Sweet Independence

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

 

Independence Day has an entirely new meaning in my world this year. I am not speaking on a national level, but rather on a personal one. Independence, as it is defined, is the freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. (dictionary.com)  Ironically, to be independent from the wiles of this world, we must be dependent on God. We have to know the Lord, trust His word to be true, and actually follow after Him with our whole heart, to avoid being sucked into a dependence on popular thought, regardless of how askew it has become. Personally, I am in a space where my formerly independent mom, is currently completely dependent on me (or my sister) for everything throughout her day. Aid and support are required to sustain her, as the right side of her body is still not cooperating as it used to, prior to her stroke. At times I find myself feeling like a prisoner in this space, as I am accustomed to the freedom to come and go as I choose. Not having the liberty to take off and go for a run or make a quick trip to the store as needed, is an odd sort of normal. That being said, even when I have those freedoms at home, I still depend on God. My thought life and ability to express myself is independent of anyone’s control, and any submitting that I do, is a personal choice unto the Lord.

Perhaps my point is to not take our independence for granted. Mom’s independence was taken in an unexpected instant. She had no prior health issues nor warning signs, yet a stroke happened, and here we are. God is gracious and mom is a fighter. He has given her strength and tenacity, and I believe she will work her way back to full function on her own again. However, there is much work and an undisclosed timeline in the in between. Yesterday was another good day, as mom walked the full length of her hallway by herself with the walker during physical therapy in the morning. A bit later, we went on a “field trip” into town to drive through Dutch Bros for coffee. Honestly, it is a way to get out of the house and take in a change of scenery. Upon our return, we sat on the deck and spent a few hours playing Uno and Dominos. Playing games is a great way to continue to connect pathways in her healing brain, and do not be fooled, as she is a ruthless competitor. 😊 The remainder of the day was fairly routine, as we did the usual sort of activities. Last night, she had a few wake-ups in a short span of time, but then slept until 5:30 this morning. There is absolutely nothing scheduled for today, so we shall see what the day holds. We are independent to choose, yet dependent on God for His goodness and grace as we go. May your day be free and blessed as You celebrate the gift of independence that is held in your hands.

 

Sweet independence,

Freedom to behold;

Where no one controls,

We choose what to hold.

Hold fast to the truth,

Grace rooted in love;

Trust in the Lord’s word,

All hope from above.

Only by God’s grace,

Do we truly know;

Freedom forever,

True peace to let go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that true independence and freedom come when we learn to be dependent on You. Thank You for the nourishment found in Your word. Forgive us for our frustration found in our circumstances, somehow thinking that our independence has anything to do with our location or physical condition. Teach us to trust You more, understanding that Your word truly sets us free from all that holds us captive. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may come to understand freedom in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate our independence because of our dependence on You. Amen.

 

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

 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – Galatians 5:13

Recorded Reminders Bring His Holy Hope

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. – (Romans 15:4, NIV)

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. Those things were written so that we could have hope. That hope comes from the patience and encouragement that the Scriptures give us. – (Romans 15:4, ERV)

You see, everything written in the days of old was recorded to give us instructions for living. We find encouragement through the Scriptures and a call to perseverance that will produce hopeful living. – (Romans 15:4, VOICE)

 

Scriptures show us the repeated faithfulness of God over time. The more one invests time to discover the truth of God’s word, the more encouragement is found to persevere with patient hope, as that which comes in the end, is well worth the wait. There is nothing new under the sun. Every difficulty, trial, and pain that we face, has been endured before. Though the struggles of those in the past may not look exactly like the things we endure, there are so many similarities, that we can witness the ongoing faithfulness of God, as each inspires us to continue to hope in Him. Recording His faithfulness in writing has always been a way to encourage and inspire those who follow and face something similar. May we look to the Lord and His Holy Word, to remind us of His faithfulness and the hope that is held in His holy hands.

 

All that is written, The Word of God

In God’s Holy Word;

Inspires, brings hope,

To all who have heard.

For the truth of God,

Brings life, love and light;

Hope in the darkness,

Reminders to fight.

Fight through the heartache,

The struggles and fear;

Proof of His true love,

To all who draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that is recorded in Your Word. Thank You that no matter what we go through, we can turn to You and trust in Your Word to remind us of who You are and how You love. Forgive us for the times that we have sought answers, help and hope elsewhere. Teach us to turn to You first in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us through their trials, and to record and recall the countless examples of faithfulness You have made known in our own lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your Word so that we may more deeply come to know who You are and how You love; for hope is forever held in the truth. Amen.

 

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

 

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

The Hope In So Much More

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love Him. – (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV)

But as the Scriptures say, “No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (1 Corinthians 2:9, ERV)

But as the Scriptures say, No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and it has never occurred to the human heart all the things God prepared for those who love Him. – (2 Corinthians 2:9, VOICE)

 

In the ebb and flow of life, it currently feels like a season of loss. Yesterday, I learned of the passing of one of my classmates from high school. We were friends on Facebook, and I was aware that she had some health challenges, but none so great that they would be life-ending. She leaves behind a husband and two children, and I am heartbroken for their loss. Additionally, I heard this past week, that the mother of a very dear lifelong friend had a massive stroke. The prognosis is grim, and my heart hurts for her kids, and her husband and best friend of more than fifty years. Two weeks ago, I attended the memorial for a wonderful lady from our church, who was about my age and lost her long battle with cancer. Her husband and four children, as well as her parents and siblings, are left with the ache of missing her. This morning, reading this verse, I am reminded anew of the hope for those who have passed or are on the verge. Each of these ladies know/knew Jesus, and I am comforted in the fact that where they are going is beautiful beyond what I can imagine – so much more than I have ever seen or heard. The same God who hung the stars, formed the majestic mountains, determined how far the sea can roll into the land, causes the sun to rise and set each day, has prepared a place far greater still. Though there is heartache and hurt for those left behind, there is great hope for those who have gone on to their eternal home. May we hold fast to the hope we know in the One who is holding us in His hands, and extend help, hope and love to those left behind in their space of great loss.

 

When I see such loss, Filled Each Morning

I find myself torn;

Between hurting hearts,

And hope in much more.

For my eye has seen,

Such beauty indeed;

Incredible views,

And heaven, exceeds.

Imagine the sights,

The angelic sound;

In the Lord’s presence,

Where all hope is found.

Embraced by Jesus,

As He ushers in;

All who have sought Him,

True glory begins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessed hope that we have in You. Thank You that You have prepared a place for us that far exceeds anything that we could ever hope or imagine. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as our eternal hope in You outweighs all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not fear our end on earth, but rather look forward with anticipation to our heavenly homecoming. Show us how to love those who are in hurting in the midst of great loss. Lead us to show Your heart in tangible ways, extending comfort and support. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the homecoming of those entering Your kingdom, and comfort all who are grieving loss. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. – 1 Peter 1:3-4

Do As We Want Done

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and the Prophets and this is what you get. – (Matthew 7:12, MSG)

This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you. – (Matthew 7:12, VOICE)

 

When I am angry, frustrated or fed-up, I tend to still speak as calmly and as kindly as possible. Students are often baffled by this phenomenon, as they recognize that their behaviors and choices might warrant a different response. I think that I give what I would like to see returned, and that the truth of God’s word has deep roots that have a way of reeling in my response so that I reply much more gently than I would have done otherwise. This is not to say that I have perfected this method of interacting with others, yet it is a priority to try to choose love, even when what is given is far from it. On most occasions, kindness disarms the heat others are holding when it is extended, despite their own anger that is spewing out. In my own moments of frustration, the times that I have been met with loving kindness, those were the very examples that squelched the flame and left me looking at the real reason my circumstance was upsetting. May we seek the Lord and His loving kindness to fill us up, so that we may go forth and give to others what we would like given to us.

 

In all that we do, Do As We Want Done

Let love lead the way;

Choose give to others,

At home, work and play.

For we are all called,

Do as we want done;

How we treat others,

Leads to battles won.

For goodness given,

Squelches anger’s heat;

Love that’s extended,

Brings hatred’s defeat.

So, choose to love well,

Do as we want done;

This is obeying,

Scripture’s rule-of-thumb.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You treat us with loving kindness; always. Thank You that You call us to do for others what we would like done unto us. Forgive us for not responding in a way that we would want to receive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we give to others what we would like to be given, regardless of what we think they deserve. Thank You that You give us mercy and grace, though we are not deserving. Help us to do the same. Show us how to love those around us in the same way that we desire to be loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do unto others what we would want done unto us, in everything and every circumstance. Amen.

 

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

 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

Anna’s Answer

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up and broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. – (Luke 2:36-38, MSG)

 

Though Matthew does not reveal to us whether or not Anna had been promised to see the Messiah before the end of her life, I imagine that her presence in the Temple was no accident nor coincidence, as Mary and Joseph brought Jesus on the eighth day after his birth. It is difficult to fathom the life of Anna. Widowed, likely at a very young age, she chose to remain in the Temple area day in and day out, for decades. Matthew describes her has a prophet, and her heart was clearly connected to God as she worshiped and prayed day and night. Likely, one of her often prayed prayers was for the Savior to come to rescue Israel, as had been foretold in scripture. Incredibly, after all of her faithful time spent serving and honoring God, she suddenly found herself standing in the presence of a promise coming to fruition. Immanuel, God with us, came near in a tangible way to Anna, who had waited nearly a lifetime to behold the very One who was held before her. May we worship with the same sort of wonder and celebration as those first few whom God blessed with the opportunity to be in the presence of our Savior. The glory of the first Christmas remains the same, as we celebrate God with us, now and forevermore.

 

Remarkable the faith, Annas Answer

And hope she held dear;

Faithful for ages,

Prayers that God come near.

In awe and wonder,

Her eyes did behold;

The promised Savior,

Scriptures had foretold.

She could not help speak,

To all others tell;

This most holy news,

Rejoice! It is well.

The hope she had held,

Was found in the eyes;

Eight-day-old baby,

Future realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to save us. Thank You that Jesus made the way for us to be in right relationship with You, despite our shortcomings. Forgive us for forgetting all that Jesus went through to not only redeem us, but to know and understand our struggles and pain. Teach us to trust You with a relentless faith like Anna. Help us to faithfully pray and worship You, regardless of what we see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope where there is none, so they too may look to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done through the precious gift of Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Pass It On

As the Scriptures say, “People are like the grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. – (1 Peter 1:24-25, NLT)

The Scriptures say, “Our lives are like the grass of spring, and any glory we enjoy is like the beauty of a wildflower. The grass dries up and dies, and the flower falls to the ground. But the word of the Lord lasts forever.” – (1 Peter 1:24-25, ERV)

For as Isaiah said, “All life is like the grass, and its glory like a flower; The grass will wither and die, and the flower falls, But the word of the Lord will endure forever.” – (1 Peter 1:24-25, VOICE)

 

Our life, the very beauty that God grows within us, is fleeting. What is true and lasting is that which He plants within us to pass on to those around us. As we demonstrate the love of God to the people with whom we meet, that which lasts beyond what is seen, is shared with those around us. May we allow the truth of His word to spring up in love, so that what is shown is lasting and life-giving to those with whom we interact.

 

Looks, they are fleeting,Enter With Thanksgiving

But what truly lasts?

The love of the Lord,

To all shall be passed.

The word of the Lord,

Is truth for all time;

It lasts beyond life,

Brings future divine.

For God’s word is shown,

As we choose to love;

Elevate people,

Do as Jesus does.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though what is seen is temporary, the truth of Your word endures forever. Thank You that as we love like we are loved, we share the truth of who You are with those around us. Forgive us for allowing the beauty that You place within us to be hidden rather than allow Your light to shine bright. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love fearlessly and give generously, just as You do unto us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to let Your light shine through our love so that the truth of who You are may be evident in us. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Start to Finish by Faith

The Good News shows how God makes people right with Himself. God’s way of making people right begins and ends with faith. As the Scriptures say, “The one who is right with God by faith will live forever.” – (Romans 1:17, ERV)

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” – (Romans 1:17, NLT)

 

We are only made right before God through faith in Christ. It is in that space of trust that we are redeemed and made righteous before Him, and granted life everlasting in the Lord. The Good News is that it is God at work in us, rather than us somehow having to measure up on our own. Our part is to seek Him and trust Him, and allow His Spirit to reign and rule in our lives. As we do, we are transformed more and more into His likeness, and His plans and purposes are accomplished both in us and through us. May we choose to seek and trust the Lord, as He is the One who makes us right in His sight by faith.

 

The Good News of God,No Matter What Comes

Is that we’re made right;

When we seek the Lord,

Redeemed in His sight.

It’s only by faith,

That new life is ours;

All is accomplished,

Trust Him where we are.

Life everlasting,

Is granted to all;

Who choose to seek Him,

He answers each call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make us right in Your sight by faith. Thank You that when we seek You and trust in You, You supply what is needed to further fuel our faith. Thank You that You are the Author and Finisher of our faith. Forgive us for not seeking You in our need. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come before You in all things and at all times, knowing that You are who You say You are. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they may see Your faithfulness and goodness through our kindness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all of our faith in You, trusting You to accomplish all that You promise that You will do in us and through us. 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

An Eternal Perspective

But as the Scriptures say, “No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (1 Corinthians 2:9, ERV)

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT)

That’s why we have this Scripture text: No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it – What God has arranged for those who love Him. – (1 Corinthians 2:9, MSG)

 

As humans, we are creatures who crave comfort. Often, our desire to be comfortable leads us to labor and toil, fret and fear, to the point that we neglect to recognize the blessings we already have, and the hope held in what is yet to come. We are called to live and love well with each of our days as they come, as God has our ultimate destination prepared for us. Yes, we need to be wise with what we are given, but we need not worry about the final outcome, if we have placed our lives in His hands. May we lean into the Lord and trust in His leading, knowing that what lies ahead is far greater than anything that we could ever hope or imagine.

 

No eye’s ever seen,The Reason for Reverence

All God has prepared;

Glimpses of greatness,

Found in love that’s shared.

No ear has yet heard,

Heaven’s full glory;

Yet we know the hope,

Salvation story.

Our minds can’t conceive,

All God has prepared;

For those who love Him,

Our hearts can’t compare.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the love and grace and hope that You give us now, and the promised future that we cannot even begin to imagine. Forgive us for forgetting how temporary our time here is compared to all of eternity with You. Teach us to have an eternal perspective, so that we would keep our priorities where they belong. Show us how to live and love in a way that gives others help and hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live each day with an eternal perspective. 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

How Can We Be Holy?

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” – (1 Peter 1:15-16, NLT)

 

When I read this verse I am at a loss as to how I could ever even begin to measure up. The teacher in me decided to start at the beginning, and determine what exactly it means for me to be “holy“. According to the various definitions that I could find, holy is: dedicated or devoted service to God; having a spiritually pure quality; to be declared sacred. Though on my own, this explanation make holiness even further out of reach, I know that in Christ, I am washed clean and declared His, by which Christ calls me sacred before Him, and spiritually pure in His eyes. Knowing that He has done these things for me, draws my heart to devotion unto Him. This does not mean that I will get it right every single time, nor will I “arrive” at some super holy status, but I will pursue His will as I walk out my days, and trust that I have been cleansed and declared His, which makes me wholly His. When God looks at us, He views us through the holy lens of Christ, not through our brokenness. May we embrace the grace that we have been granted that cleanses us and declares us holy and pure before the living God.

 

Because He’s holy,Clean Inside Out

We must be the same;

Not for what we do,

Rather by His Name.

When we’re His children,

He calls us His own;

Cleansed and made holy,

Made right, we are known.

This tremendous grace,

He gives unto us;

Makes hearts long to serve,

Our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that because You are holy and You cover and cleanse us from our sin, we too can be called holy before You. Thank You that Your goodness and grace draw our hearts to devotion unto You. Forgive us for not walking in Your ways or listening for Your voice. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and Your ways in everything that we do. Show us how to love others in a way that honors You and demonstrates Your holiness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be dedicated and devoted unto You in all that we do because You are good. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

With Forever in Mind

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT)

But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love Him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being. – (1 Corinthians 2:9, CEB)

 

There is such hope for those who place their trust in Christ. Not only do we have His presence through His Holy Spirit now, but we have the promise of eternity in a space of such majesty, that our minds and hearts cannot even conceive all that our future glory holds. To be in God’s very presence, unashamed and unafraid – welcomed with open arms… Imagine the peace and rest in that glorious space of God’s tangible grace. We get but a glimpse on earth, of all that is yet to come. When we imagine the people and places that we love the most, they are but a foretaste of all that is yet to come. God is so much more. May we embrace the grace that our God freely gives, and love Him and others as we are loved.

 

In each of our hearts,

God places a piece;Believe Instead of Striving

a longing to know,

love that does not cease.

Eternity’s set,

somewhere deep within;

that creates longing,

to be called Christ’s kin.

The glorious truth,

is that when we come;

and trust in the Lord,

we‘re daughters and sons.

What once was a hole,

is filled with His grace;

hope in forever,

where we’ll see His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is a glorious future that we cannot even begin to conceive for those who love You. Thank You that You receive us as we seek You, and You give us Your Spirit to follow after You. Forgive us for not upholding an eternal perspective when struggles come in the here and now. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see all things through Your lens, remembering that this is not our home, but rather our space for a season to love You and love those around us with all that we are. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. Be glorified O God, as we operate with an eternal perspective. Amen.

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

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