Take Heart

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 31:24, ERV)

Be strong and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

 

Whenever I am in a space of struggle, difficulty or challenge, there is something about the Psalms that offers comfort. David, the author of many of them, penned perfectly, both the struggle in difficulties and the encouragement to overcome. It leads me to wonder if Paul, who wrote many of the letters that became the New Testament from a prison cell, found comfort too, in the songs and sonnets and scores of words recorded in the Psalms. For many of us, the staying in place feels a bit torturous, as it is in no way natural nor normal. However, when I consider the time spent by Paul under house arrest and in Roman prison, I need to count my blessings and take heart. In strength and courage, Paul encouraged entire congregations of new believers, despite his circumstances. We are no different. Whatever we are tasked to do in this season, may we be strong and take heart, and place our hope in He who is our help. God is good, and He is faithful to answer when we call on Him to be our help and our hope.

 

Be strong in the Lord, Take Heart

Take courage, be brave;

The Lord will be near,

When asked to come stay.

As we place our hope,

In the Lord above;

He grants what we need,

To go forth in love.

Fear not in trials,

For God’s ever near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find strength and courage in You as we seek You to be our help and our hope. Thank You that You are ever-present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn and grow through every trial. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may encourage and strengthen one another in spaces where resolve is running low. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find strength and courage as we look to You to be our help and hope forever. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Be Our Strength

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. – (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. – (Ephesians 6:10, MSG)

Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of His explosive power flowing in and through you. – (Ephesians 6:10, TPT)

 

If anyone can speak truth into our lives as we are limited in what we can safely and wisely do, it is Paul, through his letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul was writing from a Roman prison, encouraging all to find strength in God. His reminder to us is that as we are invested in our walk with God, His strength will rise up in us and flow through us, in all things. In a space of rapidly increasing restrictions and limited availability, there are still a plethora of freedoms that we are granted that Paul did not experience in a Roman prison. We are able to communicate with loved ones, near and far; we are able to get outdoors and take in the fresh air and move. Technology grants us access to far more than ever before, even in as much as the opportunity to worship together, separately, from our own homes, with our own congregations, online. No, it doesn’t look the same, but it is far better than the space Paul was in, and likewise, far better than the confines of a hospital bed, fighting for life. In this time of being primarily home bound, there is room to grow closer to our family, with whom we reside, and time to invest in things that we seldom otherwise do. Yesterday, I walked around the perimeter of our yard and snapped some photos, choosing to be intentional as I looked through the lens. I found great delight in observing how the light and shadows danced among plants ready to bloom, and soaked in the sunshine that has been present all week. Our evening ended with a family game night, and our middle son dominated at Dominoes. Smiles were on each face around the table, and there was a sweet peace in one another’s presence as we laughed and played together. God is so good, and His strength is granted as we trust and depend on Him in all things, great and small.

 

Be strong in the Lord, DSC00007

For that is how strength;

Rises within us,

And reaches great lengths.

As we trust in Him,

For life, love and grace;

He meets and equips,

To run well, our race.

Trust in His goodness,

Look around and see;

He’s ever faithful,

Watch and you’ll agree.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your strength is limitless and Your love, boundless. Thank You that You make us strong as we seek You. Forgive us for our lack of faith when times are tough. Teach us to trust You, no matter what we see. Show us how to love in the strength You give us, so that others may come to know the abundance of Your great love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and trust in You to be our strength all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Share and Share Alike

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

Tell those who are rich to do good – to be rich in good works. And tell them they should be happy to give and ready to share. – (1 Timothy 6:18, ERV)

Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. – (1 Timothy 6:18, TLB)

 

These words were written in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, as he encouraged and instructed his “son” in the faith, while he (Timothy) was traveling from town to town to meet with and encourage the churches. At the time, believers were under such severe persecution, that they had to help and depend on one another for survival. The churches that were thriving, despite horrendous persecution, were those that lived closely in community and cared for one another, sharing with each other, whatever God had given them. Though times have changed, the call to have a heart of generosity, has not. Whatever we have has been entrusted to us, so that we might love well. Part of loving well is a generous heart that is ready to share that which we have. Our sharing does not need to be all about money. In fact, our time, our love, our support, our energy, and our ongoing care invested, are the very things that lead to the good works God intended all along. Nothing we have should be held too tightly; for all is a gift. May we seek the Lord to show us best, how to be generous and share with others, according to His good and perfect will; at all times and in all circumstances.

As far as examples of living a life according to these principles, my mom is one of the best that I know. Her home has always been a welcoming oasis for family, friends and neighbors nearby, and to those traveling through. She loves and serves and gives with an enormous heart of love, and all who enter her presence, feel rich for keeping company with her. Currently, as she continues on the road to recovery, my sister, brother-in-love, and nephews, are following in her footsteps as they give of their time, talent and resources, to love, encourage and help care for mom well. I know it is a challenge for mom to not fulfill the role she is accustomed to keeping, but her perseverance and the love that surrounds her, is what she needs to get back to a space where she is able to resume her role. May prayers for total healing continue…

 

A generous heart, Ambassadors of Love

Is to what we’re called;

To give out of love,

The gifts God’s installed.

Wherever we’re rich,

Opportunity;

To share and to give,

Most generously.

Be it gifts of love,

Time, talent or things;

May we choose to share,

And honor our King.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the generous gifts that You give to us all – be it time, talent, resources, encouragement, or an incredible heart to love. Thank You that You call us to share with those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have believed the lie that we had nothing to give, or have chosen to ignore a need around us. Teach us to keep our eyes and hearts open, so that we would see needs and hear Your heart for what we have to offer. Show us how to love and share well with those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we share with others out of that which You have so generously given to us. Amen.

 

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

 

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. – Proverbs 22:9

Resolve to Love

And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NLT)

We pray that the Lord will make your love grow. We pray that He will give you more and more love for each other and for all people. We pray that you will love everyone in the same way we love you. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, ERV)

May the Lord flood you with an unending, undying love for one another and for all humanity, like our love for you. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, VOICE)

 

In Paul’s first letter to the church of Thessalonica, he admonished them to love one another, and let them know that love for one another and for people everywhere, would be his priority in prayer for all. The very same encouragement and lasting love that Paul had for the body of Christ, ought to be our example that leads us to allow love to direct our steps and choose to pray and lift up one another. A resolution to love, results in God’s love being made known. May we pray and encourage and love one another, just as the Lord loves each one of us.

 

Let love and His grace, The Mirror of the Heart

Lead us each along;

For the Lord is good,

His grace makes us strong.

Strong in the spaces,

Where love can be tough;

Hope in the places,

Where we aren’t enough.

Only by His grace,

Will love in us grow;

So, ever seek Him,

That His love’s made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us with an unending love that You plant deep within us so that we too, may love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored Your leading to love. Show us how to choose to love all people at all times, even when it is the last thing we desire to do. Direct our steps so that those around us may know the greatness of Your grace and the endless depth of Your lasting love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to love as we are loved by You, and pray for others to be equipped to do the same. Amen.

 

 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Grow to Overflow

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. – (Philippians 1:9, NLT)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight. – (Philippians 1:9, TLB)

 

Paul, in his letter to the church of Philippi, included this verse in the first portion of what was written. He passed along his desire to see their love grow for one another, as they continued to grow spiritually. Paul’s prayer back then was timeless, and not limited to the original group of recipients. Our desire and prayer for one another ought to be quite similar, for as we grow in God’s understanding and insight, the more our capacity to love expands. What we receive and know begins to overflow to those around us. May we ever seek the Lord’s knowledge and understanding so that we continue growing greater in our capacity to love those around us.

 

Lord, this too I pray, Grow to Overflowing

For each one of us;

That we’d learn to see,

Others like Jesus.

For God’s love is kind,

Not conditional;

Grace is His go-to,

Love made tangible.

We’re called to the same,

As we learn and grow;

Equipped as we seek,

So love overflows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip us and model for us all that You call us to do. Thank You that the very things that You ask of us are those that make Your heart visible to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos or agendas to get in the way of what You intended to do both in us and through us. Teach us to listen, learn and act upon that which You ask of us so that we may continue to grow and allow love to overflow. Help us to truly understand how to love those around us as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to continue to grow in our understanding and go forth to love abundantly. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

Charged to Choose

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, NIV)

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)

Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11, VOICE)

 

This charge, given by Paul to the church of Corinth in the closing of his second letter, is also for all of us today. As we determine to rejoice despite our circumstances, seek to be at peace with those around us, encourage each other, make amends where there is brokenness, and strive to be united in purpose, God, who is the source of all love and peace, will be present. Though at times it seems impossible to reach such a place of peace with particular people, God is capable of the miraculous and can make a way where there seems to be no way. It is not up to us to change hard hearts, but rather to continue to encourage, love and seek peace as we are called to do. The heart change is in His hands, our part is to love and do what we can to make things right. May we ever seek our Savior to equip us to love, encourage, seek peace, repair what is broken and choose to rejoice; always.

 

Let us choose rejoice,Charged to Choose

In each circumstance;

God goes before us,

He knows in advance.

The Source of all love,

The Bearer of peace;

He creates a way,

As grace is released.

Called to encourage,

And make all things right;

Choose lift others up,

In purpose, unite.

Brothers and sisters,

Be filled with His joy;

His presence remains,

As Love’s given voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that calls us to rejoice, restore, encourage, unite and be at peace with the people You place in our lives. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked the love to do these things with those who challenge us. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the God of all, and You love each of Your created, fiercely. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages, unites, restores, and brings peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in all things and seek You to empower us to do all that You ask of us. Amen.

 

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

The Unlikely Chosen

Then he told me, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and hear Him speak. For you are to be His witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, NLT)

Ananias told me, “The God of our fathers chose you long ago to know His plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear words from Him. You will be His witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, ERV)

Then he said, “You have been chosen by the God of our ancestors to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the voice of God. You will tell the story of what you have seen and heard to the whole world.” – (Acts 22:14-15, VOICE)

 

Paul, who was previously known as Saul, had a divine encounter with God on the road to Damascus. His experience interrupted his entire system of belief. Where Paul had been persecuting people who were claiming this new Way, rather than living by a strict code of rules and rituals, he now too, had a first-hand encounter with the living God, and could not go back to what he formerly had known. God chooses seemingly unlikely people to interrupt in their tracks and touch hearts and lives. The incredible thing is, no one can dispute our own personal experiences. I imagine that is what made Paul’s testimony so powerful. People knew who Paul had been, were seeing a man transformed, speaking of grace and forgiveness, where he had once likely spoken of following the law or else. The remainder of his life was used to do exactly that – to tell the whole world of what he had seen and heard. Paul traveled far and wide for the times, and recorded much of God’s faithfulness in the New Testament. May we walk out our days with hearts wide open, ever willing to share our own story of God’s faithfulness to us.

 

With eyes wide open, Chosen With Purpose

May we walk along;

Trusting our Savior,

As He makes us strong.

When chances arise,

Share His faithfulness;

So others may know,

There’s help in the mess.

Help us to love well,

Be Your heart and hands;

Extend hope to those,

Who need see Your plan.

For You are so good,

No matter what comes;

Let us rest in You,

’til each day is done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but You equip the called. Thank You that we do not have to measure up to serve and honor You, but rather You transform us from the inside out as we pursue a life in You. Forgive us for anything that gets in the way of walking out that which You are calling us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and obey. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we tell our own stories of Your faithfulness in our lives so that people may know of Your goodness and grace. 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

Love that Grows, Overflows

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, CEB)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, ERV)

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. – (Philippians 1:9-10, NLT)

 

Paul’s prayer of encouragement and exhortation for the people of Philippi is also one to encourage and exhort us today. If we are earnestly pursuing God and seeking to walk in His love, then how can we help but find our love growing more and more in Him? As we seek, we find, and it is in the finding that we discover the knowledge and understanding of what God’s love is for us, and how we are called to love others. Not one of us is able to live pure and blameless lives on our own, yet as we seek the Lord and walk in His ways, we get closer every day, and are covered by His grace as we learn and grow. May we ever seek to know the Lord and His love, so that we can go forth in wisdom and love like He loves us.

 

May our love grow more, Love that Grows

In wisdom and truth;

With insight, sincere,

From elders to youth.

Help us discover,

All that matters most;

So we’ll be blameless,

Before heaven’s Host.

Let us choose love well,

Wherever we go;

So others might see,

What makes our love grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom and encouragement that You grant us through Your holy word. Thank You that Your love, wisdom and insight grow in us more and more as we seek and Your will. Forgive us for our lack of love or lack of prioritizing things according to Your value system. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your wisdom to prioritize what is important, and to release what is not. Show us how to love others so that Your love grows and overflows from us more and more. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to choose and love well. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

Complete in Love

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – (Ephesians 3:19, NLT)

Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you. – (Ephesians 3:19, ERV)

 

Just as this was Paul’s exhortation and prayer for the church of Ephesus, I pray the same for each of us today. God amazes me with the community that He has placed me in, as I gain glimpses of His love through how I am loved by those around me. Additionally, I find hints of insight into the depth of His love through the love I feel for my children, my family and my beloved circle by whom I am surrounded. The more we know His love, the more we are able to give it away. We do not have to have it all together to be loved by God, He loves us just as we are. When we are willing to receive what He gives, life and power and strength grows within us so that we can go and do likewise. May we ever be open to receive the love that God lavishes upon us, and freely give as we have been given.

 

May we truly know,Complete in Love

The great love of Christ;

In it we are made,

Through His sacrifice.

There’s fullness to know,

Of life and power;

That comes from the Lord,

Our great, strong tower.

No matter what comes,

To Him we can run;

By love we’re made whole,

Praise You, Holy One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though Your love is too great to fully understand, we are made complete in the fullness and life and power that comes from You as we trust and depend on You. Thank You that You make Your love known to us in tangible ways through the people that You place in our lives. Forgive us for not recognizing the incredible gifts of Your goodness and grace in the hands and hearts of those around us. Teach us to receive the love that You give so lavishly, so that we would in turn, love others as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are filled with all that You have for us and we go forth wherever You lead. 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