Sweet Independence

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

 

Independence Day has an entirely new meaning in my world this year. I am not speaking on a national level, but rather on a personal one. Independence, as it is defined, is the freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. (dictionary.com)  Ironically, to be independent from the wiles of this world, we must be dependent on God. We have to know the Lord, trust His word to be true, and actually follow after Him with our whole heart, to avoid being sucked into a dependence on popular thought, regardless of how askew it has become. Personally, I am in a space where my formerly independent mom, is currently completely dependent on me (or my sister) for everything throughout her day. Aid and support are required to sustain her, as the right side of her body is still not cooperating as it used to, prior to her stroke. At times I find myself feeling like a prisoner in this space, as I am accustomed to the freedom to come and go as I choose. Not having the liberty to take off and go for a run or make a quick trip to the store as needed, is an odd sort of normal. That being said, even when I have those freedoms at home, I still depend on God. My thought life and ability to express myself is independent of anyone’s control, and any submitting that I do, is a personal choice unto the Lord.

Perhaps my point is to not take our independence for granted. Mom’s independence was taken in an unexpected instant. She had no prior health issues nor warning signs, yet a stroke happened, and here we are. God is gracious and mom is a fighter. He has given her strength and tenacity, and I believe she will work her way back to full function on her own again. However, there is much work and an undisclosed timeline in the in between. Yesterday was another good day, as mom walked the full length of her hallway by herself with the walker during physical therapy in the morning. A bit later, we went on a “field trip” into town to drive through Dutch Bros for coffee. Honestly, it is a way to get out of the house and take in a change of scenery. Upon our return, we sat on the deck and spent a few hours playing Uno and Dominos. Playing games is a great way to continue to connect pathways in her healing brain, and do not be fooled, as she is a ruthless competitor. 😊 The remainder of the day was fairly routine, as we did the usual sort of activities. Last night, she had a few wake-ups in a short span of time, but then slept until 5:30 this morning. There is absolutely nothing scheduled for today, so we shall see what the day holds. We are independent to choose, yet dependent on God for His goodness and grace as we go. May your day be free and blessed as You celebrate the gift of independence that is held in your hands.

 

Sweet independence,

Freedom to behold;

Where no one controls,

We choose what to hold.

Hold fast to the truth,

Grace rooted in love;

Trust in the Lord’s word,

All hope from above.

Only by God’s grace,

Do we truly know;

Freedom forever,

True peace to let go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that true independence and freedom come when we learn to be dependent on You. Thank You for the nourishment found in Your word. Forgive us for our frustration found in our circumstances, somehow thinking that our independence has anything to do with our location or physical condition. Teach us to trust You more, understanding that Your word truly sets us free from all that holds us captive. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may come to understand freedom in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate our independence because of our dependence on You. Amen.

 

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

 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – Galatians 5:13

May Good Overflow

 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. – (Luke 6:45, NLT)

Good people have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and thats why they say things that are evil. What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.  (Luke 6:45, ERV)

A person full of goodness in his heart produces good things; a person with an evil reservoir in his heart pours out evil things. The heart overflows in the words a person speaks; your words reveal what’s within your heart. – (Luke 6:45, VOICE)

 

God is entirely good. The more we know God and trust in Him, the more we are influenced and transformed to reflect His heart and His character. If we neglect God and the truth of His word, we are susceptible to evil, as it seeps into our hearts and impacts all that we do and say. Either way, what we say and do is directly influenced by where our heart resides. May we ever seek the Lord and His love to fill us, so that what flows from us is a direct reflection of the very heart of God.

 

Wherever our heart, May Good Overflow

May choose to reside;

Directly affects,

What comes from inside.

Good comes from a heart,

Set secure on Christ;

When good’s taken in,

We choose sacrifice.

Sacrifice ego,

That causes unkind;

Preferring others,

With their good in mind.

For out of the heart,

Flows what’s held within;

May we clearly show,

Good rather than sin.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that comes in and transforms the hearts of all who seek You, to reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to seek You, or have allowed the world to influence our attitudes and actions instead of depending on You. Teach us to pursue Your heart in all things, so that good may be what flows from us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that allows Your good to be poured out upon all whom we meet. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart in all things and allow Your good to flow from us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely Your 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

Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Model the Good

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God. – (3 John 1:11, NLT)

My dear friend, don’t follow what is bad; follow what is good. Whoever does what is good is from God. But whoever does evil has never known God. – (3 John 1:11, ERV)

Friends, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, and doesn’t know the first thing about God. – (3 John 1:11, MSG)

 

When we choose to do good, despite what is going on around us, our actions and attitude are a witness to the truth of who God is and how He loves. Conversely, when we succumb to the ill influences that envelop us, the truth of who God is and how He loves is not seen or known at all. Our daily decisions matter. For some, we are the lens through which glimpses of God are first viewed. How do we want Him to be known? May we ever seek to follow that which is good, so that His love may be made evident through us.

 

Do not allow bad, Bloom Where We're Planted

To sway what you know;

Keep choosing the good,

Allow His love grow.

When we choose give in,

To things that are wrong;

The hope we long show,

Has faded and gone.

Rise up and choose well,

In love, model good;

It’s here hope is shown,

And grace, understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to follow You and do what is good. Forgive us for the times that we have given in to the influences around us and chosen poorly. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your strength to choose good every time, as we want to represent You well. Show us how to love others in a way that extends the good that blesses and encourages them according to what they need most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to do what is good because You are good. 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

Transformed from the Inside Out

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – (Romans 12:2, NLT)

Don’t change yourself to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect. – (Romans 12:2, ERV)

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing and complete. – (Romans 12:2, VOICE)

 

This is such an important message for all of us to remember. The media floods us with images of how we should look, popular culture tries to dictate what is acceptable and what is not, and those with whom we surround ourselves, have their own ideas as well. God made each of us with a plan and a purpose. Individually, we are hand-crafted with different talents and gifts to utilize for His glory. The only way to know God’s will and what is good and pleasing and complete according to Him, is to seek Him and pursue the path which He has planned for us. If we allow the world to shape our thoughts, ideals and identity, we will never realize what it is to be transformed from the inside out to live a life that fulfills the purposes of our Heavenly Father. Where the world tells us that we are not enough, Christ tells us that we can do all things in Him, as He will give us strength. May we turn a deaf ear to the shouts of the world’s wooing, and instead listen to the gentle whisper of the voice of the living God, who transforms our hearts and minds and leads us to know all that is good and pleasing and complete.

 

Allow not the world,

Transformed from the Inside Out

Image from favim.com

A place or a voice;

For all that is good,

Comes when God’s our choice.

If we choose listen,

Allow God transform;

Our hearts and our minds,

Hope and strength are born.

It’s in Christ alone,

That we come to know;

The path that is good,

Where completion grows.

So, bend not to things,

The world has to say;

Instead seek the Lord,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not have to change ourselves to be like what the world expects, but rather we are called to allow You to transform us from the inside out, so that we will know what is good and pleasing and complete according to Your will. Forgive us for allowing what we see or hear to influence how we see ourselves, rather than listening to what You say about who we are and how You see us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would worry not about the world’s approval, but instead that we would continue to further discover our infinite worth in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them to feel valued for who they are, just as they are, rather than if they were a certain way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they discover who You are and how You love. Be glorified O God, as we turn away from the patterns of the world that seek to draw us in, and turn to You to transform us from the inside out. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Wisdom With Friends

Be friends with those who are wise, and you will become wise. Choose fools to be your friends, and you will have trouble. – (Proverbs 13:20, ERV)

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. – (Proverbs 13:20, MSG)

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – (Proverbs 13:20, NIV)

 

The company we keep matters. Those whom we spend the most time with, have the loudest voice in our lives. Are the words spoken by those around us encouraging and uplifting, ever willing to speak truth in love? Though we cannot control what others say and do, we can choose the people that we make a priority in our lives. Additionally, we can determine the influence that we have on those around us. When we walk in wisdom and truth, we are providing a path to peace. May we seek to spend time with those who are wise, rather than making friends with fools; and may we be friends who walk in wisdom and lift up all who surround us.

 

Help me be a friend,Wisdom With Friends

Who’s wise in my ways;

An encouragement,

To others, always.

A fool for a friend,

Is cause for alarm;

For such company,

Will only bring harm.

So choose well your friends,

Opt walk with the wise;

Growing in wisdom,

Purpose realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us and guide us and give us direction as to what is best for us. Thank You that You remind us that the company we keep matters. Thank You that not only do those we choose to spend time with have influence on us, but we do on them as well. Forgive us for either choosing poorly, or for being foolish as friends. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to show us whom we are meant to spend time with, and that all wisdom comes from You. Grant us Your wisdom, so that we may love well, all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we first seek You for all wisdom and listen to You for direction in our friendships, so that above all, You may be praised. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Maintain the Message

Those men who were considered to be important did not change the Good News message I tell people. (It doesn’t matter to me if they were “important” or not. To God everyone is the same.) – (Galatians 2:6, ERV)

It makes no difference to me (or to God for that matter) if people have power or influence. God doesn’t choose favorites among His children. Even the so-called pillars of the church didn’t contribute anything new to my understanding of the good news. – (Galatians 2:6, VOICE)

 

The point Paul is making in this verse is that when God calls us to speak the truth of His Word, all are an equal opportunity audience. In other words, we should not be intimidated to speak the very same truth that we share with our children to those who are in positions of power and influence. God sees everyone the same, and longs for all to come to know Him. When God gives us words to say, we need to simply speak them, rather than worry about how they will be received by those who hear. May our hearts be open to His words, so that we are prepared to speak the truth in love as He asks.

 

No one should try change,The Word of God

The truth of God’s word;

None are so mighty,

Nor by God, preferred.

We are all equal,

In God’s precious sight;

Dearly loved children,

In whom He delights.

He speaks to our hearts,

True words we can share;

Encouragement, love,

Comfort and His care.

Be brave and be bold,

Choose speak truth in love;

Let not fear of man,

Hold you in what was.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the truth of Your word remains the same, and that no one can change that, regardless of their power or position. Thank You too, that what You call us to, You also equip us for, and You do not choose favorites among us. Thank You that we are all equally loved and valued as Your precious children. Forgive us for being intimidated by some, and allowing our perceptions of others to influence what we do or don’t say, despite what we know You have asked us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would speak the truth of Your word through our words and deeds in all things and at all times, regardless of who is near. Show us how to love people as we are loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and let our lives speak truth, no matter who is near. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Seeking in the Specifics

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. – (Colossians 3:17, NLT)

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

Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father. – (Colossians 3:17, VOICE)

 

If we truly think about everything we say and do being a representation of Jesus to those around us, our approach changes in how we interact with others and operate throughout our day. Often, the only Jesus that people see is that which we present through how we live our lives. Are we propelled from a place of gratitude that gives glimpses of God’s glory, or do we grumble and withhold grace? Thankfully, we all are a work in progress. God does not expect us to get it right every moment of every day. We are called to seek Him, and pursue a life lived according to His purpose. As we walk it out, our words and deeds become more aligned with His. The more we recognize the loving kindness and grace that God has given us, the easier it becomes to do likewise with those around us. May we give God thanks for all that He has done, and pursue a life lived like His Son.

 

Let each word spoken,Forgiveness is Free

And every deed;

Be done unto God,

Planting faithful seed.

For where there is love,

And undeserved grace;

Gratitude rises,

For sweet is such space.

Our words and actions,

Opportunity;

To let Christ’s light shine,

And His grace set free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we invite You to be Lord of our lives, You are with us and influence all that we say and do. Thank You that You empower and equip us to follow You as You call us to do. Forgive us for not honoring You with all that we do and say. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would give You all of ourselves, withholding nothing from You. Show us how to allow You to lead us where we struggle to give You the reigns. Guide our words and actions so that we love those around us in a way that shows Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to allow You to guide all that we say and do, so that all is done unto You. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Above All, Guard Your Heart

More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, CEB)

Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, TLB)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

 

We are called to prioritize protecting the place within us that dictates the things that we do. Our mind, heart and affection all influence our decisions, and if we do not guard these things, the life that is meant to flow from us, will fall flat. As we determine to walk in His way and seek to obey, we cannot help but exude His light and life as we go about our day. May we above all else, guard our hearts, so that what flows from us leads to life in Christ.

 

More than anything,Confidence in Christ

Let us choose to guard;

Our hearts and our minds,

From becoming scarred.

For as we seek Him,

He protects our minds;

And everything else,

His power can bind.

So, let His light shine,

In all that we do;

Protect heart and mind,

And to Christ stay true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and Your strength, You give us what we need to protect our mind, heart and affection. Thank You that through protecting these, everything else in our lives is protected too. Forgive us for neglecting to be vigilant in guarding our hearts and minds. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, to show us what is acceptable to allow in, and what we need to avoid. Show us how to love others in such a way, that Your loving kindness freely flows from us so that they may come to understand Your goodness and grace. May many come to a place of choosing to walk with You forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom and strength to protect our minds, hearts and affections. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Walk in Grace

Despite Paul’s influence on the people who were following Christ, he recognized that nothing he did was his goodness given to God, but rather any good that was granted, was in fact God working through him to give grace and peace and truth to those around him. Any good that we can observe, either in us or through us, is God’s gift to us, and all the more reason for us to give Him praise. The following is Paul’s explanation in the Message:

 

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him. – (Romans 12:3, MSG)

 

The very idea that we get to participate in anything of God is incredible, in and of itself. Nothing good that we do could ever be done by our own volition, but rather is endowed by our Creator. God empowers those who seek and trust in Him to do His will. It is Christ in us that brings good, rather than good in us being brought before Him. May we rise up and pursue the path He has placed before us, so that we might be instruments of His peace to people everywhere. Let God’s goodness flow through us, so all might come to know Him.

 

When we walk in grace,Gentleness for the Weary

The love of God shows;

Not by our own good,

But through Him who rose.

All that is lovely,

And all that is pure;

Everything righteous,

Is Christ drawing near.

Let us remember,

Our role and our place;

As people of thanks,

And givers of grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for who You are and all that You have done for us. Thank You for light and life, hope and help, in all things and at all times. Thank You that You are good all of the time, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You see us and know us, better than we know ourselves. Forgive us for forgetting the role we were created to fill, and help us to trust You enough to walk forward in that which You are calling us into. Show us how to live fearlessly in the light of Your love. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see You through the things we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our gratitude to You, and allow You to move through us as we get out of the way. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14