Just Pray

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – (Luke 11:1, NIV)

One time Jesus was out praying, and when He finished, one of His followers said to Him, “John taught his followers how to pray. Lord, teach us how to pray too.” – (Luke 11:1, ERV)

One day, as Jesus was in prayer, one of His disciples came over to Him as He finished and said, “Would you teach us a model prayer that we can pray, just like John did for his disciples?” – (Luke 11:1, TPT)

 

Yesterday, after having been away last weekend, I finally had the opportunity to listen to the podcast from Sunday’s message. This week, Pastor Omar continued his DNA series (A review of our foundational values). The message was about prayer, and spring boarded from the passage in Luke 11, verses 1-13. First and foremost, Jesus lived and modeled a life of prayer. He set the example of what we were designed to do to be in communication with the Father. When asked by a disciple to teach them to pray, Jesus did not rattle off some eloquent prayer, nor give a formula to be repeated; rather what we have come to know as the Lord’s prayer, is really a reminder of things to keep in mind as we pray. We need to acknowledge and praise God for who He is, ask Him to meet our needs; seek forgiveness and His help forgiving others, and His protection from temptation. Jesus went on to tell a story of a person seeking their neighbor in need, and pointed out that the neighbor would get up and help the friend, not because of the friendship, but because of their boldness to ask when it was inconvenient.  The heart of God is so much more than that of our friends, neighbors and family members. He gives the Holy Spirit to help and guide us, and hears every word that is raised heavenward, as He meets the needs we know, and even those we may not be aware of yet. Most of us, if asked, would respond that our prayer life could use a lift. Pastor Omar gave some practical reminders of how exactly we can do just that.

To strengthen our prayer life:

– Ask Jesus to teach us how to pray.

– Walk with the Holy Spirit.

– Find a rhythm for prayer. (Discover when your best time to pray is, and use it!)

– Recognize that there are seasons in life, and as life ebbs and flows, what our prayer life looks like will too.

– Understand that we each have our own personality and relate to God individually. Just as children interact and relate to their parents uniquely, so too, do we with our Heavenly Father.

– Commit for the long haul. Change, habits, lifestyles all transform over time, not overnight.

– Be okay with silence. Sometimes, prayer is sitting silently before God and waiting, listening, or resting in His presence. All are good things to grow in Him.

– Lastly, just pray. To strengthen a prayer life requires praying.

May we remember that prayer is not just a thing that we do, but rather it is a place we go to be in the presence of God to communicate with Him.

 

As for mom, today is the day!!!! After two months and eight days, I will see mom tonight! The moment I arrive home from work, Mark and I will hop in the car and head south to my sister and family’s home in Oregon. Typically, due to traffic, it is a six-plus hour drive. We are praying for traveling mercies and lighter than usual traffic, but no matter what, we will have each other and a great destination awaiting our arrival. The anticipation of seeing Mom and witnessing her progress with my own eyes is making the thought of working a full day prior to our departure, a bit painful. I am praying that today is one of those days that flies by before you even feel like you can blink, sort of days. 😊

 

Jesus has taught us, img_2019-10-18_04-57-472496001443635161835.jpg

The power of prayer;

To touch and change lives,

And show that we care.

It’s crazy to think,

That each time we pray;

He who gave us life,

Hears each word we say.

Holy is the Lord,

Who hears all our needs;

Forgives us our sins,

And in His way, leads.

Make time to reach out,

Spend time with the King;

It’s how lives transform,

As His love He brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of prayer. Thank You that You, the Creator of the Universe, care and have time to hear the heart and prayers of each of Your created; individually. Forgive us for not making prayer a priority, as communication is key in any relationship. Teach us to pray in a way that is comfortable and natural and sustainable. Show us how to love those around us well, as we lift each up to You in prayer. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You and pray to You, asking, seeking, and listening; for You are amazing and it is a gift to grow in relationship with You. Amen.

 

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

 

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 17:7

Setting Our Sight

Finally, brothers and sisters, 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, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. – (Philippians 4:8, ERV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. – (Philippians 4:8, VOICE)

 

In light of recent events in the news, there is much temptation to allow our thoughts to fix on things that are entirely opposite of that to which we are called.  Demoralizing or demonizing an entire group of people based on the actions of a few, is not focusing on what is honorable, right or lovely at all. As an individual who has a varied circle of people whom I love, opinions and affiliations among them lie on both sides of the argument. Both camps feel as if the media/popular opinion is making their side out to be something it is not. The name calling and judgments passed from both camps bring out the worst in people, rather than the best. It is my hope that rather than focusing on the bad, we all might fill our minds with beauty and truth.  Let us fix our hearts and minds on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy.

 

For we are all called,

dsc059097914322808950888301.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To set our hearts right;

Love as the Lord loves,

In Him take delight.

As we choose to set,

Our hearts and our minds;

On the things of God,

There’s hope for mankind.

Hope’s found in choosing,

To set our soul right;

To love and be kind,

In good things delight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us with the capacity to love and be loved. Thank You that You do not have a political agenda nor affiliation. Forgive us for allowing our opinions, emotions or personal experiences to taint how we view others. Help us to fix our eyes on that which is good, lovely, honorable, right, true and above all, that which brings glory to You. Show us how to love those around us well, regardless of differing opinions and views of the world. May many come to know You through our love. Be glorified O God, as we set our souls on the good that You give to us daily, as we choose with intention to open our eyes and hearts to notice. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Pass It On

We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things He has done. – (Psalm 78:4, MSG)

We will not keep these things secret from their children; rather, we will tell the coming generation all about the praise that is due to the Eternal One. We will tell them all about His strength, power, and wonders. – (Psalm 78:4, VOICE)

 

The challenges and struggles that stand before today’s youth require faith more than ever before. We live in a culture that floods young minds with temptation to be lured a hundred different directions without the constants that they desperately desire. If we do not teach them of the wonders of God and show them hope in a world where hope is so often lost, the future that follows them will be bleak. However, when children are raised to know hope in Him, they rise up into adulthood with a filter that helps them fix their eyes on that which is to take them in the direction they are meant to go, rather than being tugged by too many things. In my own life, hearing of the marvelous things that He had done in the lives of those before me, inspired a great desire to discover all that He had for me as well. May we not keep God’s goodness to ourselves, but ever share of His wonders with our children, so that they too may seek the Lord and His strength in their lives.

 

Keep not to ourselves, IMG_2344

God’s glory and might;

We are meant to share,

Give young ones insight.

Tell of His wonder,

The good He has done;

Speak of the Lord’s strength,

The battles He’s won.

Let’s give our kids hope,

Where often there’s none;

Share His faithfulness,

Our Almighty One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown Your faithfulness to us through the generations before us. Thank You for those who did not stay silent, but rather shared with us the glory of Your majesty and power. Thank You for the privilege to pass along the same to the next generation that follows us. Forgive us for keeping things to ourselves that were meant to be shared, as the coming generation needs to know the wonder of Your majesty. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and hear Your heart as to how and what we are meant to share. Show us how to love those who follow after us in a way that gives them hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we share of the marvelous things that You have done with those whom You have placed in our charge. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Seek His Spirit to Stand

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – (Galatians 5:16, NIV)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. – (Galatians 5:16, NLT)

I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. – (Galatians 5:16, CEB)

 

Without the Holy Spirit in us, we do that which we know we ought not do. Our very nature desires to do the things that are in direct conflict of those to which we have been called. Thankfully, Christ came and died for us to take away the sin and shame of our failures of the flesh. More than that, He sent His Spirit to dwell in the hearts of all who choose call on His Name to lead and guide us in the way in which we are meant to go. By His Spirit, we can keep from giving in to the desires of the flesh and instead bring honor to Christ through the choices we make with how we conduct ourselves. May we each choose to walk by His Spirit, therefore keeping ourselves away from the selfish desires our flesh longs for, and instead rise up and honor Him in all that we say and do.

 

Within each of us,Refreshment Through Repentance

a battle goes on;

a pull to choose sin,

to walk in the wrong.

Yet by Christ’s Spirit,

we have strength and guide;

to know what is right,

how we’re to abide.

He shows us what’s right,

and grants His power;

to choose right by Him,

no matter the hour.

So seek first the Lord,

and look to His face;

He’ll grant what’s needed,

to walk in His grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us the gift of Your Holy Spirit to guide our lives so that we are able to withstand the cravings of our sinful nature. Thank You that You lead us and guide us as we choose to trust and rely on You. Forgive us for attempting to navigate on our own, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to come before You in all things and at all times, so that we may know Your guidance for every decision that we make. Lead us to love others as You so unreservedly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to the voice of Your Spirit within us to overcome temptation and walk in the way in which we are called. 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

Mastered by God’s Grace

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus… For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. – (Romans 6:11 & 14, NIV)

 

When we commit our lives to Christ, there is a laying down of our old self, our sinful nature, and we are made new by the grace granted to us through what Jesus did for us once and for all at the cross. No longer are we bound by our sin and shame, but rather we become free to follow, unhindered, all that the Lord has for us. Though temptation does not disappear, we are equipped and empowered to overcome anything that is placed before us, by His Spirit, if we choose to depend on Him. May we rise up and recognize all that we have received, and live alive to God in Jesus Christ, by the glorious grace that we have been freely given.

 

When rooted in Christ,

Thankful for Love that Endures

Vandy Massey Watercolor

we all get to count;

ourselves dead to sin,

for Christ worked it out.

He opened the way,

for us to be free;

no more bound by law,

with grace guaranteed.

Though grace is a gift,

it compels us on;

to walk in the truth,

’til our days are gone.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we place our trust in You, we die to the sinful part of ourselves and come alive in You. Thank You that we are no longer ruled by sin, but rather we are given Your grace so that we may willingly submit to Your authority in our lives, trusting You to lead us where You have for us to go. Forgive us for allowing anything to have a voice that is above Yours, and help us to quiet our hearts and minds to listen so that we can clearly hear Your direction. Teach us to trust You more in all things and at all times, as Your grace is more than enough. Show us how to love others with the same amazing grace that we are given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we count ourselves dead to our old sinful ways, and alive in You. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Seek to Find Rest in Him

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5)

Rest is a rare commodity during the school year. It seems as though each day is thoroughly scheduled, leaving little time for rest. I rise early, to be intentional to protect my precious time with God, and I attempt to go to bed at a reasonable time each night, so as to not push myself to the point of exhaustion too soon. Typically, there are wonderful windows of rest that appear, unannounced, and I try to enjoy each one as it comes. The only challenge with this constant motion, is that if I get sick, it becomes a bit of a push to keep pressing forward. Everything in me wants to stop and sleep, but life dictates that I continue to do that which I am called to do.

God is remarkable at providing the rest that we need, just when we need it the most. This past week, I have been fighting some sort of cold or sinus yuck. I have not given in to the temptation to simply stop everything and sleep, and here it is Friday and I have a scheduled in-service day with no workshop to attend, and a women’s retreat that begins this evening. My body and soul will both be refueled, as my hope is firmly held in Him. Though it is likely to be a busy weekend, there are long gaps between sessions, where I could actually nap if necessary. (Anyone who knows me well, is likely laughing out loud at that thought!) I know that the sort of rest that I will find in Him in a space of actively seeking, will be far greater and more beneficial, than anything that a mere nap could ever provide. May we place our hope in God alone, as He is where we find rest when we grow weary.

To enter His rest,His Perfect Plan

our souls need to seek;

our great God alone,

space of calm retreat.

For He is our hope,

what the weary need;

He comes where we are,

and in love, He’ll lead.

Lead us to stillness,

where we will find rest;

and show us again,

how You love us best.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find rest in You alone. Thank You that our hope comes from You. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that You lovingly lead us to places of rest when we are weighed down by weariness. Forgive us for attempting to press on and press through, rather than seeking You for the rest that our soul so desperately needs. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we will seek You and listen to Your leading, to find the places of rest that You are providing. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, might come to know the hope that is found in the amazing gift of grace that You give. May many choose to live for You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to find rest, and place all our hope in You. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like you? – Psalm 71:19

Encouraging Each Other

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – (Hebrews 3:13)

                                                                                                                                                            To protect our hearts from unbelief, we need to be invested in fellowship with other believers.  Our charge is to talk about our shared faith, so that we may build each other up, increasing awareness of the deceitfulness of sin, and covering one another with the love and concern of Christ.  Isolation allows temptation to take root and thrive; but being surrounded by those who share the same passionate pursuit of the path that Christ has set before us, protects our hearts and minds from that which would try to lead us astray.  May we each invest well in the body, and encourage one another daily in that to which we have been called.

For this is the day,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
that the Lord has made;
given as a gift,
to keep our path straight.
We’re not meant to walk,
this road on our own;
but beside others,
so His grace is grown.
When we’re surrounded,
by those seeking Him;
all can encourage,
fend off lure of sin.
May all of our words,
be love and be light;
encouraging all,
to fight the good fight.

 
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be a part of a body of believers, and do not intend for us to do life on our own.  Thank You that You call us to encourage each other, and help keep one another from falling into the snare of sin.  Forgive us for thinking that we need to fight the fight on our own, or for isolating ourselves and trying to power through.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hear Your call as to whom You are leading us to let in, and allow our hearts to trust to speak into our lives.  Show us how to encourage others well, so that Your love may be made evident through us.  May many come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be exalted O God, as we encourage one another and keep our hearts soft before You.  Amen.
For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Finding Full Armor

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. – (Ephesians 6:12-13)

 

The battles we’re fighting and the opposition we are facing, come not from the hearts of mere men. Deeply rooted in the deeds of darkness, lie the the workings of those cast from the presence of God. Though temptations and trials surround us on all sides, far greater is He who is in us, than those who are in the world. The armor of God that we have with which to adorn ourselves, is the very Spirit of God, Himself. When we ask, He enters in, and empowers us to stand our ground and do the good that God intended us to do. As we stand firm in His truth and righteousness, ever ready with His gospel of peace, we are able to withstand whatever comes against us. Let us rise up and hold fast to the truth, allowing Christ to adorn us in His full armor.

 

Fight not flesh and blood,Marvelously Made

but through Christ’s power;

spiritual forces,

seeking to devour.

Each day as we rise,

let us be well armed;

clothed in the Lord’s strength,

so we won’t be harmed.

A heart that is true,

adorned in the Lord;

will stand in the end,

with Him we adore.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You grant us Your strength and power to stand strong against the powers and principalities that would come against us. Thank You that You arm us in Your truth and righteousness, and make us ready with Your gospel of peace. Thank You that faith in You is our shield against all that would come against us, and our salvation sets our minds secure in You. Forgive us for attempting to fight battles that are not ours, or for folding when You call us to stand. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will listen well for Your voice of truth, and hear clearly what You are calling us to do in every situation. Lead us to love others well, just as You so wonderfully love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we seek to arm ourselves in Your full armor, and listen to You as to how to stand firm. 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

Grow Not Weary of Doing Good

It is a hard road when blatant opposition is directed at us, individually. The temptation to retaliate either with words or actions, is far greater than the pull to take the high road. However, when we are rooted and established in Christ, we are called to a higher standard. Despite direct assault on our countenance, character, or any other aspect of who we are or what we do, we are directed to do the right thing. This is not to say that we are meant to stand and submit to being someone’s doormat, but rather, when opposition comes, we must choose to do right by God. Rather than retaliation, we are to return kindness for cruelty and silence for slander. Walking away from what we were never meant to be a part of, is also a method of mimicking our Maker. Throughout the gospels, Jesus did each of these, when He stood in the face of opposition. He healed despite disbelief; He kept quiet when He was slandered and spit upon; and He slipped away quietly through the crowd when they intended to harm Him.

 

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. – (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

 

This is both a charge and a calling for all who believe. Though we may tire and grow weary of doing the right thing in our own strength, the Lord will lead and equip us to continue to choose to do the next right thing, if we are willing to trust and rely on His leading. Each of us has the choice. We can respond in anger and frustration when opposition comes, or we can model the character of Christ, despite the desires of those who intend to defeat us. May we trust in Him who is more than able to lead and equip us in every situation to choose well, so that we do not grow weary of doing what is right.

 

Let’s not grow weary,Faith and Hope in Action

of doing what’s right;

stand strong in the Lord,

and fight the good fight.

Sometimes in silence,

always staying bold;

for we know the truth,

may justice unfold.

When we’re called to speak,

may truth and grace reign;

so all that is false,

returns to the flames.

Our God is able,

to lead and supply;

us through our trials,

on Christ, let’s rely.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to not grow weary in doing good. Thank You that You do not just call us to do this, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like, and Your Spirit to equip and empower us to do the same. Forgive us for our weariness in the fight, especially when opposition seems relentless. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and return kindness for cruelty, silence for slander, and wisdom to know when to stay, and when to walk away. Lead us to love boldly, just as You so brilliantly and individually love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we rely on Your strength, so that we do not grow weary in doing good. 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

Seek and Surround

During times of great stress, temptation rears its ugly head. Our busyness beckons us to take shortcuts or to skip that which matters most, in order to get things done. Despite a willing spirit, we have weaknesses that require the strength of our Savior to successfully stand in the ways in which we are called. That may seem all well and good, but how are we to do this practically? Jesus gave specific directions to the disciples whom He had called to join Him in the garden at Gethsemane. Jesus said to them: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – (Mark 14:38)

 

The example that Jesus gave to us in Gethsemane, is one that is still applicable today. For us to successfully resist temptation, we need to: (1) pray to God, (2) seek the support of friends and loved ones, and (3) focus on the purpose God has given us. – (paraphrased from NIV footnotes) Our go to first and foremost, must be to call on the Lord. He is our help and our hope in all things and at all times. Thankfully, God created us to be in community and does not expect us to tackle trials alone. Surrounding ourselves with those whom we can trust and rely on, is something that even Jesus did. Often we need the tangible and audible to be present in order to help us to clearly focus on the very purpose that God has placed before us. Both prayer and people He places in our lives, can point us back to our purpose and keep us on the path that He has planned for us. May we seek Him and surround ourselves with those who do likewise, so that when stress and struggles come, we may not be steered off course.

 

Temptations shall come,Seek and Surround

in times of great stress;

for we are weakest,

in the midst of mess.

We need our Savior,

our strength to stand strong;

to resist tempting,

in truth, carry on.

To stand strong in Christ,

first we’re meant to pray;

and seek the support,

of friends on the way.

Our focus must be,

on God and His plan;

so we aren’t deterred,

and by faith, we’ll stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we are vulnerable to temptation, especially in times of stress and busyness, we can overcome in You. Thank You that when we pray to You and seek the support that You provide, we are able to stand firm and focus on the purpose that You have planned for us. Forgive us for allowing the stresses of life to steer us off course or to turn our eyes away from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that our immediate response in times of turmoil will be to pray and seek support that will fix our eyes back on You and the purposes that You have placed before us. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we do as Jesus did to resist temptations and pursue the purposes that You have planned for each of us. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14