This Sort of Hope

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. – (Hebrews 10:23, NIV)

We must hold on to the hope we have, never hesitating to tell people about it. We can trust God to do what He promised. – (Hebrews 10:23, ERV)

So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps His promises! – (Hebrews 10:23, TPT)

 

This sort of hope is the hope that is found in Christ. What it means is that we trust and have confidence that God is true to His word; faithful to keep His promises. Hope is not wishing for “things” to transpire, but rather is trusting in the nature of Him who holds all things in the hollow of His hands. It is believing and trusting in the person of God, not in what He will or won’t do for us in our timing. Sunday, hope was the topic of Pastor Omar’s message. He had a fantastic illustration that sank in. Hope is the pilot light for faith. As long as we have hope, faith ignites and fans to flame. However, if we lose hope, our faith wavers and we need something or someone to come along and reignite the flame, in order for the fire of faith to burn true. The illustration made so much sense; for in hindsight, each time I think of seasons in my life where hope waned, it impacted my faith until glimpses of hope were brought back to life. Thankfully, each time I found myself in such a space, I was surrounded by a community that burned bright, and the light they bore reignited the hope within me. When we cling tightly to He who is our hope, we burn bright and encourage light and life in those around us. May we ever hold hope in He who is faithful; for God is good and His promises are true.

 

Hope is the anchor, Anchor

That settles the soul;

A confident trust,

That mends and makes whole.

True to what’s promised,

The God of all grace;

Fans faith into flame,

This hope we embrace.

So, hold onto hope,

The goodness of God;

Trust in who He is,

Today and beyond.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our hope is in You. Thank You that our reason for hope is who You are, rather than worrying about what we will or will not get. Forgive us for confusing hope with wishing and wanting. Teach us to trust and place our hope in You alone. Show us how to love those around us ways that fan flames of hope where they have grown dim. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You all of the days of our lives, allowing Your love to grow our faith into flames that burn bright and spread to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – Hebrews 6:19a

Authenticity

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. – (Ephesians 4:25, NIV)

So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,” because we all belong to each other in the same body. – (Ephesians 4:25, ERV)

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. – (Ephesians 4:25, MSG)

 

Yesterday, as our pastors continued in their series “DNA” (The core beliefs we are made of at our church), the topic covered was “Authenticity”. Pastor Misty began by unpacking that authenticity, in the context of the body of Christ, is fully knowing and understanding who you are in Christ, and living accordingly. The verse she began with, was Ephesians 4:25. We have to set aside our idea of what we think we “ought to be”, and choose to live out the life of who we are called to be. Do we seek to live up to the world’s expectations, or God’s design? It seems like a tall order, yet when we allow our hearts and minds to be made new in Christ, it is far easier to be “real” than attempt to fit in a mold that was not designed for anyone to actually fit. We are each uniquely designed with different gifts and purposes. As we operate in the strengths that God has intentionally granted, others benefit and we continue to grow. Some common telltale signs of those who are actively seeking to be authentic, are those who: speak the truth in love, forgive time and time again, actively pursue peace, and continue to seek to grow as they allow others to speak into their lives in ways that encourage positive growth as life-long learners. May we be fearless in our pursuit to authentically be the people of purpose, for which we were each uniquely and wonderfully designed.

 

Seek the face of God, Authenticity

And choose to be true;

Walk in your purpose,

Authentically you.

Lay down pretenses,

And all the “ought to’s”;

Discover your gifts,

Then put them to use.

Speak the truth in love,

Always choose forgive;

Seek peace and new growth,

Authentically live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that You designed each one of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that as we seek You and grow in You, we begin to understand how to walk out our days authentically as who You have intentionally created us to be. Forgive us for the times that we have held back or tried to be something other than who You have designed us to be. Show us how to love those around us well with the gifts, talents and purposes that You have placed within each of our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we actively pursue a life of authenticity in You. Amen.

 

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

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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

What’s Your Story?

What’s Your Story?   Yesterday, as we gathered together for our Sunday service, that was the morning’s topic. The question was not posed in a typical sermon format, but rather our pastor had several different people from our church come forward and share part of their own story. About six months ago, just as we began the new year, we invested together in a series called  Into the Wild. The premise of the series was all about how we are called on a journey, and as we journey it is wild, but we have His promises and His presence as we go. Each person who shared their story, spoke of a portion of the adventure God had been taking them on over the past many months. All had the common thread of His promise and His presence that they held onto, even when the path before them seemed to be unmarked, and the ground unstable. Each one, was evidence of His faithfulness, as they had walked in obedience where they had been called.

 

This morning, I caught a glimpse of the bulletin. There in the top row, sits my smiling face, waiting to tell a story. At first, I kind of complained to the Lord, as I do not have as concrete of a path as some of the stories told yesterday. The gentle nudge did not let up, so I shall attempt to speak of the story He has been writing in me, as I have willingly walked into the wild…

 

By nature, I am an introvert. To those who know me, this is no great surprise, especially if observed in a large group. Also, as a result of both environment and of choice, I had become a very closed individual emotionally, and was unwilling to allow others to see past the smile. “The Wild” for me, has been a journey of learning to be vulnerable with trustworthy individuals. Willingness to share my heart, my thoughts, my fears, my hopes – without reservation, has been both a foreign and freeing phenomenon. Though I have in no way “arrived“, there is a visible change in my willingness to be “real” with those whom I trust, and I find myself opening my heart to more people than I ever thought I would. I know that I am still wandering in this portion of wilderness, yet He is with me, leading me, guiding me, and holding my hand as I travel in trust. Greater things are yet to come, and I look forward to all that He has for me – for all of us.

 

You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. – (Acts 22:15)

 

We are His, and no one can dispute what He has done in our lives, personally. Our story, is ours. He uses what we are willing to offer. May we be His mouthpiece to touch lives and transform communities.

 

What is your story?

What has Jesus done?

The trials you’ve faced,

the battles you’ve won?

Where have you wandered?

Where has your heart been?

Has He brought you through,

time and time again?

Think of the little,

as well as the large;Your Story

He’s ever present,

wherever you are.

Every aspect,

of each of our lives;

matter to Jesus,

that is why He died.

He willingly took,

every stain and scar;

so as we journey,

we’ll know Whose we are.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each of us has a story. Thank You that our story is not a quick read, but rather one with many chapters. Thank You that our adventure into the wild does not end when You walk us through a challenging season, but rather, You call us to adventure with You our entire lives. Thank You that You are always present, and that You promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we step out into the unknown. Make us courageous and strong to trust You in all things and at all times. Help us to clearly hear Your voice, so that we know which way we are meant to travel. May many come to know You as their Savior and King, as we live and love as an obedient offering. Be exalted, O God, through the story You are writing on our hearts. 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