Slow Down and Celebrate

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

Despite the turmoil that seems to be constantly swirling in our nation, the goodness of God is still evident all around us. No matter what we see or hear going on around us, we can take refuge in the Lord, for His love remains the same forever. For me, as I pause and take inventory of God’s goodness, gratitude rises for the family and friends whom He surrounds me with, and for the grace and kindness He provides, no matter the circumstances that we walk through. He is near and always good, and we can depend on Him to be our space of safety and peace. May we take time to reflect and recognize God’s goodness all around us, and choose to trust and run to Him.

Look all around you,

image by Soda Head

Choose taste and you’ll see;

The goodness of God,

His love’s given free.

Our safe place to run,

His arms full of love;

Safety, provision,

All good from above.

So, trust in the Lord,

Give all thanks to Him;

Celebrate the good,

That He’s placed within.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to slow down and celebrate Your goodness, as we gather and enjoy the communities in which we’ve been placed. Thank You that You provide Your love and faithfulness wherever we go. Forgive us for not noticing the blessings that You have placed all around us. Teach us to observe Your goodness and love all around us. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we slow down to taste and see how very good You are. Amen.

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

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

One Body With Many Parts

Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. – (Romans 12:4-5, HCSB)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

I so appreciate this illustration of how we are each a valuable part of the body of Christ, and we each have different strengths, gifts and abilities that contribute to the body as a whole. Because I am so visual, it is an easy analogy to grasp. For example, think about the toes. Often, especially in the Pacific Northwest, they are covered and unseen. However, the toes help support the feet, and the feet hold up the whole body. Though people are seldom aware of their toes, if one is injured, the whole body becomes incredibly alert to what is transpiring with the toe. It is similar in the body of Christ. There are people who are seen and play a role that is obvious in the function of the whole body, and there are others that play roles behind the scenes that contribute to the function of the body too. Though primarily unseen, it is obvious when they are missing or are not doing well. Each of us has gifts and talents to contribute, and no two people are exactly alike. We need each other to be our best and to extend what we have to offer. It is similar in marriage and friendships, and so often, opposites attract. I think much of the attraction is the desire to be with another who has different strengths than we do, and one who appreciates our strengths that are not shared by the other. For example, my husband and most of my closest friends are extroverts, whereas I am an introvert. They bring out the social in me, and I can contribute calm for them. Only a God of love would create us each uniquely, and place in us the desire and need to create community with one another. May we ever look to the Lord to lead us in the role and purpose for which we have been created, and may we see through His lens, how each member plays a role that is good and necessary for the whole body.

We each are a part,

The body of Christ;

With strengths and talents,

In purpose we rise.

Together stronger,

Than if on our own;

We need each other,

To make God’s love known.

For some are the hands,

That reach out and serve;

And others the voice,

That people observe.

Each person a part,

That the body needs;

With strengths and talents,

Each one is unique.

May we each embrace,

Our gifts and our roles;

Contribute in love,

So God is extolled.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we each have been divinely designed to be a part of a community. Thank You that we all have different strengths and roles to extend to help the body become stronger. Forgive us for the times that we compare our parts to another, or somehow devalue the parts that are unseen. Teach us to recognize and value the unique role and purpose that each part plays, and to celebrate the beauty that You have made in bringing us together. Show us how to love those around us for who they are and how they are uniquely designed. May our love honor the strengths and talents of those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the part that we were designed to do, and to celebrate and appreciate the other parts around us that make the body complete. Amen.

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

So we should stop judging each other. Let’s decide not to do anything that will cause a problem for a brother or sister or hurt their faith. – Romans 14:13

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

Part of loving God and loving people is working to bring His peace wherever we go. Competing or fighting does not convey love, but rather cooperation and encouragement are the things that communicate love as God intended. The incredible thing about doing things the way that God designed us to do them is that we discover the strengths that each person has to offer, and can celebrate who God has made each of us to be. In community, we need each other. When each of us is operating in the strengths that are part of our very being, things are accomplished and peace can reign. Even more, when we simply seek to work together in harmony, we are called God’s own children. It is in that space of operating in the gifts that God has given us and celebrating those in the people around us that we discover a peaceful existence within our communities. This applies to marriage, family, friend groups, work, and beyond. Each of us has something to offer and the capacity to exist peacefully with one another as we seek to cooperate and appreciate each other. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see the strengths in others, and the heart to appreciate and celebrate what each has to offer so that we might live peacefully with one another.

May peace be present,

Wherever we go;

Working together,

May the Lord’s love show.

Help us see the strength,

In one another;

And celebrate each,

As sisters, brothers.

Let the peace of God,

Be what leads us on;

Choose appreciate,

With celebration.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that it is through recognizing and celebrating the strength in others, and intentionally choosing to work together that we come to know Your peace and the goodness of Your love as we are called Your children. Forgive us for competing or fighting instead of working together. Show us how to be peacemakers everywhere we go. Lead us to love and celebrate one another so that we can work together in harmony. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to be peacemakers wherever we are and with whomever we interact. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Celebrating Fathers

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, HCSB)

Husbands, love your wives the same as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. He died to make the church holy. He used the telling of the Good News to make the church clean by washing it with water. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, ERV)

Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for His bride, the church. We know He gave Himself up completely to make her His own, washing her clean of all her impurity with water and the powerful presence of His word. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, VOICE)

It is interesting that this passage was part of my reading this morning, as it is a reminder of why we celebrate fathers today. Though not all have been present or have loved as one might hope, we can celebrate those we know who remind us what it is to be loved as God intended. For those who love their wives well, love their children in the same way – sacrificially, and build them up with loving encouragement in the right ways to go, let us celebrate and appreciate their love and sacrifice. I am blessed with a husband who loves us well, and would do anything for us to be sure our needs are met and our hearts held well.  May we seek the Lord with hearts full of thanks, for Him, our ultimate Father, and for the men in our lives who model God’s love to us in tangible ways.

To know the Lord’s love,

Look around and see;

Those who choose love well,

Show it tangibly.

Without conditions,

Such love is complete;

It sets our hearts free,

A place of retreat.

For this kind of love,

Chooses sacrifice;

Puts family first,

Gives godly advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the men in our lives that model a love like Yours. Thank You for the generosity and sacrifice that is given to their families, friends and communities. Forgive us for the times that we have not appreciated or acknowledged Your goodness that is shown through so many. Teach us to see You in those around us, and to celebrate and give thanks for Your heart that is grown within them. Show us how to love like You so that many may come to understand the depth and breadth of Your unfailing love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the husbands and fathers that You have placed around us, and for the ultimate Father that we have in You. Amen.

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

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. – 1 John 3:1a

Moms Model Love

Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. – (Colossians 4:6, HCSB)

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV)

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response to everyone. – (Colossians 4:6, NLT)

This is the epitome of my mom and her mom before her; gracious, kind and wise. No human ever always has the right answer, but I think great moms come awfully close. These two women, as well as some incredible mother-like figures in my life, have modeled God’s love with the way that they speak with grace, kindness and love. It has never been unkind, but the truth is ever spoken in love. At times, the truth was to correct or redirect, but always with my best interest in mind. I am forever grateful for the gift of mothers in my life, and today, it seems only fitting to celebrate and honor them. May we ever give thanks to God for the gift of moms and mother-figures that He grants unto us, and seek Him to lead us in their likeness.

Let conversations,

Be filled with God’s grace;

Kind and with wisdom,

In every place.

For His love’s made known,

Through how we choose speak;

Actions and kindness,

Ever let us seek.

Seek to be loving,

Through every word;

Good spoken in love,

It’s how love is heard.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of mothers and mother-figures who model Your love with words, actions and their very existence. Thank You for the blessings in my own life that have come through my mother, grandmother, youth leaders, church mommas, and incredibly wise and wonderful friends throughout the years. Forgive us for the times that we have not followed the example set before us and have spoken with a lack of love. Lead us to always speak with love, kindness and grace. May Your words lead the searching to see Your face and enter into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we seek You to ever lead us in Your love with every word we speak and all that we do. Amen.

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

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

Justified and Redeemed

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – (Romans 3:23-24, HCSB)

All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. They are made right with God by His grace. This is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. – (Romans 3:23-24, ERV)

You see, all have sinned and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 3:23-24, VOICE)

Because of the events of this most Holy Week, we all have access to forgiveness, grace, and redemption from our sin. On our own, we cannot live right every moment of every day. However, when we seek and accept the grace that God has freely given through Jesus, we are made clean and holy before God – not because of anything that we have or have not done, but because He who knew no sin dwells within us and has already paid the price that our sins deserve. Through Him, we are considered right before God and have a future and a hope in Him. This is why we celebrate Easter, and why we ought to pause and remember with gratitude, the ultimate sacrifice that we made on our behalf so that we might know life with God forever.

The purpose of Easter,

Much more than the cross;

His redemption for all,

He has paid the cost.

Much more than suffering,

For death could not keep;

Jesus, the Messiah,

In eternal sleep.

It is through the rising,

That our hope was found;

Nothing could defeat Him,

His power abounds.

And more than the rising,

Return to His throne;

Seated up in heaven,

His goodness made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son so that we might come to know forgiveness and grace that His sacrifice provides. Thank You that there is nothing that we can do to earn our way into Your glory, but rather it is a matter of us receiving what You freely offer through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to recognize the depth of Your love that sacrificed all. Teach us to live in awe and gratitude throughout all of our days. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart is made evident to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank and praise You for all that You have done and continue to do to demonstrate just how great Your love is for all. Amen.

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

Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. – Acts 2:33

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

Unto Us

For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)

For a child will be born for us, a Son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, HCSB)

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a Son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways – He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, VOICE)

The arrival. Heaven coming to earth in the form of a baby who would grow and become the Savior of the world, was foretold centuries prior to His birth. All of the anticipation and joy that comes with a newborn baby was experienced by Mary and Joseph. However, God did not just make the arrival known to Mary and Joseph, for He placed a star in the sky to indicate where the baby lay, and had heavenly hosts announce His coming to shepherds in the fields nearby as they watched their sheep at night. The living gift. God with us is a gift that knows no end. Each name foretold has proven true again and again throughout the ages. Jesus indeed is a Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. He comforts us in our time of need, He is more powerful than anything that might come against us, He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He is the place where we find our peace. Though today is set aside as a day to celebrate His arrival, everyday that we draw breath ought to be spent in thanksgiving for all that He is as He grants us hope, joy, love and peace no matter what surrounds us. May we each take pause today to recognize and give thanks for the hope that we have in Him, the joy that is found in knowing Who is for us, the love that He gives unconditionally, and the peace that is found when our hearts and minds are set on Him. Merry Christmas to all, for He has come!

Unto all of us,

A Savior has come;

Blessed Messiah,

The battle’s been won.

For that sweet baby,

In whom hope did lay;

The promised Savior,

Who’d take sin away.

No more a baby,

He’s now on the throne;

Eternal Father,

In whom we are known.

May we each seek Him,

And find sweet release;

As we trust in Him,

The great Prince of Peace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to save us. Thank You that He came humbly so that He might know and understand what we experience in our broken humanity. Thank You that He took on the weight of the world so that we might know hope, joy, love and peace. Forgive us for allowing the distractions of the world to divert our eyes from the real reason for the season. Show us how to honor You in all that we do today and always. Lead us to love as You love so that all whom we encounter would sense and experience hope, joy, love and peace in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and Your eternal roles as our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Amen.

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

Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. – Luke 2:11

Praise for the Blessings

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has provided redemption for His people. – (Luke 1:68, HCSB)

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. – (Luke 1:68, ERV)

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. – (Luke 1:68, VOICE)

This verse was the beginning of Zechariah’s praise in response to the birth of his long-awaited son, John. John, was the one who was to go before Jesus and prepare the way in the wilderness, sharing the light and hope of the One who had come to save us all. Zechariah was a priest who understood the promises of God and the incredible power in the fulfillment. He could not help but praise God for the blessing that had been poured out upon him and Elizabeth, and all people, for what was soon to come. Our response in this most holy season of remembrance should be likewise, overflowing with praise. No matter the challenges that have been along our path, there is always a reason to praise the Lord. He is faithful forever and sent heaven to earth as Jesus came near. May we ever give God praise for the most precious gift ever given as we remember the reason for the season.

Songs full of praises,

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Should flood ev’ry heart;

For the Lord came near,

To grant us fresh start.

First, He gave us John,

To prepare the way;

To speak of the Lord,

With all of his days.

Before he was born,

The Lord had proclaimed;

The baby to come,

Would honor His Name.

The grateful response,

Was great words of praise;

Giving God glory,

For His faithful ways.

In this sweet season,

May we choose give praise;

For love and for life,

Faithful gracious ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You foretold of Your arrival and sent messengers before Jesus to prepare hearts to receive all that His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension does for all who choose to believe and receive. Forgive us for neglecting to recognize and celebrate all that You have done for us. Teach our hearts to embrace Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways so that Your heart may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing songs of praise and give You all of our worship during this most blessed time of year. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my Father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Assured By Love

Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. – (Luke 1:30, HCSB)

Then the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. – (Luke 1:30, ERV)

But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear, Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift.” – (Luke 1:30, TPT)

As I continue to ponder the role that Mary played in Christmas, I imagine that she must have been quite startled by the appearance of an angel, and felt fear in the presence of God’s own messenger standing before her. I love that her immediate need was met, as he assured her that she had nothing to fear, for God was pleased with her and she had found His favor. In the present day, we have little understanding of the fear of appearing before a king. Back then, if a person appeared before a king without being summoned, they could be killed if the king was not pleased with them. How much more would they have had a similar fear in being in the presence of the King of the Universe’s messenger? The loving kindness of God was made known through Gabriel as He reassured Mary. To hear that God is delighted with you and has a wonderful gift for you, would likely bring peace in the panicked places. Incredibly, when we seek the Lord and pursue a life of love through Him, He is pleased with us as well. He has good gifts to give us if only we are ready and willing to receive them. Peace, joy, love and hope are the gifts that we celebrate as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s arrival. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, for He is our hope and grants us joy through His love as we seek Him.

Imagine the sight,

Before Mary stood;

God’s angelic host,

With news that was good.

To be called favored,

One whom God called blessed;

Quite overwhelming,

Assured in distress.

Little did she know,

The news he would bear;

Lives changed forever,

God would soon be there.

He’d come in the flesh,

Miraculous plan,

A new baby born;

Where hope soon began.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see us where we are and meet us in our need. Thank You that You see our heart and show us Your great love and grace that provide hope, peace and joy. Forgive us for not turning to You in both our joy and our times of need, for You hear every prayer and are ever near. Teach us to trust You like Mary, for though she did not know what was ahead, she knew and trusted You. Show us how to be willing to listen and give our best yes to You. Lead us to love one another as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside fears and trust big in You and all that You have for us. Amen.

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

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. – 1 John 4:13