that I can see all the wonderful things in Your teachings. – (Psalm 119:18, ERV)

Open my eyes so that I can examine the wonders of Your instruction! – (Psalm 119:18, CEB)

Open my eyes to see the miracle-wonders hidden in Your word. – (Psalm 119:18, TPT)

 

God is good, and He has given us His word to lead us and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. At a first read, it is easy to assume that much is not applicable today, as life in current times is far different than it was back then. Incredibly, people are people, and the wisdom to be gained from His word remains constant throughout the test of time. There are examples of what we should and should not do, instructions and examples of faith, perseverance, love, hope, help, and healing. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so the same God who parted a sea to move an entire population to safety, is alive and working among us today. May we seek the Lord for insight as we press into time in His word, growing in understanding and discovering the wonders in His holy word.

 

Lord, help me to see, Remain in His Love

The truth in Your word;

So my heart may hold,

The grace You have stirred.

Many examples,

Of Your love and grace;

To inspire and guide,

Throughout all our days.

As I see and learn,

Lord, help me to grow;

So I might apply,

All I come to know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word. Thank You that as we seek You for insight, You open our understanding to the truth of Your word. Thank You for the gift of Your word to guide us as we go. Forgive us for not seeking or digging deeper to discover the wonders of Your instruction, that make life far easier to navigate. Teach us to trust You more, recognizing that You answer those who ask. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates the goodness of walking in Your way and following Your instruction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to open our understanding to the wonders of Your word. Amen.

 

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

 

O my Strength, to You I sing praises, for You, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. – Psalm 59:17

To Rest and Recharge

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NIV)

Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from Him! – (Psalm 62:5, CEB)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

 

Yesterday was an unusual day for me. Though I easily woke at the typical time, the more I moved around, the more I became aware of my own weariness from my lack of sleep the night prior. After doing my devotional reading, and even determining which verse stood out to me, I was struggling to stay alert as my fingers kept missing the keys they were aiming for on the keyboard. Thinking perhaps a shower would help, I set aside finishing my reflecting and writing, and went downstairs. However, after that, my head felt heavy, and all I wanted to do was lie down; so, I did. At first, I thought a short “power nap” would do, but soon discovered that my body really needed real rest. What I realized is that He was providing me time to recharge, as God did not demand that I finish writing, and that He was ready to grant me the rest needed if I would only slow down and just rest. The extra hour plus of sleep that I gained yesterday morning carried me through a full day of meetings, followed by a long union meeting in a hot high school gym to learn about and vote upon our newly proposed teaching contract. The vote was ratified and our district is pleased to have a nearly unanimous “Yes” vote on the new three-year contract. I went to sleep easily, knowing that hope in Him and the rest I’d found had carried me through a day that would have otherwise been difficult. May we ever seek the Lord to be our rest, for our hope comes from Him alone.

 

When weariness comes,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We need to find rest;

In Christ, choose recharge,

For His grace is best.

The Source of all hope,

On God we depend;

As His love for us,

Does not know an end.

So, ever choose seek,

The Lord God above;

Our hope and our rest,

He grants us in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing faithfulness and love. Thank You that You see us and know us, and are ever ready to grant us the rest and hope that we need. Forgive us for not slowing down to recognize our own spaces of need or for neglecting to seek You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our grantor of hope and rest. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides the help and hope that is needed to lighten hearts and loads, and ultimately draw people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we find our rest in You, our holder of hope. Amen.

 

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

 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Because Peace is Present

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words; Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, NLT)

Now brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, ERV)

And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, MSG)

 

Paul’s exhortation to the church of Corinth applies to us today as well. When we choose joy, seek to grow, encourage others, and do what we can to live in harmony and peace with those around us, the love and peace of God seem to be ever-present. Each of the things that Paul mentioned are choices that we are able to make, despite our circumstances. Joy, growth, encouragement, peace, and harmony can be given and gained, even in the midst of personal difficulties. So often, when we choose these, our challenges become less and our strength and resolve become more. This is not to discredit the overwhelming obstacles that at times, lie directly before us; yet it is to remind us that our God is far greater, and when we choose to operate in the things of Him, that which is before us is less that He who is in us. May we choose joy and growth, encouraging one another in love. Let us live in harmony and peace with each other according to His will, and may we be ever aware of the love and peace found in the Lord’s presence, as He is faithful to be present with us for all of our days.

 

Brothers and sisters, Forgiveness is Free

Be joyful always;

Seek to ever grow,

For all of our days.

Encourage others,

Live in harmony;

For as we follow,

God’s peace is released.

He will be present,

To show us the way;

To do what is right,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us instruction as to how we ought to live well. Thank You that joy, growth, encouragement, harmony and peace are all choices that we can make, despite our circumstances. Thank You that in You, all are possible, regardless of what we are going through. Forgive us for choosing to fix our focus on what lies before us rather than You who dwells within us and give us strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be joyful, seek to grow, encourage others and live in harmony and peace. Show us how to love others well so that we can do each of these things according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the love and peace that is found in Your presence, so that we may go forth extending peace to all. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

An Honorable Life

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with humility that comes from wisdom. – (James 3:13, NLT)

Are there any among you who are really wise and understanding? Then you should show your wisdom by living right. You should do what is good with humility. A wise person does not boast. – (James 3:13, ERV)

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk that counts. – (James 3:13, MSG)

 

Wisdom is gained and grown through the faithful pursuit of the heart of God. Those who are wise and understand the ways of God, do not go around boasting about what they know, but rather they demonstrate what they have gained through the lives they lead. Wise women and men live right, and do the good that God has given them to do. They do not speak of all that they know, but rather go forth and do right with humility. It is through the consistent actions of a life lived well, that we are made aware of those who are wise. May we ever pursue the heart of God and the wisdom that comes from Him alone, so that we are equipped to go forth and live an honorable life according to His will.

 

For us to be wise, When the Sun Shines In

And walk in His ways;

We must pursue God,

For all of our days.

As we learn His will,

We’re meant to do good;

To live right by Him,

Do the things we should.

For wisdom is seen,

Through humility;

A life that does well,

In Christ, faithfully.

 
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom comes from You. Thank You that we can identify the wise through the lives they lead, and follow the examples that are set before us. Thank You that it is our actions that demonstrate wisdom, not our words. Forgive us for thinking that we know more than we do, or for neglecting to act on that which You have shown us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would consistently pursue You to grow in our insight and understanding, and walk out the ways in which You show us how we are meant to live. Help us to love those around us in the same way that You so consistently and graciously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live honorable lives according to Your will, and allow our actions to do the talking. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

 

Lifelong Learner

Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insight. – (Proverbs 18:15, MSG)

Clever people go after knowledge to obtain it, and wise people attune their ears to hear it. – (Proverbs 18:15, VOICE)

An understanding mind gains knowledge; the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. – (Proverbs 18:15, CEB)

 

Wisdom is something gained by those who actively seek to know and understand. No one ever “arrives“, rather it is a lifelong process in the pursuit of learning, as there is always more to know and understand. God honors the asking, and continues to reveal more and more of who He is and how He loves as we are willing to draw near and pursue more of Him. Though I know nearly nothing, I understand far more now, than when I first began. The wisest women I have ever known, spent a lifetime learning and growing with God. My grandmother was ever listening for fresh insight, and did not discount what anyone had to say. She would listen through her filter of faith, and have wise and insightful things to reply. People were a priority, and she had a passion for travel, as I believe it created even more opportunity for her to discover deeper understanding of who God is, and all that He has made. As I continue to prepare for my departure for Belize on Saturday evening, my heart holds fast to this truth – to gain wisdom, I must be listening for fresh insight, ever attuning my ears to hear what the Lord has for me to learn. May we each go forth with a heart to grow in understanding and insight, so that we may walk in His wisdom and the light of His truth.

 

Wise are the learned, Purposeful Prayer

For they seek to grow;

Ever they listen,

For what they’re to know.

God’s ever faithful,

To reveal His heart;

He grants new insight,

Wisdom He imparts.

Seekers of knowledge,

Are those who shall gain;

True understanding,

As His path’s made plain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom comes from seeking understanding from You. Thank You that as we continue to learn and grow, ever listening for new insight, You increase what we can comprehend. Forgive us for not seeking fresh insight, or not listening for Your voice when we most need to hear You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would always be looking to listen and learn, so that we live a growth-minded lifestyle. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them feel heard and understood. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are ever pursuing new knowledge and insight, with open ears and hearts to all that You have for us to learn. 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

 

Just Believe

Jesus heard this and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid! Just believe and your daughter will be well.” – (Luke 8:50, ERV)

But when Jesus heard what had happened, He said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” – (Luke 8:50, NLT)

 

Need has an interesting way of breaking down barriers as people reach the point of desperation. Jairus, despite being a high official in the synagogue, did not hesitate to drop to his knees in need before Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter. The desire to see her healed was greater than his concern about societal norms. Faith and hope brought Jairus to Jesus, and it was likely the comforting words that Jesus offered upon hearing the news that his daughter had died that kept him from losing his mind with grief. What Jesus says, He will do, and Jairus had to choose to either trust Him and believe, or lose hope and his only daughter to death forever. I can only imagine the wrestling match that must have been going on in his mind as they walked the long road back to his home to where his dead daughter was waiting. “Can He who healed the bleeding woman with the hem of His garment, bring life back to my dead daughter?” My mind’s eye imagines that Jairus gained a bit more boldness with each step, as he recalled what he had just witnessed with the woman who had suffered for twelve long years and then was healed by her unwavering faith. Perhaps each step was taken to an internal cadence that he simply spoke to himself, “Believe, believe, believe!” Regardless of how Jairus traveled, when Jesus and the disciples went up to his daughter with he and his wife, their daughter was brought back to life, and their lives were never the same. May we listen for the voice of Jesus in the midst of our scary spaces, and hear Him as He reminds us to have faith and just believe.

 

In uncertainty,Our Map and Our Guide

Trial or in pain;

We’re called to believe,

Trust in Jesus’ Name.

For the Lord is good,

He alone can save;

Bring comfort to fears,

When we feel afraid.

God of all wonder,

Your power and might;

Is what we can trust,

To set all things right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and loving. Thank You that You move mountains when we have but a mustard seed of faith. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters because we rely on what we see, rather than what we know to be true in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have faith, even when things do not make sense, as You see the entire outcome. Help us to live and love in such a way, that our faith is infectious to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and have faith, no matter what we see; for You are alone are the One who directs our path. 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

Finding Wisdom

The wise store up knowledge as a safeguard, but the meaningless chatter of fools means that chaos is near. – (Proverbs 10:14, VOICE)

The wise accumulate knowledge – a true treasure; know-it-alls talk too much – a sheer waste. – (Proverbs 10:14, MSG)

Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster. – (Proverbs 10:14, NLT)

 

Wisdom is found when we quietly listen, rather than when we constantly contribute, only to hear the sound of our own voice. Words bear weight when they are carefully chosen and used purposefully. The wisest people I’ve known, have been those who enter a situation, and in silence, observe first, and do not engage in conversation until they have taken it all in. They tend to read the room, and discover direction as to how to best engage with those around them, rather than rushing in and setting off-kilter a dynamic that was already in place. True wisdom comes from God, as we choose to seek Him and listen in silence. When we take the time to quiet our hearts, we are far better able to hear from Him. May we seek and treasure wisdom from God, and learn to listen well.

 

Lord, help us listen,Refreshment Through Repentance

Seek knowledge from You;

May our hearts treasure,

The light of Your truth.

Keep us from speaking,

When we’re meant to hear;

Help us to listen,

In silence, draw near.

For wisdom is gained,

As we choose pursue;

Knowledge, not limelight,

So we reflect You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom is gained as we seek knowledge and understanding. Thank You that You grow our insight as we ask for clarity from You. Forgive us for the times that talked when we were meant to listen. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek to understand by listening first, as You reveal to us what You want us to know. Help us to love those around us well, as we seek to understand first, even when they are difficult to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to store up knowledge and grow in wisdom, so that we might better reflect Your heart to the world. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

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Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Right in His Sight

If you listen to Him, you will understand what is just and fair and how to do what is right. – (Proverbs 2:9, ERV)

With wisdom you will be able to choose the right road, seek justice, and decide what is good and fair. – (Proverbs 2:9, VOICE)

 

When we seek the Lord and listen for His voice, He shows us what is good and right in His sight. God grants wisdom to those who ask, and makes plain His path that is just and leads to joy as we journey through life with Him. We need to worry less about the weight of our options, and more about what matters to God. As we heed His instruction, the right road is made plain before us. God is faithful to answer when we ask Him what is just and fair and how to do His will. May we ever seek the Lord and listen for His voice, so that we will know and understand what is right in His sight.

 

True understanding,The Direction of Discipline

Is gained through the Lord;

As we seek, we find,

Wisdom He’ll afford.

God shows us what’s just,

The road to do right;

If we choose listen,

Confusion takes flight.

Understanding comes,

As we hear His voice;

True wisdom granted,

To make the right choice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we listen to You, You grant us understanding of what is just and fair and how to do what is right. Forgive us for the times we neglect to listen, or choose to ignore the instructions that we have heard, to do what we think is best. Teach us to trust You and Your ways, as You know the outcome before we ever begin. Show us how to love those around us in a way that is just and fair, and that models doing right. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to You and follow the road that You make plain to do what is right. Amen.

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

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21