Willing Hearts and Hands

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, NIV)

So remember that the Lord your God is the only God, and you can trust Him! He keeps His agreement. He shows His love and kindness to all people who love Him and obey His commands. He continues to show His love and kindness through a thousand generations. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, ERV)

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, NLT)

 

God is love. He is faithful to show His unfailing love to all who choose to love Him and seek to keep His commands. If we are loving God and loving people, we are actively and intentionally obeying all that He asks. Our decision to do so does not mean that we will have a life free from trial or pain, but it does mean that we will have the faithful love of the eternal God for now and in all of life that is yet to come. May we ever remember that the Lord is our God whom we can trust, as He keeps His word and shows love and kindness to all who love and obey Him.

 

The Lord is our God,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

In whom we can trust;

His promise to love,

Forever for us.

All who choose to love,

And obey as asked;

Know unfailing love,

That will always last.

So, keep His commands,

For they’re about love;

Love God and people,

His grace is enough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love. Thank You that You show love and kindness to all who seek You and obey what You ask. Thank You that Your presence is promised for all time. Forgive us for the times that we are less than loving or do not recognize Your nearness. Please remind our hearts of Your nearness and fill us with Your love for those around us. Show us how to love You and those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love and obey Your leading with willing hearts and hands. Amen.

 

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

 

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

To Demonstrate Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – (John 13:34, NIV)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

Love one another, on this day, where people are intentional to express their love and appreciation for others, there is the perfect opportunity for loving one another as we are called and commanded to do. In this particular passage, Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples, and was sharing a last meal with them, prior to His betrayal that took Him to the cross. Jesus was giving charge to His disciples, as He knew the road that lay before Him, and wanted the faithful followers to be prepared to persevere. When Jesus told the disciples to love as He had loved them, they understood the enormity of the love that they were being called to give. First hand, they had been the recipients of the care, provision, healing, help, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, hopefulness, perseverance and protection that His love provided. Jesus knew the task was impossible in their own strength, yet with His help, they could do all things. We are no different today. The command to love each other deeply and fully, remains. Our Source of strength to love anyway, even when those we know we are called to love seem unlovable, is Christ. He empowers us to love as He loves. Sometimes love is simply a kind word or an encouraging smile. Other times, love reaches out and goes beyond what is comfortable, to be certain that those around us know that they are valued and worthy of love.

One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Jesus at the well, speaking to the Samaritan woman. He crossed cultural divides and racial relations to reach out and impact the heart of a hurting soul. The very act of speaking to her in the first place, violated all sorts of barriers that normally were in place between Jews and Samaritans, much less men and women. Because Jesus loved, He spoke truth in love, and her heart was forever changed. What had been a space of sin and shame, became her testimony to tell of who Jesus was and how He knew about her before she said a word. That woman at the well went from being an outcast, to knowing that she was loved, valued and known. That is our purpose in love. May we seek the Lord and His strength, so that we too may acknowledge those around us in ways that help them feel valued, loved and known.

 

We are commanded,

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The loves of my life. Photos courtesy of Dee Jones, Open Door Photography

To go forth in love;

Value each other,

Like the Lord above.

Love grants us value,

Helps us know we’re known;

When unseen is seen,

God’s true love is shown.

Let us seek His strength,

So love leads the way;

May we follow Him,

And love well each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love. Thank You that this is not something done flippantly, but rather it is intentionally and specifically, as there are countless examples of love in Your word, and directions as to what love is and how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love those around us well. Teach us to seek Your strength, even when we are struggling with our own trials and frustrations. Thank You that often the antidote for difficulty is to reach out and give love, support and encouragement to others, in spite of ourselves. Grant us the strength and wisdom to seek You and show us how to love those around us best. You know each need and what will bless and encourage the most. Show us, I pray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and choose to love one another. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Deeply Planted and Nourished

Ezekiel 47:1-12 New International Version (NIV)

The River From the Temple

47 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. 11 But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

 

Today marks the twenty-first day of a twenty-one day time of intentionally seeking the Lord. Together, with many others in my church, we have been following a specific reading plan for each day. Though following a daily devotional reading plan is part of my daily practice, I am in the habit of moving on to another passage or reading further until I find something that stands out, in order to reflect and do my writing. However, today, I felt challenged to sit in my struggle; to find some sort of simplicity in a seemingly complex text. Immediately as I read the passage, it felt as though it were an allegory for me to unpack. The commentary I read pertaining to this passage, pointed to Christ as the temple from whom healing waters flow. His Spirit in us lends itself to touching more and more lives wherever we go, bringing life where it was formerly absent. As we invest our lives in Him, good fruit is produced, and others are nourished. We will not wither if we stay firmly rooted in our Source. My simplistic summary is merely scratching the surface on all the promise this passage holds. For a more in-depth look, here is the link: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/ezekiel/47.html May we ever stay rooted and established in Christ, the true Source of living water, so that we may bring life and goodness wherever we go.

 

The Temple on high, Deeply Planted and Nourished

From where healing flows;

The more that we seek,

The greater it grows.

His vast love cleanses,

Brings new life again;

Hope to the hopeless,

Grace comes flooding in.

Where we are flooded,

There is overflow;

So much more to give,

To make His love known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Temple from where healing waters flow. Thank You that Your love floods our hearts, minds and entire beings when we seek and stay firmly planted in You. Forgive us for allowing our roots to grow shallow so that we have little to offer. Teach us to stay deeply planted in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that allow Your goodness, nourishment and healing to flood them too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to pursue a life deeply planted and nourished in You. Amen.

 

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

 

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

 

 

Strength and Peace

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NIV)

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace. – (Psalm 29:11, MSG)

 

This is exactly the sort of day where I need to be reminded of such promises from God. I am on the verge of being sick, and I have a very full and demanding day ahead of me. Additionally, I did something to my back over the weekend, and find myself especially grateful for His promise to strengthen and bless with peace. God always makes a way, where there seems to be no way; the challenge comes in remembering that in the moments when what lies before us seems overwhelming. As for me, this is why I rise early and set my heart on Him. The mountains that are standing before me when I first wake, appear more manageable by the time I have spent time intentionally with God. He reminds me of who He is, and who I am in Him. May we ever turn to the Lord for strength and peace, for He meets us as we seek Him.

 

The Lord grants His strength, Grow to Overflowing

To all those who seek;

And fills up with peace,

Hearts troubled and weak.

Faithful to meet us, 

The Lord always hears;

Each prayer we lift up,

In love, He draws near.

He knows our trials,

The mountains we face;

Meets us with His strength,

Love, hope and great grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us strength and peace when it is lacking. Thank You that You are faithful forever to all who seek You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we fix our gaze on the size of the mountains before us, rather than the greatness of You. Teach us to trust You to be our strength and peace in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace and strength in practical and tangible ways where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and peace, and praise You for Your faithfulness. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:26

Take Delight

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

Enjoy serving the Lord, and He will give you whatever you ask for. – (Psalm 37:4, ERV)

Enjoy the Lord, and He will give what your heart asks. – (Psalm 37:4, CEB)

Take great joy in the Eternal! His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires! – (Psalm 37:4, VOICE)

 

God is so good. As we seek and serve Him, our desires are shaped by who we are becoming in Him, and He shows us in ways beyond what we could hope or imagine, how He will give us the very things that we are hoping for in His Name. As my fiancé and I are preparing for our wedding in July, we have begun the process of searching for a home that will accommodate he and his son and me and my two boys. It is a challenging task to find a space that meets the needs of three teenage boys, two adults, several vehicles, and the need for space to spread out, as the personalities of each need room of our own. Additionally, we would love a space that has room to welcome others into our home to share a meal, come and visit from out-of-state (as we both have extended family far away), and space to decompress from the hurried pace that is required in both of our jobs. Yesterday, we were shown our dream home. It fulfilled everything on our wish list and more. The price was higher than we had hoped, and we did not think it would be feasible until we went back, sat down, and really analyzed numbers on paper. We both were in awe as we ran the numbers and discovered that as two heads of household merged into one, we would indeed be able to afford the home we desired most without overextending ourselves. God continues to remind me that as I delight in Him, He will bless me with the desires that He has placed in my heart. The hopes and dreams that my heart holds are not simply random thoughts that came out of nowhere, but rather they are things birthed and nurtured within my design, intentionally. May we ever delight in the Lord and seek to serve Him, as He is the One who gives us what our hearts desire most.

Asking for Amazing Answers

Delight in the Lord,

For He is the One;

Who knows our heart’s cry,

As each day is done.

The more that we seek,

The Lord and His will;

Our hopes shall align,

And dreams be fulfilled.

For when He’s our joy,

Desires come from Him;

Blessings are bestowed,

Both outside and in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we delight in You, You give us the desires of our hearts. Thank You that You love to bless Your children. Thank You for the incredible ways that You move beyond what we could hope or imagine, and that the hopes and dreams that dwell within us come from You. Forgive us for our doubts or for thinking that anything is impossible for You. Teach us to trust You more, and to place our hopes, dreams and desires in Your hands. Show us how to love those around us in a way that grants hope and courage and joy in the wait between the dream and the fulfillment. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we delight in You and give all glory to You as You bless us with the very things our hearts are longing for. Amen.

 

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

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

Pray Expectantly

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly. – (Psalm 5:3, NLT)

Every morning, Lord, I lay my gifts before You and look to You for help. And every morning You hear my prayers. – (Psalm 5:3, ERV)

In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice; in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer. – (Psalm 5:3, VOICE)

 

Most mornings, I am up long before the sun has risen. This is a treasured time of solitude in the silent stillness, where I am able to invest time in His word and reflect on God’s goodness. Though I am spending this time intentionally, my prayers are fairly familiar each day, as my main request is to be equipped to love well. The Lord is faithful and kind, and grants far more patience than I would ever have on my own. However, I imagine there is far more that I ought to be asking for. There are dreams and desires that He has planted in my heart that lie dormant and hidden, rather than being placed on the altar with anticipation before Him – hopes of mighty movement in lives, circumstances, and things yet to come, that I need to present before Him and watch expectantly for Him to answer. God is faithful forever, if we only choose to come before Him in trust. May we begin each day presenting our praise and petitions before our faithful Father, and watch expectantly for Him to answer, as He always hears.

 

O Lord as I rise, Approaching the Throne of Grace

I come first to You;

With all that I am,

Trusting Your word’s true.

Listen for my voice,

At the dawn’s first light;

I know You’ll hear me,

In us, You delight.

I’ll offer requests,

And all of my praise;

Watching for answers,

You’re faithful always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You each morning and present our requests to You, and You hear our prayers. Thank You that we can pray anytime about anything, and You are available and willing to listen. Thank You that You long for us to be in communication with You. Forgive us for neglecting to bring forth the things that we keep hidden in our hearts, as You already know them anyway. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for all things, and wait in expectation, knowing that You are moving on our behalf to bring answers. Guard our hearts from discouragement when answers do not come in the time frame we are hoping to see. Thank You that Your timing is perfect. Show us how to love and pray for those around us in meaningful and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift our prayers and praise before You each morning, and wait expectantly for You to answer. 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

Releasing the Right to Revenge

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. – (Proverbs 20:22, NLT) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll pay them back for what they did to me!” Wait for the Lord. He will make things right. – (Proverbs 20:22, ERV) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; He’ll settle the score. – (Proverbs 20:22, MSG) 

 

For many, this is a difficult road to walk. Our natural inclination is to give back whatever we are given. When extended kindness, it is easy to return. However, when someone wrongs us or intentionally brings harm, it is almost without conscious thought, that our minds go to returning the hurt. With Christ in us, there is a filter to know that we are not meant to lash out in anger, nor return harm for hurt against us, yet it is a process that requires a decision to place the hurt or harm in His hands, and trust Him to handle the matter. Our part is to forgive and move forward. Forgiveness does not mean foolishly nor blindly forgetting and setting ourselves in a vulnerable or unsafe space, but it does mean letting go of our desire to lash out or get even and allow God (and if necessary, the law) to deal with the wrong-doer. May we release our perceived right for revenge, and give our offenses to God. Let us trust our hearts in His hands, as He knows best how to handle these hurdles. 

 

Speak not of revenge, Shackles No More

For it’s not our role; 

To repay all wrongs, 

Must not be our goal. 

Instead let us wait, 

Place all in God’s hands; 

He will make things right, 

He hears, understands. 

Often His answers, 

Open our blind eyes; 

We grow in His grace, 

As love’s realized. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it is not our job to get even for the harm that is done against us, but rather You ask us to place it in Your hands. Thank You that we can trust You, as You are good and just, and You love us more than we can comprehend. Forgive us for seeking to “get even” when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place our perceived harms in Your hands, and allow You to handle whatever has hurt our hearts. Grant us wisdom to know how to seek help if help is required, and give us strength to forgive when forgiveness is far from what is desired. Show us how to love well those who have been wronged, so that they may find Your grace and forgiveness, leaving the need for retribution in Your hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our hurts to You, and allow You to handle making things right when we have been wronged. Amen.

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

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

Rise Again

Good people might fall again and again, but they always get up. – (Proverbs 24:16a, ERV)

God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet again. – (Proverbs 24:16, MSG)

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. – (Proverbs 24:16, NIV)

 

When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. I have witnessed incredible strength demonstrated in the lives of people in the midst of crazy adversity. What I noticed, is that each of those who had strength to rise when most would have crumbled, were firmly established in their faith. Despite their circumstances and what they were able to see before them, their faith did not waiver. Each time I observe such unflappable faith, I am both in awe and inspired to invest more of my heart in the spaces where I struggle to trust. The goodness of God gives way to strength and hope and help in such spaces, if we are willing to place our trust in Him. We must ask in order for Him to answer, as God does not force His way in, nor does He overtake our hearts and minds. We have a free will and must choose. May we ever make the choice to use our voice and intentionally trust in the Lord and His strength, so that each time we fall, we rise up again.

 

We can be certain,Rise Again

That trials will come;

Our resolve tested,

Where will we choose run?

When we trust the Lord,

Seek His strength and might;

We gain the resolve,

To rise up and fight.

No matter the falls,

The times we’re knocked down;

If we trust in Him,

Strength to rise is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, You give us the strength and resolve to rise again, each time we fall down. Forgive us for the times that we have fallen from Your grace with the choices we have made, and stayed stuck, rather than seeking You for help and forgiveness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You when we are down, and when things are going well. Help us to keep short accounts, so that we do not divert from the path that You have placed before us. Show us how to love and lead those around us well, so that they too, may rise again, each time that they fall. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your strength to help us rise again, each time we fall. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Hope Overflowing

I pray that God, the Source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, NLT)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

 

Though this is my prayer for all, it is lifted intentionally for my pastors and their family today, as this will be their final Sunday serving our church family. They are leaving to answer a calling that is clear only in the where, but not particularly certain as to what it will entail. Their hearts to serve and obey have been transparent and exemplars of true servant leaders, as they have been raw and real about the struggle to walk out this new path, as their hearts are so securely planted here. Sorrow, anticipation and uncertainty surround this transition for all. Not one of us is sure of what the “new” will look like, but we all have the assurance that God has not orchestrated this by accident. We have the hope that He has good things in store for each of us, and in Him, we can find joy and peace as we choose trust, despite our despair over our losses. May the God of all hope fill you completely with joy and peace as you trust in Him, and may you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

In uncertainty,hope-overflowing

The sweet Prince of Peace;

Fills us with His hope,

And joy He’ll release.

As we trust in Him,

Confidence shall rise;

And hope overflows,

His Spirit supplies.

Let us place our trust,

Where all grace is found;

And boldly go forth,

As His hope abounds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust You, You fill us with Your joy and peace, and provide hope in abundance so that it will flow from us by Your Spirit. Thank You for the gift that You have given me and so many through Pastors Jon and Wendy and their family. Please fill them completely with Your joy and peace because they trust in You. May they overflow with confident hope by Your Spirit to all whom they encounter in their new community. Bless them as they are such a blessing to others. Forgive us for not trusting You enough. Teach us to trust as You alone are trustworthy. Fill us with Your joy and peace so that we may pass the same on to those around us. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You completely, and in turn overflow with the confident hope that we receive by the power of Your Holy Spirit. 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

Worthy of Praise

Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God, to receive glory and honor and power. You created all things, and through Your will and by Your design, they exist and were created. – (Revelation 4:11, VOICE)

You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive all glory and honor and power. For You created all things, and they exist because You created what You pleased. – (Revelation 4:11, NLT)

 

Each one of us was intentionally designed. God planned us with purpose, and is pleased with His creation. Because God is good, He deserves all of our praise. All glory and honor and power are His, and we are called to operate our lives accordingly. When we walk out our days loving God and loving people, we are fulfilling the purpose that He has placed before us. The more we seek to step out in accordance to God’s plan, the more we recognize both our need for God and the glory that belongs to Him alone. May we walk in the way that is pleasing to God, and give Him all glory and honor for who He is and how He has created all things.

 

God You are worthy,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

Of all of our praise;

All glory to You,

For all of our days.

Lord, You have designed,

With purpose and plan;

All of creation,

Each woman and man.

May we spend our lives,

Each one of our days;

Honoring You Lord,

Let our lives bring praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created all things with purpose, and with each of us You were well pleased. Thank You that You loved so much that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to come into a right relationship with You. Thank You that in You, we can walk according to Your purpose and plan. Forgive us for not seeking You or giving You proper glory and honor for who You are and all that You do. Teach us to trust You more and to recognize how worthy You are of all glory and honor, as all power is Yours alone. Show us how to love those around us according to Your plan, so that they might see Your heart through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your creation and seek to honor You by walking in Your ways for all of our days. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19