Charged to Choose

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, NIV)

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)

Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, VOICE)

 

This charge, given by Paul to the church of Corinth in the closing of his second letter, is also for all of us today. As we determine to rejoice despite our circumstances, seek to be at peace with those around us, encourage each other, make amends where there is brokenness, and strive to be united in purpose, God, who is the source of all love and peace, will be present. Though at times it seems impossible to reach such a place of peace with particular people, God is capable of the miraculous and can make a way where there seems to be no way. It is not up to us to change hard hearts, but rather to continue to encourage, love and seek peace as we are called to do. The heart change is in His hands, our part is to love and do what we can to make things right. May we ever seek our Savior to equip us to love, encourage, seek peace, repair what is broken and choose to rejoice; always.

 

Let us choose rejoice,Charged to Choose

In each circumstance;

God goes before us,

He knows in advance.

The Source of all love,

The Bearer of peace;

He creates a way,

As grace is released.

Called to encourage,

And make all things right;

Choose lift others up,

In purpose, unite.

Brothers and sisters,

Be filled with His joy;

His presence remains,

As Love’s given voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that calls us to rejoice, restore, encourage, unite and be at peace with the people You place in our lives. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked the love to do these things with those who challenge us. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the God of all, and You love each of Your created, fiercely. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages, unites, restores, and brings peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in all things and seek You to empower us to do all that You ask of us. Amen.

 

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Speak With Care

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need – whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. – (Ephesians 4:29, ERV)

And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them. – (Ephesians 4:29, TPT)

 

Words matter. Words can build up or they can tear down. What we do with our words may have a lasting impact on the hearer, far beyond what we will ever know. This works with both encouragement and that which is destructive. One unkind, ugly or hateful word spoken carelessly, can haunt the hearer for years. If a child is already feeling discouraged and struggling, and someone comes along and tells them that they are stupid, that thoughtless word can become a barrier to them becoming their best self for an extended stretch of time. On the contrary, when a child is built up, encouraged, nurtured, loved and valued with words (and actions that prove them true), they soar as they are equipped to become the best version of themselves. Adults are no different. Marriages, friendships, work environments, etcetera – all grow stronger and become better when encouragement and grace are prevalent. I have experienced both, and the difference between the two is surviving and thriving. People surrounded by ugly and hateful words either join in and engage, attempt to bring change, or stay silent. Either way, it creates a survival sort of mentality. However, in an environment of encouragement and grace, people grow and become equipped to do likewise. May we watch our words with wisdom, knowing that what we say has the capacity to either build up or tear down.

 

May all of our words,

413999ed-2061-46e4-9b6c-565cd74dcf5d5593075506363422581.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Be spoken with care;

For words have power,

Bring life or despair.

Our words can build up,

Bring out other’s best;

As we encourage,

Receivers are blessed.

Yet in the same way,

Words that are unkind;

Can wound and destroy,

The ears that they find.

So, let all we say,

Be seasoned with grace;

Spoken with kindness,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the words that You have for us are love and life and light and full of goodness and grace. Thank You that You call and equip us to do the same with the words that we extend to others. Forgive us for the words that we have spoken that have wounded others. Teach us to stop and think before we speak, seeking Your heart and help to extend words that encourage and build up, rather than destroy. Show us how to love those around us with encouraging words and use each word spoken to help others become a better version of themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom for every word that leaves our lips. Amen.

 

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

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

True Source of Strength

I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. – (Psalm 121:1-2, MSG)

I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, TPT)

 

The beauty and majesty found in creation are tangible reminders of the power and goodness of God. Even as a small child, I remember seeing the first star of the evening and beginning with a wish that would soon transform into a prayer to the very One who hung the stars in the sky. That same heart is still reminded of God’s grace and strength at the sight of the work of His hands. Today is a day that many of us will never forget. I still remember my drive to work as the news came over the radio that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. Upon arrival, I, with so many others, turned on the TV in my classroom to watch in horror as the footage of the horrific events unfolded. The images will forever be etched in my mind. As I drove home that day, I took in the view of the mountain, and was reminded that the same God who made majestic mountains, could bring beauty from the ashes of so much destruction. Though we may never understand why such tragedies occur this side of heaven, the stories of redemption and beauty and overcoming have risen from the ashes. People who were touched by the tragedy, hold their loved ones a little tighter and do not take a single day for granted. Spouses, siblings and children of those who were lost, have gone on to accomplish great things in honor of their loved ones. May we ever look to the Lord, our Creator, to be our help, as He is the true source of strength.

 

No matter what comes,9-11-memorial-03-marley-white__large.jpg

We must realize;

That God is the One,

Who gives strength to rise.

Rise from the ashes,

When all seemed but lost;

Rise from the rubble,

For He paid the cost.

No matter the darkness,

The Lord is the light;

His love and His grace,

Set wrong things to right.

O Lord, be our strength,

When trials come near;

Grant courage to rise,

In the face of fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created so much beauty that reminds us of Your goodness and strength. Thank You that often, as we see the work of Your hands, our gaze is lifted to You. Forgive us for not looking to You to be the light in every darkness, or for celebrating creation rather than the Creator. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to be our help, and praise You in all things and at all times, as You alone are our strength and supply. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings light and life, goodness and grace into spaces where there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize where we find help that lasts. Amen.

 

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

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6

Born to Bloom

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, NLT)

As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and unsaved all around us. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, TLB)

We have become the unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God – a perfume of life to those being saved and the odor of death to those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, TPT)

 

As I sat here pondering this verse, the image that came to mind for me is that of beautiful, fragrant flowers. The gardener who tends to the plants to trim, water, fertilize and assure proper light, yields healthy plants that produce sweet scents. Contrarily, those who do not provide that which plants need, discover the scent of death and decay soon emit from the perishing perennials. People are comparable when it comes to our faith. If we invest time in our relationship with our Redeemer, we learn and grow and become more like Him. As we do, the love, grace and kindness we extend, become a sweet scent to our Savior, as well as to those who are seeking something more. However, when we neglect the need for investing time with the very One who created us, we begin to wither and rot, stuck with a stench of angst and impatience, anger and a serious lack of love. May we ever seek the nourishment of our Maker, as He provides the soil, water and light that we need to bloom and become the sweet scent of life to all those around us.

 

The sweet scent of life, born-to-bloom.jpg

Through hope and His grace;

Are what we offer,

As we seek God’s face.

A life invested,

In loving the Lord;

Is grown to produce,

Sweet scent that’s adored.

For loving kindness,

Goodness and His light;

Are grown within us,

As we choose delight.

With all that we are,

May we seek His face;

So, our lives smell sweet,

And extend His grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a life invested in knowing and following You grows and develops us to give off the sweet scent of hope in You. Thank You that You cultivate this within us as we choose to seek You. Forgive us for neglecting time with You, as You are the One who removes the weeds and provides the water and sunlight. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow You room to come in and cultivate our lives into the fragrant offering You intended. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them breathe deeply from Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we delight in You, and allow You room to grow us so that we can bloom. Amen.

 

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

 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

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

An Act of Praise

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His Holy Name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NLT)

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His Holy Name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His Holy Name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG)

 

After digging deeper into the Christmas story, and the stories of those involved, my heart is flooded with gratitude – both for all that God has done for us to make Himself accessible to us, and also the numerous ways in which I see and know His tangible blessings in my life. God is good, no matter what goes on around us, and when we seek Him, we become acutely aware of His hand in the help and blessings that He bestows upon us every day. May our lives be lived as an act of praise to He who gives us life and breath and our very being.

 

With all that I am, Be Full of Joy

My heart gives God praise;

For love, life and health,

Provision each day.

So many blessings,

Fill my heart and soul;

His goodness and grace,

End each day so full.

Let me not forget,

The good that You bring;

All praise unto You,

Each song that I sing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless reasons You have given me to give You praise. Thank You for the help and hope and blessings that You have bestowed upon me. Forgive me for not giving enough gratitude for Your goodness and grace. Teach me to praise You throughout all of my days. Show me how to love others with my life, just as You have done for all of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with our whole heart with thanks for all that You are and all that You have done. 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

Great Joy in His Grace

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. – (Nehemiah 8:12)

 

When the people heard God’s word and recognized just how far they had fallen from His will, they wept. God saw their sincerity and rather than smite them, He called for celebration. His people who had wandered and lost their way, were now found and on the road to restoration. God’s heart was for them to go out and share their abundance with those who had none, so that all could partake in celebrating His goodness and grace. There is great joy that He brings, when we choose to celebrate and honor our Holy King. May we come before Him with repentant hearts, grateful for His mercy and grace, celebrating what a glorious and good God we serve!

 

Each day is sacred,Great Joy in His Grace

a gift from our King;

may we give glory,

our whole offering.

Let’s set our hearts right,

repentantly seek;

our Heavenly Lord,

Who strengthens the weak.

Give glory to Him,

celebrate with joy;

all His righteousness,

free gifts to employ.

He makes His word known,

allows our hearts hear;

the truth of His love,

as He holds us near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You open our understanding and forgive us as we come to You with repentant hearts. Thank You that You do not want us to dwell on our past mistakes, but rather You invite us to celebrate Your goodness and grace, and share of all that You have done with those around us. Forgive us for dwelling on our errors and not embracing the grace that You freely give so that we can then go forth and share of Your goodness and grace with those around us. Teach us to trust You more so that we will turn away from all unrighteousness, and seek to serve You alone. May we love others as You so generously love each of us. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, Lord God, as we go forth giving thanks for Your grace. 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

Becoming Branches

image from New Church Vineyard

image from New Church Vineyard

Willful rejection,

such branches removed.

Our own salvation,

His blessings to choose.

For we’ve been grafted,

to the tree of life;

nourished as branches,

the offshoots of Christ.

It’s by His kindness,

that we come to grow;

standing firm in faith,

so His fruit may show.

Release unbelief,

fear God in His might;

let not storms sway us,

’til heaven’s delight.

(Responding to Romans 11:11-24)

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” – (John 15:5)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we have made the choice to follow You with our whole hearts, You have adopted us as Your sons and daughters; grafting us unto You, the Vine, as Your branches that can bear much fruit.  Forgive us for our fears brought on by unbelief, and help us to stand strong in all that You have provided.  May we be fully invested in You, so that we are able to receive all of the nourishment needed to bear good fruit that will last.  May many come to know You through the evidence of Your love in us, as we share the abundance of Your goodness and grace with all whom we encounter.  Amen.

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

Intentional Time

image from expeditionportal.com

image from expeditionportal.com

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.  The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them.” – Luke 4:42

“Jesus had to get up very early just to get some time alone.  If Jesus needed solitude for prayer and refreshment, how much more is this true for us?  Don’t become so busy that life turns into a flurry of activity leaving no room for quiet fellowship alone with God.  No matter how much we have to do, we should always have time for prayer.” (NIV Study Bible footnotes)

God is so faithful to both meet us and equip us to make a way when we choose to be intentional about making time to be alone with Him.  For most of my life, I have been a sort of “fast food” consumer of my faith.  What I mean by that, is that though I came to know Him at an early age, and understood His truth, I merely offered up quick prayers as I thought about it, but wasn’t really intentional with my time unless I was in a class, traveling overseas with Youth With a Mission, or in a Bible study for that particular season.

Three years ago, maybe more, my church began a study process to help those of us who needed a structure to begin reading through and studying the Bible more consistently.  This particular plan takes us through the entire Bible in one year.  The process is fairly simple.  We read through the day’s assigned passages, listen to His leading, and then write out the specific passage of scripture that the Holy Spirit highlights in our heart for the day.  The following is more of an explanation if you are curious:

S (scripture) – Write out the verse, including the reference of chapter and verse where the passage is found.

O (observation) – Write out any observations I have about the verse.  What does it mean in my own words? What is the context?  Other observations? Etc.

A (application) – How does this passage apply to me in my life?

P (prayer) – Write out my prayerful response.

In order to complete this process daily, I discovered it was necessary to rise extra early.  Being a morning person naturally, the early end of the day made the most sense for me.  Though there are days when my 4am alarm feels a tad too early, I find that I am always encouraged, energized and equipped for my day, by being intentional in my time with our Maker.  He always meets me as I am intentional to set my eyes and heart on Him, and He is faithful to whisper the words that my heart needs to hear.  I never cease to be amazed at how what I hear from Him in the morning, prepares me for something specific that I encounter in my day.  It is remarkable how dramatic the change in our lives and hearts, when we purposefully choose Him first.  It is both exciting and baffling to see what He is doing in and through me, simply because I am will to be available.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to enter into relationship with You.  Thank You too, that He modeled for us, how to be intentional in our time with You.  Forgive us for being “fast food” followers, and help us to order our days so that You are a priority and not an afterthought.  May our words and our deeds and the meditations of our hearts be pure and pleasing to You.  Lead us to love like You so that many may know and receive Your love.  Amen.

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

Give Thanks In All Things

image by Megan/Brassy Apple

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:18

This does not mean that we need to be thankful FOR all circumstances, rather, we are to be thankful IN all circumstances, for God is still our God – be it in blessing or in battle.  His love and presence remain, and for that, we ought to give Him thanks and praise.

Every evil attack against us is NOT from God.  He who is good and is love, has nothing to do with that which comes against us.  God, in His infinite wisdom, continuous kindness and lavish love for us, His kids, will keep close – as near as our next breath – through both the presence of pain and of plenty.  God’s very nature, His nearness, these are our reasons to be grateful and to give Him praise at all times.

There are times when the suffering or the struggle are making it seemingly impossible to stand, yet in Him, there is strength.  In Him, there is hope.  In Him, there is reason to reflect upon His goodness and grace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our reason to give thanks.  Thank You that no matter what surrounds us or comes against us, You alone, remain with us, holding our hands and our hearts.  Forgive us for losing sight of You in our storms, and help our hearts to hold onto our hope in You, no matter what comes near – as You are our beacon that shows the way through the storm to the safety of Your loving arms.  Teach us to trust in You; Your strength, Your mercy, Your grace, Your great love for each of us that always stays the same.  May we give thanks IN all things and at all times, not FOR our circumstances, but for Your faithfulness to us in them.  May many come to know Your nearness through our lives lived in gratitude, despite our circumstances.  Amen.

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