Lead with Listening

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

 

Listening is an art form that can prevent misunderstanding and bring people closer together. Too often we speak to respond, rather than listen to understand and reply only if necessary. Anger flares and brash words are spoken when we communicate to make our own point, opinion or agenda heard, without taking pause to listen to others around us. I find that the majority of the time, my anger ignites when I jump to conclusions or explain a scenario in my own mind, rather than seeking to listen to whomever did, whatever it was, that incited my frustration to the point of anger. Each time I slow down, take a deep breath, and remind myself to listen with the intent to understand, I discover that there is a reason for the words or actions that transpired. By hearing the heart behind the person, anger or frustration fade, and compassion and kindness begin to rise. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and willingness to listen first, so that our response is a reflection of His heart, rather than a rash reaction that is not necessary to bring resolution.

 

Let us each choose first,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To listen in love;

Seek to understand,

With grace from above.

If we’re slow to speak,

There’s less to regret;

Peace has a true chance,

God’s love, our asset.

Allow not anger,

To rise and release;

Instead, choose listen,

Discernment brings peace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be people who seek listen to understand, speak with intention and grace, and to keep anger in check to prevent words or deeds that cannot be taken back. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our ego or agenda to cause us to assume ill intent in anger, rather than listening with intention to understand all that is involved in what has transpired before us. Teach us to listen first, seeking to understand, so that if and when we respond, it may be done with love and grace. Show us how to love well through listening to those who need to be heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the God who always hears our heart, regardless of what our words or deeds seem to indicate. Be glorified O God, through our decision to listen first and speak with godly intent, only when we understand, keeping anger in check and love abundant. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

To Bear Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. – (Galatians 5:22-23, MSG)

 

Social media has been a valuable tool for me to stay connected with friends all over the world. I delight in sharing bits of life with those who are too far away to see in person. Sadly, there are those who use it to lash out in anger at anyone who does not share the same opinion on current “hot topics”. When words are exchanged in anger, without seeking the Spirit to be in the center, greater divisions grow between those who formerly considered one another friends. My hope is to be a purveyor of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, rather than a wrecking ball. May we ever seek the Lord and the fruit that His Spirit within us produces, instead of allowing said fruit to drop off and rot away.

 

God is our compass, To Bear Good Fruit

His love points the way;

To love as He loves,

Let Him in to stay.

Through Him we bear fruit,

That blesses with peace;

Choose give love away,

With reckless release.

Freely and boldly,

Give peace, love and joy;

Patience and kindness,

Gentleness employ.

Let’s choose self-control,

Not seek to be right;

There’s not a winner,

When we aren’t polite.

Let’s seek to listen,

Choose peace and be kind;

More is accomplished,

When hearts are aligned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grow in us that which is meant to be shared with others. Thank You that the fruit You plant is good. Forgive us for allowing that which has been planted within us to rot and waste away rather than be used to nourish the people whom You place all around us. Teach us how to operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us so that Your fruit may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love in a way that bears Your fruit. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

 

 

The Love that Knows No End

But You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. – (Psalm 86:15, NLT) 

My Lord, You are a kind and merciful God. You are patient, loyal, and full of love. – (Psalm 86:15, ERV) 

But You, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and You never, never quit. – (Psalm 86:15, MSG) 

 

Some mornings it is far more challenging to get up and get moving than others. Because I rise quite early, there are morning that I think my body is confused, and I wake up several times prior to my alarm alerting me with an Irish jig. Today was that sort of morning. The actual getting out of bed is not so much the struggle, but rather the seeming ability to function well, prior to my coffee kicking in, is where I find myself right now. As I sit and read the various translations/interpretations of this verse, I am blessed and encouraged, for God is for me and is faithful to meet me, even in my exhausted state. He is not angered that I feel weary, but rather His grace washes over me, and I am equipped with all that I need to continue each step of what He calls me to do. God cares about the minute details just as much as He is concerned with the big stuff. I know this to be true, as His love washes over me while I sit and focus on His word. May we ever seek the Lord and His unfailing love, for His kindness knows no end and His patience does not pass away.  

 

On difficult days, Wisdom from Heaven

You still are with us; 

Ever granting strength, 

The love of Jesus. 

You never give up, 

Your love never fails; 

When we’re feeling stuck, 

You’re wind in our sails. 

We thank You, O Lord, 

For all of our days; 

For all that You are, 

And Your faithful ways. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and meet us, no matter how we come before You. Your love lifts us up and carries us through each day. Forgive us for our moments of doubt or dismay, when all around us seems too much. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would embrace Your grace as we rise each new day. Show us how to love those around us in a way that conveys Your faithfulness and willingness to love without limits. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You each new morning, and praise You for Your faithful and unending love. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. – Psalm 103:8

Understanding Leads to Gratitude

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47,49, NIV) 

Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my Savior, because the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, CEB) 

And Mary sang this song: “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God! The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me; holy is His Name. – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, TPT) 

 

As I continue to read through and take in the story of Jesus’ arrival, I am moved by the willingness and awareness that Mary had, as the miracle of Christ was coming into existence through her humility and faith. She stands in continuous awe at the wonder unfolding in her life, and gives God praise for who He is and what He is doing. “Her humble perspective forms the basis of her gratitude. The exemplary character of Mary grows out of her understanding of God’s character.” – (The IVP New Testament Commentary) Mary’s example demonstrates how we ought to view both ourselves and our Mighty God. She recognized that though God owed her nothing, He had chosen her. Consequently, Mary knew that God ought to have all – her heart, soul, mind and strength, because He is the One who is holy and deserving of all praise. May we also recognize the holiness of God, the great things that He has done, and as a result, offer all of our praise. 

 

Let all that I am,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Offer the Lord praise; 

For who our God is, 

And all of His ways. 

My heart cannot help, 

But give thanks to Him; 

For all He has done, 

Brought light where life’s dim. 

May my very soul, 

All that’s within me; 

Honor God always, 

As His love sets free. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Mighty God who does wonderful things and the One alone who deserves all of our gratitude. Forgive us for not recognizing and honoring You for who You are and all that You do. Teach us how to recognize the everyday wonder that You place in our path and the people whom You provide as blessings in our lives. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects our gratitude and awe at who You are and how You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with all that we are for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Heard in Silence

You who answer prayer, to You all people will come. – (Psalm 65:2, NIV)

Anyone can come to You, and You will listen to their prayers. – (Psalm 65:2, ERV)

You hear us pray in words and silence; all humanity comes into Your presence. – (Psalm 65:2, VOICE)

 

For me, The Voice translation is such a comforting reminder of the character of our Creator. He hears the words that we can give a voice, and those that are trapped in the chambers of our heart, pleading for His hand to hold them. God sees and He knows, and He listens to the prayers of all who set their mind and heart on Him. May we ever remember that the Lord is near, ready to listen to our prayers – whether our words unto Him have volume or are uttered in the silent spaces of our hearts and minds – He hears.

 

The Lord is faithful,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

He sees and He hears;

Each time that we pray,

He listens, comes near.

God hears more than words,

He knows each heart cry;

Prayed in the stillness,

Where His hope stands by.

God always listens,

When people choose pray;

He loves and forgives,

And shows us the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our every prayer, no matter if we give them an audible voice or hold them in our hearts for You. Thank You that You love all of creation so much that You are always ready to listen to anyone who desires to speak to You. Forgive us for making prayer more complicated than it ought to be, as You desire our heart, not a stream of eloquent words. Teach us to be real with You in relationship, rather than “pray” out of obligation. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and willingness to listen and love, without prerequisites. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You and pray to You, sharing the things of our heart with You; always. Amen.

 

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

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. – Psalm 34:17

Trust Comes Through Knowing

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – (Psalm 9:10, NIV)

Those who know Your Name trust You because You have not abandoned any who seek You, Lord. – (Psalm 9:10, CEB)

May everyone who knows Your mercy keep putting their trust in You, for they can count on You for help no matter what. O Lord, You will never, no never, neglect those who come to You. – (Psalm 9:10, TPT)

 

God is forever faithful to those who seek and trust in Him. In our joy and triumph, He is present. As we struggle and suffer, He remains. The Lord is ever near and does not neglect to listen to those who seek Him. Even when we are unaware of His presence, He is with us as we call of His Name. From the dawn of each new day, to the last of the day’s light, God remains present to help all who seek and trust in Him. May we ever place our trust in He who is faithful and will remain with us forever.

 

To know the Lord’s Name, Compassion in Confrontations

Means we trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

The strength found within.

No matter what comes,

Our God will remain;

He’s with us in joy,

And comfort in pain.

Let us ever seek,

Place faith in the Lord;

Trust in His great Name,

All grace He affords.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to all who call on Your Name and place their trust in You. Thank You that there is no limit to Your loving kindness and willingness to hear our prayers. Thank You that You are near us in all things and at all times. Forgive us for not turning to You with thanksgiving for the great things that You do and for failing to seek You in our struggles. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all things to You – the triumphs and trials, for You are faithful forever to listen. Show us how to love well, all those around us in a way that helps them know that they are not alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in all things, trusting completely in You. Amen.

 

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

 

To You they cried out and were saved; in You they trusted and were not put to shame. – Psalm 22:5

Recognizing and Responding to Good

Mary responded, “Oh how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, NLT)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, ERV)

My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, VOICE)

 

Mary both recognized and responded to the glory of God and the good gifts that He gave. This morning, as I rose long before it was necessary, I find myself in a similar space of gratitude. Though Mary’s circumstances were far different than my own, I share the very same God, and He comes closer still, because of what was done so long ago through the willingness of His faithful. I am regularly in awe of His grace and mercy, and can see how His hand has carried me through the times of trial. He is good, and my whole heart celebrates His loving kindness. May we look to the Lord in awe and praise, for His love and goodness granted all of our days.

 

Let us set our hearts, Believe Instead of Striving

In a poise of praise;

Because the Lord saves,

For all of our days.

The Lord is our help,

May spirits rejoice;

Celebrate our God,

With mind, heart and voice.

Praise for what He’s done,

And who the Lord is;

Our life, love and song,

Why all praise is His.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, whom You sent to us to save us. Thank You for the great things that You have done for us, in us and through us. Thank You that we can call You our Savior. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and praise for all that You have done throughout all of our days. Teach us to take time to look around and see the work and wonder of Your hand, help and great love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and points people to Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in all that You have done; for You are great and worthy of all of our praise. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Love Each Other

This is my command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, NIV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

This is My command to you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, VOICE)

So this is My parting command: Love one another deeply! – (John 15:17, TPT)

 

In each translation, the message remains nearly identical, as there is no substitution nor synonym for loving one another. This is a command and a calling. Jesus gave this charge to His disciples (and to us) shortly prior to His sacrifice on the cross. He modeled how to love through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, and empowers us to go and love like Him. It takes little effort to discover the deep need for love all around us. So many are broken and hurting and in need. Though we cannot solve all of the world’s ills, we can choose to love wherever we are. Often, a smile, a friendly greeting or a simple, kind exchange of conversation extends love in ways that reach far beyond what we might imagine, and remind the recipient that they are valued and worth our while. Jesus will use our willingness far more than we could hope or imagine, if only we choose to love. May we rise up in obedience to what God requires of us, as He calls us to love in word and deed, just as we are so lavishly loved by the Lord.

 

The Lord, He commands, Love Made Known

We love each other;

He values us all,

Sisters and brothers.

The light of His grace,

Is meant shine through us;

As we choose to love,

Show the world Jesus.

So much of our love,

Is not simply words;

But through what we do,

That God’s love is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, as You demonstrate Your love to us so often through the words and deeds of others. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions did not show Your love, and teach us to do better each time we have the opportunity to love. Show us how to love those around in a way that demonstrates Your loving kindness and faithfulness through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to obey what You are asking, and go forth and love one another as we are loved by You. Amen.

 

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

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

So Much More

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)

With God’s power working in us, He can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. – (Ephesians 3:20, ERV)

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. – (Ephesians 3:20, MSG)

 

When we are willing to invest our hearts and lives in the Lord and His plans, He takes us places we would have never imagined we’d go, and does so much more than we ever believed was possible. In my own life, I am in awe of the things He has done and the places He has taken me. Because I have been willing to go places that I have not known, He has shown me things that I never even dreamed that I might be able to one day see. The glorious gift in it all is that the journey is far from over. In a few weeks, I will be traveling with a team to Belize, to serve in whatever capacity He asks of me. Though I am going with a medical team, I am NOT a medically trained (nor equipped) person. As I go, I will be leaving simply with a heart to serve; whatever that looks like. God has given me a strong body and a capable mind. If I am being called to move heavy equipment to set up clinics – great. If my job is to file paperwork to help organize what is being established – I’m in. Whatever He is asking, I am willing. So often when He takes us out of our comfort zone, it is more about the work that He does in us, than what He is going to do through us. It ought to be quite an adventure! No matter what He has in store, I know that He is gentle and kind, and will do more than any of us can even hope or imagine as we prepare to go, even now. May we ever trust in God, who is able, through His mighty power, to work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

 

To God, all glory, So Much More

Who’s able to do;

Infinitely more,

To carry us through.

More than we can dream,

Imagine or ask;

God can accomplish,

Impossible tasks.

He will never force,

Nor push us around;

But by His Spirit,

Gives strength to gain ground.

So rise up in faith,

Follow where He leads;

Watch what He will do,

As His plans succeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ask or imagine through us by Your power within in, when we trust and follow You. Thank You that it has nothing to do with us or our strength, but rather with our willingness to listen to Your leading and follow where You call us to go. Forgive us for neglecting to do as You ask, or for staying stuck when we are meant to move forward from where we are now. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would get out of the way, and give You room to move in us and through us to accomplish the things that You have in mind. Show us how to love well, all those whom You have intended for our hands and hearts to help, hold or heal. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all the glory for the incredible things You do in us and through us. Amen.

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

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