Wisdom to Speak Well

They were not able to catch Him in what He said in public, and being amazed at His answer, they became silent. – (Luke 20:26, HCSB)

The men were amazed at His wise answers. They could say nothing. They were not able to trick Jesus there in front of the people. – (Luke 20:26, ERV)

Try as they might, they couldn’t trap Him into saying anything incriminating. His answers caught them off guard and left them speechless. – (Luke 20:26, MSG)

The Pharisees relentlessly tried to trick Jesus into saying something incriminating so that they could justifiably get rid of Him. However, Jesus knew their intentions, and answered in ways that spoke truth and silenced those who could not catch Him with words. The very same God is available and able to give us the words to say in every situation. Rather than simply react, we ought to pause, quiet our hearts, and hear what He would have us say. God grants wisdom so that we can speak truth in love. It is never His intent for us to be in a war of words or a battle of wits. Instead, He calls us to love as He first loved us. May we ever seek the Lord to grant us His wisdom and words, so that we may answer in truth and love in every situation and circumstance.

Words can be weapons,

That we use for good;

The Lord’s own defense,

Made truth understood.

No harmful intent,

But rather in love;

He spoke only truth,

With grace from above.

As we seek the Lord,

And listen with care;

He will equip us,

With goodness to share.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to show us the way to walk out our everyday life. Thank You that when people attempted to slander His character or trap Him in some sort of untruth, He slowed down and spoke in wisdom and truth, without harmful intent, motivated by love. Forgive us for speaking without love, or for being defensive instead of listening and then only speaking what is beneficial to all. Teach us to slow down and seek You to give us words to speak, rather than blurting out whatever rolls off the tongue. Lead us to speak truth in love, and to demonstrate Your love for those around us in all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading and speak out of love in all things. Amen.

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

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

The Greatest Love Story

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – (John 3:16, HCSB)

Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – (John 3:16, VOICE)

In this season of fixation on love, it seems only appropriate to recognize and celebrate the greatest love of all. God loved creation so much that He gave His Son to restore what had been lost, and to make the way for all who receive it, to have life everlasting with Him. We have all been hand-crafted, designed to love and be loved. The unique design placed within each of us grants us the capacity to love well. This love is not limited to romantic love, but rather it equips and empowers us to love all. From our parents, to siblings, to children, family, friends and a significant other, God gives us all that we need to love well. It is up to us to receive all that He offers so that we might truly know His love and then go and love likewise, all those whom He has placed in our lives. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, and give Him all praise for His loving ways each day that we draw breath.

The greatest love story,

That’s ever been told;

The gift of a Savior,

To have and to hold.

It is through the knowing,

Receiving of grace;

That we too can love well,

As we seek His face.

God places in our lives,

People we’re to love;

All whom He created,

Purposed from above.

So seek Him to love well,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Receive all He gives;

In Christ we’re empowered,

To love as we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your One and only Son to make the way for us to be in a loving relationship with You and equipped to love others as You do. Thank You that Your love gives us hope and help, life and love that last forever. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You intended, and for when we neglect to receive what You freely and lovingly offer. Teach us to trust in Your everlasting goodness and grace as You continually show us Your loving ways. Lead us to love all those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the incredible gift of Your love and trust You to lead us to love all those around us well. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. – Psalm 5:11

Approach Boldly

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. – (Hebrews 4:16, HCSB)

With Jesus as our high priest, we can feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace. Therefore we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it. – (Hebrews 4:16, ERV)

So now we draw near freely and boldly to where grace is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness. – (Hebrews 4:16, TPT)

Because Jesus has been through and understands everything we go through, and has paid the price for all that we have ever done and will ever do, we can come before Him boldly in prayer. As we do, we discover that He meets us with mercy and grace, and is ready to help whenever we need it. The more we understand and experience this for ourselves, the more readily we come before Him with every prayer and praise. May we ever draw near to our Savior, and present before Him our requests and appreciation.

O Lord, remind us,

Of Your faithfulness;

In times of great joy,

And those in distress.

Ever You’re faithful,

With kindness and love;

You hear ev’ry word,

Lifted up above.

Lord help us to pray,

Lift ev’ry request;

And love each other,

The way that is best.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can boldly approach Your throne where we receive mercy, kindness and grace. Forgive us for trying to handle things on our own or not trusting You to be all that we need. Teach us to come to You with every prayer, petition and praise that we have to offer. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your kindness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before Your throne with boldness. Amen.

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

All humanity will come to You, the One who hears prayer. – Psalm 65:2

Encourage Each Other

But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. – (Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

Encourage each other every day – for as long as we can still say “today” – so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. – (Hebrews 3:13, VOICE)

We need each other to be the best version of ourselves. God intentionally created us for community so that we might encourage one another to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. As we do, we are aware of the things that try to pull us away from the path that He has placed us on and are equipped to love and navigate well. Incredibly, the more we encourage others, the more we discover that we too are encouraged in the process. May we ever seek the Lord to point us to those who need encouragement and to give us the words that lift others up best.

Today is the day,

We’ve been called to love;

To lift others up,

Point hearts to above.

Encouraging words,

We choose to speak well;

Bring hope and resolve,

With goodness we tell.

Let’s help each other,

Walk in the Lord’s way;

With love and kindness,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community and surround us with those who love and help encourage us to follow after and stay true to You. Forgive us for our attempts to navigate on our own. Teach us to trust You more and to invest well in the relationships that You bless us with. Lead us to love and encourage those around us in ways that fend off the temptations to go astray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be an encouragement to those around us daily. Amen.

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

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Welcomed With Celebration

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, HCSB)

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. – (Psalm 27:14, MSG)

Staying with God and waiting on Him is what we need to finish our race and enter into the glory of eternity with God. In our current series at church, Kingdom Come, yesterday’s message had a great analogy of how God welcomes us into His Kingdom. One of our pastors, who knew little about football, had attended her first Seahawks game the week prior. She took notice of new things and asked questions about what she was observing. As she was closing up her message on Matthew 6:1-13, one part of her analogy that she had observed at the game, challenged my thinking. She spoke of how each play was introduced by name with fireworks as they came into view from the tunnel. Her comment was that God celebrates and welcomes us in the same way. At first, I paused and thought, by name, sure, but fireworks? That is a big deal for one person. As I pondered, the first thing that came to mind was that though I do not deserve a big production, Jesus does. Jesus in me deserves all accolades. Then I considered things further. When we welcome a baby into the world, we celebrate with thanksgiving, gifts, and great cheer. God is our Father in Heaven, and He celebrates us in the same way. We are known and acknowledged with good things because we are His. May we ever seek the Lord, for He is our strength and where our courage comes from. He celebrates and acknowledges each of us by name, and with great celebration because we are His.

With celebration,

The Lord calls our name;

He ushers us in,

To goodness proclaimed.

His Kingdom is now,

And forevermore;

We’re meant to embrace,

And trust in the Lord.

For as we choose live,

Depending on Him;

He equips with strength,

To do as He did.

In Him we can live,

As is His intent;

To love each other,

With grace, enter in.

So, trust in the Lord,

Know you are enough;

Not for what you do,

But because He’s tough.

Strong to uphold us,

Grace that always loves;

Purveyor of peace,

All hope from above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we wait on You, You show us who You are and that Your Kingdom is not only in Heaven, but is here and now as well. Thank You that You know us and call us by name, and that You celebrate us, not for what we do, but because we are Yours. Forgive us for the times that we fear that we are not enough or we lose heart in the waiting. Teach us again and again that our value is found in You because we are Yours, and that as we wait on You, You grant us strength and hope and help. Show us how to love one another as You created us to do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait in trust for You in tough spaces, and praise You that we are known, loved and upheld by You, our Heavenly Father. Amen.

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

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1

Tend Well the 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)

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)

Beloved ones, with promises like these, and because of our deepest respect and worship of God, we must remove everything that contaminates body and spirit, and continue to complete the development of holiness within us. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, TPT)

It is the love and faithfulness of God that ought to compel us to treat our minds and bodies and His temple. When we love God and invite Him into our lives, He is present with each thing that we take in, be it exposure, what we eat, and how we care for what we have been given. That reminder alone inspires me to care well for my body and to use caution with the things to which I choose to expose my heart and mind. God has made me a very visual creature, so I know that I cannot watch anything that I don’t want to live over and over again. Rather than a filter, my mind is more like a recorder that can get stuck on repeat when exposed to graphic violence and gore. Because of this, I will not and cannot watch violent shows, games, etc. Rather, I am intentional to begin each day with Him and focusing on His word, so that my heart and mind are equipped with His goodness and love. We are all a work in progress. It is an ongoing labor of love throughout our lives, not just a quick fix for the here and now. The healthier and stronger our bodies and minds are, the better equipped we are to walk out our purpose. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to tend well the temples that we have been given.

Lord, help us to care,

For body and mind;

Tend well the temple,

For Your love is kind.

Inspire us to move,

Be healthy and strong;

Cautious exposure,

Throughout each day long.

Show us what is good,

To listen in love;

So we are ready,

To serve You above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You dwell within us when we invite You. Thank You that You call us to tend our temples well, so that we are best equipped to honor, love and serve You. Forgive us for the times that we either neglect to care for our bodies, or expose our minds and hearts to things that do not glorify You. Teach us to ever seek to honor You through the care of our body and mind. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to tend the temple we have been given in a way that honors You. Amen.

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

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. – Romans 8:11

Guided By Love

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, ERV)

So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that your commendable works will shine as light upon them, and then they will give praise to your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, TPT)

This aligns with one of my favorite quotes: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi) Our charge is not to simply speak of our faith, but rather it is to live it out. If people see Christ in us through how we live and care for others, they will ask questions and provide opportunities for us to use words. However, if there is nothing that separates us from anyone else then anything we say will fall on deaf ears. This does not mean that we have to be perfect, or that we have to fear our human flaws, but rather it frees us to walk in God’s grace and choose to love big. When all that we do is guided and steeped in love, His light shines through us and is made known. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in His love so that we may shine brightly before all.

O Lord help Your light,

Shine brightly through us;

As we grow and learn,

To love like Jesus.

Let all that we do,

Be guided by love;

So others may know,

It’s from You, above.

Thank You for Your grace,

For the times we fail;

Love that leads us on,

So Your love prevails.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your son to show us what it is to lead a life of love. Thank You that as we invest in our relationship with You, You increase our capacity to love well and live out a life in You. Forgive us for our faults and failures, the words and actions that have been lacking Your love. Show us how to love all people in all circumstances, and to live a life according to Your loving plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our hearts and lives into knowing more of You so that we may be a reflection of Your love. 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

To Treasure What Lasts

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” – (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

“Don’t save treasures for yourselves here on earth. Moths and rust will destroy them. And thieves can break into your house and steal them. Instead, save your treasures in heaven, where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will be where your treasure is.” – (Matthew 6:19-21, ERV)

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or – worse! – stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” – (Matthew 6:19-21, MSG)

This is the ever-challenging passage that deems it necessary for each of us to take inventory of our priorities. How are we spending our time, talents and resources? Are we hiding them, keeping them for ourselves, or are we looking outward and identifying places where we can love and serve like Jesus? There are many “thieves” out there. For example, comparison is the thief of joy. In a nation that is bursting with so much, the desire to keep up with those around us can take our eyes off of what matters and bring our heart to an ugly space. Rather, if our eyes are fixed on Jesus and all that He has for us, we see the blessings that we already hold, and celebrate the blessings that those around us are given.  Each of us has an inheritance waiting in heaven. It is up to us to embrace the gift that God gives to know that it is already ours. Our perspective shifts when we recognize that this is not our home. We are merely visitors in the here and now, and will spend all of eternity elsewhere. Where we end up will be ours to determine. Will we choose to love God and love people as we are called to do, or will we focus only on what lies before us in hope of ever amassing more? The place that we treasure is demonstrated by how we use what we have been given. I don’t know about you, but I am an ongoing work in progress. I begin my days looking to the Lord, yet life spins quickly around me, and has a way of distracting from that which matters most. Impatience in traffic, frustration with the outspoken, unrest in the isolation… The list goes on and on, as the treasure trolling is in full force. We need God’s grace to grow in His love. He is faithful to meet us each time we seek Him, yet it is up to us to pursue Him. May we ever grow closer to He who is our true treasure, and fix our eyes on that which matters most – loving God and loving people.

O Lord, please show us,

Above all to love;

In grace, redeem us,

Set our gaze above.

Help us to treasure,

The things that will last;

Love, grace and kindness,

Doing what You ask.

Lead us in mercy,

Teach us to be kind;

To listen in love,

So hope all may find.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the things You offer are eternal and worth treasuring. Thank You that faith, hope and love are gifts from You that last. Forgive us for the times that we allow earthly things to steal our focus and take our eyes off of You and what matters most. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on that which You intend for is forever. Show us how to love those around us like You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to store up our treasures in heaven, for those are the things that last forever. Amen.

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

And the Lord has declared this day that you are His people, His treasured possessions as He promised, and that you are to keep all His commands. – Deuteronomy 26:18

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

Our Eternal Rock

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal. – (Isaiah 26:4, NIV) 

Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing. – (Isaiah 26:4, MSG) 

Trust in the Eternal One forever, for He is like a great Rock – strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting. – (Isaiah 26:4, VOICE) 

Life continues to feel uncertain with little being predictable or ordinary. Teaching online with no certain end in sight, growing responsibilities being heaped upon one another, in this time and space I am eternally grateful for the One to whom I can trust. Even when all around me is uncertain, He remains the same forever. His love, kindness, mercy, grace, and strength, are ever present and available to all who call on His Name. When all is unstable, I crave a strong, stable, trustworthy and lasting place. There is such a space; it is in the hands of Jesus. We can be strong, stable, and trust in His lasting love.  

Lord, teach us to trust, 

In Your endless love; 

Our Rock and shelter, 

Certainty above. 

Forever we trust, 

In You and Your Name; 

For You are our peace, 

And hope we can claim. 

Lord, hold us so close, 

That we are assured; 

Of grace and goodness, 

Hope in You, secured. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the eternal Rock, the One in whom we can trust forever. Thank You that You remind us and show us again and again that You are good. Forgive us for our fearfulness and anxiousness in the uncertain. Teach us to trust and lean into You, for You are faithful forever. Show us how to love those around us in ways that provide peace and security, grace and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You, our faithful Rock forever. Amen. 

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

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God. – 1 Samuel 2:2