Wonderful Counselor

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. – (Revelation 21:4, NLT) 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone. – (Revelation 21:4, ERV) 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased. – (Revelation 21:4, TPT) 

 

Yesterday, as my pastor continued in our current series, “The Light Has Come”, he spoke about our Wonderful Counselor in Jesus. As he unpacked several things about Jesus as our “Wonderful Counselor”, he included the original meaning of the words in Greek. Wonderful, as used in Isaiah and in its first appearance after God parted the Red Sea when Moses celebrated in a song of praise, the word means “beyond wonder”. Counselor means “guide with purpose”. Our Wonderful Counselor is always available, always aware, and always answers, as He guides with purpose in a way that is beyond wonder. With that in mind, there is no question as to why we are called to seek the Lord in all things and at all times. The hope we hold in Him reminds us that all of our present pain will pass away, as He tends to our every sorrow. This is an excellent encouragement after a week of sorrow and loss. God is faithful, and He will meet us, hear us and guide us in His goodness and grace, as we seek Him, our Wonderful Counselor. 

 

Almighty, our God, All Things Made New

Promised Prince of Peace; 

Soother of sorrow, 

Where grace is released. 

He’s beyond wonder, 

How He loves and guides; 

Provides future hope, 

As we choose abide. 

Run to the Father, 

His love always hears; 

Faithful, He’ll answer, 

All who choose draw near. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the blessed hope that one day all death, sorrow and pain will pass away, and Your new will come. Thank You that in the in-between time, You are our Wonderful Counselor, ever available, aware and faithful to answer. Forgive us for our lack of faith, or for seeking counsel anywhere other than You first. Thank You that You provide people to come alongside us as Your hands, heart and voice, making Your grace tangible. Show us how to love others in a way that does just that – extends Your hands, heart and voice to those needing Your love made visible in dark and sorrowful spaces. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and rely on You to be our Wonderful Counselor in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

For unto 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

 

 

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

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

The Kiss of Honesty

An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. – (Proverbs 24:26, NLT)

An honest answer is as pleasing as a kiss on the lips. – (Proverbs 24:26, ERV)

An honest answer is like a warm hug. – (Proverbs 24:26, MSG)

A straight answer is as precious as a kiss on the lips. – (Proverbs 24:26, VOICE)

 

My daily reading that was listed for today, was actually a few chapters earlier in Proverbs. As I unpacked the list of thirty wise things to remember, I could not help but continue reading. The analogy of honesty being compared to something tender and intimate, is one that I appreciate, for as I thought about those with whom I interact the most, I realize that I am surrounded by people who are honest with love. They do not hesitate to tell me the truth, yet it is done in love, rather than spoken harshly or with accusation when I am in the wrong. My heart is handled with care, so I know that I can trust the intentions of those who are speaking, even if at times, it is difficult to hear. As I speak to others, I try to do the same. If I am not able to speak the truth in love, with a heart that is for the one to whom I am speaking, I wait until I am ready to do so. This is necessary everywhere, but especially in the classroom. I am seeing the fruit of my honest investment beginning to payoff, as a few of the students with whom I struggled the most at the beginning of the year, are now coming around. Consistent care and kindness, speaking truth that reminds them of their purpose and responsibility, is making an impact. May we ever seek to give honest answers in love, so that the recipients may receive the words we bring like a warm hug.

 

An honest answer, God Delights to Give

Is greater indeed;

When given in love,

Like a kiss, received.

To hear the truth told,

With a heart for us;

Is a gift given,

Such trust is precious.

Let us all choose well,

In love, speak what’s true;

For words can warm hearts,

Bring hope and make new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that honest answers are as precious as hugs and kisses. Thank You that You place people in our lives who will be honest in love and speak truth in kindness. Forgive us for the times that we chose to withhold an honest answer, or lacked love in our response to someone in need of the truth in love. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would seek You and Your heart in all things, as You are faithful to give us the words that demonstrate Your heart through honesty in love. Show us how to love those around us well, as we speak the truth in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are made aware of the kindness and care that You provide. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to give us the grace and courage to give straight answers that are given in love and received as precious proof of trust. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Strength and Courage Stand

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, AMP)

This is My command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, NLT)

 

My heart leapt within me a little as I read that this was the verse of the day this morning. This particular verse has been especially significant in my life for the last few years as I have navigated a new season. Daily, I am reminded of the words of this verse, yet until this morning, I have not unpacked a few of the words within these two translations. As a self-professed “word nerd”, language fascinates me, and I do what I can to find further significance and meaning from written text. When I heard “dismayed“, I always thought distressed, but when I actually looked up the word, I was surprised to discover that dismayed means: to break down the courage of completely. Additionally, discouraged in my mind, dis – without or not, and courage, and one can figure what I assumed the word meant. “Discouraged” according to dictionary.com, is: to deprive of courage, hope or confidence. Both of these words go much deeper than I had anticipated. God does not want us to allow anything to break down nor deprive us of the courage that He has created within us. He commands us to be courageous – not in our own strength, but in His. We can take courage because He has promised to be with us wherever we go. That alone is reason to be courageous. Greater is He who is in us, than anything that might come against us. May we each rise up in strength and courage as we are commanded, and keep terror and dismay far from us. Take heart dear ones, for the Lord our God is with us!

 

For the Lord commands,Dispelling Discouragement

Take courage, be strong;

Because He’s with us,

All of our life long.

Let nothing find way,

To come and break down;

The courage God gives,

For in Him, strength’s found.

Do not be afraid,

For He’ll never leave;

All hope comes from Him,

By faith, we receive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You command us to be strong and courageous. Thank You that You unpack it for us by explaining that we are not to allow anything to terrify us or break down our courage or take away our hope. Thank You that this is not something that we do on our own, but we can be strong and courageous because You are with us wherever we go, so there is no reason for fear. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as we forget how great You are and how small our obstacles are in comparison. Teach us to trust You more, as we struggle with discouragement when giants stand before us. Show us Your heart for those around us, so that we can love as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in Your strength and courage, knowing that You are with us wherever we go. 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

Balance Within the Body

Yesterday in church, my pastor unpacked Romans 12, verses one through eight. At one point in the process, he jokingly said, I am a colon.” His jest was not to poke fun at any portion of scripture, but rather to draw attention to the fact that though we seldom consider our colon, it is indeed an essential body part. The same is true in the body of Christ. There are those who are highly visible in their giftings and as they operate openly in what God has called them to do, others are aware of their role in the body. However, there are others whom are fulfilling equally important roles that are less visible. If we are choosing to allow the Lord to lead us, and are willing to grant Him access to all so that we may fully operate in the giftings which He has placed within us, then the whole body will benefit, regardless of whether or not our part is visible.

 

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. – (Romans 12:4-8)

 

As an interesting aside, though the colon is hidden, it removes water, salt, and some nutrients. The bacteria that line the colon help maintain a healthy balance within the body. (WebMD) Likewise, there are those in the body that act as filters, and truly help maintain a healthy balance within the body. Regardless of the role to which we are individually called, we each have a purpose and a position that is meant to edify the body and bring forth the full potential of that which God has for us and those around us. May we each rise up and fulfill the role to which we have been called.

 

We are the body,

#iamacolon

#iamacolon

and each have a role;

if one’s not moving,

the body’s not whole.

Each part is needed,

to work as God planned;

so move forth in faith,

in grace, take a stand.

Allow God to lead,

however He asks;

and trust it is good,

to answer each task.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have uniquely designed each of us to play an equally important role in the body of Christ. Though not all roles are as visible as others, thank You that each one is necessary and valuable for the body to function as You intended. Forgive us for either neglecting the gifts that You have placed within us, or for comparing our role to that of another. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will seek You and allow You to use us as You have equipped us – in whatever way is most beneficial to the body. Lead us to love others well, just as You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, as they too discover that they were uniquely designed with a purpose. Be glorified O God, as we operate in the giftings that You have given unto us. 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