In Strength, Choose Love

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV)

Be careful. Hold firmly to your faith. Have courage and be strong. Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, ERV)

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. – (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, MSG)

 

This is something that we are all called to live out, in every area of our lives. It is both rare and wonderful, when there are public figures who live by this principle in a way that is seen, heard and known. Last night, my husband and I went to a concert that featured my favorite band, Skillet. Their lead vocalist, John Cooper, is completely clear in his convictions as he performs, and is courageous and strong as he shares his music and message in love. After more than twenty-three years as a Christian band that tours with bands that typically are not, and it is evident that they are careful to be on their guard and hold firm to their faith. Each time I have seen them in concert, the other bands touring with them have raved about the kindness extended to them by Skillet. What that speaks to me is that they are living out loud, the very message that they follow in faith. If a rock band can cling to their convictions and love well, why can’t we? May we each be aware of the things that distract us from what is true, and with courage and strength, hold fast to the faith that anchors us secure. And in all that we do, may we let love be our motivation.

 

Help us guard our hearts, img_2019-08-29_06-26-021861362932488398857.jpg

To our faith, hold fast;

Have courage, be strong,

With the love that lasts.

For each time we choose,

In strength, to love well;

We are showing Christ,

His story we tell.

Not with our speaking,

So much as our deeds;

People remember,

Those who met their needs.

Let us choose to love,

In all that we do;

Rely on His grace,

He’ll carry us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You warn us to be careful of that which distracts us from the truth, and You call us to stand firm in Your strength to the truth so that we may do all things in love. Forgive us for the times that we allowed the things around us to pull us off course. Teach us to stay anchored in You. Show us how to love those around us in all things and at all times, just as we are loved relentlessly by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand strong in the truth, ever aware of what surrounds us, and choose to love, just as You love us. Amen.

 

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

 

Stand firm , and you will win life. – Luke 21:19

Persevere in Doing Good

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, ERV)

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. – (Galatians 6:9, MSG)

 

The first person that came to mind as I read this verse this morning, is my vice principal at school. She is the person who did some of the most difficult work on campus, yet did not grow weary in doing good, with a positive attitude and a heart for people. Her kindness and heart for people draws others in, and I consider her a friend as well as a colleague. Part of not growing weary in doing good, is knowing when to take a rest. For her, the opportunity to take a year’s sabbatical has presented itself in the coming school year, and I imagine God has an incredible harvest of blessings for her as she enjoys a new season of rest and is able to spend far more quality time with her wonderful family.

This same principle applies with mom and all who are in her corner. Each person who is investing or has invested time to help with her healing and recovery, is aiding in her ultimate good. The willingness of others to walk alongside mom has encouraged her to rise up and press on with a determination and resilience that few would find in such a situation. Yesterday was a changing of the guard day for my sister and me. I returned after time at home to close out the school year, and she now needs to get back to her home to her family and work. There is good to be done in each space, and our call is to do what we can, wherever we are – no more, no less. God is faithful to grant us the strength; it is our charge to keep moving forward. May we ever continue to press on in the good that lies before us, for every act of kindness goes out and can be utilized by God.

 

Let’s not grow weary, fb_img_15611258346534200705895356085413.jpg

In choosing do good;

For God grants us strength,

To do as we should.

He helps us to rise,

Encourage, be kind;

To help each other,

With their best in mind.

When the day is done,

And it’s time to rest;

May we truly say,

We gave God our best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good; not because we have to do or be anything to earn Your favor, but rather because You want others to see You through us. Thank You that we can be Your ambassadors of love to those who need to know what love and kindness and grace truly means. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to demonstrate the good that You have for those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may be a living reflection of who You are to those around us. Show us how to love others in the same way that You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good and love well. Amen.

 

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

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Seek to be Shown

Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. – (Proverbs 3:6, NLT)

With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way. – (Proverbs 3:6, ERV)

In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. – (Proverbs 3:6, TLB)

 

The road of life is a journey that takes many twists and turns. Often, we follow the road in the way that feels right, only to discover that He is leading us in a different direction. Though seemingly trivial, my fiancé and I are finding this principle to be true as our house hunt continues. The home we loved and seriously thought could be ours, had fees that were not at first disclosed, and will likely be part of a bidding war that will go far beyond our reach. At first, we were discouraged because it seemed to be such a perfect fit for our merging families and what we need, yet as we talked and prayed and chose to trust, we have discovered that there are more out there that will meet the hopes that we hold, for far less money than the first home. In fact, we found a house yesterday that is literally a few blocks from the home that my boys and I live in currently. It has the space that we need, rooms, restrooms, parking, and even a potential place to build a shop for my fabulous Viking. Even more, my favorite scent of spring is in bloom to the left of the front door, and the entire neighborhood seems to be teeming with English Laurel plants to welcome and invite me in. I know not whether this home is “the one” or not, but we will continue to trust that He will show us which path to take and meet our efforts with success. May we ever seek the Lord in all that we do, as He will be faithful to direct our steps.

 

Choose to seek the Lord, Seek to be Shown

In all that you do;

For He is faithful,

To direct us through.

He’ll show us the path,

We are meant to take;

And grant us the strength,

To walk in His way.

Sometimes where He leads,

Seems disappointing;

But hold on in trust,

And watch what He’ll bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You in all things, You are faithful to meet us and show us the right way to go. Thank You that though we may feel disappointment when things don’t go the way that we had hoped they might, You have something better than we could have imagined in store for us. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith when we cannot see how You are moving on our behalf. Teach us to trust You even when we cannot see what You are doing, as You are always faithful. Show us how to love others well as we follow wherever You lead us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your will in all that we do and give You praise for showing us the right way to go. Amen.

 

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Blessings through Honor

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT) 

Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing. – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TLB) 

For the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: “You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TPT) 

 

I am watching the fruit of this very principle unfold before me, as we have traveled to Minnesota to spend time with my Viking’s father. Cancer has invaded his body, and he was given an expiration date that seems quite bleak. Despite the span of nearly twenty-five years since he last saw his father, and only a handful of phone conversations in-between, witnessing the two of them (as well as my sister-to-be, and soon-to-be bonus son) interact with this man in grace and love, honoring him as their father, blessed my heart beyond what I could have imagined. It was as if all of the time, distance and disappointments disappeared, and only good and grace and love remained. It is evident that walking in forgiveness and grace blesses not only the transgressor, but sets free, the very one who has been hurt. May we ever go forth in grace and forgiveness, honoring our parents, regardless of their shortcomings. We all fall short and are in need of grace, and the beauty that comes is worth the release. Let us honor our parents as the people who granted us this glorious gift of life.  

 

The Bible commands, img_2018-01-27_08-43-45418161434.jpg

That we honor well; 

Fathers and mothers, 

Of love and grace tell. 

For with the command, 

There’s a promise too; 

That blessings will come, 

As we follow through. 

So, ever give good, 

Honor and choose love; 

There will be blessings, 

Of grace from above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the parents that You give to us. Thank You for those whom we know well and see often, and thank You for those whom we see rarely. Father forgive us for not walking this out according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to honor our parents as You call us to honor them. Lead us in Your love and grace, so that we would be a blessing as we are blessed by You. Teach us to love like You, so that all may come to know the truth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to honor those You have given us according to Your love and grace. 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

Friends Sharpen Each Other

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)

As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friends keep each other sharp. – (Proverbs 27:17, ERV)

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, VOICE)

 

I am overwhelmingly blessed to see how this principle plays out practically in my everyday life. In each of my various roles, God has given me great friends who walk beside me and challenge me to continue to learn and grow. As a mother, teacher, coach, athlete, friend and in all of these, a follower of Christ, I have fantastic friends with whom I am walking, as we sharpen one another to be more than we were before. May we recognize and invest in the relationship that God has given us to sharpen and shape one another into who we are meant to become.

 

As iron sharpens,img_2017-12-01_05-13-37440905203.jpg

So friend sharpens friend;

Pushing each other,

To grow and extend.

For as we’re challenged,

Our character grows;

We become better,

As grace clearly shows.

Invest in people,

That bring out our best;

May we do likewise,

Through such love, we’re blessed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You and love one another. Thank You that You designed us for relationship for a reason. Thank You that as we invest in friendships, we learn and grow from each other. Forgive us for not dedicating the time and energy we should to those whom You have called us to walk beside. Teach us how to manage our time and energy so that we are able to fill the roles to which we are called, and walk with whom You call us to walk. Show us how to love well, all those that cross our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen each other to become who You are calling us to be so that we more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. 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

Listen for Wisdom

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. – (Proverbs 19:20, NLT)

Listen to advice and accept discipline, then you, too, will become wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, ERV)

 

Wisdom comes over time, through actively seeking to know and understand. My mom models this principle, much like her mother before her. She pursues new learning wherever she can, and reads constantly. Her circle of friends is vast and diverse, exposing her to a wide knowledge base, even in her social arena. Today is the day that we celebrate her birth, and I am beyond blessed to call her my Mom. She loves with her whole heart, and gives all of herself to those whom she loves and whatever she does. Her wisdom is not flaunted, but sweet and subtle, just as her mother before her. However, when a conversation of depth is covered, the years of actively pursuing truth is evident, and I still call my mom to ask her how to do things and want her to be pleased with the things that I say and do. May we give thanks for the moms who raised us, or those who came alongside us to show us what it is to mother well.

 

All thanks be to God, Mom

For my own mother;

Whose wisdom and strength,

Led like no other.

As she sought advice,

Her wisdom and grace;

Showed me how to live,

To run well, my race.

Thank You, dear Jesus,

For this precious gift;

For my loving Mom,

All praise to You, lift.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek advice and instruction from You, You give us wisdom. Thank You for my mom and her mom before her that have modeled this so beautifully for me. Please bless and keep her today and always, as she is a treasure that I am so grateful to have in my life. Forgive us for not seeking You for advice and instruction, and teach us to remember that all wisdom that lasts, comes from You. Show us how to love and appreciate those whom You have placed in our path to both parent us, and for us to do the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek wisdom and instruction from You, so that we might be wise in the ways that You are calling us to go. Amen.

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

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

Belief Brings Blessing

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her! – (Luke 1:45, NIV)

Great blessings are yours because you believed what the Lord said to you! You believed this would happen. – (Luke 1:45, ERV)

 

Though this was a conversation between Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth her cousin, in reference to the miraculous that God was doing through Mary to bring about the birth of Jesus, it is a principle that is applicable to all. If God has promised, He will fulfill. Our responsibility is to believe the Lord is faithful to bring forth His promises and walk in obedience, trusting that what He says, He will do. Blessings are ours as we witness the wonder of God’s ways of working to bring what He has promised to fulfillment. May we choose to hold fast to faith and believe the promises of God and trust the Lord at His word.

 

Blessings are granted,hope-overflowing

To those who believe;

Who trust in the Lord,

In word, thought and deed.

What He has promised,

The Lord will fulfill;

Forever faithful,

Believe, and He will.

The Lord is so good,

His love shall endure;

Now and forever,

Our hope is secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that blessings are ours when we believe that You will do what You say You will do. Thank You that You are faithful to fulfill Your promises. Forgive us for our unbelief, and teach us to trust You more. Help our hearts to find security in the truth of who You are, and the hope that is held in You alone. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they too may come to know the blessings found in believing. May many choose a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe Your promises and trust Your word. 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

 

Unity, Liberty and Love

Be willing to accept those who still have doubts about what believers can do. And don’t argue with them about their different ideas. – (Romans 14:1, ERV)

 

There will always be differences of opinion among believers, as there are things that the Bible does not deem right nor wrong; and therefore each are a matter to be taken up individually, between God and man, personally. What is acceptable for one, may be off limits for another. Our charge is not to dispute our differing views, but rather to be accepted and handled with love. If each of us is acting according to our conscience (the leading of the Holy Spirit), then we are doing right in the eyes of the Lord – even if it is not the same as our sister or brother. “Our principle should be: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in everything, love.” – (NIV footnotes for Romans 14:1)

 

What the Bible clearly establishes, these are non-negotiables. The things that have not been clearly laid out nor established, for these we must trust each to walk in the wisdom and counsel that the Lord provides, so that we may maintain united as a body of believers. In all things, whether we stand in agreement or not, we are called to operate in love. May we accept one another in love, choosing our conversations with wisdom and grace. Let the Lord be our guide and example as to how we are to operate in unity, liberty and love.

 

For the Lord calls us,Intended for Obedience

to accept in love;

any uncertain,

of His law above.

For some things it’s clear,

God’s way is laid out;

yet still there are some,

we must pray about.

We’re not to argue,

with differing views;

in love, just listen,

God’s voice will ring true.

What is yes for one,

not for another;

we’re not meant to judge,

sisters and brothers.

Stand firm in the truth,

liberty in grey;

all things done in love,

is walking God’s way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and know us individually. Thank You that what may be acceptable and safe for one, can be a resounding “NO” for another, because of Your love and protection for us individually. Thank You that You know our hearts and minds, and You determine what will lead us down a path of destruction, and what will not bring harm at all. Forgive us for either assuming that Your answer should be one way or another for those around us, or for not listening well to the answer that You are clearly offering before us. Teach us to trust You more so that we may be united in the essentials, grant liberty in the nonessentials, and in all things, operate in love. Lead us to love with Your wisdom and grace, so that many may come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are united as a body, and gracious and loving to all. 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