As Seed Are Sown

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – (Matthew 13:3-8, NIV)

 

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke on this particular parable. As he unpacked the meaning, he suggested the notion that perhaps it was not illustrating four different types of hearers of the word, but instead, it represents each of us at different stages of our relationship with God, or in different areas of our lives. There are indeed times when we are so closed off that words spoken, simply fall to the ground as if they had never been said. The second sort of soil, that which was shallow and rocky, mirrors our hearts when we hear the words, want to do well, but do nothing to invest to allow what we hear to take root. It is our desire for gratification without dedication, and it does not bring growth to fruition. When we are not rooted, the storms that come can destroy us. Seed among thorns is when the word of God is competing with the weight of the world that we attempt to bear. Worries will choke out all that is good if we do not allow God to be the gardener who prunes and pulls out that which does not belong in our lives. Finally, the seed that is sown on good soil is the word of God that we allow to enter our heart and act upon it. It is an ongoing investment in relationship with God and a choice to be intentional to spend time in His word, in worship and in prayer. As we know Him more, we more clearly reflect His heart to those around us. When others see His heart through us, that is when they too, desire to know the One who loves us so. May we ever seek the Lord to soften the soil of our heart and keep the rocks and worries that become barriers far from us, so that we may learn and grow and love others as we are loved by Him.

 

Let seed that are sown, How Faith Grows

Land on fertile soil;

Soften my heart, Lord,

Let not Your seed spoil.

For Your words are life,

Your love shows the way;

As we seek You more,

We trust and obey.

All time spent with You,

Helps us better know;

The gift of Your grace,

You grant us to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You tend to our heart as we seek You and spend time with You. Forgive us for the times that we have been hard-hearted, shallow, or allowed the worries of the world to reign rather than You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than anything that we face. Help us to prioritize our time to invest in knowing You more and loving those around us well. Show us how to love all whom we encounter in a way that ultimately points their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You tend to the soil of our hearts, and nurture growth as we allow You to water and care for the things that You so intentionally plant within us to nourish those around us. Amen.

 

 

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

You pour rain on the plowed fields; You soak the fields with water. You make the ground soft with rain, and You make the young plants grow. – Psalm 65:10

Choosing Circles

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, NLT)

Good people are careful about choosing their friends, but evil people always choose the wrong ones. – (Proverbs 12:26, ERV)

Lovers of God give good advice to their friends, but the counsel of the wicked will lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, TPT)

 

Yesterday morning, our pastor spoke about the significance and power of our circles. Our relationships have the power to shape our lives emotionally, physically and spiritually. We have the freedom to choose who holds space in our circle, as each person’s circle begins and ends with themselves. Those whom we surround ourselves with ought to encourage us and hold us accountable. Who we walk with determines the person we will become. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – (Proverbs 27:17, NIV) “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” – (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV) We have been created for relationship. The intention is for us to sharpen one another, not to corrupt. The circle we choose can make all the difference in who we become. May we seek the Lord and His wisdom as we learn to grow our circle with grace, so that we may encourage and sharpen one another for His glory.

 

We’ve the grace to choose,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Our circles ourselves;

We need the Lord’s help,

To choose people well.

Those who will build up,

When we’ve fallen down;

Will challenge with grace,

And straighten our crown.

We’re apt to attract,

Whatever we give;

Let wisdom and grace,

Define how we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the freedom to choose our own circles. Thank You that You give wisdom and grace as we ask, leading and providing the people that will encourage and challenge us the way You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected investing in our circles, or for forgetting that we have the freedom to choose. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading as to which friends sharpen us and which distract. Show us how to be the friend to those around us that encourage and challenge in love in a way that builds up and points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to surround ourselves with circles that are pleasing unto You. Amen.

 

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

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

It is Good to Praise

Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! – (Psalm 147:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord because He is good. Sing praises to our God. It is good and pleasant to praise Him. – (Psalm 147:1, ERV)

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! How beautiful it is when we sing our praises to the beautiful God, for praise makes you lovely before Him and brings Him great delight! – (Psalm 147:1, TPT)

 

On Sunday, our pastor spoke about the power that is held in our praise. One of the stories that hit home, was that when God told the Israelites to march around Jericho. On the seventh time around on the seventh day, they were told to shout. The particular shout that they were called to do was “ruah”, which meant to shout praise aloud. What is significant about this is not only God’s mighty move of power on their behalf, but also that He moved after they had praised, despite the enormous barrier that stood in their way. From this, we are reminded that it is good and fitting to praise Him for who He is, rather than what we see before us. Our praise delights the very One who holds us in His hands. It is only fitting that we praise God with all that we are, as He loves us as His own precious children. May we ever praise the Lord for who He is, as He alone is worthy of our praise.

 

All praise to the Lord,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

For He is so good;

As we sing His praise,

His love’s understood.

He delights in us,

As we seek His face;

Makes way where there’s none,

And grants us His grace.

Whether rough or smooth,

The Lord will be near;

Leading by His love,

He’ll make our paths clear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us as Your beloved children. Thank You that there is purpose in our praise. Thank You that You move mightily on our behalf as we praise You for who You are. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to silence our praise. Teach us to trust You enough to praise You through storms and barriers, knowing that You are greater than anything that lies before us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may recognize Your goodness and grace through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. – 1 Chronicles 16:9

Set Down Our Stones

“Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – (John 8:7b, NIV)

“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” – (John 8:7b, CEB)

“Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.” – (John 8:7b, VOICE)

 

This particular story recorded in the book of John, is one of the amazing goodness and grace of Jesus. A woman who was caught in sin was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, as they hoped to trap Jesus and condemn the woman. When Jesus spoke these words to those who accused her, one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away. Each one knew that they too had sinned and did not qualify as sinless to hurl stones. I imagine we all have certain offenses against us that make our blood boil, however, when we slow down, breathe and reflect, we have to recognize that we are also offenders of others, even if it is without intent to harm. Sometimes it is the words that escape our mouths, other times it is our actions, or often even worse, our inactions, that are among our own sins. It is critical that we deal with our own sin, rather than try to manage that of another. Granted, there are roles that we are called to fill where it is our job to help others navigate a life of obedience, but even then, it is not by throwing stones that we correct, but rather through conversation, consequence and redirection. May we look to the example of Jesus when the offenses of others are brought before us, for not one of us is free from sin.

 

The stones in our hands, Set Down Our Stones

We must choose set down;

As we all have sinned,

We’ve made our own mound.

A mountain of rocks,

Where our own sins lie;

Each one forgiven,

Love never denied.

Let us do likewise,

Forgive each other;

Demonstrate God’s grace,

To one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us incredible examples of Your forgiveness and grace, though they are not deserved. Thank You that we all are in need of mercy and grace, as not one of us is without sin. Forgive us for holding stones in our hands, ready to throw, rather than slowing down to look at our own lives and recognize that we too have reason to receive retribution for our own offenses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set down our stones and seek Your strength and grace to extend to those around us. Show us how to love others with the same mercy, grace and goodness that You extend to us in our own spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set our stones in Your hands, and receive the goodness that You give in their place to extend to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Honor Captivates Kindness

Like a parent feels compassion for their children – that’s how the Lord feels compassion for those who honor Him. – (Psalm 103:13, CEB)

As a father is kind to his children, so the Lord is kind to those who honor Him. – (Psalm 103:13, GNT)

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. – (Psalm 103:13, NLT)

 

As the One who spoke the world into existence, God deserves all honor and reverence, for all things are subject to His might. Incredibly, as we walk in awe and recognize the power present in our Creator and Savior, He has kindness, compassion and tenderness for us. Just as a good earthly father is both fiercely protective of His children and also deeply loves them with kindness and compassion; God loves us perfectly, despite our imperfections. May we stand in awe of the One who gives us light and life and love and seek to honor Him in all that we say and do, extending kindness and compassion, just as He lovingly lavishes upon us.

 

Just as a parent,wp-15291591867885875988528188491956.jpg

Loves deeply each child;

So too does the Lord,

His grace reconciles.

As we choose to trust,

Seek to honor Him;

The Lord’s tenderness,

Finds way to come in.

God’s great compassion,

Abundant for all;

Who ask in His Name,

Seek answer His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind, tender and compassionate to us as we seek to honor You and are in awe of who You are and all that You have done. Forgive us for the times that we have not honored You with our words or deeds. Teach us how to live life in response to the lavish love that You have given, so that we would ever pursue a path that honors You. Show us how to love others in a way that honors You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in reverent awe of who You are and all that You have done, giving thanks for Your kindness and compassion toward us. Amen.

 

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

 

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

No Fear of Bad News

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, NIV)

They will not be afraid of bad news. They are confident because they trust in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, ERV)

They won’t be frightened at bad news. Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord. – (Psalm 112:7, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I had a check back  appointment about my whole leg situation, I had a very emotional response to the words spoken. The prognosis given was a far longer recovery time than I had originally been told, and he did not pull any punches as he spoke of the gravity of the condition residing in my calf. Though tears did not fall at the time, they were threatening, and I am not a crier. Not sure what to do with my own spinning thoughts, I scooted out of the office as quickly as possible. As I drove home, I saw such a perfect representation of the verse above. On the road before me, there were dark, heavy storm clouds, yet at the base of them, there was light in the form of a rainbow. What it told me in the moment, was that even in the darkness, He promises to be present. Additionally, the song that was playing on the radio was incredibly timely too. Fear is a Liar, by Zach Williams flooded my heart as I took in the truth of what was unfolding before me. Still overwhelmed by everything, the dam burst as I finally processed what had taken place at my appointment, with my fiancé. After a few minutes of actually giving voice to my frustrations and fears, I was comforted and reminded anew that I was held in His hands. God is good even when our circumstances are not. He brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. May we be confident in Him no matter what comes, as He is greater than anything that we will ever face.

 

When news comes my way, wp-1523626205021976056124.jpg

That is hard to take;

I’ll choose trust in God,

Light on darkest days.

For we need not fear,

No matter what comes;

Because God’s greater,

And He is not done.

Our heaps of ashes,

One day soon shall be;

Redeemed by His grace,

Turned into beauty.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we do not need to fear bad news, as You have us in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for being fearful when news is not what we hope it will be and teach us to be steadfast in trusting You. Show us how to love those around us with confidence and grace, so that we may extend love in fearful and needed space. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are steadfast in trusting You and do not fear when bad news comes our way. Amen.

 

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

…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

Trust by Faith

Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home. – (John 4:50, NLT)

Jesus answered, “Go. Your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus told him and went home. – (John 4:50, ERV)

Go home. Your son will live. When he heard the voice of Jesus, faith took hold of him and he turned to go home. – (John 4:50, VOICE)

 

I love this exchange between Jesus and a government official. The man who came before Jesus on behalf of his son, was a leader among men, and accustomed to people following his orders the moment he spoke them into being. Despite the powerful position of this government official, he approached Jesus with humility and faith. Perhaps desperation was a motivation, as he more than anything, wanted his son to live. Rather than Jesus traveling with the man to his son, He simply told him that his boy would live. Something arose within the heart of the official, and he took Jesus at His word. He believed and began his journey home. I wonder if he had to keep reminding himself that Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live, so believe, believe, believe… At some point as the man neared home, one of his servants ran to him to let him know that his son would live and was well again. When the man asked when his son had shown the improvement, they discovered that it had occurred at the same time the previous day when Jesus had spoken the words that his son would live. How often do we receive and believe His promises with such faith? It is easy when we see tangible evidence that He is moving on our behalf yet it can be a battle when what we have heard does not align with that which we see in the here and now. May we have faith in the promises that He has spoken and keep walking forward in trust; for what He has promised He is faithful to do.

 

What Jesus tells us,wp-1522933972687995522303.jpg

He’s faithful to do;

Whatever He says,

He will follow through.

Despite what we see,

God is on the move;

We must choose believe,

Let doubt be removed.

We must trust by faith,

And not count on sight;

Let God lead the way,

For His ways are right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You that You are forever faithful to fulfill that which You promise. Forgive us for our fears and doubts and for thinking that You might change Your mind. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk boldly in faith in that which You have promised, trusting that You will fulfill all that You have spoken. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may encourage and build one another up with faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your word to be true and allow You to grow our faith within us. Amen.

 

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

 

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Love Comes Near

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love you. – (John 13:34, ERV) 

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – (John 13:34, VOICE) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. 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

Live as Lifelong Learners

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. – (Proverbs 4:7, NLT)

The first step to becoming wise is to look for wisdom, so use everything you have to get understanding. – (Proverbs 4:7, ERV)

Gaining sound judgment is key, so first things first: go after Lady Wisdom. Now, whatever else you do, follow through to understanding. – (Proverbs 4:7, VOICE)

 

We should never stop seeking to learn and grow. Not one of us has the capacity to obtain all wisdom and understanding in existence, yet the more we know and understand, the better we are able to love as we are loved. One of the greatest examples of this that I have ever known, was my grandmother. During her 98 years on earth, she never stopped seeking to learn and understand more. She was the wisest person I have known and had deep understanding of so many things. Even the most stubborn of her offspring would give ear to her words, as each knew and understood the wisdom that came with the words that she spoke. May we seek to be lifelong learners, as we pursue wisdom and understanding so that we too may love those around us, as we are loved by the Lord.

 

Let’s choose seek wisdom, Live as Lifelong Learners

May we become wise;

Chase understanding,

So truth’s realized.

Sound judgment follows,

When we choose pursue;

Ever we’re learning,

What we’re meant to do.

So, look for wisdom,

Seek to understand;

Ask for the Lord’s help,

To walk out His plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue wisdom and understanding so that we are not left wandering around in ignorance. Thank You that good judgment comes as we develop into lifelong learners. Forgive us for thinking we know enough, or for not seeking to understand further. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would continually pursue more wisdom and insight for all of our days to love others well and walk in Your ways. Show us how to love others as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live lives as lifelong learners. Amen.

 

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

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

The Essence of Prayer

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself interceded for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – (Romans 8:26-28, NIV)

Meanwhile, the moment we realize we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs and aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. – (Romans 8:26-28, MSG)

 

Yesterday, my pastor spoke about prayer. He reminded us that the essence of prayer is talking to God. So often we overcomplicate prayer, thinking that it requires specific rituals, routines or the “right” words. In actuality, prayer is us communing with God. It is a time of intentional slowing down to not only share our hearts with Him, but to listen as well. When we do not have the words to speak, we can rest in silence before Him, fixing our hearts on Him, and He hears what we cannot put into words. May we take time each day to commune with our Maker, as He knows and He hears our every heart cry and is faithful to be present as we travel each step of our path.

 

In strength and weakness, Refreshment Through Repentance

Our faithful Lord hears;

Each prayer that we pray,

Throughout all our years.

Even without words,

With our hearts to Him;

He hears and He knows,

Each need from within.

All things in our lives,

Can be used for good;

As we live for Him,

His grace understood.

So make time to pray,

With our God, commune;

You’ll find He’s faithful,

His heart to us tuned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that prayer is not the complicated thing that we tend to make it out to be. Thank You that prayer is talking to You. Thank You that You made the way for us to commune with You directly. Forgive us for neglecting our relationship with You through lack of prayer. Teach us how to slow down, pull away and be disciplined to have intentional time conversing with You. Show us how to love well, all those whom we encounter, and to pray for all who are in need. Help us to listen too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You intentionally and spend time communing with You. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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