Defense Against Discouragement

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. – (Psalm 95:2, NIV)

Come and worship Him with songs of thanks. Let us sing happy songs of praise to Him. – (Psalm 95:2, ERV)

Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. – (Psalm 95:2, VOICE)

 

The best defense against discouragement and frustration, is praise and thanksgiving. Yesterday was a bit of a battle for me. Between fending off a doozy of a headache and a report of less-than-stellar student behavior during my absence on Monday, it was a struggle to operate from a space of gratitude and joy. Thankfully, I have incredible colleagues, and the blessing of positive and encouraging interactions with them throughout my day, made all of the difference in how my heart was held. I am certain that taking the opportunity to give mom a quick call during my planning period helped too. By the time I arrived at high school gymnastics practice to warm, friendly greetings by the girls and fellow coaches, joy and gratitude were back in their proper place, and practice flew by. Days such as these, I am so grateful for the people that He has placed in my life to remind me of what truly matters. May we ever come before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise Him with song; for He is good and His love endures forever.

As I mentioned, I was blessed to get a hold of Mom during my planning period in the morning yesterday. Speaking to her before her first out-patient speech appointment was good, as I know she was a bit nervous for the new, yet excited to continue to move forward on this journey of healing. Thankfully, I had the pleasure of checking back in with Mom last evening to hear how her first appointment had gone. Although it was the usual assessment to establish a starting point, she really liked the speech therapist, and was encouraged by the work he initiated and the hope that lies ahead. Additionally, now that she has been to an out-patient appointment, the other new upcoming therapy appointments are less daunting. For all of these things, we give thanks.

 

When discouragement, img_2019-11-20_04-57-501882498755502868600.jpg

Or frustration come;

Combat them with praise,

To the Holy One.

Despite what we see,

There’s always reason;

To give thanks to God,

In each new season.

For life and for breath,

For hope, strength and peace;

So many blessings,

By grace, He’s released.

Let us rise and praise,

Give thanks where it’s due;

All unto the Lord,

Whose love’s ever true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You we have reason to give thanks and sing songs of praise unto You, in every season. Thank You that even in a time that feels heavy, You are present and ready to carry the weight. Thank You that as we lift our burdens unto You and give praise where praise is due, we are able to navigate the way true. Forgive us for losing sight of gratitude in the grip of the grind. Teach us to keep our eyes on You, so that our perspective is eternal rather than on the temporary. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of their heaviness, so that they too may find reason to give thanks. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise and thanks for all of our days, for You are always good. Amen.

 

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

 

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him! – Psalm 64:10

Purposed Parts

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

I love when God shows me the reality of His word in action, and then the next morning, directs my heart to the reminder in scripture. Last evening, my Viking and I attended the gallery opening of The Heart Gallery, for a paint and sip event. Neither of us had ever attended such an event, nor has either of us ever really done much painting. Despite having an art degree, painting was never my medium of choice, so I think that the only painting I ever did was a butterfly that I did and gave to my grandma. There had been no instruction on utilizing the various tools nor techniques, so I am sure that I painted much in the same way that I draw; very controlled and precise, not free-flowing nor allowing for the painting to unfold. Back to the verse… Heather, the co-owner and brilliant art instructor at The Heart Gallery, took the group of us in attendance through the process of creating a painting of an evening skyline, including water in the foreground, with the idea of celebrating our Seattle 12th Man status, prior to Monday night’s game. Watching Heather operate in one of her incredible gifts, was an amazing experience. Not only did she encourage and celebrate each individual as we created, but she helped each person paint a piece of work that they were pleased with by the end of the evening.  As each of us wandered the gallery between steps in the process, we were not comparing ourselves to one another, but rather we were celebrating and appreciating each unique interpretation of the task. Each painting was unfolding differently, yet all becoming an expression of art to admire. Painting, much like life, can be planned out, but will never be precise nor look exactly like we intend. However, in the end, there is beauty, none-the-less. May we ever seek to operate in the gifts that God has given us, and pursue growth in the areas where we are being further developed. We are all one body in need of one another’s strengths.

 

We are one body, img_2019-11-09_08-30-273250335102578517637.jpg

Each purposely made;

With gifts meant to share,

Throughout all our days.

Each with unique gifts,

Intended to share;

To bless the body,

Make it known we care.

So, rise up in strength,

Use what God’s given;

Be who you should be,

By grace, forgiven.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You create each one of us with unique gifts and talents to contribute to the community in which we have been rooted. Thank You that no two gifts look the same. Thank You that each are equally needed to fully function as we are intended. Forgive us for not valuing either what we have been given, or that granted to another. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your eyes, as You have created each of us with a plan and a purpose that blesses and helps the whole. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages each to operate in the gifts that they have been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow and utilize all that You have given us for the good of the body. Amen.

 

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

 

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. – 1 Timothy 6:18

Simply Love

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, NIV)

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love – love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. – (1 Timothy 1:5, MSG)

For we reach the goal of fulfilling all the commandments when we love others deeply with a pure heart, a clean conscience, and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, TPT)

 

Love really is the whole point. When we operate from a heart that is pure and our intent on choosing to love, we are living our faith out loud. Our motivation for all that we do, must be rooted in love. When it is, we are operating in a sincere faith, with a clear conscience, from a heart made pure by He who is love. If we truly love from a pure heart, we cannot envy, hate, boast, be unkind, or the like. Love conquers all. I imagine that is why it is said that “the greatest of these, is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) As we step into a new day, at the start of a new week, may we be open to God with a sincere faith so that we may navigate our days with a clean conscience and a pure heart, and choose to simply love.

 

Love is the answer,img_2019-10-21_04-51-388940558814875978805.jpg

To all of life’s woes;

For the love of God,

Multiplies and grows.

It purifies hearts,

Makes consciences clean;

Through a sincere faith,

We learn what love means.

The more that we learn,

The more we choose give;

Love from a pure heart,

Each day that we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love from a pure heart, a clear conscience and a sincere faith. Thank You that as we seek You and pursue a life lived according to Your calling, You empower us to love. Forgive us for allowing our selfishness, bitterness, anger or fear to get in the way of choosing love. Show us how to love those around us simply and purely, in a way that demonstrates love tangible to each heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You wholeheartedly so that we may love unreservedly. Amen.

 

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

 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Authenticity

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. – (Ephesians 4:25, NIV)

So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,” because we all belong to each other in the same body. – (Ephesians 4:25, ERV)

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. – (Ephesians 4:25, MSG)

 

Yesterday, as our pastors continued in their series “DNA” (The core beliefs we are made of at our church), the topic covered was “Authenticity”. Pastor Misty began by unpacking that authenticity, in the context of the body of Christ, is fully knowing and understanding who you are in Christ, and living accordingly. The verse she began with, was Ephesians 4:25. We have to set aside our idea of what we think we “ought to be”, and choose to live out the life of who we are called to be. Do we seek to live up to the world’s expectations, or God’s design? It seems like a tall order, yet when we allow our hearts and minds to be made new in Christ, it is far easier to be “real” than attempt to fit in a mold that was not designed for anyone to actually fit. We are each uniquely designed with different gifts and purposes. As we operate in the strengths that God has intentionally granted, others benefit and we continue to grow. Some common telltale signs of those who are actively seeking to be authentic, are those who: speak the truth in love, forgive time and time again, actively pursue peace, and continue to seek to grow as they allow others to speak into their lives in ways that encourage positive growth as life-long learners. May we be fearless in our pursuit to authentically be the people of purpose, for which we were each uniquely and wonderfully designed.

 

Seek the face of God, Authenticity

And choose to be true;

Walk in your purpose,

Authentically you.

Lay down pretenses,

And all the “ought to’s”;

Discover your gifts,

Then put them to use.

Speak the truth in love,

Always choose forgive;

Seek peace and new growth,

Authentically live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that You designed each one of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that as we seek You and grow in You, we begin to understand how to walk out our days authentically as who You have intentionally created us to be. Forgive us for the times that we have held back or tried to be something other than who You have designed us to be. Show us how to love those around us well with the gifts, talents and purposes that You have placed within each of our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we actively pursue a life of authenticity in You. Amen.

 

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

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Perfect Love Made Visible

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, NIV)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love! – (1 John 4:11-12, MSG)

Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes His permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in Him, and His love is brought to its full expression in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, TPT)

 

Though no one has seen God, His perfect love is made visible through those who love God and love one another. Not one of us is perfect, but we can be vessels of perfect love. Perfect love is complete, everlasting, and does not have qualifications to give or receive. The more we come to know and love God, the more completely we are equipped to love others, according to His good and perfect will. May we ever seek the Lord and His perfect love, so that we will grow in His likeness to love as He loves us.

 

Because we are loved,

Come with me

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

So too, shall we give;

To all whom we meet,

His love ever lives.

Though none are perfect,

God’s love truly is;

As we love like Him,

Love given is His.

In all that we do,

And all that we say;

May we choose to love,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are perfect love. Thank You that as we seek You and come to know You more, we are equipped to love completely, according to Your perfect plan. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You, or not chosen love to lead. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would operate out of the lavish love that You give to us, extending the same to others. Show us how to love well, each person we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You with our whole heart, so that we too, may love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18

An Otherly Outlook

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV) 

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV) 

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE) 

 

This passage is a reminder to conduct ourselves with an “otherly outlook. What this means is that we ought to consider others, not just self. As we operate in our daily lives, we need to value others – their opinions, interests, time, state of mind, and their entire existence. It does not mean that we have to agree with all that they think or do, but rather we must value the person and treat them accordingly. Humility listens and loves and honors others first. If our focus is on loving and valuing others, our own selfish tendencies are set aside. May we seek and depend on the Lord to lead us, as we look to His example to carry this out by loving and treating others with His very best in mind. 

 

In all that I do,

Peace Through Understanding

May I set aside; 

My own selfishness, 

That’s the cause of pride. 

Instead, help me seek, 

To see others first; 

To listen and love, 

Help each know their worth. 

May my sense of self, 

And view of others; 

Be seen through Your eyes, 

All sisters, brothers. 

For You showed us how, 

Jesus led the way; 

To do all in love, 

And extend Your grace. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love with others in mind. Thank You that through Him, we too, can love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that our own agendas and pride have prevented us from loving others in the way in which You intended. Teach us to trust You more, so that we seek Your heart and eyes to be the lens through which we see the world. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates how much they are valued. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to let go of our own pride and agenda, and live lives that are otherly. Amen.

 

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

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Perfectly Loved

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – (Matthew 5:48, NIV) 

You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. – (Matthew 5:48, MSG)

Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete. – (Matthew 5:48, CEB) 

 

When I read “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”I cannot fathom doing or being what I ought to become. However, the other two translations grant a bit more clarity as to what is being asked of us. Living generously and graciously toward others, and showing love toward everyone – these are tangibles to work with that are realistic with His help. Being “perfect” is the ongoing pursuit to live a life of love, just as we are loved by God. Though not one of us will get it right 100% of the time, continual pursuit of Him and His help, will lead us to better reflect the Lord through how we live. May we ever seek the Lord and His loving kindness, so that we may go forth and love completely, as we are completely loved. 

 

When we love fully,

dsc082024426410277909004046.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We are doing well; 

To live as we’re asked, 

Of God’s grace, we tell. 

May we choose pursue, 

God’s help in all things; 

So we may reflect, 

The good His love brings. 

Wherever we go, 

Whatever we do; 

Allow His love lead, 

So His light shines through. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that “perfect” is the purposeful pursuit of loving completely, as we are completely loved by You. Forgive us for the times that we do not seek You to lead us and equip us to love like You. Teach us to operate in love in all things, so that Your heart will be evident to all. Show us how to love those around us perfectly, as Your love for us is perfect. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as we are loved by You. Amen.

 

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

 

We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

 

 

 

 

 

Peace With All People

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, NIV)

Do the best you can to live at peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, ERV)

If it is within your power, make peace with all people. – (Romans 12:18, VOICE)

We are called to live at peace with all people as much as humanly possible. If we operate as promoters of peace, extending mercy and grace, goodness and love, just as God gives to us, peace is possible far more often than not. Yes, there are always exceptions who will not receive and will continue to cause unrest, but with all that we are in all that we do, we are called to seek His peace. May we ever depend on the Prince of Peace to fill our hearts and minds, so that we may go forth and live at peace with everyone around us.

 

Peace is not a place,
Joining Together

But a state of mind;

Granted by the Lord,

For all of mankind.

It’s meant to be shared,

One to another;

From neighbor to friend,

Sister to brother.

Let us do our best,

With all, be at peace;

So God’s grace may flow,

And hope be increased.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill us with Your peace when we seek You. Thank You that You equip us to be ambassadors of peace to the people around us. Forgive us for not attempting to live at peace with everyone around us when people become difficult to take. Teach us to lean into Your love so that we are filled again with Your grace and compassion and power to promote peace in places where it seems impossible. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace to the unsettled places in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to live at peace with everyone. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Wisdom from Heaven

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. – (James 3:17, NLT)

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – (James 3:17, ERV)

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It is whole-hearted and straightforward and sincere. – (James 3:17, TLB)

But the wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, considerate and teachable. It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form. – (James 3:17, TPT)

 

The pursuit of Godly wisdom is a lovely and lofty goal. The wisdom that comes from Him is pure, peaceful, gentle, full of mercy, considerate, teachable, easy to please, whole-hearted, straightforward, sincere, ready to help and do good for others, fair, honest, and does not show favoritism as it is filled with love. This is the target that my heart is forever aiming for, yet there are times that my words or deeds miss the mark. Sometimes I default to sarcasm as a coping mechanism, and my response, though not intended to harm, is not necessarily helping anyone either. Additionally, there are times when we get in such a hurry that making the time for a straightforward discussion or a pause to help someone where we know there is a clear need, seems too much to stack atop our already overscheduled day. May we ever seek the wisdom that comes from God, so that we operate in a way that is pure and full of quiet gentleness. Let us be peace-loving and courteous, allowing discussion; be merciful and extend good, as we choose to invest our whole hearts into all that we do, sincerely pursuing to walk in the wisdom of His way.

 

The wisdom of God, Wisdom from Heaven

What I long to seek;

It’s full of mercy,

And lifts when we’re weak.

Ever peace-loving,

And easy to please;

Straight-forward, sincere,

He hears and He sees.

Ready to give help,

Wisdom chooses good;

Without favorites,

Grace is understood.

Make me teachable,

Considerate, kind;

Fair, loving, honest,

With others in mind.

Let my heart be pure,

With wisdom above;

Quiet gentleness,

That blesses with love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Godly wisdom is about demonstrating Your goodness in a tangible way. Forgive us for the times that we have wandered far from wisdom to attempt to walk on our own. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on the wisdom of Your ways to extend the things which You call us to do. Show us how to love others well so that we are pure, peace-loving, gentle, kind, merciful, sincere, fair, honest, teachable, considerate, full of mercy, ready to do good, full of love and without favorites. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to seek to grow in Your wisdom and walk it out all of our days. 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

Because Peace is Present

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words; Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, NLT)

Now brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, ERV)

And that’s about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, MSG)

 

Paul’s exhortation to the church of Corinth applies to us today as well. When we choose joy, seek to grow, encourage others, and do what we can to live in harmony and peace with those around us, the love and peace of God seem to be ever-present. Each of the things that Paul mentioned are choices that we are able to make, despite our circumstances. Joy, growth, encouragement, peace, and harmony can be given and gained, even in the midst of personal difficulties. So often, when we choose these, our challenges become less and our strength and resolve become more. This is not to discredit the overwhelming obstacles that at times, lie directly before us; yet it is to remind us that our God is far greater, and when we choose to operate in the things of Him, that which is before us is less that He who is in us. May we choose joy and growth, encouraging one another in love. Let us live in harmony and peace with each other according to His will, and may we be ever aware of the love and peace found in the Lord’s presence, as He is faithful to be present with us for all of our days.

 

Brothers and sisters, Forgiveness is Free

Be joyful always;

Seek to ever grow,

For all of our days.

Encourage others,

Live in harmony;

For as we follow,

God’s peace is released.

He will be present,

To show us the way;

To do what is right,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us instruction as to how we ought to live well. Thank You that joy, growth, encouragement, harmony and peace are all choices that we can make, despite our circumstances. Thank You that in You, all are possible, regardless of what we are going through. Forgive us for choosing to fix our focus on what lies before us rather than You who dwells within us and give us strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be joyful, seek to grow, encourage others and live in harmony and peace. Show us how to love others well so that we can do each of these things according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the love and peace that is found in Your presence, so that we may go forth extending peace to all. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31