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

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

But On Every Word

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

 

These words were spoken by Jesus in the desert after His forty days of fasting in the wilderness. The devil was tempting Him to turn stones into bread, but Jesus knew the value in what God had called Him to do. The word of God gives life eternal, where as bread is only nourishment for the here and now. We are meant to balance our priorities and feed both our body and our spirit, so that we have strength for today and hope everlasting. May we make meditating on the word of God as much of a priority in our lives as the nourishing of our bodies.

 

Bread may satisfy,The Bread of Life

but just for a day;

yet the word of God,

comes in and remains.

We need to pursue,

both bread and His word;

nourish our body,

God’s wisdom incurred.

Let what our hearts hold,

be found in God’s word;

so that which we yield,

are God’s blessings heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from Your mouth. Thank You that though food nourishes our bodies, Your word gives us life everlasting. Forgive us for not keeping our priorities in order; for forgetting how critical Your word is to the nourishment of our souls. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hunger and thirst for Your righteousness and seek daily, answers in Your word. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we feed our souls with the bread of life that is found in Your word alone. 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

Jesus is… God of the Miraculous

As I continue to unpack all that Jesus is through the reading of the Gospel of Mark, something that clearly stood out in today’s chapters, was that Jesus is the God of the miraculous. There are two specific stories in chapter six alone, that demonstrate the miraculous power of God, presented in Jesus Christ.

 

First, when Jesus and the disciples had sought a solitary place to rest and reflect, they ended up surrounded by a crowd of more than five-thousand. Late in the day, the disciples recognized the people’s need for nourishment. They asked Jesus to send them away so that they could find food, but Jesus had another option in mind. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. – (Mark 6:41-42) Though the disciples did not recognize the miraculous power present in Jesus to provide for all of the people prior to that point, Jesus patiently demonstrated His deity as He delivered nourishment to meet the needs of the people.

 

After all had been fed, Jesus had His disciples get in the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida, so that He could go up on the mountainside to pray. While the disciples were crossing the lake, the wind came up and they were struggling and straining to cross. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night He went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw Him walking on the lake, the thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. – (Mark 6:48-50a) Jesus had to tell them that they did not need to be afraid. Rather than continue walking past them, …He climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. – (Mark 6:51) Jesus again presented the miraculous power of God, as He walked on water and calmed the storm. He did not just speak for the storm to cease from far away, but Jesus walked to the disciples and climbed into the boat – He met them exactly where they were, and then all became calm.

 

The very same Jesus is alive and active today. The miraculous power of God is present and available to all who earnestly seek Him. Jesus sees and knows our needs, and is ready to sit beside us in our storms. May we seek Him with all that we are, and recognize the miraculous power of God that is present and active all around us.

 

The power of God,Jesus is God of the Miraculous

miraculous One;

united in Christ,

magnificent Son.

Jesus is able,

to love and provide;

to touch and draw near,

to all whom abide.

He sees where we lack,

every need known;

Jesus is able,

miraculous shown.

And when the storms come,

He’ll draw close, be near;

bring calm to our soul,

and cast out all fear.

 

Dear Jesus, thank You that You are God of the miraculous. Thank You that You know our needs before we do, and You are ready and able to provide. Thank You that You come close, and remain present, even when storms rage around us. Forgive us for not turning to You in our times of need, and for not reaching for You in the throes of the storm. Teach us to trust You more, so that our response in all things and at all times, is to cling to You. Help us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Jesus. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your provision and rely on Your presence. Amen.

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

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Clean before Christ is a condition of the heart and mind, not an appearance of our physical form. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were more concerned with their traditions and rituals that cleansed the outside and limited what and how they could consume nourishment, that they ended up completely neglecting their true need for spiritual cleansing. Jesus himself said the following: “Are you so dull?” he asked, “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” – (Mark 7:18-19)

 

We too, ought to be aware as well. What we consume with our heart and mind, determine our cleanliness before Christ. Do we honor Him with the choices we are making? If we falter, do we stop and ask for forgiveness and help so that we can avoid similar temptation in the future? The Lord looks at our hearts. He sees and knows where our priorities lie. May we seek Him first in all things, so that we may keep clean hearts and clear minds before Him.

 

Create in me, Lord,Intentional Retreat

a heart that is clean;

one that always seeks,

truth in the unseen.

For out of the heart,

is where life may flow;

to You we belong,

let Your love light show.

May our hearts and minds,

stay right before You;

so we act in love,

to Thee ever true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that external things and the foods that we consume cannot make us unclean before You. Thank You that our cleansing happens from the inside out. Thank You that You cleanse our hearts and minds if we are only willing to allow You access to all. Forgive us for focusing on external things, rather than on keeping our hearts and minds pure before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will place our hearts and minds in Your care, allowing You to cleanse and restore the places that are infected with things that should have never been allowed a voice. Help us to go forth and love well, all whom we encounter, just as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a cleansing relationship with You, Lord God. Be glorified as we are obedient to all that You are asking. 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

To Find Rest

As Jesus and His disciples reconvened after being sent out in pairs to share of the hope that is held in Him, Jesus recognized that these men were in need of nourishment and rest. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” – (Mark 6:31) 

Though the work they had done was very important and invaluable to the spreading of the Gospel, Jesus valued each of them individually, and was more concerned with their well-being, than how much they could accomplish.  He still sees each of us the same way.  God’s work is good and necessary, yet all of us need times of rest and refreshing in order to be effective.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28)

Let not pursuit,To Find Rest

of service to God;

take away rest,

on this path we trod.

For we’re not called,

to toil in vain;

but to honor,

the Lord’s holy Name.

How can we bring,

God our very best;

if we are worn,

and choose not to rest?

In His great strength,

may balance be found;

to serve and rest,

let His joy abound.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and care for us personally and individually.  Thank You that You are more concerned with who we are in You than with what we can accomplish.  Thank You that You are the One who will call, equip and empower us to do what is asked, when we are asked, and that You will provide the rest that we need.  Forgive us for trying to power through when we are meant to rest, or for not slowing down long enough to truly listen to all that You have for us to hear.  Thank You that You are patient and kind, and that You lovingly guide us in the way that we are meant to go.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may depend on You for everything, even rest for our weariness.  May we love well, as we are loved by You, and may many come to know the rest and renewal that is available to all who seek You.  Be exalted through our every word and deed, and may we find rest in You.  Amen.

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

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