Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, VOICE)

This morning, at 2:45, as I heard my dog making retching sounds, joy was not exactly what came to mind; sadly, neither was prayer nor thankfulness. As I jumped out of bed and threw on some extra layers to take him outside, I groggily checked to be sure he was okay. He took care of business outside, and returned to his crate to rest. Again, rest did not come. Whining began and would not relent. Finally, after a good fifteen minutes of trying, I gave in and brought my giant pup upstairs. Again, he went outside and then returned ravenous. After he ate, he settled in a bit as I attempted to doze on the couch. When the time was nearing my scheduled wake up, I took Thor back downstairs and returned upstairs to begin my day. My celebration was that I have a roof over my head and that there is coffee in our house to brew. I am thankful that it is Friday, and that I do not need to rise as early tomorrow. God is kind, and shortly after I returned to resume my regular morning routine, my love came upstairs too. In the calm stillness of the morning, I am so grateful to God for another human that can rise early, and find joy and contentment in the silence. Early mornings are something to be celebrated, even when they come far sooner than anticipated. Before long, I will witness the early morning light, as the sun makes its appearance on the horizon. God is faithful to meet us, even in the wee hours of the early morning. He hears our heart’s cry, despite the momentary frustrations when our schedules are disrupted. Today, my heart will rejoice, for I have countless reasons to give God thanks, as I have His light, and life, and hope. May we ever celebrate the goodness of God, giving Him thanks as we are intentional to spend time seeking Him.

May our hearts give praise,

In Christ we rejoice;

Let’s prayerfully seek,

Give thanks with our voice.

No matter what comes,

We’ve reason for joy;

The Lord’s always good,

To thank is a choice.

Today I will choose,

To celebrate Christ;

For goodness and grace,

And loving advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless reasons You grant us to have joy in You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and You supply what we need to navigate each new day. Thank You that You remain present, no matter what comes our way or how our day begins. Forgive us for our frustrations and delay in seeking You when things are thrown off course. Teach us to lean into You and listen to Your heart. Show us how to love those around us in all things, and grant us patience when it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and pray to You, ever giving You thanks for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your Name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:2

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)

Our charge is not to argue and dispute matters on social media, but rather it is to be an example by doing good. The reality is that actions speak louder than words. It is only when upright actions are repeated over time, that one’s reputation speaks for itself. God calls us to do good. If we are loving Him and loving those around us, what weight would foolish words hold? For me, when I know a person’s heart and character and they are continually doing good, no one has a valid voice if they speak ill of them. Character speaks volumes. The more that we seek after God’s own heart and ever work to do good wherever we go, the less anyone has to say against us. May we ever seek the Lord and His perfect will, so that we may do good and silence things spoken in spite.

Actions speak louder,

Than mere spoken words;

Steeped in God’s goodness,

The truth may be heard.

For foolish speaking,

Lacks a valid voice;

When good’s being done,

Acts in love, our choice.

So, let us choose good,

In all that we do;

Let love light the way,

As goodness shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good. Thank You that as we follow You and navigate life through love, foolish talk and ignorant speech is silenced. Forgive us for our foolishness and lack of love. Teach us to seek to do good in all things at all times. Show us how to love in such a way that Your good silences all that is not laden in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to do the good that You call us to do. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Judge Not

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead. Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. – (Romans 14:13, NIV)

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, ERV)

Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. – (Romans 14:13, MSG)

Our culture has become one that is very quick to judge, rather than seeking to understand. We all have been created with a free will. Each person has the choice to make their own decisions and determine their own actions. Our individual charge is to not do things that cause others to stumble or walk away from the path on which they were placed. If we each sought to understand one another, rather than judging, imagine the communities that would be built. I am blessed to be immersed in small communities where there is a seeking to understand. Different views and beliefs are celebrated, not judged. Even in my own home there are varied beliefs, and though at times, debates get heated, at the end of the day, there is love. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in the best decisions for ourselves, and trust that those around us are more than capable of doing the same. Lord, lead us in love.

Judge not each other,

Seek to understand;

The right path for me,

Is not where all land.

God is creative,

For each, there’s a plan;

Individual,

He’ll guide by His hand.

Don’t deter others,

For each must decide;

The way they will walk,

In whom they’ll abide.

No matter choices,

That others choose make;

Our call is to love,

Help mend each heartbreak.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us not to judge, but rather to love. Thank You that as we ask, You are faithful to show us what we are to do, and what we should not. Forgive us for thinking we have a place determining how others ought to follow where You are leading. Teach us not to judge, but rather to seek to understand and to love. Lead us to love those around us always, no matter how different they seem in how they navigate life. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to choose love over judgment, and pursue Your leading to keep from getting others off track. Amen.

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

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. – Matthew 7:7

Purposed To Love

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – (Luke 6:37, NIV)

“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. Don’t condemn others, and you will not be condemned. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” – (Luke 6:37, ERV)

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang.” – (Luke 6:37, MSG)

If Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but rather to save it, how much more ought we do our best to follow His example? We are told in the book of Luke how to follow Jesus’ example. What we give, is the very thing that we will be given in return. We celebrate Easter to remember that rather than being judged, Christ took our place and withstood the punishment we all deserve. He died, so we might live. Incredibly, in His power, He rose again and ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father. In His goodness, Jesus loves, listens and moves on our behalf. There is nothing we have done to deserve His love, yet He loves anyway. It is our call to love in the same way. We cannot judge, condemn and harbor unforgiveness and simultaneously love. May we ever seek the Lord to learn how to love best, and turn to Him every time that we struggle with our opinions of others. To see people through Christ’s lens, is to see and understand the beauty in every being. God created because He loved, He sent His Son, because He loved, and Jesus took the punishment that we all deserved, again, because He loved.

Don’t judge nor condemn,

Or hold onto hurts;

Such things block the way,

From seeing true worth.

For how we choose give,

Will be given back;

Let love be our choice,

Give where there is lack.

Because of Jesus,

We each have been shown;

What God’s love looks like,

He has made it known.

Each word of kindness,

Every good deed;

All love we have felt,

God meeting our need.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to save the world, not to condemn it. Thank You Jesus, for demonstrating what love ought to be. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our hearts to entertain judgement, condemnation and unforgiveness. Teach us to love and embrace ALL people, recognizing the incredible creations that You have made. Every person on the planet was formed and planned with purpose. Show us how to better walk in love, so that all may experience Your goodness, kindness and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek to grow in love and allow You to move and change our view of others to mirror Your own. Amen.

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

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through Him. – John 3:17

Take Joy in the Journey

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done. How great are Your works, Lord, how profound Your thoughts! – (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in! Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all You’ve done for me: what mighty miracles and Your power at work – just to name a few! Depths of purpose and layers of meaning saturate everything You do. – (Psalm 92:4-5, TPT)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. Your works are marvelous, O Eternal One! Your thoughts are unfathomable. – (Psalm 92:4-5, VOICE)

Each new day, we have a choice – we can either focus on our struggles, or we can take joy in the faithfulness of God. Some days, this is more difficult than others. This morning as I woke from a very restless night’s sleep, I found myself frustrated and grumpy. It took little time to ponder how God has provided for what my heart has needed, and I could not help but smile and find myself aware of how God works on our behalf. God’s thoughts and plans are not our own, and He can use every test as a testimony. If I pause and reflect, there have been countless times that the Lord has taken my struggles and turned them into strengths, and He has turned my trials into triumphs. In the midst of my challenges, I must remember that God is faithful and is ever working on my behalf. He does a work in my heart as well, and leads me through whatever obstacle lies before me. The Lord is loving and kind, working mightily in us, before us, and through us, even in the moments that we are oblivious to how He might move. May we ever praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness, even when we cannot see how He will work things out.

The work of Your hands,

Is faithful and true;

You help and hold us,

As You lead us through.

My heart sings for joy,

At all You have done;

Our loving Father,

The Most Holy One.

Help us to reflect,

Remember with praise;

Your presence and help,

Miraculous ways.

Lead us with Your love,

When we cannot see;

How things will work out,

May we trust in Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that Your ways are so much higher than our own. Thank You that You work on our behalf, and lead us through the deserts and valleys that are a part of our journey. Forgive us for not lifting praise when troubles come; for You are always worthy. Teach us to depend on You in faith, and to ever praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and all that You have done, trusting that You will forever remain our faithful Father. 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

Intentional Obedience

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – (Romans 13:10, NIV)

Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:10, ERV)

Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires. – (Romans 13:10, TPT)

If we truly seek to love as we have been designed, we discover that true love makes it impossible to harm another. However, love is a choice. Each of us have been designed with a free will, and we have to be intentional to choose to love. Love is not selective, but rather it is all-encompassing and inclusive. Love may look different for different people, but it always seeks the best for others. Incredibly, as we seek the Lord to lead us in love, He shows us how we are meant to love through each word that we say and everything that we do. As we love as God intended, we are keeping in line with all that He asks of us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love so that we may care for one another as we were designed to do.

To love like the Lord,

Requires a choice;

To treat each other,

With God’s heart and voice.

As we seek to love,

All those whom we meet;

God’s heart is made known,

And love is complete.

Yet still, we must choose,

Love purposefully;

Such obedience,

Sets broken hearts free.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called us and designed us to love each other. Thank You that as we do, we are following what You ask of us. Forgive us for every time that we have neglected to choose love. Teach us to see the opportunities all around us to love as You love us. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to seek You to show us how to love all those around us as we have been called and created to love. Amen.

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

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. – Psalm 117:2

Choose Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV) 

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV) 

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT) 

After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise. 

Be cheerful. Find joy, 

In each circumstance; 

For the Lord grants us, 

Hope and second chance. 

Even in trials, 

The Lord’s always good; 

Grants silver lining, 

His hope understood. 

Each day we’re given, 

Help us to rejoice; 

Joy on the journey, 

Is truly a choice. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen. 

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

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Be Filled With Kindness

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. – (Hosea 11:4, NIV) 

A despondent person deserves kindness from his friends, even though he strays from the fear of the Highest One. – (Job 6:14, VOICE) 

With every sun’s rising, surprise us with Your love, satisfy us with Your kindness. Then we will sing with joy and celebrate every day we are alive. – (Psalm 90:14, VOICE) 

The Lord is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness. – (Psalm 145:17, NLT) 

Kindness is synonymous with benevolent, generous, charitable, sympathetic, compassionate, and tender. The act of being kind, or operating with kindness is to see others where they are and choose to love as God loves us. The four verses that I recorded above, demonstrate a variety of ways to show kindness. Hosea compares kindness to caring for kids – loving and feeding them. Job highlights that kindness is not about giving based on the behavior of the recipient, but rather is a choice to give as God gives. David, in the Psalms, talks about God’s kindness satisfying us to the point where we ought to sing with joy and celebrate the life we have been given. He goes on further to identify that everything the Lord does is filled with kindness. We have a standard set before us as to how we ought to operate in kindness. Kindness sees need and acts upon it in love. I love when popular culture grabs onto something biblical and runs with it. “Be kind” and “Choose kindness” are but a few of the phrases that one can find on t-shirts, posters and mugs, as a battle cry to humanity. Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and a way demonstrate God’s fruitfulness in our lives. As we choose to extend kindness to those around us, we are making God’s love tangible to those who may not know Him. In this long season of uncertainty, there is plenty of room for kindness to be extended. School is going to begin as never before, and parents, students and teachers alike, have reservations and fears, as there are so many questions that need to be answered to successfully navigate it all. The same remains true for businesses, jobs, and making ends meet for so many. Everywhere we look, there is room for kindness. Though we cannot do or be all things, we each can choose to be kind. Kindness may look different to each person that we opt extend it, yet the heart behind each act of kindness must be to love as God loves us. Sometimes, it is simply asking someone how they are doing, and then really listening to their reply. Other times, it is seeing a need and meeting it. Always, kindness is a reflection of a heart of love. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to best be kind to everyone we encounter. 

May true kindness rule, 

And reign in our hearts; 

Let us act in love, 

Each choose do our part. 

In spaces where kind, 

Is needed the most; 

Help our words and deeds, 

Show Your heart is close. 

Close in our chaos, 

Our spaces of need; 

As kindness brings peace, 

If in love, we lead. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your kindness leads us to repentance, which ultimately brings change and beautiful new. Thank You that You show us again and again how we are able to be kind and extend kindness where it is needed the most. Forgive us for the times that we have not opted to be kind. Show us how to choose kindness in every interaction, word and deed. Lead us to love as You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be kind to all. Amen. 

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

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12 

Live Wisely and Do Good

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV) 

So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, ERV) 

So be careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for His purposes. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, TPT) 

How we live matters. To live well requires wisdom and a choice to make the most of every opportunity to do good and live for His purposes. Evil exists in the world, but we can overcome evil with good. We can either allow the darkness to overcome us, or we can be light bearers and bring good wherever we go. No one is perfect, yet we can ever purposefully pursue His best for how we live out our days. When we are intentional to seek the Lord and listen to His leading, we walk in His wisdom and grace that leads us to love as we are loved by Him. May we ever be careful how we live; choosing wisdom and the pursuit of good toward all. 

Choose live carefully, 

Use wisdom and grace; 

To love and do good, 

Throughout all our days. 

Though there is evil, 

True good overcomes; 

Wise, loving living, 

Shows how good is done. 

So, ever pursue, 

God’s purpose for us; 

Be bearers of light, 

Just like our Jesus. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the evil in the world, You are good, and good overcomes every darkness. Thank You that You designed each of us to be bearers of light and to do good. Forgive us for the times that we have not. Show us how to listen to Your leading, so that we may do good and love well. Teach us to love those around us in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You grant us wisdom to do good, regardless of what surrounds us. Amen. 

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

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

Forgive, Listen and Grow

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, NIV) 

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV) 

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act kind. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE) 

Our nation is in a space where forgiveness is needed for all. For many of us, our own ignorance to the magnitude of the problem that still exists in this country is a grievance in and of itself. We must bear with one another in love, as we seek to listen, learn and grow. The enemy is not people who hold a particular profession, nor is it people who protest and take a stand against what is blaringly wrong. There is an enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy, as lies, ignorance and ugliness create division. That sin that has seeped in and wrapped its tendrils around unprotected hearts, has created the heinous atrocities that have transpired over time. Justice must be served, and we must walk in forgiveness with repentant hearts; for we each have played a role in perpetuating the problem, if we have not been actively pursuing better. For many of us, this is a season of awakening to a nightmare that many have been living for centuries. In order to be better, we must listen and learn. For me, this comes in the form of reading everything I can get my hands on, listening to those who have a voice of experience, have honest conversations and self-reflection, so that I may be aware and informed; willing to forgive my own ignorance, as I move forward with intention and honesty. Rather than lashing out with accusations and ugliness, how can we have hard conversations and speak truth to those in our circles who need to hear? Forgiveness does not mean ignoring nor sweeping things under the rug, but rather it is a commitment to not hold hostility in our hearts toward others, and choose to kindly come along side people and help them see the truth. Some will not listen. Love anyway. Others will be slow to see the truth. Love anyway. To choose to love is the only way that true change can occur. Jesus reached out, spoke, touched, and loved all people. There were no qualifiers to Him loving, rather He saw needs and met them. As He loved the people whom society had deemed “less than”, Jesus modeled what we are all meant to do. There are none less nor more valuable than others. We are all precious in His sight. Sadly, we are in a space where there has been such injustice against people of color, that it is necessary to draw specific attention to the wrongs so that change may transpire. We must be and do better. None of us will ever get everything right, but if our hearts are for ALL, and we are actively seeking to listen, learn and grow, we will be agents of change for the better. May we seek the Lord for forgiveness, so that we may forgive ourselves and one another as we move in love toward what God intended all along. 

The choice to forgive, 

To listen and grow; 

Is how we are called, 

So truth may be known. 

Instead of anger, 

Let’s have open hearts; 

That true repentance, 

Finds a way to start. 

As we’re forgiven, 

May we do the same; 

Love one another, 

In Jesus’s Name. 

Love with true kindness, 

Without fear to speak; 

Truth for what is right, 

God’s will, ever seek. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are called to bear with one another in love, and choose forgive. Thank You that forgiveness does not mean permission to repeat wrongs, but rather it is us not holding onto past wrongs that weigh us down and prevent us from moving forward in all that You are calling us to. Teach us to do and be better, so that all may live and love in freedom, without fear. Show us how to love those around us better. Lead us to repentance so that reconciliation may transpire. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the true healer and reconciler of all. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and grow in love for one another. Amen. 

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14