Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

Generous and Active Love

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all those who call to You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

 

On mornings like this, it is so good to open up my reading for the day and be reminded of who God is and how generously and actively He loves. Love, as God intended, is not a feeling, but it is alive and active. Love forgives, extends goodness, is loyal and generous to all. I am amazed at how quickly He reminds me of His love when I find myself in a space in need of grace. This week has been extraordinarily long, as it is the final week of the semester. Add to that the last meet of the regular season for high school gymnastics and preparations required for the start of middle school season, as well as the ongoing post-season for high school, and I have felt a bit flooded. Kids in classes have been extra stirred up, and the pressure to make certain final submissions of projects are completed, only added to the angst. After practice yesterday afternoon, followed by a run in the pouring rain, I was so grateful to be showered in goodness and grace with a brief dinner escape with my love. The opportunity to connect and catch up after the crazy that the week contained, reminded me of God’s goodness and mercy for me. He provides what we need, when we need it most, and He holds our hearts in His hands, if we are willing to grant Him permission. Each time we call on Him for help, it is an affirmation of our trust in Christ. He hears and knows, and is ready to meet us with His love that is alive and active, ever moving on our behalf. May we call on Christ in faith, trusting in His goodness and grace; for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

The Lord is so good, Generous and Active Love

Abounding in love;

A heart set to give,

All who seek above.

He’s mercy and grace,

Ready to forgive;

Those who call on Him,

Know love as they live.

Faithful forever,

God’s goodness abounds;

Seek Him to find Him,

Where new life is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You show us what love means through Your example. Thank You that as we call on You, we come to know Your goodness, forgiveness, help and love that floods our hearts and lives as we seek You. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust when we grow weary or are at our wits end. Teach us to call out to You, for You are faithful forever. Show us how to love those around us with the same generosity and grace that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and recognize the abounding love that surrounds us as we seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Do Away With Distractions to Seek

“Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” – (Matthew 14:25, NIV)

“I want you to know, I will not drink this wine again until that day when I drink it in God’s kingdom and the wine is new.” – (Matthew 14:25, ERV)

“I’ll not be drinking wine again until the new day when I drink it in the kingdom of God.” – (Matthew 14:25, MSG)

 

Jesus spoke these words to the disciples as they were seated and partaking in the last supper, prior to His time in the Garden of Gethsemane and then ultimately, His crucifixion. He knew that it was an evening of lasts, and let the others know, accordingly. When Jesus told them that He would be betrayed by one among them, they seemed to grasp that message in disbelief, yet did not demonstrate a reaction (in writing) to the words Jesus spoke about the timing of His death. It would only be after His death, resurrection and ascension that the significance of Jesus’ statements would really register in the minds and hearts of the disciples. From what I can observe, Jesus did not have anything to eat or drink between the last supper and the crucifixion. Based on the burden that He was choosing to bear, I imagine it was intentional, as Jesus went to the garden to seek time with God, to pray for what was yet to come. We know, according to scripture, that part of what He prayed was for the cup He was meant to carry to be taken from Him if it was possible; yet if not, let it be so. I imagine too, that there were petitions made for strength and help, as Jesus had to endure the weight of the world upon His shoulders. God is faithful, always, and it is difficult to envision the how, when we know what Jesus endured. However, after three days down, He rose again and then ultimately ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. I imagine that the rise and reward for all eternity made the suffering seem but a brief nightmare, in comparison. That being said, it was a burden that not one of us could have carried. In order to carry the weight, we would have had to be without sin. Only Jesus… All that to say, that when the pressure was overwhelming, Jesus set aside physical needs to go and spend time with the Father. Though it was late and had likely been a long day, He cared not about sleep either, as He was intentional to go and pray. Jesus is our ultimate example of what to do. If we have a need, a decision, a challenge, a burden or the like, we ought to set aside our physical desires for a time, so that we may go and pursue the Lord; for our spiritual needs supersede the physical into eternity. May we seek the Lord in all things, for He is our strength and our supply.

 

Set aside the things, The Mirror of the Heart

That get in the way;

For a time to seek,

Intent to choose pray.

The Lord is faithful,

He hears all we ask;

He’ll show us the way,

To wait or take task.

Do not grow weary,

As we ask and wait;

For God’s not early,

And He’s never late.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us how to seek You with our whole hearts. Thank You that You are faithful to hear our every request. Thank You that Your answers come in Your time and not ours. Forgive us for our impatience and desire to see immediate answers, when sometimes the wait is part of the healing process. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be persistent in prayer, and set aside the things that distract us from fixing our eyes on You. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside distractions and seek You with our whole heart. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Measured By Our Maker

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, NIV)

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is His punishment that makes a person fear. So His love is not made perfect in the one who has fear. – (1 John 4:18, ERV)

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. – (1 John 4:18, MSG)

 

I’m not sure why my heart held onto this particular verse this morning as I read through today’s passages, but for whatever reason, it did. Perhaps it is to remind my own heart that above all, I am loved perfectly by God. I am not particularly fearful, yet when I feel overloaded by life, there are things that make me feel anxious, which is really a form of fear. In my case, it is one of “not enough”.  As an educator, mom, wife, daughter, sister, coach, friend, and more, it is easy to place pressure on myself to “measure up” to a certain standard, as there are goals I desire to accomplish, hopes I hold, and dreams that I am pursuing. That being said, I have to remember that we are all on a journey and life is a process. God, in His perfect love, walks beside us, strengthens us, encourages us, and equips us for each next step. The only standard we need worry about “measuring up” to, is His. Just like a loving parent, the Lord asks for obedience, and our best; not perfection. There is no fear in a child who knows that they have done their best to do as their parent has asked of them; it is no different with God. We are loved perfectly because we are His. We are enough because He created us in His image. We need not fear, because His love is for us, and He is far greater than anything that could ever come against us. May we ever rest in God’s perfect love as we press on in all that He has called us to be and do, for in all things, His strength and grace will see us through.

 

No need be afraid, Measured By Our Maker

When doubt dares come near;

For God’s perfect love,

Casts away all fear.

There’s no punishment,

In faithful pursuit;

Instead there is grace,

That none can dispute.

In all things, always,

Seek God and His love;

He’s love perfected,

Strength to rise above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in love. Thank You that Your love drives fear away, and grants us the strength and resolve to press on and rise up into all that You are calling us to become. Forgive us for our fear, worry and anxiousness about measuring up to the world’s standards, rather than giving our best unto You. Teach us to give all to You in everything we do, so that our trust is in You alone. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace, strength, resolve and encouragement where they are needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your perfect love and fix our eyes on how You view us, rather than any other standard set in our sight line. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

A Shield About Us

But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. – (Psalm 3:3, NIV)

But You, Lord, protect me. You bring me honor; You give me hope. – (Psalm 3:3, ERV)

But You, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, You lift my head high. – (Psalm 3:3, MSG)

 

God is our hope, our help and our place of protection in all things and at all times. When feeling low or unsure of where to go, He will direct our steps and lift our head high in His hope. The Lord is faithful in all things – great and small, and cares about all. On Saturday afternoon, my husband’s back went out. He stretched and iced, used heat, and did all of the things that he knows to do to best to help his body. Unfortunately, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, it was clear that those things, along with much prayer, were not the solution this time. In the past, what has helped the most, has been chiropractic care, as misalignment has been the culprit causing bulging discs to place pressure on sensitive spinal nerves. While he searched online for a possible office that would be open on a Sunday, I prayed for a solution. A long-time friend, who happens to be a chiropractor in Seattle, came to mind. I sent her a message, asking if she knew anyone in our area that might be open on a Sunday (as I did not want to ask her to work on her one day off). She sent a name that might respond to a message if we left one, but said she would be in her office and would be happy to see him. Seriously?! A few hours later, we were on our way. Treatment provided rapid relief, and he happens to have this week off from work. God is good and my Viking can rest and recover, rather than further aggravate the injury. May we trust God to be a shield about us, as He lifts our head and grants us hope.

 

No matter what comes, A Shield About Us

The Lord will be near;

A shield about us,

We need never fear.

For He is our hope,

Throughout all our days;

Our glorious God,

He’s faithful always.

He’ll lift our head up,

When things all look down;

And remind our heart,

Where true hope is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a shield about us. Thank You that You lift us up and provide hope in difficult spaces. Thank You that You care about all things – great and small. Forgive us for neglecting to turn to You in our need. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our hope and help Whom we can trust forever. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your protection and provision, as You are the hope to which we can cling. Amen.

 

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

 

So we will wait for the Lord. He helps us and protects us. – Psalm 33:20

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,

dsc045002000268283.jpg

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

Peace is Made Known

“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, NIV)

“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” – (John 16:33, ERV)

“And everything I taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

 

One of the hardest times to find peace is in the midst of a trial. It is so easy to allow our fears and emotions to get the best of us, and forget Who is ultimately in control. I am quite certain that this is why God calls us to be in community. When one falls down or is struggling, facing a trial or uncertainty that lies before them, sisters and brothers who know our stories can come alongside to help and encourage, as God equips us to be His hands, heart and voice made tangible to those around us. May we reach out to love well, those in a place of need, and be transparent with the trusted, when we find ourselves in a similar space, so that the peace of God may be made perceivable to all.

 

O Lord, it’s Your peace, IMG_1849

That so many need;

There’s pain and pressure,

Heartache, trials and greed.

The troubles we find,

Are nothing for You;

Each already faced,

Your love will shine through.

Please teach us to trust,

In places we doubt;

For in You, there’s peace,

That’s what love’s about.

Show us how to give,

What You’ve given us;

So peace is made known,

By grace You promise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our peace comes from You. Thank You that though we will have troubles because we live in a broken world, we can take courage knowing that You are with us. Thank You too for community, as You surround us with those who can come alongside us and encourage and lift us up if we are willing to invest. Forgive us for the times we have tried to power through the pressures on our own, rather than seeking You and sharing with those whom You have shown us are trustworthy in our world. Help us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for peace, even in the most tumultuous of trials. Help us to love those around us in a way that offers peace and strength in the midst of their struggles too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take heart in You, as You have already overcome every obstacle that stands in our way. Amen.

 

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

 

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

In the Press, Pray

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – (Psalm 118:5-6, NIV)

In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? – (Psalm 118:5-6, NLT)

 

When the pressure of life begins to close in and the burdens seem too much to bear, our help and our hope is but a prayer away. We are not meant to muscle our way through the waves that come, but rather we are designed to depend on the One who sees and hears and knows best how to help in all things and at all times. The Lord answers when we earnestly seek Him. He sets us free from that which keeps us bound. What is impossible for us, is possible with God. Though people can cause pain in the present, there is nothing that they can do to take away the promises and the hope that we hold for all eternity. The only thing that should truly be fearful, is the thought of a forever without Him. May we remember to call on the Lord in our times of trouble, as He is our help and our hope. Let His love lead us out of fear and into the place of holding fast to the promise of life everlasting.

 

When trials press in,

and fear starts to rise;Dispelling Disbelief

cry out to the Lord,

where hope’s realized.

He answers each cry,

and sets our hearts free;

from fears that hold us,

so truth we shall see.

We need not fear men,

for His hope is ours;

cannot be taken,

as He bore our scars.

May we choose delight,

in our God above;

knowing we’re set free,

by His lavish love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are hard pressed or in distress we can cry out to You and be heard. Thank You that You answer us and bring us to a place of freedom from our fear of what we are facing. Thank You that You are greater than anything that comes against us, and anything that we are called to walk through. Thank You that You are for us. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the face of adversity or the unknown, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to hold onto the truth that You are far greater than ALL that we face. Lead us to love others with Your lavish love, so that they too, may come to delight in who You are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray to You and trust You to answer. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

It is Grace that Saves

In this fast-paced world with its ever growing demands, it is easy to lose perspective. Within almost every avenue we navigate, there are performance expectations attached to each step of the way. At times, the pressure is so great, motivation to perform is entirely fear-based. Thankfully, we serve a God who is nothing like that. Our salvation is a gift that is given to ALL who believe and choose to receive. We do not have to achieve a certain level of holiness to be considered righteous before Him, but rather it is His grace alone that saves us.

 

This point had to be driven home by Peter before the council in Jerusalem, as the Jewish believers were arguing that Gentile believers needed to do certain things to be saved. His response was with words that ought to still resonate with us today: No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are. – (Acts 15:11) May we embrace the grace that has set us free from sin and shame, and walk forward in obedience to Him who has called us according to His purpose.

 

Though pressure is great,It is Grace that Saves

to always perform;

in Christ we need not,

let fear be the norm.

We are saved by grace,

gift granted in love;

with no strings attached,

salvation for us.

The strength of His love,

compels us to rise;

to love others well,

and serve with our lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are saved by Your loving and generous grace, and not by our ability to follow a series of rules and regulations. Thank You that when we believe and receive new life in You, You grant us Your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the ways that we are meant to go. Forgive us for trying to earn favor or perform somehow, rather than simply being obedient to all that You ask of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will do all that You ask without hesitation. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they may see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in the grace that You so generously have given. 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

Life Lessons Realized on the Road

For more than a year now, I have been committed to running consistently. Since early spring, I have had a running buddy who has become a dear friend. What used to be a labor-intensive chore to talk myself into walking out the door, is now something that I eagerly anticipate. There is a dramatic difference between having to tackle the miles alone, verses having a friend to run beside, encouraging each other and striving together to accomplish whatever goal we have set for ourselves.

 

Our walk with Christ is no different. If we try and go it alone, we can be committed, yet it is far easier to stay on track if we are invested in a body of believers. We need others who are pursuing the same path to walk beside us and encourage us, just as we need to be useful in building up others in the body of Christ.

 

An additional parallel between running and our walk with Christ has to do with pain. When running, there are different types of pain. Some pain is good, as it is simply the body working harder than it is used to, and strength is on the rise. There is other pain that is the body’s warning of injury, that deems rest and recovery a necessity. With Christ, we do not have any guarantees to be free of pain, in fact, we are certain to face trials at times. However, in Him, we are provided what we need to either press through the pain, or to pause, rest and recover, so that we may continue in the direction He has called us to go.

 

Mile after mile,Life Lessons Realized on the Road

He calls us to run;

His path to take,

and work to be done.

Though we’re each called,

to run our own race;

He grants people,

to help set the pace.

Each step we take,

He remains with us;

our strength and help,

precious Lord, Jesus.

Even through pain,

His presence remains;

power when weak,

hope that shall sustain.

 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

 

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)

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to not only commit ourselves to You, but to be invested in Your body. Thank You that You meet us as we move, and You grant us what we need to continue in the direction You are calling us to go. Thank You that even in the places of pressure or pain, You provide Your strength, help and rest, so that we may continue as You are asking. Forgive us for our fearfulness and our lack of perseverance in the press of pain, and teach us to cling to You so that we will rely on Your strength rather than our own. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the magnitude of Your majesty. Be exalted O God, as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up in our meeting together. Amen.

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

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