Hard Hearts Made New

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – (Luke 23:43, NIV)

Then Jesus said to him, “I promise you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – (Luke 23:43, ERV)

Jesus responded, “I promise you – this very day you will enter paradise with Me.” – (Luke 23:43, TPT)

The response of Jesus to the criminal beside Him who was repentant, reminds us how great His grace truly is. Though He himself was hanging from the cross in agony, Jesus still heard the call of a repentant soul, and let it be known that the promise for all who turn away from their sinful ways and turn to God, remained true, even as they were living out their last breaths of life. No matter how far from God someone may appear, their salvation could be but a few breaths away. God works in mysterious ways. If He can touch the heart of a hardened criminal as he is having his death sentence carried out, God can do the same for anyone. We celebrate Christ’s arrival at Christmas, but this season ought to remind us why He came. Jesus came to bring forgiveness, peace, hope, love and joy to all who are willing to receive. May we fix our eyes on the greatest gift ever given, and celebrate as we walk in forgiveness, extending peace, love, hope and joy to all those around us.

The promise through Christ,

Was given for all;

So love might be known,

Through us, great and small.

For nothing we do,

That’s done with great love;

Goes without notice,

By the Lord above.

The Lord takes our gifts,

In love, multiplies;

The impact they have,

His grace maximized.

Lord, help us to rise,

With purpose each day;

Let our love spread hope,

Lead us in Your way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to save us. Thank You that You receive us as we call on Your Name and recognize our desperate need for You. Forgive us for frustration and lack of faith when things seem impossible through our own eyes and understanding. Thank You that You are so much greater than we realize. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant peace, hope, love and joy to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at Your birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension in awe and wonder and gratitude. Amen.

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

But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You. – Psalm 130:4

Trust in the Simple and Strange

Simon (Peter) answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” – (Luke 5:5, NIV)

Simon (Peter) answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish and caught nothing. But You say I should put the nets in the water, so I will.” – (Luke 5:5, ERV)

“Master,” Peter replied, “we’ve just come back from fishing all night and didn’t catch a thing. But if You insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of Your word.” – (Luke 5:5, TPT)

There is so much loaded in this one particular verse. Jesus went to career fishermen who had just had a fruitless night of fishing, and told them to let down their nets. I imagine in their minds, they thought that it was a pointless task, yet they were intrigued enough to try, after having just listened to Jesus teach to those along the shore from their boat. What happened next was a pivotal teaching point, as the nets of those fishermen filled to overflowing. In fact, it says that the nets were so full that the boats began to take on water. Jesus used the men’s own area of expertise to illustrate what it would be like to join Him and become “fishers of men”. This miraculous catch reached the hearts of the fishermen, and further showed them that they could trust Jesus at His word. Those fishermen became the first of those Jesus called to be His disciples. 

This reminds me that though the things that Jesus calls us to might seem useless or ridiculous, we must trust Him, as He can turn the ordinary into extraordinary when we are willing to do as He asks. May we ever seek to hear the heart of heaven as we go about our days, for we never know the impact our obedience might have.

No matter the ask, 

That comes from the Lord;

Our obedience,

Will not be ignored.

God takes willing hearts,

Blesses from above;

Makes light and hope known,

And pours out His love.

Lord, help us to see,

Be willing to hear;

To answer Your call,

Show You’re always near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and call us to partner with You to make Your love known. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do that which we felt called to do, or for the times that we hesitated or questioned something that seemed small or bizarre. Teach us to trust You and to hear Your voice clearly. Grant us Your strength to move forward in love. Show us how to love those around us best, be it through small or great things. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to step out in faithful obedience to all that You call us to do. Amen.

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

In You, Lord my God, I put my trust. – Psalm 25:1

Receive to be Rooted

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following Him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from Him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God. – (Colossians 2:6-7, ERV)

In the same way you received Jesus our Lord and Messiah by faith, continue your journey of faith, progressing further into your union with Him! Your spiritual roots go deeply into His life as you are continually infused with strength, encouraged in every way. For you are established in the faith you have absorbed and enriched your devotion to Him! – (Colossians 2:6-7, TPT)

When we choose Christ, we must continue to live in Him. This transpires as we seek Him, depend on Him, and allow Him to be our life and strength. We grow stronger in faith and understanding, which leads us to continually give Him thanks. In this season of intentional gratitude, may we ever recognize all that God has done, and allow our lives to overflow with our thanks to Him through living lives of love.

Just as we received,

Jesus Christ as Lord;

May we continue,

By grace He affords.

As we choose press on,

Our faith further grows;

We are established,

While love overflows.

Through goodness and grace,

May our roots grow deep;

Rooted in His love,

Strengthened as we seek.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we receive all that You freely offer, You strengthen and grow our faith. Thank You that in You, we have countless reasons to give thanks. Forgive us for losing sight of an eternal perspective, as our eyes get diverted by the troubles of the times. Teach us to fix our eyes on You, the Author and perfecter of our faith. Show us how to seek You to lead us in love and strengthen us to live out Your love with all whom we meet. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek, receive, trust and grow in Your goodness and love. Amen.

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

…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – Ephesians 3:17-18

Trust and Do Good

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. – (Psalm 37:3, NIV)

So trust in the Lord and do good. Live on your land and be dependable. – (Psalm 37:3, ERV)

Keep trusting in the Lord and do what is right in His eyes. Fix your heart on the promises of God and you will be secure, feasting on His faithfulness. – (Psalm 37:3, TPT)

Our charge is to trust in the Lord and do what is right before Him. A decision to trust and do good is not dependent on our circumstances, surroundings, nor governing bodies; it is entirely up to us to choose, regardless of these things. It was true for the last four years, and remains true for the next. Politics should not and cannot determine our own decision to trust and do good. When we choose hope, there is peace in our hearts and our homes, and we discover the depth and breadth of God’s faithfulness. Incredibly, this seems to be what I am seeing in people, as there is this pending change in the air. People on both sides are proclaiming their intention to do exactly what David reminds us to do in this Psalm. This perceived gentleness grants me hope in the humanity of those around me. God is my ultimate hope; but it is good to see people pursuing trust and the goodness of God, rather than clinging to frustration or elation at an outcome. None of us know what the future holds, yet we know Who holds the future. May we be intentional to keep trusting the Lord and do what is right in His eyes, for He is our security and His faithfulness never ends.

For the Lord is good,

In Him, we can trust;

Reach out and be kind,

For peace, it’s a must.

We each have been called,

To love and do good;

To treat each other,

As family should.

When we each intend,

To do what is right;

God’s faithful to us,

For we’re His delight.

So, rise up in peace,

Choose trust and do good;

Live and love like Christ,

Make hope understood.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to trust You and do good. Thank You that our hope, security and safety come from You. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed anyone or anything to disrupt our trust and neglect to do what is good before You. Show us how to love and do good as You call us to, and remind us anew of Your great faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You and do the good that You call us to do. May Your hope and security be clear to all, through our reliance in You. Amen.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Be Kind to All

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV) 

‘’You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves. This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, MSG) 

Yesterday, the message delivered by one of the pastors at our church, resonated so clearly with me. (Link here, if you wish to listen.) His message mirrored the cry of my heart and what I have felt compelled to and ascertain to accomplish, for as long as I can recall. The bottom line is to love as God loves us. That means EVERYONE! Does this mean that I am successful every minute of every day? No. However, I am ever seeking to learn and grow and be established and rooted more deeply in Christ, so that I may do and be better each day. This is the reason that I refuse to engage in political banter on social media. When it is words being spewed into the oblivion, it seems to get really ugly, really rapidly. There is no capacity to see and hear the heart of the “speaker”, therefore it becomes a matter of attempting to prove why one’s own position is right, and the other is wrong. Kindness and love fall away, and what we are called to do, is far from done. We are not called to attempt to prove why our thinking is right and the other person’s is wrong. We are called to LOVE. Period. End statement. Love acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. (Micah 6:8) Love is patient, kind, protective, honest, full of hope, and always perseveres. Love does not envy, boast, dishonor others, have a “me-first” attitude, is not easily angered, and does not keep record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Jesus loved the sinners and the saints; shared meals with both the despised and the embraced, and He shared much with the masses. He helped, He healed, He accepted, and He loved. What Jesus did, is what we are called to do. Our charge, as children of the Almighty God, is to LOVE. No matter who it is or what circumstances surround us, we must be kind and figure out how to love. Incredibly, when we ask and actually listen for answers, He will teach and equip us to love as He is calling us to love. Every act of kindness is an investment in others. As we sow love and kindness and generosity, God works in the hearts of those who receive. We are not called to preach at people, but rather we are called to love as Jesus loved. If we do so, according to His call, hearts can be changed and minds renewed. May we seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us each day, so that we may go forth and love one another according to His good and perfect will. 

We are not just called, 

To love those who love; 

But also, those who, 

Challenge us above. 

Jesus has shown us, 

To love enemies; 

For as we choose to, 

Both sides are set free. 

Set free from anger, 

From ugly dissent; 

For kindness disarms, 

Leads us to repent. 

Lord teach us to see, 

Others with Your love; 

To live as You lived, 

Give kindness above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip and empower every willing heart to love as You loved, as we earnestly seek You. Forgive us for the times that our words or deeds did not reflect a love like Yours. Teach us to love both friend and foe in the same way that You love each of us. Show us what it means to love like You, and how to be kind and loving, even to those who make it difficult. May hearts be changed and relationships mended, as we seek to love ALL, as You love us; and may many come into a lasting relationship with You, the One who loves forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us in Your love for others. Amen. 

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

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

All That He Has Made

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. – (Psalm 104:19, NIV) 

He assigned the moon to mark the months and the sun to mark the days. – (Psalm 104:19, TLB) 

You made the moon to mark the months and the sun to measure the days. – (Psalm 104:19, TPT) 

The 104th Psalm was written by David, as he was praising God for all that He has made. As I was driving to go meet my running buddy early this morning, I could not help but give thanks in awe, as I took in the gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier, with the rising sun, streaking it with pastel colors. Additionally, I was reminded that the days are beginning to grow shorter, as last week’s departure time was in daylight, whereas today, it was still dark. Months pass and seasons change, yet His love remains. The same God who cares enough to give us ways to measure time, cares for us and how we spend our days. May we all make time to pause and take in the ways that God created such beauty and function in all that His hands have made, and give Him praise for the depth of His great love. 

Each month that goes by, 

Creation does show; 

The changing seasons, 

And where the days go. 

Sun up and sun down, 

Bookmark all our days; 

Array of colors, 

On brilliant display. 

The moon’s clear phases, 

Usher in and out; 

Days and weeks and months, 

God’s faithful throughout. 

So, let us give praise, 

To the Lord above; 

Thank Him all our days, 

For amazing love. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for all of creation, and the incredible beauty and functionality that it holds. Forgive us for all of the times that we have not appreciated or not given You praise for all that You have made with Your loving hands. Teach us to appreciate all that You have done, and to be good stewards of all that is around us. Show us how to love everyone You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for all that Your hands have made. Amen. 

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

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. – Psalm 145:9

Familial Ties

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God. – (John 1:12, NIV) 

But some people did accept Him. They believed in Him, and He gave them the right to become children of God. – (John 1:12, ERV) 

But those who embraced Him and took hold of His Name were given authority to become the children of God! – (John 1:12, TPT) 

What a crazy, wonderful truth for us to hold onto! If we receive what God offers us through Jesus, and believe He is who He says He is, we are given the right to become His children. As God’s children, we are heirs to His Kingdom. All power, authority, and promised hope are ours in Him, so that we may walk in His way and do His will. We do not earn our way into His good grace, but rather we need believe and receive what He freely gives. This is such a wonderful encouragement. He takes us as we are and transforms us into who we are created to become. It is a lifelong process, yet we are His, the moment we receive Him. May our hearts be open to all that He offers, as we embrace the grace that He gives to His children. 

To each is a choice, 

Believe and receive; 

All that God offers, 

Our hope and reprieve. 

His grace is granted, 

Freely He does give; 

To all who seek Him, 

Help and strength to live. 

Live in His goodness, 

Aware of His grace; 

Annointed His kids, 

As we seek His face. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we choose to believe and receive all that You freely offer, You call us Your sons and daughters. Thank You that our inheritance in You is everlasting life in Your presence. Forgive us for losing sight of what is promised in You. Help us to fix our eyes on You and the promises that You have for us in You. Teach us how to love those around us in a way that honors and represents well, You, our Heavenly Father. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we believe and receive all that You offer, and gratefully embrace our inheritance through our familial ties to You. Amen. 

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

And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Corinthians 6:18

Purposeful Precepts

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life. – (Psalm 119:93, NIV) 

But I’ll never forget the advice You gave me; You saved my life with those wise words. – (Psalm 119:93, MSG) 

I will never forget Your commands, because through them You gave me new life. – (Psalm 119:93, ERV) 

Upon first read, I pondered “precepts” and then referred to the dictionary for further clarification. A precept, according to my online dictionary, is a commandment or direction given as a rule of action or conduct. It goes on further to list a precept as an injunction to moral conduct. As we invest in learning and understanding the word of God, we discover directions given that show us how to live the way that God intended. Not only that, but His word reminds us that we are forgiven and set free, so that we may live a new life in Him. The greatest commands that He has given us, tells us to love God and love one another. If we do both of these, we fulfill the law as He intended. Love must direct our every word, thought, and action. God is faithful to guide and direct us in the way that is best, if we are willing to seek Him and follow His leading. May we ever be intentional to seek the Lord and His will for all things, for it is by His love that we have new life in Him. 

The word of the Lord, 

Is advice to seek; 

To live our lives well, 

And of His love, speak. 

The more we invest, 

The better we know; 

How to choose love well, 

As His precepts show. 

So, let us rise up, 

Be rooted in love; 

May our lives display, 

Our Father above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us direct access to how we are meant to live, through Your word, prayer and worship. Forgive us for the times that we either neglected to heed Your direction, or simply chose to go our own way. Teach us to trust You to lead and guide us in the love You created us to give. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they discover the beautiful new life that is found in You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, trust You, and follow Your leading for every day of our lives. Amen. 

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

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:30-31 

True Nourishment

Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV) 

Jesus answered him, “The scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV) 

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG) 

To live the abundant life that God intends for us, requires more than nourishing our bodies; we must also nourish our heart, mind and soul. One of the key elements in doing this includes spending time in His word and in prayer. The more deeply we have His word hidden in our heart, the more clearly we become aware of His will for us, and how He is directing us in all things. We all have a God-sized hole in our hearts that can only be filled by Him. When we hunger for things to fill it that are not of Him, we discover that nothing else truly satisfies what we actually need. As we hunger to be filled with His word and direction for our lives, He is faithful to show us how to love Him and love people best. It is through an ongoing living, loving and hearing from Him that we know what it is to be filled; filled with His peace, His purpose, His goodness, His grace, and His overwhelming love. May we ever seek the Lord to find true nourishment for our entire being through time with Him and in His word. 

It takes more than bread, 

To live satisfied; 

For all of us need, 

Love that’s not denied. 

Love that is faithful, 

That doesn’t depend; 

On our worthiness, 

But helps and defends. 

As we read His word, 

Seek Him and choose pray; 

Satisfaction comes, 

As we live His way. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we were created for so much more than eating and sleeping. Thank You that You designed each of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that all people have gifts and talents and love to offer. Forgive us for the times that we have sought things that are not Your intention for us, to fill the void that only You can fill. Teach us to earnestly seek You and spend time in Your word. Show us how to live and love according to Your perfect plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be filled by You. Amen. 

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

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matthew 5:6

The Work is Never Done

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV) 

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV) 

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! – (Philippians 1:6, TPT) 

The same encouragement that Paul give to the church in Philippi applies to each of us who are pursuing God today. It is a promise that reminds us that we are a work in progress. I find great comfort in this, as I know that though He has done much refining in me, there is much to still be done. Not one of us “arrives” to sit idly by, but rather we need forever pursue God’s best for us and those around us. We are being made new and refined each day that we draw breath, until our days are through. I am so thankful that we get to be lifelong learners, rather than take some crash course and suddenly think that we have learned all there is to know and no longer need to grow. One of the best examples of this that I have known was my grandmother. My entire life, her purpose was to never stop learning and growing. She lived it out well, as her mind stayed sharp and her faith secure, even until her dying day, well into her nineties. Her faithful pursuit of God and a deeper understanding of everything and everyone around her, modeled for me that we should never stop learning and growing. May we never stop seeking God and His heart, so that we continue to learn and grow as He intended, until we meet Him face-to-face. 

Choose to seek the Lord, 

Throughout each new day; 

His faithful presence, 

Will show us the way. 

For it’s God’s purpose, 

His most perfect plan; 

To grow and refine, 

Show us how to stand. 

Stand in His wisdom, 

His goodness and grace; 

Learn love as He loves, 

‘til we see His face. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love, grow and refine us as we earnestly seek You. Thank You that this is a lifelong process. Forgive us for neglecting to listen or act upon the ways in which You are leading us to learn, change and grow. Teach us to trust You and the process by which You refine us. Show us how to love more like You every day that we draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to keep growing and refining us until the day that we meet You face-to-face. Amen. 

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

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8