Lead with Listening

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

 

Listening is an art form that can prevent misunderstanding and bring people closer together. Too often we speak to respond, rather than listen to understand and reply only if necessary. Anger flares and brash words are spoken when we communicate to make our own point, opinion or agenda heard, without taking pause to listen to others around us. I find that the majority of the time, my anger ignites when I jump to conclusions or explain a scenario in my own mind, rather than seeking to listen to whomever did, whatever it was, that incited my frustration to the point of anger. Each time I slow down, take a deep breath, and remind myself to listen with the intent to understand, I discover that there is a reason for the words or actions that transpired. By hearing the heart behind the person, anger or frustration fade, and compassion and kindness begin to rise. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and willingness to listen first, so that our response is a reflection of His heart, rather than a rash reaction that is not necessary to bring resolution.

 

Let us each choose first,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To listen in love;

Seek to understand,

With grace from above.

If we’re slow to speak,

There’s less to regret;

Peace has a true chance,

God’s love, our asset.

Allow not anger,

To rise and release;

Instead, choose listen,

Discernment brings peace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be people who seek listen to understand, speak with intention and grace, and to keep anger in check to prevent words or deeds that cannot be taken back. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our ego or agenda to cause us to assume ill intent in anger, rather than listening with intention to understand all that is involved in what has transpired before us. Teach us to listen first, seeking to understand, so that if and when we respond, it may be done with love and grace. Show us how to love well through listening to those who need to be heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the God who always hears our heart, regardless of what our words or deeds seem to indicate. Be glorified O God, through our decision to listen first and speak with godly intent, only when we understand, keeping anger in check and love abundant. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Run for Your Life

Paul, as he was serving his final sentence in prison and awaiting his earthly demise, he knew with confidence that he had done all that he could do to love God and love people with his life. Because his hope was in Christ, he knew what was in store. Though his earthly end was drawing near, his eternity in glory, was about to begin. As He held fast to the truth, he was able to say with confidence: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – (2 Timothy 4:7)

 

Can we with confidence, also claim that we are fighting the good fight, running the race to which we are called, and all the while, keeping the faith? It is a weighty question, and one that can only be answered with a “yes“, if we walk out our days dependent on Christ. Some days it is easier to fight the good fight than others. Just as some days are beyond difficult to get out of the house and run, so too is our faith in action. Yesterday, between the heat and the having to run solo, it nearly kept me from walking out my front door. Deep within me, I knew that if I did not get out and go, I would regret it. It was hot and hilly, and quite frankly, a bit miserable. However, when I was finished, I was so grateful to have gone. Likewise, the weariness and the worries of the world can wear us down and keep us from walking out our front door, or from reaching out where we know we are called to go. That being said, we have a Savior who calls and equips us to run and fight in faith. All that is needed He will provide. May we stand firm in our faith as we run the race to which we are called; and in His power, fight the good fight until our final breath is drawn.

 

Let our lives be led,running up a hill

by the Lord’s great love;

as He fuels our faith,

seek His ways above.

For we have been called,

to run our own race;

to fight the good fight,

stand firm in our faith.

Let our race be run,

in a mighty way;

so that “Well done’s” heard,

on our final day.

Let’s fight the good fight,

and run our race strong;

propelled by the faith,

that pulls us along.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to fight the good fight and run the race that You have set before us, through the faith that You impart to every heart who seeks You. Thank You that the reward that awaits a life lived for You, far outweighs any darkness or suffering that we endure in the here and now. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of eternity, and allowing the here and now to define us. Teach us to fix our eyes on You and what lasts forever, not on that which will one day fade. Lead us to love others intentionally and generously, just as You so love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fight the good fight and run our own race through a relentless faith in You. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

To Bear With One Another In Love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2)

 

Patience, gentleness and humility are not always the loving response that come naturally when buttons are pushed – either intentionally or unintentionally. Just yesterday, I had to make a very cognitive choice to be patient and bear with others in love. Despite the others being those whom I love, my patience was challenged and stretched thin, and gentleness was not the response rising within me. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit will gently, yet firmly, remind me of my responsibility to humbly and gently love. Each time that I choose to listen and walk in obedience to the prompting within, I do not regret the results. The choice to love, above all else, ultimately ends in good. My decision to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience, resulted in true gratitude for the grace that had been extended. In the end, I think that I ended up being more blessed through the process than anyone else, simply because I knew how tangibly present the Lord had drawn near, to make that acting in love, possible. May we choose to be completely humble and gentle; being patient with each other as we choose well to love.

 

Despite what’s before us,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we have each been called;

to walk ever humbly,

and gentle to all.

May we each be patient,

where tempers try flare;

and choose to bear in love,

those whom cause despair.

For as we choose to love,

God moves mightily;

His great blessings abound,

beyond what is seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are humble, gentle and patient, and that You bear with us in love. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us, that You are not willing to strengthen and equip us to carry out. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen humility, gentleness, patience, or love, and help us to trust You more, so that we will seek You and Your strength to do as You ask us to do. Lead us to love others well, even when they are difficult to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in humility and gentleness, trusting You to grant us patience and grace to bear with one another in Your love. Amen.

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

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

Discipline is Discipling

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, NIV)

My son, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be angry when He corrects you.  The Lord corrects the one He loves, just as a father corrects a child he cares about. – (Proverbs 3:11-12, ERV)

The word discipline has always held a strange duality in my world.  On one hand, it held this connotation of being in trouble, and that is a very negative association for a people-pleaser; yet on the other hand, as an athlete, discipline  has simply meant adhering to the training and teaching prescribed by coaches who knew far more about my sports than I did.  In athletics, I never had a problem with a coach correcting me, as I knew it was for my benefit as an athlete, and would make me stronger, faster, or more efficient (depending on which sport they were coaching).

As I unpack the word this morning, discipline in this portion of Proverbs has the same connotation as my second example.  Discipline here, actually means to teach and to train.  God wants to teach us and train us in His ways, and He loves us enough to correct and redirect us when we go astray from the path on which He has placed us.  His Holy Spirit will whisper to our heart when we have said or done something that we ought not have done.  That unsettling feeling of regret or remorse is actually our invitation to repentance.  The Lord is so kind and gentle.  He patiently and lovingly waits for us to turn our eyes back to Him, and set our sights on that which matters most – who He is, and who He is calling us to become.  May we embrace the Lord’s discipline as His sons and daughters, understanding that it is because He delights in us, that He disciples us in love.

The Lord loves to teach,

and train those He loves;Compassion in Confrontations

He shows us the way,

to change, overcome.

Just as a parent,

shows a child the way;

to live life upright,

for all of their days.

Embrace the correction,

for He teaches those;

beloved children,

whom He calls His own.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your discipline is part of discipling, and You are teaching and training us in the ways in which we are meant to go.  Thank You that love alone is Your motivation.  Forgive us for rejecting correction, or for being slow to respond.  Help us to quickly recognize Your voice, correction and direction in our lives, so that we can walk ever closer with You.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we may embrace all of Your discipling, even when it involves rebuke or redirecting from where we thought we were meant to go.  Lead us to love others with the same generosity that You pour out upon us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified O God, as we embrace the teaching and training that You extend to each of us, individually.  Amen.

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

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

Scars as Signs of Strength

As I continue in my book study, Undaunted, by Christine Caine, I so appreciate the reminders of who God is, and how He utilizes all of our life experiences for His glory. “He took what I thought was broken and unworthy – my heart – and made it into something beautiful by giving it to others who are flattened by life and circumstance. This is God’s nature.” – (Christine Caine, Undaunted) Our places of pain, of peril, or perhaps deep sorrow or regret, when we are willing to give it all to Him, “God can heal every hurt and can turn your scars into signs of strength for His glory.” – (Christine Caine, Undaunted)

 

Our survival through the trials, and our strength that God provides on the other side, can become the hope that others need to see to call upon Him who saves. For when there is hope, strength is found. In Christ, we are able to: Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24) May we rise up and recognize where Christ has turned our scars into signs of strength for His glory, and look for opportunities to encourage those who are struggling in similar broken spaces that we have overcome.

 

Discarded, broken,

feeling so alone;

yet always our heart,

was held and was known.

When truth was found out,

forever we changed;

beauty for ashes,

as Christ called our name.

The ugliest scars,

He can use for good;

to rescue the lost,

and misunderstood.

What we see as weak,

is really a space;

for God to enter,

and move in His grace.

Allow Christ to reign,

even in the aches;

scars will become strength,

He makes no mistakes.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are able to utilize every trial and struggle that we go through for Your glory, if we are willing to place them in Your hands. Thank You that You give us beauty for our ashes, and hope where we once were in despair. Thank You that in You, there is lasting joy, even in the mourning. Forgive us for keeping our scars covered and hidden, and help us to allow You to use them to show others the strength and beauty that can come, even after the hard and horrible. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be willing to do whatever You ask of us. Lead us to love others without reservations, just as You love us with total abandon. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to use our scars as signs of strength for Your glory. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Repentance vs. Regret

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – (2 Corinthians 7:10)

 

Godly sorrow helps us see the error in our ways, confess before Christ, and allows us to embrace the forgiveness and salvation that our Heavenly Father is freely offering. As we repent, we are restored, and all has been removed. However, worldly sorrow is the sort that keeps us stuck in a sense of guilt that makes us shoulder the weight of the world. Over time, such sorrow brings destruction and ultimately death, whereas Godly sorrow restores us to life again. Our self-check is a matter of where does our sorrow lead us? Does it draw us to the face of our Heavenly Father, or make us run from responsibility and hide in our own hurt? In all things, we are to seek Him, and He will be found. His grace is sufficient, no matter what we have done. Christ already bore the weight on the cross. May our hearts turn away from our unrighteousness, and embrace the grace He has given, as He already suffered on our behalf.

 

Sorrow from the Lord,Modeling Our Maker

sets us free from sin;

it draws us to Christ,

repent before Him.

As we choose confess,

we are forgiven;

for abundant grace,

already given.

Sorrow from the world,

sets out to destroy;

the guilt eats away,

each last ounce of joy.

The road to ruin,

is full of the lies;

that our sin’s too great,

the space where hope dies.

God’s grace is enough,

the price has been paid;

embrace all He gives,

and walk in His way.

For those He sets free,

are free, yes indeed;

to live and love well,

give as we’ve received.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sorrow from You, leads us to turn away from our sin and seek Your forgiveness. Thank You that as we ask, You forgive and restore us to right relationship with You. Thank You that sorrow from You compels us to seek You, whereas worldly sorrow simply sucks us under by the weight of our own guilt. Forgive us for allowing guilt to grab hold of our hearts, rather than seek You earnestly when we know we have not pleased You in word, thought or deed. Help us to trust You more, so that we seek You the moment we have that check in our heart that tells us that we are not doing what is pleasing before You. Lead us to live and love in such a way, that those around us are drawn unto You. May many come to know You as their Savior and King. Be exalted, O God, as we seek Your face in repentance when sorrows set in. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Prevention Rather than Regret

“When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’  ‘What is that to us?’ they replied, ‘That’s your responsibility.” – Matthew 27:3-4

image by Clive Coutet

Judas wanted to drop his charges, but the religious leaders refused to stop the trial.  Judas must have recognized the magnitude of the mess he had made, and was trying to make amends.  It was too little too late, as once such plans were set in motion, they could not be stopped. (paraphrased from NIV Study Bible footnotes)

Perhaps a key take-away for us, the readers, is that we ought to consider carefully the collection of possible consequences, BEFORE we take action.  Sometimes, regardless of the sincerity of our remorse, our actions cannot be cancelled nor the outcome reversed.  That being said, there is nothing that we have ever done, nor will ever do, that cannot be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.  Jesus’ death on the cross was carried out so that our debts might be cancelled and our conscience made clean.  Though we are forgiven in heaven, it does not mean that there will not be consequences on earth.  We must choose wisely, our words, thoughts and deeds, for some damage done, cannot be undone.  Yes, God can work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, and can use them to teach and turn hearts toward Him, yet intentional sin is blatant rebellion against our Redeemer.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, so that we, as sinners, might be granted second chances.  Thank You that Your mercy and grace do not run out, and that they are made new every morning.  Please forgive us for our sins, and keep our focus securely fixed on You, so that we might consider the consequences before we take action.  Let Your love be the light in us that keeps us from choosing darkness.  May our careful consideration lead to prayerful prevention from our partaking in things that cannot be undone on earth.  Teach us to choose wisely, so that others too, will want to walk in Your way into life everlasting with You.  Amen.

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