Wrestling for Blessing

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  – (Genesis 32:28, NIV) 

Then the man said, “Your name will not be Jacob. Your name will now be Israel. I give you this name because you have fought with God and men, and you have won.” – (Genesis 32:28, ERV) 

You will no longer go by the name Jacob. From now on your name will be Israel because you have wrestled with God and humanity, and you have prevailed. – (Genesis 32:28, VOICE) 

 

After twenty years of hard physical labor and dealing with a father-in-law who had repeatedly changed Jacob’s wages and the agreement that the two had made, Jacob determined to take his wives, children and livestock back to the land from which he had come. After a week of traveling with the massive group of folks and flocks, Leban, his father-in-law, caught up to the caravan and had a discussion with Jacob. After the tension subsided, the two men reached an agreement, and parted ways. As the journey continued, they group neared the land of Jacob’s father. Jacob was afraid of how his brother, Esau, would respond to his return. He selected a large number of his livestock to gift to him, and sent servants with groups of animals ahead, in hope of pacifying his brother. Once everyone had gone on ahead of him, Jacob met a Man, with whom he wrestled all night. The One with whom he struggled, told him to stop, but Jacob insisted that they continue until he was blessed by Him. Verse twenty-eight is the response given by the One with whom Jacob wrestled. Jacob had struggled with man and God, and now was receiving the blessing for which he was asking. Both commentaries that I read surrounding this passage, pointed out that with the change of name, came also, a change of heart. A personal encounter with God changed Jacob forever. Likewise, an encounter with God changes us forever too. Our persistence to persevere, even in the struggle, results in the Lord’s presence and His help. Though it is unlikely that any of us with physically wrestle with God Himself, (or an angel messenger, as different commentaries suggest that it was either God Himself, or one of His messengers) we will however, struggle with our circumstances and our faith. The more we seek Him, the stronger our trust becomes, fueling faith for every future endeavor. May we fearlessly wrestle with the struggles that come our way, as we depend on God to strengthen and sustain us, in all things and at all times. 

 

Though we may wrestle, f9d3a1df-a6ed-4149-9c89-54ddf9a6f9788443963905273144234.jpg

With our circumstance; 

Lord God, Almighty, 

Will help us advance. 

For as we seek God, 

He hears our heart cry; 

Strengthens our resolve, 

And hope to choose try. 

The blessings do come, 

As we choose persist; 

Hope, strength and His love, 

Things that prayer enlist. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us as we call out to You. Thank You that though we may wrestle with our circumstances and our faith, You never falter, and hear our heart’s cry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would run to You and lay our need before You, knowing that You hear and help those who seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that displays Your faithfulness, strength and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we press on and pursue You in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. – Psalm 119:2

Purposeful Reign

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – (Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV) 

Rain and snow fall from the sky and don’t return until they have watered the ground. Then the ground causes the plants to sprout and grow, and they produce seeds for the farmer and food for the people to eat. In the same way, My words leave My mouth, and they don’t come back without results. My words make the things happen that I want to happen. – (Isaiah 55:10-11, ERV) 

 

It has been a typically torrential week, weather-wise, in the great Pacific Northwest. Rain has poured down daily, and the mountains are gaining significant snow to help us all remember that December is actually here. Though I prefer the sunshine and sweeter, more leisurely days of summer, there are blessings to behold as the rains come down. Yesterday, as my best running buddy and I were braving the elements on a run, we hit a favorite sweet spot that is an actual decline (as everywhere we run in our town is hilly) an old song I love kept going through my head – Send Your Rain”. As the lyrics were on repeat as we ran, I thought about the benefit and beauty that our wet winter weather affords our area. It is lush and green and gorgeous, and there is a view of either the mountains or water, (or both!) nearly everywhere one goes. In the same way, as I immerse myself in His word each morning, what I learn seems to be recalled at the most opportune moments, when I need to be reminded most. God is a God of intention, and He is able to use everything for good. Even the wet, cold days of winter serve a purpose, as they bring bounty as we walk into spring. (The jury is still out on spiders though, just sayin’…) May we ever seek the Lord and His word, recognizing that what He says is true and what He promises, He will do. May we allow Him reign in our hearts. 

 

Each raindrop that falls, fb_img_15445766468148440667160544576070.jpg

Has purposed intent; 

To water the earth, 

This grace, heaven-sent. 

The same with God’s word, 

Each spoken with care; 

To guide and instruct, 

Love, help and prepare. 

Both are sent for growth, 

For their yield is great; 

Each to be absorbed, 

New life, generate. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your rain and Your word. Thank You that both are used to nurture and grow. Thank You that You give us tangible, visible examples in the world around us to grasp that which might not be clearly seen. Forgive us for not absorbing all that we can from Your word, as You generously give us all that we need to navigate well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on Your word. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may feel refreshed and grow in the grace that You so lovingly give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your reign in our lives and soak in all that You speak to our hearts. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. – Psalm 97:1

 

 

More Than Anything, Choose Love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, NIV) 

Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, CEB) 

Most of all, love each other as if your life depends on it. Love makes up for practically anything. – (1 Peter 4:8, MSG) 

 

We are called to love one another deeply, sincerely, as if our very life depended on it. The forgiveness that comes as a result of genuine love, makes peace possible and creates a culture within us to care well for others. Our capacity to love grows exponentially as we understand and accept the love that God has for us, individually. May we seek the Lord and receive all that He has to offer, so that we may go forth and love deeply, as love makes up for practically anything. 

 

More than anything, Enter With Thanksgiving

We need to choose love; 

From a sincere heart, 

Grace shall rise above. 

Love knows forgiveness, 

So freely, forgives; 

Grants hope to others, 

To rise in grace, live. 

What we are given, 

We often return; 

Let us seek God’s love, 

So perfect love’s learned. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love, as love covers over and forgives a multitude of sin. Thank You that You do not call us to do anything that You have not already done for us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld forgiveness or love toward another. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on Your grace and goodness to fill us and equip us to love at all times, even when it is difficult to love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your unending goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart to love deeply, just as You love us. Amen.

 

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

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

Peace in Turbulence

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – (Psalm 73:28, NIV)

But as for me, I get as close to Him as I can! I have chosen Him, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful ways He rescues me. – (Psalm 73:28, TLB)

But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good. O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe – I will tell everyone what You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, MSG)

 

God is our faithful space of safety, and it is so good to know He is near. I am not the biggest fan of flying, and on our return trip from our honeymoon, we had to fly all the way across the U.S., broken into two connecting flights. As we were about to land in Phoenix, the plane barely touched the front wheels to the ground, then lifted off again. There had been more turbulence than my stomach appreciates and the very idea of having to go up and come down again was a bit overwhelming. The plane bounced around as we made another loop, changing altitudes less than smoothly, and all I could do was close my eyes and breathe, as I prayed for the landing to come quickly. Not normally one who perspires, my entire back was drenched as we circled around. Because we were in the bulkhead row, a flight attendant was seated adjacent me, facing us. He let us know what had happened, and was in communication with the cockpit. Soon the captain came over the speakers and announced what had transpired with the promise of an actual landing coming soon. Though my body was not pleased with the turbulence, my mind found peace in God’s presence and in the hand of my husband beside me. We safely landed, and I could not have been happier to get off that plane and stand on solid ground. Thankfully, our second flight, an hour later, was uneventful. May we ever trust in the Lord, be it in turbulence or in calm, for He is faithful to be near to all who call on Him.

 

A life with the Lord, fb_img_1533560993920686939278845347391.jpg

Brings promise of peace;

Though turmoil does come,

So too, His relief.

The Lord God is good,

Despite circumstance;

He holds us all up,

Gives reason to dance.

Though turbulent times,

Will happen, it’s clear;

God’s peace will be ours,

As we choose draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that life with You is good. Thank You that You are our safety and our peace, no matter what comes our way. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the turmoil. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rest our heart in Your hands as You are our Protector and Provider of peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever closer to You, our faithful space of safety forever. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth (Moreno) 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

Return to Rest

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. – (Psalm 116:7, NIV)

I tell myself, you can be at peace again, because the Lord has been good to you. – (Psalm 116:7, CEB)

I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings.” – (Psalm 116:7, MSG)

 

Seemingly small things seek to steal our peace and keep our hearts from finding rest if we allow the challenges before us to determine our state of being. God is good and brings blessings in the midst of our challenges, we need only open our eyes and hearts to be aware of His goodness toward us. As we recognize how He is moving on our behalf, despite difficulties we face, we can relax and rest in God. When things are most challenging, we need to remind ourselves to rest in He who grants us peace. May we ever seek the Lord to soothe our souls, for He is always good.

 

Return to your rest, Our Map and Our Guide

O chaotic soul;

For God is our peace,

The One who makes whole.

He is always good,

Grants blessings and peace;

As we turn to Him,

His rest He’ll release.

Blessings He pours out,

Through His loving grace;

So let us seek Him,

For all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our rest comes from You. Thank You that You shower us with Your blessings because You are good. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate whether or not we find rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would find rest in You no matter what we are walking through. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends peace and rest to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we return to Your rest and give You thanks for Your overwhelming goodness. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Fear Fades in Perfect Love

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. – (1 John 4:18, NLT) 

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, CEB) 

Love will never involve fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE) 

 

To love God and know His love in return, requires a mind shift as we recognize the difference between fearing God, in the sense of awe and wonder at His power and authority, and fear of punishment, which delivers discipline without love. God loves us so much that He corrects, redirects and leads us to the paths we are meant to take. When we are walking in the light of His love, fear becomes unfamiliar as He shows us what it is to be loved in spite of ourselves. When we fall short, He still loves fiercely. As we misstep or make foolish decisions, He loves us so much that He leads us back the direction that we are meant to go. It is not a fearful thing, but rather our loving Heavenly Father, leading us in His perfect love. May we ever trust in Him who is love, as in Him and through Him we have nothing to fear. 

 

The love of the Lord, Fear Fades in Perfect Love

Is perfect indeed; 

It expels all fear, 

Grants strength where there’s need. 

When we find we’re stuck, 

Fear what we deserve; 

We need to recall, 

His sacrifice served. 

For as we know Christ, 

His cover of love; 

Our fears fade away, 

And hope’s found above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in Your perfect love. Thank You that though we deserve punishment, You already paid the price for all of our sins. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You lead us and guide us in the direction that we are meant to go. Forgive us for being fearful when we falter, rather than seeking You for forgiveness and help. Teach us to trust You more, so that we embrace the grace that You freely give, and walk boldly in the light of Your perfect love. Show us how to love those around us with a love like Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to know and understand Your perfect love so that we can go and love others in the same way. Amen. 

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

The Love That Remains

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. – (Romans 8:38-39, MSG)

 

These are incredibly powerful words of declaration, meant to remind and encourage each of us of just how vast the love of God is for us all. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, God loves us in spite of ourselves. We have the choice to receive or reject His love, but His love remains. The closest comparison I can come up with is the love I have for my children. My love for them is not situational, circumstantial, nor dependent on whether or not they receive and give love in return – I love them because they are mine. If we in our broken humanity have the capacity to love those whom He has gifted us to love, how much more does He who is love, love us in spite of ourselves? When we slow down and are ready to receive that which He offers freely, the depth and breadth of His love surrounds and overwhelms. May we each choose to receive that which God offers to each of us, as His love shall always remain.

 

There isn’t a thing, The Love That Remains

Created on earth;

That can take away,

Our infinite worth.

Because we are God’s,

Made by His own hand;

His love shall remain,

Forever will stand.

No height nor great depth,

For there is nothing;

That can take away,

The love that God brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love for us is not dependent on our circumstances, surroundings or on what we do or do not do. Thank You that You love us because we are Yours. Thank You that Your love is ready to receive for all who choose to call on Your Name. Forgive us for rejecting what You freely offer and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love others with the same tenacity that You have as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love that never ends and seek to go and love likewise. Amen.

 

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

 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

Working On Our Why

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – (Colossians 3:23, NLT)

Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. – (Colossians 3:23, CEB)

Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord Himself and not merely for others. – (Colossians 3:23, TPT)

 

What a perfect reminder on a Monday following a long, holiday weekend. This final push prior to Christmas, takes some serious digging deep. However, it is so good to remember Who we are ultimately working for – in all things, all that we do should be unto the Lord. If we keep that in proper perspective, there is an urgency in our call to action as we rise and return to work this morning. Whatever our job or position, we are called with purpose, and have things to accomplish unto Him. No matter what we do, we can work as unto the Lord. If it is teaching, be it with kindness and grace; if it is serving or helping or leading, let patience and goodness reign – in all things, whatever we do, may His love be evident as we commit ourselves to working as unto Him.

 

May we choose to work, Generous Giving

In all that we do;

As unto the Lord,

So His love shines through.

When heart and soul,

Are in what we do;

Our best is put forth,

And grace is renewed.

In everything,

Our best for the Lord;

So His love light shines,

And peace is outpoured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminders of truth that You give us in Your word. Thank You that ultimately, we are not working for people, but rather unto You. Forgive us for approaching anything that we do with an attitude that is less than our best. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would do all things as unto You. Show us how to love those around us as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do all that we do, unto You, giving our very best. Amen.

 

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

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Delight to Walk Upright

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey. – (Psalm 51:12, NLT)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, VOICE) 

By Friday, many of us simply need a reminder of our real reason for joy. If we are willing to start our day seeking the Savior, who is our salvation and our Source of strength, joy rises up and the desire to do what is right before God gains renewed resolve. He is good, and His unending love will lead us and fill us as we choose to depend on Him to direct our path. May we delight in the Lord, who is our Source of joy and strength, and depend on Him to lead us in the ways in which we are meant to go.

 

Lord, return to me,Delight to Walk Upright

The sense of delight;

That entered my heart,

Made heavy things light.

Restore the pure joy,

Found in knowing You;

For You make us strong,

To walk Your way true.

Please make me willing,

To seek and obey;

For true joy is found,

As we walk Your way. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly and lovingly restore the joy of our salvation and strengthen our spirits to walk in Your way as we seek You. Forgive us for wandering aimlessly without Your direction, or for forgetting to pursue the One who provides our joy. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would begin each day anew, fixing our eyes on You. Remind us afresh of the joy we know, simply through time in Your presence. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and helps sustain the weary. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore and refresh our joy when we grow weary, and give us a willingness to walk in Your way. Amen.

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

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

Pay Back With Blessing

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with blessing. That is what God had called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing. – (1 Peter 3:9, ERV)

 

We are called to respond in the opposite spirit when we are hurt by the words or actions of another. Though this contradicts the very nature within us, when we choose to bless when we want to curse, extend kindness when we’d rather kick, and offer hope where we’d rather return harm, so often the situation turns around and we are blessed by the outcome. Even when we are not, we can go forward knowing that we have walked in obedience with a clear conscience, rather than agonizing over what we should or should not have said or done. The ultimate outcome is in God’s hands, so we need not worry when blessing seems to do nothing to help. A prime place where this practice plays out in my life is in the classroom. When a student behaves poorly and I try to redirect with kindness and calm, identifying their strengths and abilities, often it is enough to get them to snap out of their funk and return to what is appropriate. We all have days where we choose poorly or are less than kind, and the very things that help us to reset and choose better are the blessings that come through the kindness of those around us. May we ever choose to extend blessings, even to those who wrong us, as God has chosen to give abundant blessings unto us.

 

Don’t repay evil, Aquiring Armor

With more of the same;

Firing back insults,

Or pointing out blame.

Instead, give blessings,

To all whom you meet;

This is our calling,

Mission to complete.

As we choose to bless,

We become blessed too;

Because we’ve obeyed,

As we’re called to do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and blessings unto us. Thank You that You direct and instruct us to steer clear of retaliating for the harm that people bring our way, and that instead, You arm us with strength to bless those who insult or do wrong against us. Forgive us for the times that we have repaid wrong with wrong, or returned insults instead of extending blessings. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and heed Your instruction as to how we can bless when we feel wronged, and give grace instead of retaliation. Show us how to love sincerely, even those who insult us or irritate us, as each is Your treasured creation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ask You to bless those who bring us pain. Amen.

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

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