Offerings Become Art

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, CEB)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG)

 

This verse is both a challenge and an encouragement. As an individual who has felt called to teach since a very young age, it has been an interesting path to traverse over the last twenty-one years. There have been times that the obstacles and challenges seemed so impossible, that I wanted to walk away. The time, resources and self that are poured into each day, have to be for Him, or our perspective becomes distorted.  I know this is only the first week, but there is something that feels more steady and secure than it ever has before. Perhaps it is the tangible support I have at home that provides me the freedom to invest more of myself as I begin each day full, rather than depleted. Another possibility is that I am, for the first time in my career, teaching what I love most, for the majority of my day. Though I enjoy teaching the variety of subjects I have taught throughout my career thus far, I know that my excitement and enthusiasm for helping kids discover that they can create art, is not a waste of time or effort. There is something powerful to watch as students realize that they are able to do far more than they ever thought possible. May we ever stand firm and stay the course to which we are called, for nothing we do for Him is ever for naught.

 

If all that we do, 257314779340194518937431.jpeg

Is unto the Lord;

No effort wasted,

As grace is outpoured.

For God gladly takes,

What we choose to bring;

And uses for good,

All our offerings.

Whether it is time,

Resources or heart;

All done unto God,

Become lifetime art.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all that we do unto You can be used for Your glory. Thank You that as we stay the course to which we are called, we see Your faithfulness unfold in Your time. Thank You that You are always good, even when we cannot see the good before us. Forgive us for our doubts that make us question the direction we know we are meant to go. Strengthen us to stand firm and press on, trusting completely in You to bring beauty from our investment of time, energy and heart. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages them to discover or continue on the path to which they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to use our every offering for good as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Peace in His Power

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.” – (Jeremiah 32:17, NIV)

“Lord God, with Your great power You made the earth and the sky. There is nothing too hard for You to do.” – (Jeremiah 32:17, ERV)

“Dear God, my Master, You created earth and sky by Your great power – by merely stretching out Your arm! There is nothing You can’t do.” – (Jeremiah 32:17, MSG)

 

When pressure is on or things take an unexpected turn, God is ever-present and nothing surprises Him. He who made the heavens and earth can help us face and overcome anything that comes our way. God walks before us, beside us and behind us in all things and at all times. There is nothing too difficult for God. As we draw nearer to Him, we become more aware of His presence and His power that are available, if only we seek Him. Today marks the start of our ten-day countdown to our wedding. Though there is much to do to prepare, I do not feel stressed nor overwhelmed, for I know that God is with us and for us, and that He will provide where we lack – be it time, energy, strength or peace. He who can silence a storm with a single phrase, can help us navigate and orchestrate all that is yet to be done. May we ever seek the Lord, who made the heavens and earth by His mighty hand, for nothing is too difficult for Him.

 

God of all power,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Strength and wisdom too;

Comes as we seek Him,

All things He can do.

Brings peace in chaos,

Strength when we are weak;

Power, provision,

He’s near as we seek.

Let us choose draw near,

To our God above;

We’re held in His hands,

Surrounded in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You who created the heavens and the earth, are approachable and ready to help in our spaces of lack. Thank You that nothing is too difficult for You. Thank You that You give peace in Your presence, and that we need not worry, for You hold us in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for allowing challenges or daunting tasks to distract us from the help and peace that You provide in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers Your peace and help in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the power present in and through You. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Do Right and Build Up

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. – (Romans 15:2, NIV)

(We should not do what pleases us) but do what pleases them and is for their good. We should do whatever helps everyone grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 15:2, ERV)

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. – (Romans 15:2, NLT)

Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity. – (Romans 15:2, TPT)

A sweet colleague and friend whom I appreciate and admire, who also happens to be a fellow blogger, published a post yesterday that leads me to the application of the verse that my heart landed upon this morning. The gist of her post, though I am not doing it justice, was that despite the struggles, challenges and obstacles that we are facing daily, her heart, with hope, is to have no bad days. One way that we can contribute to the betterment of the days of others is to look for ways to build them up and to empower them. How can we do things that increase the faith of those around us? If we can find good in each day and extend encouragement to others, we not only grow the faith in others, but in ourselves as well. May we seek to do what is right and pleasing so that others may be built up and press on, even on the hardest days.

Help us look for good,

Ways to choose build up;

To please our neighbors,
Do Right and Build Up

In faith, fill their cup.

As we do what’s right,

And opt extend grace;

Empowered rise up,

As they find fresh faith.

Let’s not grow weary,

In choosing what’s right;

Help and love others,

Let’s fight the good fight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do what is good and pleasing for others to help them grow and be built up in faith. Thank You that as we choose to focus on others, You fill and refresh us in the process. Forgive us for somehow thinking that we have nothing to offer in our own space of weariness. Teach us to trust You more, as You fill us and build us up, providing all that we need and more. Show us how to love well the people who You have placed around us, so that we would do what is right and pleasing to build them up and help grow their faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for bringing good unto us when we are depleted, and for growing our faith in You so that we may in turn do the same for those around us. 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

Confident Hope

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. – (Jeremiah 17:7, NIV)

But those who trust in the Lord will be blessed. They know that the Lord will do what He says. – (Jeremiah 17:7, ERV)

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. – (Jeremiah 17:7, TLB)

 

God is faithful, even when our faith waivers based on what we see. However, the more we trust in Him in spite of what we think we know, the more we begin to become aware of just how much His blessings flow. We can either be confident in Christ or confident in other things. Sadly, a third option seems to be to be confident and hopeful in nothing. When days are long and things get difficult, I have to remember where my hope truly lies. If I begin to focus on what I see, I start to lose heart, rather than recognize the bountiful blessings that I already hold. Our perspective shifts as we trust the One who holds us in His hands. May we ever trust the Lord and place our confidence in He who is worthy of all of our trust, as He blesses those who truly trust in Him.

 

Let not our eyesight, Be Full of Joy

Determine our trust;

For God is faithful,

Keeps His word to us.

All that the Lord says,

We can trust is true;

With confident hope,

Know He’ll follow through.

For God is not man,

Where hope may fall flat;

In Him we are blessed,

He’s where all good’s at.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One in whom we can trust and place all of our hope and confidence. Thank You that as we trust in You, we are blessed as we come to know Your faithfulness for ourselves. Forgive us for placing our hope or trust anywhere other than You, or for losing hope when we cannot see Your hand in our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have confident hope in Your faithfulness, knowing that You are true to Your word and will be faithful to do all that You say You will do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may find hope in spaces that feel hopeless. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with confident hope, and recognize the blessings of Your faithfulness in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

 

Nothing Without Love

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, NLT)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, ERV)

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, MSG)

 

Yes, wisdom, knowledge and faith are all good things, but without love, they are nothing. Our first priority ought to be love. We are called to love God and love people. As we do both, we grow in wisdom, knowledge and faith. The choice to love, despite what we are given, opens our understanding, and shows us more of His heart for us. Often, as we make love our priority, God changes both the hearts of the recipients and the perspective of the giver. Love is patient and love is kind, and love always protects. The challenge is when we are caught in between caring for one and protecting many others. God is faithful and just, and I will trust that He will bring light where darkness is trying to reign, and that His love will lead the way. May we make love our priority in all things, so that every word and deed are shaped by His love.

 

Gifted with speaking, Faithful Obedience

Linguistic wisdom;

Is all meaningless,

If not done in love.

Wisdom and insight,

Vast understanding;

Along with great faith,

Less love, lack meaning.

So seek understand,

But let’s choose love first;

For that is how God,

Loves despite our worst.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that above all, You call us to love. Thank You that love is unpacked for us further as we read on in chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. Forgive us for turning to wisdom or our own human understanding without love. Teach us to trust You more, so that love would lead us in all things. Show us how to love others as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love in all things and at all times. 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

Faith Requires Action

My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothing. Faith like that cannot save anyone. – (James 2:14, ERV)

My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? – (James 2:14, CEB)

Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? – (James 2:14, TLB)

 

No, there is nothing that we can do to make God love us more than He already does, nor is there a way to “earn” His favor. However, when there is a transformed heart through faith in Him, a desire to love as we are loved rises up within us. What we do and how we love is an outward demonstration of the internal transformation that Christ is doing within us. If we claim to have faith, but have no kindness, there is no evidence that faith actually exists. The outward expression of the faith that is fortified in Christ, ought to grow greater as we dig deeper in our walk with the Lord. May we ever invest time and energy in allowing God to grow our faith, so that our actions may clearly shine the light of His love.

 

Brothers and sisters, Good Gifts

May our faith shine bright;

As we seek love well,

In others, delight.

For faith in just words,

Means nothing at all;

If it is not shown,

Our words simply fall.

Yet faith that is shown,

Through actions in love;

Illuminate light,

From the Lord above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we act in faith and choose to love and move in the direction You call, Your light shines bright before others. Forgive us for the times that faith has been a theory hidden in our hearts, rather than what we act upon and allow to lead us to move and do as You have done for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will give action to the faith we hold in our hearts. Show us how to love well those around us, so that needs are met and good is given where it has been lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we put our faith in action. 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

Provided Time

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ERV)

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on earth. – (Ecclesiastes 3:1, MSG)

 

I absolutely believe this to be true for everything, except for grading papers. I loathe having to sit down for long stretches of time, especially on the weekends, to grade tests or papers when I could be out doing just about anything else on earth. However, yesterday, I learned that even so, there is a time and place for grading that is not nearly as painful, and it was provided. My boys were off to work at a collegiate football game until the wee hours of the morning, and my love and his son were heading to his friend’s auto shop up north to work on a car that they were being given, and I had been invited to tag along. After being warned ahead of time that there was little to do, I had determined to bring along tests that needed to be graded, with the hope that I might make a dent in my pile. The warning I had been given was true, as the shop was way out in the middle of nowhere, and there was nothing to keep me from focusing on grading. There was even a chair, a desk space and a portable heater, so I was set up for success from the start. Though I took a few stretch breaks and drove into town to pick up dinner for all of us, by the time we left, I had managed to grade all but three of the ninety tests that had been in my stack! It may seem like a small thing, but for me, it is huge. His provision of a time and place for me to accomplish what I would have otherwise avoided, is a reminder of His concern in even the minute details of our lives. He will provide a right time for everything if we are asking, and will make a way, even if we feel there is no way. May we ever seek the One who is faithful in all things forever.

 

For all things there’s time, Provided Time

A season for all;

God will make a way,

When on Him, we call.

Even in spaces,

That seem there’s no way;

In the Lord’s timing,

He’ll provide pathway.

Trust in His timing,

For God has a plan;

He knows all our needs,

By grace, understands.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, there is a time for everything, and that You will make a way where there seems to be no way, as we turn in trust to You. Thank You that You care about the seemingly small and mundane details of our lives. Forgive us for not seeking You in our struggles, even in the seemingly small or insignificant things. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful to make Your presence known and help us in our need. Show us how to love others in a way that provides help and hope, even in the things that seem small and insignificant, as often those are the things that matter most to the individual. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as with give You glory for Your faithful provision in all things great and small. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Owe Only Love

Owe nothing to anyone – except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. – (Romans 13:8, NLT)

You should own nothing to anyone, except that you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has done all that the law commands. – (Romans 13:8, ERV)

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. – (Romans 13:8, MSG)

 

God calls us to love one another as we have been loved. If we seek to love in the same way that God loves us, it will require a lifetime of loving those around us to carry out that to which we have been called. Love is a rare commodity – for the more we give, the more we discover we are filled and ready to pour out again and again. Every other sort of debt leaves us empty and lacking, yet love fills, restores, and propels us to pour out more. May we allow the only debt that we owe, be that of love to one another.

 

For we have been called, Tether Our Hearts

To fulfill a debt;

The space where love lacks,

Hope where it’s not yet.

Choose not to borrow,

What can’t be paid back;

Unless it is love,

For God can do that.

Never stop loving,

Each other by grace;

This fulfills the law,

To walk in God’s way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You teach us the ways in which we are meant to live according to Your will. Thank You that the only thing we should owe one another is love. Thank You that as we seek to love one another according to Your will, You fill us and equip us to love as You love. Forgive us for not choosing to love like You, or for running up debts that we cannot repay. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be wise in our ways and follow You all of our days. Show us how to love one another according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we opt to owe nothing to anyone except for love. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Made New By Mercy

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. – (Titus 3:5, NLT)

He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. – (Titus 3:5, ERV)

 

I am so grateful that salvation is based on God’s goodness, not ours. His mercy declares us forgiven and grants us the desire to do His will, not the other way around. It is far too easy to get caught up in the “enough” mindset. Thankfully, in Christ, we are enough. It has nothing to do with what we do or do not do, but rather in Whom we place our trust. May we embrace the grace that God freely gives to all who call on His Name, and receive the new life His Spirit brings so that we may move forward in faith.

 

Because of mercy, Rise Again

In Christ we are free;

We need only come,

Let go, trust in Thee.

Embrace the Lord’s grace,

For He freely gives;

All who seek His face,

Gain new life to live.

It’s not what we do,

But rather our trust;

That shows us His grace,

As He lifts us up.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that saves us. Thank You that it is Your mercy, not our works that make us new by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You receive all who earnestly seek Your face. Forgive us for not trusting that Your grace is enough, and somehow thinking that we must earn it. Teach us to trust You completely so that our motivation for all that we do will be to please and honor You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace and mercy to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your mercy and give You praise for Your incredible grace. 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

Present With Me

I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. – (Psalm 16:8, NLT)

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so nothing can defeat me. – (Psalm 16:8, ERV)

He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand. – (Psalm 16:8, VOICE)

 

The one thing that we can count on in life, is change. No matter how much we want the world around us to stay the same, there are variables that we cannot control, and change is inevitable. Often the change that we fear the most, challenges us and grows us the most. If we remember who goes before us and is present with us, regardless of what lies ahead, we will not be shaken to the point of no return. Some of the most beautiful transformations take place in dark and uncomfortable spaces. Incredibly, what emerges at the end of the press, is a thing of beauty, strength, and new life. God does this with us too. This new school year that lies before me is full of change. We have new administrators, many new staff members, and I will be in a new teaching position. I am not necessarily fearful, but am a bit reluctant, as I know not what lies ahead in this unknown. What I have to remember is who goes before me, and why I do what I do. May we ever trust the Lord and His presence in the places and spaces that we are called to walk, knowing that He will go before us and never leave us, even in the new and unknown.

 

The Lord is with me, Present With Me

Wherever I go;

He goes before me,

This truth, I do know.

He’ll stay by my side,

No matter what comes;

I need never fear,

All battles, He’s won.

Let us choose rise up,

In faith, move ahead;

Answer all He asks,

Do all He has said.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always with us. Thank You that we will not be shaken because You will remain beside us. Forgive us for our fears or for the moments we move away from that which we’ve been called to do. Teach us how to trust You and Your presence more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and encourages others to be all that You have made them to be. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth without fear, trusting Your presence every step that we take. 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