Restoring Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough You bring to me. Hold me close to You with a willing spirit that obeys whatever You say. – (Psalm 51:12, TPT)

 

Currently, I am on our Sisterhood Retreat with my church. It is a time for the ladies to gather, connect, worship and grow together. Interestingly, it seems that each time there is intentional gathering to connect, the very words of this verse come to life for those who had been walking in a dry and weary place. We have been created for relationships. God intended that we not walk the path set before us, alone. He is gracious and kind, and provides people to surround and walk beside us, if we are only willing to invest and allow others in. Part of maintaining a passion and a joy in who God has created us to be and our ability to obey what He asks, come from the strength we gain through the blessing of being connected. I have found that this applies in every area of my life, be it at home, work, church, my neighborhood, the community or any other place I find Him leading.  The more invested and connected I am, the more my joy remains, despite the circumstances that come and go. May we ever seek the Lord to restore and uphold the joy of our salvation, and lead us to the connections that encourage and strengthen us as we walk out each day.

 

Oh Lord, may we come, fb_img_15400123159817887031286001252606.jpg

With hearts seeking You;

Restore unto us,

Your joy that is true.

Joy that is lasting,

Despite ups and downs;

A heart that’s certain,

Of Your rightful crown.

Make our hearts willing,

To trust and obey;

Surround us with those,

Seeking do the same.

O Lord, You are good,

All joy’s found in You;

Restore any space,

That need be renewed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us unto Yourself so that we may know the depth of joy found in a hope and future in You. Thank You that You have created us for relationships and You provide us opportunities to invest and deepen them as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Forgive us for not seeking You to restore our joy when it feels lost, or for retreating when You call us to move boldly and invest in those whom You have placed around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be routinely restored as we walk in obedience to all that You ask. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and spreads joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore and uphold the joy we have in our hope in You, and strengthen our relationships as we willingly step out and obey that which You ask of us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

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

Tend to This Temple

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, NIV)

Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So, we should make ourselves pure – free from anything that makes our body or our soul unclean. Our respect for God should make us try to be completely holy in the way we live. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, ERV)

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, MSG)

 

Each one of us who claims Christ as our King, is a temple in which His Spirit dwells. Our charge, as one who tends His temple, is to be mindful of our body and spirit, so as to nourish our very being with what we take in. When we fuel and care for our bodies well and spend time in His word, our thoughts align with His and our bodies are better equipped to do that to which we are called. The decision to be wise with what we opt consume – physically, mentally and emotionally, is an act of reverence to the very One who created us. May we make clean breaks from all that distracts or defiles us so that we may become fit and holy temples for He who dwells within us.

 

Lord, help us be wise, strength-in-waiting

With things that we choose;

For heart, mind and soul,

Your way, let’s pursue.

In You, there is truth,

Love, laughter and light;

Sound mind and body,

True space of delight.

Lord, may this temple,

Be prepared for You;

Help me to tend well,

And walk in Your truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You come and dwell in all who call on Your Name. Thank You that You created each one of us to be a temple for Your Holy Spirit. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected the care of either body, mind or spirit, as all work together for You. Teach us to trust You more, as You lead and provide what we need to be a suitable space for Your Spirit. Show us how to love those around us in a way that models and provides care for mind, body and spirit in each one. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and guide the decisions we make about how to best tend the temple You have provided. Amen.

 

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

 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? – 1 Corinthians 3:16

The Power of Praise and Worship

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, NIV)

Let the teaching of Christ live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – (Colossians 3:16, ERV)

Remember what Christ taught, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, TLB)

 

On Sunday, a friend of mine, who happens to be our worship pastor, appropriately spoke about the power of praise and worship. She gave several examples in scripture where it specifically calls us to praise and worship. Next, she defined praise as the expression of admiration, thanks, appreciation and approval for all that God has done. Worship, she explained was an attitude of the heart that should be reserved for God alone; the surrendering of every part of our lives to God’s control. As I went about my day yesterday, I mulled over the words she had spoken. I was intentional in my music selection as I went about my day, both driving and when I slowed down to work on a seated task. The three main benefits found in worship and praise are: 1) It realigns our focus on God. 2) It increases our awareness of God’s presence. 3) It pushes back darkness.

For me, I found all three to be true, as I had discovered myself frustrated and in a less than stellar space having spent the morning cleaning, only to happen upon sugar ants in my kitchen cupboards. After having cleaned out and throwing away many things, I left to spend time in our new home. While seated on the couch writing thank you notes, I selected some of my favorite praise and worship music to listen to. In the process of writing out notes of gratitude and hearing lyrics that gave God glory, my irritation was erased and I found thankfulness overflowing from my heart. The simple act of writing out thanks with music that set my heart right, realigned my focus on the blessings that God has granted, made me aware of His love for me, and pushed back the darkness that had attempted make way through my frustration. God is good and He is faithful to meet us and set our hearts right as we seek Him. May we ever offer our praise to He alone who is worthy, allowing our every breath and heartbeat to worship our Maker.

 

Let all that we know, The Power of Praise and Worship

Of Christ come and dwell;

In our hearts and minds,

As our lives shall tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Sing of His great grace;

With thanks, choose worship,

Both now and always.

For songs sung to God,

With hearts fixed on Him;

Chase away darkness,

And let His light in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of praise and worship. Thank You that we are called to do both. Thank You that as we do, our hearts are realigned and we become more aware of You. Thank You that worship and praise push back darkness and allow Your light to fill us again. Forgive us for allowing the chaos and challenges to avert our focus from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise with a song in our hearts, reminding us of the goodness of Your love and Your power within us as we praise You. Show us how to love those around us as we walk out our days as an offering of praise and worship unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise with hearts set to worship You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

 

 

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Bold Faith in the Face of Fire

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if He doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” – (Daniel 3:17-18, MSG)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had incredible faith as they faced King Nebuchadnezzar. They had been commanded to worship an inanimate object, when they knew the only one deserving their worship was the one true God. Because they refused, they faced a fiery death, yet they had faith that God could save them. Their bold declaration that initially infuriated Nebuchadnezzar was met by the faithfulness of God who saves and ended up so impressing the king that he created a new command protecting those who worshiped the living God, and promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to higher positions in his court. We never know who we will influence when we choose to remain faithful to what we know is true. Our faith and trust in God speaks volumes when we live it out practically. Though we likely do not face fiery furnaces nor such dramatic decisions, when we choose to be faithful in the small things, people notice and wonder why. May we ever remain true to God whom we can always trust, knowing that He is faithful and the ultimate outcome is greater than we could ever hope or imagine.

 

May we choose be bold, Fire Flames 1

With our trust in Him;

For He is faithful,

Beside us, He’s in.

He’ll make plain our path,

Show us where to go;

Raise up faith in us,

So truth shall be known.

Each giant we face,

Is small in His hands;

As we trust in Him,

He shows us His plan.

Walk forward in faith,

Despite what is seen;

Even so, choose trust,

On the Lord, choose lean.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible examples of faithfulness found in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Thank You that through them, You show us how You meet those who are faithful to You, even in the fire. Forgive us for the times that we have not remained faithful to the truth we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would stay strong in You and that in great and small things we would remain true to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to trust in You in all things and at all times. 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

Let Gratitude Grow

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NLT)

So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that is pleasing to God with respect and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, CEB)

 

Because of the hope that we have found in Christ, gratitude should ever be in the forefront of our hearts and minds. As we give God praise, let us worship with awe and respect for the One who holds our lives in His hands. When we serve, may it be in surrender to our Savior. With every word and deed, may our lives express gratitude to He who gives us life and breath and hope for all that is yet to come.

 

Let’s ever give thanks, Love that Grows

For all that’s to come;

Unshakable hope,

In the Holy One.

May our hearts worship,

Let’s ever give praise;

To God, who’s faithful,

For all of our days.

Let us not lose sight,

Of Who truly reigns;

May reverence lead,

As we lift His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and the hope we have in You forever. Forgive us for not worshiping or giving Your proper reverence for who You are, as You are our reason for life and breath and being. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and recognize Your hand in all things, and give You praise for who You are for all of our days. Show us how to love those around us in a way that is pleasing and honoring to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and give You all of our worship and praise for who You are and how You love. 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

Loyal to Listen

Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him. – (Deuteronomy 13:4, NLT)

You must only follow the Lord your God. Respect Him. Obey His commands and do what He tells you. Serve the Lord your God and never leave Him. – (Deuteronomy 13:4, ERV)

Remain loyal to Him! Fear Him and obey His commands. Listen to His voice. Worship Him alone. Be fervently devoted to Him. – (Deuteronomy 13:4, VOICE)

 

We are called to love God and love people. If all that we say and do is filtered through the lens of that love, then we are being obedient to God and serving Him according to His commands. In order to love well, we must listen to His voice, and spend intentional time with Him. Just as we cannot possibly know a friend, family member or potential life partner without intentional time spent together, the same is true with the Lord. To walk in His ways and give proper praise, we need to know whom we serve. Let us seek the Lord with intention, so that we may know His voice and walk in His ways, serving Him alone, for all of our days.

 

Let us choose to serve, Anxious for Answers

Our great God alone;

Obey His commands,

Make our heart His home.

As we hear His voice,

And cling to His word;

Devotion’s made known,

As love’s felt and heard.

So, cling to the Lord,

Fear our God alone;

He’s ever faithful,

Choose Love as your own.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God to whom we can cling. Thank You that when we are faithful to You, Your presence is with us and will never leave us. Thank You that as we are called to walk in Your way and do Your will, You equip and strengthen us to do that which You ask. Forgive us for lacking trust to go forward in that which You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and obey, clinging to You, as You are trustworthy and our Source in all things. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and encourages, so that all might rise up and move in the direction for which they have been created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow and obey You for all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Gather With Gladness

Every day they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. – (Acts 2:46, CEB)

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. – (Acts 2:46, ERV)

 

I love the value that was placed on community in the early church. There is nothing that brings people together better than sharing a meal with joy and generosity. When those around us who are united in purpose come together as family, the joy that is discovered in fellowship over a meal is multiplied. Each summer, my church creates opportunity for family connect groups. These groups meet one evening a week for a meal at a host home during the month of August, as new friendships are discovered and relationships are formed. My first connect group of the year begins this evening, and I am reminded of the early church as I prepare to go. Though I know not who will be in attendance, I anticipate joy and gladness as we gather in grace to share a meal together. May we ever seek opportunities to gather together with those around us, and meet with others to share a meal with joy – as God so often uses such circumstances to form friendships He intended to occur all along.

 

Actively look for, Welcome Boxes 1

People that we know;

To join together,

So His grace may flow.

With hearts full of joy,

May we freely share;

What we’ve been given,

So all know You care.

May our hearts be filled,

As we share a meal;

Joy overflowing,

His way is ideal.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in community. Thank You that You call us to continue to do what the early church did – to gather together to worship and to share meals and fellowship together. Forgive us for isolating ourselves and not plugging into the community to which we are called. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to go where You call and invite others to share time and fellowship and food with us. Show us how to love well the people that You have placed in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather together with gladness. Amen.

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

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

Stand in Awe

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, You inspire shouts of joy. – (Psalm 65:8, NLT)

Far and wide they’ll come to a stop, they’ll stare in awe, in wonder. Dawn and dusk take turns calling, “Come and worship.” – (Psalm 65:8, MSG)

 

These words ring ever true, as I find myself caught off guard in awe at the beauty that surrounds me so often. Yesterday was a crazy, busy day, that had some unexpected twists and turns that made parts of the day difficult. The evening ended well, and as I drove home, though I have taken in the view countless times, I found myself nearly in tears with gratitude for the good in my life and the beautiful region that I am blessed to call home. I love the mountains and the ocean, and here, I am a short drive away from both. More than that, each morning as I walk with my best friend and her pups, we take in a spectacular view of both the majestic mountains and the Puget Sound, as the sun rises and reflects on the water and reveals the splendor created by His hands. Wherever I go, I seem to stand in awe of the wonder that unfolds before me. I anticipate nothing less, as I prepare to leave for Belize this coming Saturday. May our hearts look and listen to all that He shows us, as His goodness inspires joy and reason to worship for all of our days.

 

To ends of the earth,Stand in Awe

May in awe we stand;

Of all Your wonders,

On sea and on land.

From the sun rises,

To each new sunset;

Let’s look to the One,

Who paid all our debt.

O how He loves us,

This wonder employ;

Stand in awe of God,

And worship with joy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with such goodness and beauty all around us. Thank You for tangible reminders of Your power and majesty. Thank You that You draw us unto Yourself through the people and places that surround us. Forgive us for not slowing down to look and listen to all that You have for us. Teach us to take notice of all of the wonders that You have made. Show us how to love and appreciate the people and places that You have given to us to care for well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of Your wonders, and worship You with joy. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15