Cling to Christ

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. – (1 Timothy 1:19, NLT)

Continue to trust in God and do what you know is right. Some people have not done this, and their faith is now in ruins. – (1 Timothy 1:19, ERV)

Cling tightly to your faith in Christ and always keep your conscience clear, doing what you know is right. For some people have disobeyed their consciences and have deliberately done what they knew was wrong. It isn’t surprising that soon they lost their faith in Christ after defying God like that. – (1 Timothy 1:19, TLB)

 

To cling tightly to our faith in Christ, we must walk in His way and do His will. This is made possible through trust and keeping our own conscience clear. One of the greatest obstacles to doing right is the tendency to hold onto unforgiveness. If we do not forgive others, God does not forgive us. When we harbor bitterness toward others, there is no love to give. Our charge is to release offenses to Him and choose to forgive. That does not mean that we neglect nor ignore harm, but rather allow vindication to be His. When there is a grievance that demands intervention – be it the law, a pastor, a leader, parent or person who can intervene, then we ought to access the appropriate channels to allow the authority over them to determine what is just. For us, we need to seek the Lord to reach a space where we release the wrong and pray for their ultimate good. With offenses, much of the time there is no intent to cause harm. Rather, it is the “offender” caught up in their own “stuff”, completely unaware that they have caused some sort of turmoil in the recipient. A great way to combat being easily offended is to assume positive intent. Often a mere glimpse of what is going on leads to ugly assumptions, rather than recognition that there is far more to the story, and nothing that is done in our direction is intended for harm.  May we be unoffendable with the small stuff, and quick to seek understanding when it is something that we struggle to release. Let us depend on the Lord for wisdom and strength so that we forgive as we have been forgiven.

 

Let us above all, The Favor of Forgiveness

Cling to Christ, our Lord;

Trust in His wisdom,

And grace He affords.

For we are each called,

To love and forgive;

Depend on the Lord,

And strength that He gives.

Just as we forgive,

God will forgive us;

Let’s lavish with grace,

Granted by Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to cling to You and Your word. Thank You that You will lead us and guide us in all things, if only we willingly seek You. Thank You that You call us to keep short accounts, as releasing offenses prevents barriers from being built – both in our heart and between us and others. Forgive us for the times that we have not clung to our faith and have allowed the words or actions of others to offend us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would assume positive intent when it is small, and wisdom to know what do when it is something that causes harm. Show us how to love and forgive those around us, so that they too may come to understand Your glorious grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cling to our faith and keep our conscience clear by coming before You with all things first. Amen.

 

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

I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart. – Psalm 40:8

The Favor of Forgiveness

And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. – (Matthew 6:12, NLT)

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – (Matthew 6:12, ERV)

Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. – (Matthew 6:12, TPT)

 

Yesterday morning, we were up fairly early, and had plenty of time to finally finish watching “The Shack”, before we needed to get ready to go to church. What stood out to me in the final hour of the movie was the powerful impact that the decision to forgive had on the life of the main character. “The Shack” beautifully illustrated how forgiveness is often not a one-and-done decision, but rather it is an ongoing journey that we make a thousand times, choosing to forgive again and again, each time the pain enters our awareness. Though not an easy path to traverse, the healing that comes is well worth the work. As the main character, Mackenzie, made the most difficult decision of his life to choose to forgive one who had brought such incredible pain to his entire family, he was granted forgiveness of his own that set him free from a weight he had carried most of his life. It was a powerful reminder that we all have a story and each one of us needs to choose to forgive. May we seek the Lord to see others through His lens, so that we may be quick to forgive and love well.

 

Let us choose forgive, The Favor of Forgiveness

For it shall be done;

With equal measure,

Through the Holy One.

We are forgiven,

As we freely choose;

To give all to God,

Let His Spirit move.

For His grace and love,

Bring healing and life;

He mends broken hearts,

Brings peace where there’s strife.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness and grace. Thank You that You forgive us as we choose forgive others. Thank You that we never have to forgive on our own, but rather You walk beside us and grant us the strength, peace and love to do the seemingly impossible. Forgive us for all of the times that we have withheld forgiving others. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to forgive as You have forgiven us. Lead us to love with Your grace and goodness that breaks down barriers and brings peace to places that need to know it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to forgive others as You have forgiven us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You. – Psalm 130:4

Beautifully Broken

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the One who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to You, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, TLB)

 

First thing in the morning, before the chaos of the day ensues, it is fairly easy to keep my thoughts fixed on that which is pleasing to the Lord and my words follow, much the same. As the day moves forward and responsibilities and demands grow heavy, it can become far more difficult to keep my heart, mind and mouth aligned. Yesterday, after spending several hours packing and moving things from my old house to the new one we all will share, in the heat of the day, I was hot, tired and a bit grumpy. When we returned to the new house with the last load of the day, I scanned Instagram. What jumped out at me was a post from a friend of mine who had a photo of a broken plate with the words to a Matthew West song that I love. “But if it’s true You use broken things then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours.” – (Matthew West, Broken ThingsHaving read the words, they began to sink deep in my heart and the song began to play on repeat in my heart and mind. I was reminded that even when we are broken down, tired or hurting, He will use us if we are willing. That tug at my heartstrings reset my mind and heart to what matters, and I was able to continue the remainder of my afternoon and evening with the thought that He would use whatever I bring, and He sets my heart where it ought to be. May our every word and thought be pleasing unto God, for He is our Rock and Redeemer.

 

Lord I am the clay,

Scars as Signs of Strength

Just as the Japanese practice the art of Kintsukuroi (the Japanese art of embracing broken and flawed things and making them beautiful), so does God with us as we are willing. ❤

And You, the Potter;

Let my heart reflect,

Love as Your daughter.

Where my heart and mind,

Choose to sit and dwell;

Become the story,

My whole life will tell.

O here I am, Lord,

In my brokenness;

Use what I offer,

In Your tenderness.

May all of my words,

And thoughts in my mind;

Be shaped by Your love,

For You are so kind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You stop us in our tracks and remind us of what matters most. Thank You that You use us, in our broken imperfections, to touch those around us with Your love. Forgive us for allowing the weight of the world to shape how we see things, rather than coming before You as we are and trusting that You can use all that we offer. Teach us to set our hearts and minds on things of You, so that our every thought and word are pleasing in Your sight. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects Your light and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You, Lord, and say, “I’m all Yours.” Amen.

 

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

 

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2

*Another song that comes to mind and is a great reminder, Beautifully Broken, by Plumb.

 

Hope Deferred and Dreams Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, NLT)

Hope that is delayed makes you sad, but a wish that comes true fills you with joy. – (Proverbs 13:12, ERV)

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, CEB)

 

Hope is a powerful thing, as it reminds our hearts that things will turn out for the best. When something comes along and interrupts our hope, the heaviness that hangs in our hearts can make us feel sad to the point of sickness. However, just the opposite is true when we delight in a dream fulfilled. The joy that floods our hearts makes hope soar as we witness what we’ve longed for come to fruition. Presently, I am in a paradoxical position. One hope that I was holding was dolefully dashed yesterday, yet daily, I am in the midst of walking out a dream being fulfilled and am experiencing joy and blessings that my heart has not known before. God is good, even so, and we have to recognize that He can use both the hopes dashed and dreams fulfilled to bless and encourage those around us as we walk forward in faith, trusting in His goodness. May we rise up in assurance, holding fast to the One in whom all hope dwells, as He is the fulfiller of dreams and granter of joy.

 

When hope is deferred,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Heaviness does dwell;

For dreams that are dashed,

Make the heart unwell.

Yet, dreams that come true,

Bring life and great joy;

Our longings fulfilled,

New faith to employ.

Both dashed dreams and joy,

Are places for good;

For His love’s made known,

His peace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us when hopes are dashed and when dreams are fulfilled. Thank You that Your grace and love remain with us through it all. Thank You that You can use both to bless and encourage those around us, as our story is an opportunity to demonstrate Your faithfulness. Forgive us for allowing the heaviness of our disappointment in a hope deferred to weigh us down too long. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grieve our loss and seek comfort in You. Show us how to encourage those in a space of deferred hope, so that they may see fulfillment in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the One who truly fills our hearts with joy as the granter of new life. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our hope in You, no matter what comes and goes around us. Amen.

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

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

All Together for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. – (Romans 8:28, NLT)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

God is able to take all that we experience – every trial and triumph, each heartache and happiness, and use them together for good for those who choose to receive what He offers and walk in His ways. If we never experienced defeat, we would not appreciate the thrill of victory. If we did not know what it was to ache, we could not fully grasp the beauty and bounty of His blessings. God does not cause the struggles and trials that we face, but He does take our ashes and brings beauty for all to behold. I am in a season currently, where I am witnessing just how much beauty and blessing He ushers into the spaces that once were swallowed by sorrow. Dashed hopes have become dreams displayed for my heart to hold again, and where there was once nothing but wreckage, now resides fresh tenacity and vitality, as a new chapter of my story is being authored by He who breathes love and life and grace. May we be confident in our hope in knowing that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have chosen to follow the path that He has placed before us.

 

God takes our ashes, All Together for Good

Our space of despair;

Fills them with beauty,

By His tender care.

He orchestrates all,

To work out for good;

For those who accept,

His plans as we should.

In all things, God makes,

His greatness abound;

Darkness becomes light,

And true joy is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You take our wreckage and return beauty and hope and good things as we trust our lives in Your hands. Thank You that though we will face trials, we can hold fast to confident hope, knowing that You will ultimately use all things for good. Forgive us for struggling to see hope when darkness seems to surround us. Teach us to trust You more, and to remember that You are the Light that dwells within us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend hope in spaces of struggle and celebrate with those in seasons of blessing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to work all things together toward something good as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

The Unlikely Chosen

Then he told me, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and hear Him speak. For you are to be His witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, NLT)

Ananias told me, “The God of our fathers chose you long ago to know His plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear words from Him. You will be His witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, ERV)

Then he said, “You have been chosen by the God of our ancestors to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the voice of God. You will tell the story of what you have seen and heard to the whole world.” – (Acts 22:14-15, VOICE)

 

Paul, who was previously known as Saul, had a divine encounter with God on the road to Damascus. His experience interrupted his entire system of belief. Where Paul had been persecuting people who were claiming this new Way, rather than living by a strict code of rules and rituals, he now too, had a first-hand encounter with the living God, and could not go back to what he formerly had known. God chooses seemingly unlikely people to interrupt in their tracks and touch hearts and lives. The incredible thing is, no one can dispute our own personal experiences. I imagine that is what made Paul’s testimony so powerful. People knew who Paul had been, were seeing a man transformed, speaking of grace and forgiveness, where he had once likely spoken of following the law or else. The remainder of his life was used to do exactly that – to tell the whole world of what he had seen and heard. Paul traveled far and wide for the times, and recorded much of God’s faithfulness in the New Testament. May we walk out our days with hearts wide open, ever willing to share our own story of God’s faithfulness to us.

 

With eyes wide open, Chosen With Purpose

May we walk along;

Trusting our Savior,

As He makes us strong.

When chances arise,

Share His faithfulness;

So others may know,

There’s help in the mess.

Help us to love well,

Be Your heart and hands;

Extend hope to those,

Who need see Your plan.

For You are so good,

No matter what comes;

Let us rest in You,

’til each day is done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but You equip the called. Thank You that we do not have to measure up to serve and honor You, but rather You transform us from the inside out as we pursue a life in You. Forgive us for anything that gets in the way of walking out that which You are calling us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and obey. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we tell our own stories of Your faithfulness in our lives so that people may know of Your goodness and grace. Amen.

 

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

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. 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

Sent to Succeed

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” – (Judges 6:14, NLT)

Then the Lord turned to him and said, “You have strength, so go and rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not personally sending you?” – (Judges 6:14, CEB)

 

The story of Gideon reminds us that when God calls us to something, our success will not be based on the strength that we possess, but rather on from whom we have been sent. If God calls us to something, He will also equip us to successfully navigate whatever it is that He has asked of us. Gideon was not a warrior, yet he eventually led a significantly smaller army towards the mighty Midian army, and God provided the way for the Israelites to defeat the Midianites without ever even engaging in combat. What seems impossible in our eyes, is entirely possible to God. May we seek the Lord and His strength, and trust in Him to provide all that is needed to navigate whatever direction He is calling us to go.

 

We need not focus, Walking on His Path

On the strength we lack;

But rather rely,

On Who has our back.

For when we are called,

We’re also supplied;

With all that we need,

To end goal, arrive.

God calls the faithful,

Not mighty, nor strong;

For all He’s sending,

His help shall belong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when You send us, You provide whatever we need to get where we are called to go. Forgive us for looking at where we lack within ourselves, instead of seeing the strength and provision that is found in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would willingly go wherever You call, trusting You to provide all that we need to navigate. Show us how to love those around us in a way that instills strength and encouragement where the road has grown challenging. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to provide all that we need to go wherever You call and do whatever You ask. Amen.

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Value Everyone

Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. – (1 Peter 2:17, NLT)

Recognize the value of every person and continually show love to every believer. Live your lives with great reverence and in holy awe of God. Honor your rulers. – (1 Peter 2:17, TPT)

Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. – (1 Peter 2:17, MSG)

 

Considering the climate within our country right now, this is a very timely verse. If we each could recognize the value of one another, regardless of what is perceived, there would be far less tension and more movement toward solutions. The church is not exempt from the struggle. The body of believers is called to love one another. If we all choose to love, then our primary mode of operation should be to seek to understand first. In all things, we are called to live in reverence of God. When we remember Who ultimately is in control, our priorities and perspectives begin to align with His, and love flavors all that we say and do. Finally, we are called to respect the governing body. How do we do this? There are so many conflicting views and opposing opinions, how are we supposed to honor and respect that which seems so unreal? For me, the best way I know to do this is to choose to pray. Pray for wisdom and insight for those who are in positions of leadership. I do not have to agree with who is in position, nor what their position is to pray for them to lead well and make decisions that are best for our city, state, or country. May we ever rise up and recognize the value of every person on this planet that has been placed here by the most holy God. Let us live in reverence of Him as we treat others with dignity and choose to love.

 

For we each are called, Show the Love

look and recognize;

The value of all,

To see through God’s eyes.

Among believers,

We’re meant to love well;

To be family,

God’s story to tell.

To honor rulers,

Let us choose to pray;

For wisdom to lead,

The very best way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to give us the strength and grace to do. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You loved us. Thank You that when we choose to respect and love those around us, You break down barriers and make a way for Your light to shine where darkness once reigned. Thank You too, that You work in ways that we cannot see and can use leaders that we don’t understand to do things for eventual good. Forgive us for not choosing love and respect for others when that is what we are called to do, regardless of what we receive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend Your love and grace to all whom we encounter, no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love like You, so that barriers are broken down and Your peace may prevail. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to value everyone and love as You love us. 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