Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

United in Love

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no division among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, NIV) 

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, ERV) 

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, MSG) 

This, this is my heart every single day, as I watch the ongoing debates on social media about the current state of our nation and our world. We are currently a nation divided. My heart breaks a little more each day, as I observe people whom I love and care for, deeply, arguing about the validity of our lockdowns, and questioning the severity of this virus. Is it reasonable to ask questions? Absolutely! Is it right to end up arguing in such a way that it becomes personal, rather than simply a discussion of information that exists? As far as I know, when people begin to bash one another for who they are, rather than civilly discuss, or agree to disagree, there is no love involved in the interaction. I do not have all of the answers, nor do I know what is best for the nation or the world, but I do know that we are called to love. Love does not name-call nor make horrible accusations of a person’s character, simply for having a different opinion. Love listens and learns and is willing to seek to understand the “why” behind each individual’s thought process. If our purpose is to love God and love people, how might we do that best, even others see things differently, or have opinions that delineate from our own, or from that which is most widely accepted? In as much as I can understand; love anyway. If our united purpose is love, then please, let us love well. Love takes the high road, turns the other cheek, and loves thy neighbor as thyself. Where can we love better? May we seek the Lord and His wisdom, so that we might get along, being considerate of one another, and cultivate lives intent on loving well. 

When differing views, 

Start to cause dissent; 

One has to question, 

What is the intent? 

If love’s our purpose, 

Then let us unite; 

Choose listen and learn, 

In love, take delight. 

Each of us crafted, 

Uniquely designed; 

Created to love, 

With purpose in mind. 

Brothers and sisters, 

Let us find a way; 

To love each other, 

And mind what we say. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are each created with the purpose to be united in love. Thank You that we are uniquely gifted and crafted, yet each have something significant to offer the whole. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed differing views, perspectives, or opinions to get in the way of unity. Teach us how to listen and learn from one another, be okay with not always seeing eye-to-eye, and above all, how to choose to love people first. Show us how to love those around us best. Help us know when to engage in conversations that can be productive, and when to remain silent and choose to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek You to lead us to be united in love with those around us. Amen.  

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

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ. – Colossians 2:2

Good Silences Foolishness

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. – (1 Peter 2:15, NIV)

When you do good, you stop ignorant people from saying foolish things about you. This is what God wants. – (1 Peter 2:15, ERV)

For it is God’s will for you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing what is right. – (1 Peter 2:15, TPT)

 

This is the biblical version of “actions speak louder than words”. When we are consistent in character and choose to do good over and over again, our reputation stands among those who know us, and foolish or ignorant words spoken surrounding who we are, what we do, or what we stand for, will not be given ear by those who have observed who we are over time. It does not mean that humans are infallible, yet it reminds us to assume positive intent, especially among those who consistently choose to do good. God calls us to love one another, and choosing to extend kindness, grace and mercy in what we do and how we interact with others is paramount in pleasing God. May we seek the Lord for strength, so that we do not grow weary in doing good.

 

The Lord has called us, Ambassadors of Love

To choose to do good;

Be kind, show mercy,

Make grace understood.

For our character,

Should stand on its own;

Through consistent good,

God’s love is made known.

It is by His love,

That foolish talk falls;

As truth rises up,

Breaking down false walls.

So, let us choose good,

Again and again;

Love as the Lord loves,

So His truth shall reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good consistently over time. Thank You that as we do, our character and reputation speak louder than foolish talk spoken by those who intend harm. Thank You that what matters most is what You think of us, as Your opinion has eternal implications. Forgive us for worrying about disputing foolish talk, or engaging in banter that does not represent You well. Teach us to choose to do good in all things and at all times. Show us how to love as You do, even when people speak foolishly with the intent to harm. Help us know how to do good in such a way that it silences the desire to be unkind, and grows good within the recipient. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5 

Patient Endurance

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete, and wanting nothing. – (James 1:4, VOICE)

 

Both running a long road race and being an educator during a year when Thanksgiving falls a week later than usual, are ways to remind us how true patience brought on by endurance equips us to complete the long journey to cross the finish line. For one, it is an actual finish line, for the other, it is arriving at the first much anticipated break of the school year, and the opportunity to at long last, catch up with family. When we seek and depend on God in the process, He supplies all that we need to complete each leg of our race. Sometimes, it is the fortitude to get from one water station to the next, or one week to the next; either way, He is present when we seek Him. May we allow true patience to work in us, as we persevere, allowing God to grow and stretch us into all that He wants us to be; mature, complete and lacking nothing.

As for mom, this is the week that out-patient therapies begin! Though there is anticipation about the details, mom is eager to get going, and as always, is ready to work tirelessly toward the goal of regaining what was lost. She continues to be upbeat and positive, ever-patient as she perseveres onward toward the prize. My sister and her family are doing a fabulous job of getting mom out and challenging her to try new things. It is a joy to hear about each new step she is taking, and I am beyond grateful for my sister, brother-in-love and nephews, as they continue to love mom well.

 

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For as we endure;

Christ will empower,

Set our feet secure.

Keep moving forward,

The direction called;

Along the journey,

His grace is installed.

As we choose press on,

Maturity grows;

We lack for nothing,

And His goodness shows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to persevere for all of our days. Thank You that through the difficulties, You refine and define our character to more clearly reflect Yours. Thank You that You grant us Your strength and grace as we run our race, and that we each have our own pace to take. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to compare our journey to another, or our pace to someone else’s. Thank You that You created each of us uniquely with a plan and a purpose. Teach us to keep our eyes on You and what You are calling us to do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may grow and be encouraged as they run their own race. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow patience to work in us, as we persevere with endurance, each leg of this journey that we are called to run. Amen.

 

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

 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – Romans 15:5

Examples En Route

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. – (Psalm 37:37, NIV)

Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace. – (Psalm 37:37, NLT)

Keep your eyes on the innocent. Model your life after the blameless. Everyone who loves peace has a future. – (Psalm 37:37, VOICE)

 

So often, when we read the words blameless, upright, or innocent, the standard set before us seems unattainable. However, we must remember that when we have Christ in us, God views us through the lens of Jesus. He is blameless, upright and innocent. Honesty, goodness, and a love for peace become part of our character as we invest in our relationship with Christ. Most of us know people who model this lifestyle well. Honesty and goodness radiate from their very existence, and to be in their presence, is to understand a space of peace. Jesus is our ultimate model of such, and He places people in our lives to show us tangible evidence of the fruit that a heart after Him will bear. May we ever look to the examples set before us, and model our lives after He who was without sin. Let a love of peace propel us forward on the path to which we each have been called.

 

Look to examples,

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A tiny snapshot of those who have been examples of honesty, goodness and peace in my life.

Each placed in our lives;

To show us the way,

To love well and thrive.

Observe the upright,

Honest, innocent;

Their goodness and peace,

Show us God’s intent.

For as we pursue,

Lives lived out this way;

God makes His heart known,

As love is conveyed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us what a blameless and upright life look like, and the beauty found in the ultimate future of those who love and pursue peace. Forgive us for thinking that we have to somehow accomplish these things on our own, rather than seeking You and allowing You to transform our hearts and lives to more closely mirror Yours. Teach us to turn to You to show us what it means to be honest and good, and to love peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that conveys honesty, goodness and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to the examples that You have set before us of those who lived and those who are now living, blameless and upright, ever seeking Your peace. Amen.

 

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

 

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. – Psalm 37:30

 

 

Remember to Give Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, NIV)

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, ERV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love and His kindness go on forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, TLB)

 

On mornings like this, I need to above all, remember to give thanks. We always have a choice – to fix our eyes on the goodness of God, or on the difficulty of our circumstances. Sometimes, in the moment, particularly on the fourth wake up of the night, it is easy to forget His goodness, and simply get frustrated with the sleep that I am not gaining. However, with the dawning of a new day, and time in the word, perspective is regained and I am again reminded of His goodness and love. Today is another day that I am blessed to have with my mom. Had things gone differently, I would not. Additionally, mom is continuing to make gains in this whole healing process. Yesterday, as she worked with her new physical therapist, Nick, she actually completed 15-20 of the steps with her walker, unassisted; whereas before, she always needed help bringing her right leg through. Right now, she is able to complete three or four steps without help before her hip flexor becomes fatigued, and she needs a little assistance bringing her leg the rest of the way through. Nick had mom rest a moment, reset, and begin again, so that she would truly know and feel that she was indeed walking all by herself. It was so encouraging to watch!

In the morning yesterday, mom was struggling a bit with frustration, as she was discouraged about how terribly slow the progress is with her right arm. I sent a text to one of her dearest friends in town, and her response was that she was just about to message me to inquire about a visit. God knew she needed the boost. Another positive that I was able to pass on to mom, was that my husband had dreamed about an interaction with mom the night before, and in his dream, they were joking around about something (probably banter about our favorite family game) and she reached up and over with her right arm at him. It had been very vivid and clear, and I shared it with her, receiving it as a glimpse of good that is yet to come. Regardless of our circumstances, God is good, and His kindness goes on forever. May we give Him thanks and trust in Him, rather than on the temporary that is seen.

 

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In each circumstance;

Our reason to rise,

And strength to advance.

In everything,

The Lord shall be near;

With kindness and grace,

Help us persevere.

Trial and triumph,

He’s present in all;

Trustworthy always,

He’ll not let us fall.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your love and kindness endure forever. Thank You that Your character and faithfulness are not dependent on our circumstances. Forgive us for forgetting how very faithful You are. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rest in Your presence and gain strength from Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us through both trials and triumphs, as goodness and grace are always needed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for who You are and how You love both now and forevermore. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 106:1

 

 

Persevering Pursuit

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. – (James 1:4, TLB)

 

We are ever a work in progress. It is through the deadlines, difficulties and distress, that we mature and grow in patience and perseverance provided by the Lord. Through dependence on Him, our character is strengthened, lacking nothing, so that we may be mature and complete, becoming the person that God calls us to be. Our part is to stick with it; to not grow weary in trusting the Lord. Patience produces the good that God intended in us and through us. May we ever persevere as we press on in all that we are called to do. God provides all that is needed as we lean into Him.

 

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In faithful pursuit;

Real perseverance,

As we trust what’s true.

Patience produces,

Our growth in the Lord;

And He grants us strength,

Each need He’ll reward.

What He has started,

The Lord will see through;

As we follow Him,

His word’s proven true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to persevere. Thank You that each time we press in, You grow and refine us to more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for our lack of follow through when things grow difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever persevere in pursuing the path to which we are called. Show us how to love those around us in a way that further grows us in character, full and complete in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we persevere in the power that You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. – Hebrews 10:36

 

Trust in the Battle

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

“You will not have to do anything but stay calm. The Lord will do the fighting for you.” – (Exodus 14:14, ERV)

“God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut! “- (Exodus 14:14, MSG)

 

Some days, as an educator, I have to make difficult decisions that include referrals for kids who make poor choices. Yesterday, I had a student behave in a way that I had not witnessed prior, yet it was something that could not be neglected. After reporting the issue to one in charge of discipline, I was strongly encouraged to call the young man’s parent to inform them about what had taken place. In the moment, it didn’t settle well, but I went ahead and did as I was asked. To my surprise, the parent of the student was fiercely defensive of her son, and went so far as to accuse me of “picking on her son.” I tried to let her know that it was an obligation on my part to write a referral, but there would be an opportunity for discussion so that the young man could explain what had transpired. Surprisingly, her anger would not subside, and ultimately, she hung up. For a time, I was rattled. My character had been called into question for reporting what I had witnessed. It took some time and a bit of debriefing with my husband, before I could truly settle in and trust that I had done what was right. This morning, this is exactly the reminder that I needed. When battles rise before me, I can only do my part and then have to trust what remains, in His hands. He will show me what to say and when to be silent. God is faithful, no matter what we see or hear, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. May we place our battles in His hands, and be silent until He grants us words to speak. For He is good, and His love endures forever.

 

There is no battle, trust in the battle

Too great or too small;

In His mighty hands,

He’ll help us with all.

Sometimes our fighting,

Is found in “be still”;

To wait in silence,

Let God work His will.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s word is true;

He’ll love as we wait,

Choose trust what He’ll do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder of Your faithfulness when we are uncertain of the battles before us. Thank You that we are to place all in Your hands, and allow You to lead us and guide us, trusting that You have our very best in mind. Forgive us for feeling that we must always fight, when sometimes, we are meant to wait, be still, and witness what You are going to do. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of the battle, granting strength and hope and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our difficulties in Your helping hands, and choose trust You to be Lord of all. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

All Praise is Due

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, NIV) 

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, 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. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. – (Luke 1:68-69, VOICE) 

 

These verses are a portion of Zechariah’s song, which are sung in a praise-filled celebration of sorts, following the birth of his son, John (the Baptist). As a faithful follower of God, Zechariah understood the significance of all that was taking place, as it had long before been foretold. The birth of his son was the prelude to the coming of Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer and Savior. Zechariah’s stretch of silence, after his holy visitation that left him mute, ended with the faithful obedience of writing down the name he was told to give his son. The first thing he did with his reopened lips was give glory and honor to God for His faithfulness. May we each embrace the incomprehensible grace that came to us through a virgin birth, and praise the Lord for being faithful to fulfill His promises forever. 

 

All praise to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

For all praise is due; 

For what He promised, 

Was provided true. 

A Savior to come, 

The Light for mankind; 

Entered a baby, 

Yet fully divine. 

The hope of the world, 

Had come down to earth; 

To set captives free, 

And grant us rebirth. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You for those who set the example of recognizing who You are and how You love. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same God who set aside His throne to be God-with-us, still dwells within the hearts of those who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on You for all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for Your faithfulness, and conveys Your heart and character to all those with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wonderful things that You have done to extend Your grace and send us Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Heard in Silence

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Lord is faithful,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

He sees and He hears;

Each time that we pray,

He listens, comes near.

God hears more than words,

He knows each heart cry;

Prayed in the stillness,

Where His hope stands by.

God always listens,

When people choose pray;

He loves and forgives,

And shows us the way.

 

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

 

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

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