Hope in the Unseen

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. – (Hebrews 11:1, TLB)

 

This is an interesting verse to land on for Mother’s Day. I knew on Friday, the direction I was to take for the weekend, however, only the verses, not the actual unpacking. As I read Hebrews 11:1 several times, and then read it again in a variety of translations, my mind was flooded with the connection between faith, hope, being a mother, and our current journey with mom. You see, the very process of becoming a mom is crazy connection to this very verse. For nine months, or in my case, a bit less, a woman has to be confident in hope and assured about the growing child(ren) within her. There is no guarantee, nor sneak preview with an instruction manual (though the ultrasounds they have now are amazing!), and despite tests and precautions, there is no one that can determine everything, rather it is a walk of faith, trusting and hoping in that which we do not see. Because I was carrying twins, and one was smaller than the other, I had to walk by faith and be assured in Who I knew, not the potential theories of why. As many of you know, I have two giant, incredible young men, that are now seventeen, and nearly finished with their junior year of high school. They are tender and kind, smart, funny, talented, super sensitive to the needs of others, and wise beyond their years.

With mom, each day is a new walk of faith. We have the confident assurance that God is her healer and that He is, and will continue to bring complete and total healing. The challenge is being patient in the waiting, and holding hope in that which we do not see yet. In the quiet moments, mom and I have had a few conversations about this very thing. She will ask about what comes next; after rehabilitation. I look at her with all of the love in my heart, and answer honestly, saying, “I don’t know yet, but God does.” I remind her of how He has brought her this far in such a short time, so we cannot even fathom what He has in store for her in both the time remaining at the current facility, and in the months to come. We talk about how He knows the desires of her heart, and He honors those who love Him. Oh how she loves Him…

Though some days are easier than others to trust and hope in that which is unseen, when we do, we discover blessings and strength, help and hope, that go far beyond what we could have come up with on our own. May we lean into the Lord with confident hope, trusting Him for that which we cannot yet see.

 

Faith is confidence, img_2019-05-12_07-18-297605007519689366231.jpg

Where our hope may dwell;

Complete assurance,

As fear He dispels.

Though we may not see,

Things hoped for, quite yet;

We’re in the Lord’s hands,

We mustn’t forget.

Our God is greater,

Than all that is seen;

He hears our heart cry,

And shows what hope means.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are greater than any obstacle that comes our way, and that though “unseen”, You are more tangible than our next breath. Forgive us for not taking pause to remember Your faithfulness so many times before, great and small, to inspire the faith within us to rise again when it grows weary. Teach us to trust You more, especially in the areas where so little is known or seen. Take our hands and lead us, as You have done so many times before. Show us how to love those around us as we walk with You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we have confident faith in You, our Heavenly Father, and hope for, with assurance, that which we cannot yet see. Amen.

 

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

 

For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – Psalm 57:10

A Shield About Us

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

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

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

 

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

 

No matter what comes, A Shield About Us

The Lord will be near;

A shield about us,

We need never fear.

For He is our hope,

Throughout all our days;

Our glorious God,

He’s faithful always.

He’ll lift our head up,

When things all look down;

And remind our heart,

Where true hope is found.

 

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

 

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

 

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

May We Choose Kindness

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NLT)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, MSG)

 

I could not do my job if I did not seek to follow this guiding principle daily. Kids and colleagues alike, need kindness and compassion, forgiveness and grace. Just as I have been forgiven, I must also forgive. If I did not begin each day new, I cannot even begin to imagine the heaviness that would ensue. We all fall short and need kindness extended our way. May we allow God’s grace to direct our steps as we choose to forgive each other, extending compassion, gentleness and kindness to one another, just as He has done unto us.

 

No matter what comes, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Take pause, look and see;

The one who’s upset,

Needs love and mercy.

For when we are kind,

Forgive and give love;

We act as we’re called,

By God up above.

For He forgave us,

All that we have done;

May we choose kindness,

For everyone.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and compassionate to us, forgiving us each time we come to You and ask. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not also willing to strengthen and equip us to do. Forgive us for the times that we were not gentle or kind, or we lacked compassion or did not forgive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would forgive others as we are forgiven by You. Show us how to love like You – extending gentleness, kindness and compassion to one another without conditions, especially to those who seem the least deserving. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be kind and compassionate and extend forgiveness to one another, just as we have been forgiven by You. Amen.

 

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

The Right Word at the Right Time

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

There is great joy in having the right answer, and how sweet is the right word at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, VOICE)

 

The right words at the right time are a gift from God that come when we are sensitive to His leading and choosing to love. There is joy in it for both the speaker and the hearer, and peace in knowing that what has been spoken has been done from a heart that has His very best in mind. So often, God will use those around us to convey that which He wants us to hear. A word of encouragement, correction, exhortation or affirmation – each is well received when it is delivered in love at the time that it is needed most. May we have hearts that are tender and ears that are open, so we are willing to speak what He places in our hearts, and hear that which is spoken for our benefit.

 

May we each find joy, Watching Our Words

In knowing what’s right;

Through words that we speak,

And hear with delight.

For God knows our need,

He longs to lift up;

Grant us words to speak,

That fill others cups.

And in the same way,

God gives unto us;

Words that encourage,

Hope when we’re hopeless.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue Your heart in all that we do, You provide the answers that we seek. Thank You that You give us the right words to speak at the right time when we depend on You for wisdom. Forgive us for speaking without listening, or ignoring words of wisdom spoken unto us. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide the answers that we are seeking, if only we slow down and listen for Your voice. Show us how to love those around us well, and give us the words that encourage and build them up, and point them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for Your voice and speak what You place on our hearts so that there may be joy in the answers that You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people… – Psalm 85:8

 

 

Be Kind

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NLT)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, MSG)

 

It is easy to be kind, gentle and sensitive to those who are kind, gentle and sensitive toward us, but what about those who are not? We are called to follow the example set before us by Christ. Jesus showed kindness to those who did not deserve it, was merciful to those who had not shown mercy to others, and forgave, even the very ones who had hung Him on the cross to die. That is some serious grace in a place where wrath and anger, or at least frustration, might be expected. We are called to live by the same standard. When people offend us, we are meant to forgive, even if they do not ask to be forgiven. Our egos are not more important than their souls seeing God’s goodness. No, God does not ask us to be foolish and remain in harmful, dangerous or toxic spaces, however, He does expect us to forgive even the worst of those who have hurt our hearts or ruined relationships. God’s love is greater, and by His grace, we can love and be kind because we have been forgiven too. May we ever seek our Savior who has forgiven much, so that we may go forth and do likewise in love.

 

The Lord God is kind,Faith and Hope in Action

Our sins, He forgives;

And beyond His grace,

He loves as we live.

Because of His love,

We’re called to the same;

Forgive offenses,

Be kind in His Name.

For as we choose love,

Show mercy and grace;

We’re being a light,

To walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have forgiven us of so much. Thank You that You are kind, tenderhearted and loving toward us, though we do not deserve it. Forgive us for the times that we have not forgiven others as we are forgiven by You, or for withholding kindness where we are called to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving of one another, just as You are of us. Show us how to walk this out in love with all whom we encounter in all things and at all times. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do unto others as You have done so lovingly and generously unto us. 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

Search for the Why

Today’s reading was found in Numbers 22:21-33. This passage tells the story of Balaam and his donkey as they are on their way to a Moabite town with Moabite officials. Balaam’s journey was not pleasing to the Lord. Three times, an angel of the Lord stood in the path of Balaam on his donkey, and blocked the way. Though Balaam could not see him, the donkey certainly could. In fear, the donkey turned away, held back and finally laid down, refusing to go forward each time the angel appeared. Unfortunately, Balaam could not see the angel, and chose to beat the donkey each time it refused to move forward. Finally, after the third time, God opened the mouth of the donkey and gave it the ability to speak. The donkey asked what it had done to deserve the beatings, and Balaam was concerned only that the donkey had made him appear a fool. What really stood out to me this morning, was the donkey’s reply to Balaam’s rant about being made appear a fool.

 

“But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life, have I ever done anything like this before?” – (Numbers 22:30)

 

When those around us do things that are out of character, it is better to ask why, than to get angry or upset at the abrupt change. Most of the time, when people operate outside of their norm, there is a reason. It is almost always in response to something. If it is to hurt, how can we help? If it is to fear, how can we reassure or heed the warning? May we be sensitive to those around us, taking note of attitudes, actions or words that wander from their normal mode of operation. Lord, lead us to be sensitive to Your voice as we listen to those around us, so that we may identify the why when something is awry.

 

When words are like weapons,

Equipped for Desert Seasons

Where never before;

It’s our job to find out,

Discover the sore.

For panic or wounding,

Great heartache or fear;

Each one can be reason,

To ask and draw near.

Let Balaam’s example,

Be warning to us;

Sometimes the uncommon,

Is help from Jesus.

Lord, make our hearts tender,

Ready to give ear;

Help us see through Your eyes,

So all becomes clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You show us things through Your eyes, and give us Your heart for those around us. Forgive us for getting angry or upset when those around us operate outside of their normal mode of operation. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might patiently and lovingly pursue answers as to why someone is “off” rather than be bothered by it. Help us to love others well, just as You so patiently and extravagantly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand when things are awry, rather than respond as the recipients of offense. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Listen and Follow

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – (John 10:28, NLT)

 

To be His sheep requires an intentional choice to seek to follow Christ. When we make the decision to live for the Lord, rather than for ourselves, we listen for His instructions so that we might do His will and walk in His way. God sees and knows each heart that earnestly seeks Him. He is present to help all who long to follow where He is leading. We may stumble and fall along the way, but He is present to pick us up, dust us off, and continue to lead us the way we are meant to go.

Not one of us will get it right 100% of the time. However, we cannot allow fear of failure to paralyze us from forward momentum. His grace is sufficient, and He will meet us as we move, gently adjusting our sails if we get off course. Sometimes He allows obstacles to be placed in our path, so that we might take pause and reroute, according to His plan, not our own. May we each be sensitive to hear His voice, and intentional to follow wherever He leads.

 

The Lord is present,Masterd by Our Maker No Longer Slaves to Sin

May we hear His voice;

It’s through our seeking,

Intentional choice.

Each one of us known,

With freedom to choose;

To listen and learn,

His path to pursue.

Lord, help us follow,

With all that we are;

Lead us and guide us,

As You’ve done thus far.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You and we are known by You. Thank You that we can hear Your voice as You speak to us through Your word, through people, and in the stillness of our own hearts. Forgive us for not following as You are leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would obey immediately, all that You are asking. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, shall come to know Your voice. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and follow after You with all that we are. 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

The Power of the Tongue

Yesterday morning, we continued in a series entitled, Be Light – Faith in Action, as modeled in the book of James. The topic of the day was The Power of the Tongue. We began the morning by reading James 3:1-12 out loud, together, to create a common foundation and point of reference, as our Administrative Pastor, Paul Zimmerman, spoke. The three main points that he highlighted from this passage were:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1) Our words affect others. What we say has the power to change us and others, and there are always people listening.
2) Our words take us where our heart leads. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks… (Luke 6:45b)
3) Our words either build up or burn down. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:21)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. – (James 3:9-10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Words matter. They always have. As a writer, I think I have always been particularly sensitive to the impact of words. From a young age, I learned the power of words through reading, observing, and understanding how they made me feel – for better or worse. On our own, we will say that which we ought not to say, and harm those we long to help. So what can we do? The three take-aways from yesterday’s message were great reminders of how we can best be certain that the words we use build up, rather than burn down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            First, we must be slow to speak. James 1:19 tells us: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we slow down, and think first, we are able to hear His voice, and speak the words that He has for us to say.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Next, we need to put into our heart what we want to come out of it. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – (Philippians 4:8) Good in, good out; enough said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, rebuild what has been burned down. This means that we must repent when we hurt another with our words. Repentance goes beyond simply saying I’m sorry, as it is a turning away from the old patterns and moving forward into a new way of speaking. An apology is empty words if there is not a demonstrated heart change that follows.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Though a small muscle,The Power of the Tongue
such power it holds;
able to speak life,
or make a man fold.
We each have the choice,
the power to speak;
to offer great strength,
or make others weak.
Let us choose the words,
that extend His hope;
a lifeline to save,
those with no more rope.
Strength to the weary,
peace for those in pain;
may our mouths declare,
all praise to His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have the power to speak life into others. Thank You that when we are slow to speak, invest our heart in things of You and are quick to repent, others may be built up and pointed toward abundant life in You. Forgive us for the times that our words have affected others negatively and we have spoken without listening first. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will slow down and listen first, trusting that You will provide that which we are meant to speak in all situations so that light and life are passed on to all. Lead us to love in such a way that others may too burn brightly in the light of Your lavish love. Be glorified O God, as we speak life to all whom we encounter. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

Called to Come Together

There is a reason that God calls us to be a part of the body. We were never meant to walk through this life alone. Though Christ is with us and will never leave us once we have invited Him in, there is something powerful that He purposed in the gathering of His people. He hears the cry of our heart when we pray, yet His word instructs us that there are times when we ought to also band together with others to present our petitions before Him.

 

For where two or three come together in My Name, there am I with them. – (Matthew 18:20)

 

Not only are we called to invest in the lives of others, but we were meant to join and lift one another up in prayer. As we pray together, His power is promised to be present. No matter what we are facing, be it a blessing or going through great grief, knowing that Christ will be present as we join together to pray, is reason enough to do so. May we join hearts and hands in His Name, as we present our petitions and praise unto He who is able to make all grace abound unto us.

 

Be in the body,Called to Come Together

and follow His way;

gather together,

with open hearts, pray.

For as we choose come,

gather in His Name;

His presence’s made known,

as truth is made plain.

Whatever is faced,

we’re meant to surround;

united in Christ,

where true strength is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to be present in the midst of us, any time that two or three of us come together in Your Name. Thank You that You hear our prayers, and that You are loving and kind and full of goodness and grace. Thank You that we were not meant to navigate this journey on our own, but rather each of us are meant to be a part of the body; moving, growing, contributing and comforted, as we follow after You. Forgive us for isolating ourselves when things get difficult, and teach us to trust You more, so that we are willing to be transparent in the safety of those whom You have placed in our path to pray alongside us and lift us up. Lead us to love well, so that we too, may be sensitive to hear Your leading as to how we might walk beside others who need the encouragement that You grant us to give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we invest well in the body of believers, gather in Your Name, and then go forth. 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

Constructive Permission

“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. – (1 Corinthians 10:23)

 

There are many things that are neither good nor bad, they just are. For some, they bring forth benefit, yet for others, they can lead to detriment. These gray areas are the places where the rubber meets the road and we must rely on the Holy Spirit, and listen to His instructions for us, individually. What is acceptable and reasonable for one, may be unacceptable and off limits for another; not because God has a double standard, but because He knows where each heart goes when we partake in various fodder and festivities. May we each seek the Lord and His direction in all that we do, being sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, so that we partake only in the permissible things that are beneficial for us, individually.

 

Though much is allowed,Constructive Permission

not all things grant gain;

what’s okay for one,

brings another pain.

It matters to God,

that we seek and ask;

understand His will,

prior to a task.

Lord please help us see,

the gray through Your eyes;

so that we are clear,

on “yays” and “denied”.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though all things are permissible, You show us what is not beneficial nor constructive. Thank You that when we ask, You answer. Forgive us for thinking that because something is “permissible” that it is acceptable for us individually without seeking You first. Teach us to trust You enough to come before You in all things and at all times, seeking Your will for all that we do. Help us to hear You clearly and to obey what You ask. Lead us to love others, just as You so perfectly have loved each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we partake in only that which You deem permissible for us individually. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23