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

Accept One Another

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – (Romans 15:7, NIV) 

Christ accepted you, so, you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV) 

You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as His partner. – (Romans 15:7, TPT) 

Accepting one another as Christ accepts us, means choosing to love, regardless of the former reasons that may have kept us apart. Our charge is to choose to love. Love does not tear down because of differences of opinions, lifestyles, philosophies, or the like. Christ is our ultimate example, and He chose those whom society would have considered ill-equipped to partner with the Son of God. If Christ can welcome those whom the world did not, shouldn’t we? God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. Every one of us who seeks the Lord and grants Him access to our heart and life, is able to walk in His will and choose to love and welcome those around us. Each day, each hour, and every moment, it is a choice. May we ever seek the Lord to grant us His heart and His eyes for those around us so that we accept and welcome one another as He does for us. 

The Lord is calling, 

For us to rise up; 

To love each other, 

Fill each other’s cup. 

May we choose partner, 

With God and accept; 

All those around us, 

None more and none less. 

For in the same way, 

God’s love knows no bounds; 

We’re asked to choose love, 

So His love is found. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us over and over again how to accept and partner with one another. You did not call people who had it all together, but rather You equipped those whom You called. Forgive us for the times that we have avoided accepting or partnering with others because their views did not align with our own. Teach us to seek and trust You to lead us in love. Show us how to love in a way that accepts others and builds them up, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in loving and accepting those around us as You do. Amen.  

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

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

All Through Him

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. – (Philippians 4:13, NIV) 

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. – (Philippians 4:13, ERV) 

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. – (Philippians 4:13, VOICE) 

Well, today was clear evidence of exactly what this verse conveys. Despite feeling as if I were drowning in a sea of screen switching and multitasking, my first day of remote teaching was completed, albeit, rough and raw with countless flaws. Seeing and interacting with my new groups of sixth graders, made the struggle worthwhile. They answered questions, followed along, and even asked for my help to navigate to their next class or activity. His strength was present throughout, as I persevered in spite of the snags, and I have fresh resolve to try again tomorrow, trusting that I can only improve from here. So, for today, I can be content in our current circumstance and trust that He will continue to give me the strength I need for each new day. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He supplies all that we need to do what we are called to do. 

PowerPoints, attendance, 

And “chatting” with all; 

The margin for flaws, 

Is truly not small. 

Yet, in the crazy, 

His strength is enough; 

To keep pressing on, 

Even when it’s tough. 

So, dig deep, listen, 

Trust we can do all; 

Not in our own strength, 

In His, who holds all. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can do all things in Your strength, as You call us to do. Thank You that our capacity to do difficult things is not dependent on our ability, but rather on Yours. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters in the face of adversity. Teach us to trust You and draw strength from You. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they too, may discover how much can be accomplished in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, knowing that we can accomplish more than we could hope or imagine, when we place our lives in Your hands. Amen. 

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

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Strengthened and Joined Together

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, NIV) 

I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love and to have the full confidence that comes from understanding. I want them to know completely the secret truth that God has made known. That truth is Christ Himself. – (Colossians 2:2, ERV) 

I am contending for you that your hearts will be wrapped in the comfort of heaven and woven together in love’s fabric. This will give you access to all the riches of God as you experience the revelation of God’s great mystery – Christ. – (Colossians 2:2, TPT) 

The more we are encouraged in heart and united in love, the better we understand the truth of who God is and how He loves, as we witness and experience the overwhelming love of Christ through those whom He has placed in our lives to love. Incredibly, if we love others as we are loved by God, they too begin to grasp how deep, how wide, and how long His love truly is. God is gracious and kind, and He encourages our hearts and unites us in love, by His goodness and grace. The more closely I walk with Christ, the more deeply I understand the fulness that is found in and through Him. He has given me grace after grace, as He has made His love tangible through those whom He has placed in my life. My hope and prayer is that I too, may encourage and help others know unity in His love, as His goodness and love is made known through how I live, love and interact with those around me. May we ever seek the Lord for understanding, so that our hearts are strengthened and joined together in love. 

Lord, may every heart, 

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Find comfort in You; 

As love wraps around, 

Shows Your heart of truth. 

For O the riches, 

Held in the Lord’s hands; 

Outstretched to us all, 

This love He has planned. 

May we join as one, 

One heart and one mind; 

Focused on loving, 

So Your joy we’ll find. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your intention for us is to encourage and love one another, in the same way that You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld encouragement or have not loved as You call us to love. Teach us to ever seek to know You more, as it is through our seeking that You show us more of You. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to encourage and love like You. Amen. 

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

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Joy and Patience through Faithfulness

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV) 

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV) 

Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times. – (Romans 12:12, TPT) 

My mom is the best example of this verse in action that I know. Despite living in a senior living community that has been locked down since March, she continues to exude joy, hope, patience and faithfulness. The restrictions were loosened for a few weeks, and during that time, both my sister’s family and mine were able to go and see her under strict regulations. We had to all wear masks, and could only visit outdoors, while practicing social distancing. Mom is an affectionate extrovert, so these limitations and long stretches of isolation, are particularly hard on her. I know much of the reason she is still sane is due to her unflappable faith. Currently, they are on total lockdown again, as they are awaiting the results of a second COVID test, to confirm a community member is not COVID positive, after a visit from one of his family members who did end up testing positive. Thankfully, the first test was negative, but they are extra cautious in order to keep all community members safe. This season is long and challenging for many. When we know where our hope is held, joy is present, regardless of the restrictions required to stay safe. For mom, her patience through both the COVID business and her own recovery, is inspiring. There are days that I imagine every breath and every step are offered as prayers – both thanking God for them and asking that He continue to sustain and heal her. May we ever hold fast to the hope that is found in God, for He grants us patience, peace and joy, as we continue to commune with Him in prayer. 

Such a joyful hope, 

Quick squeezes with staff approval, since we were outside and appropriately masked.<3

Is found in the Lord; 

Faithful provision, 

As grace He affords. 

Continue to seek, 

For in Him, we find; 

All that is needed, 

In Him love’s defined. 

Do not give up hope, 

Instead to choose pray; 

God’s faithful always, 

Each night and each day. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible faithfulness through all times. Thank You that we can seek You and commune with You always. Forgive us for our lack of faithfulness when times get difficult. Teach us to trust You and turn to You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us with Your faithfulness, so joy may abound. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find joy in our hope, patience when times get tough, and a loving heart ready to hear us forever. Amen. 

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

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are His house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. – Hebrews 3:6

Listen and Learn

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. – (Proverbs 23:12, NIV) 

Pay close attention to the teaching that corrects you, and open your heart to every word of instruction. – (Proverbs 23:12, TPT) 

Develop a disciplined life. Be attentive so you can be well informed. – (Proverbs 23:12, VOICE) 

The beautiful thing about learning is that it never ends. We are all a work in progress, with much learning and growing to be done. As we choose to be attentive and invest in trustworthy instruction, our minds are challenged and our hearts are transformed. With formal education, there may be a point where we have gone as far as we want or need to go, yet the wisdom and understanding that will propel us forward and transform our hearts and minds, knows no end. When we listen more and speak less, our grasp on the world around us grows stronger, and we are better equipped to love well. This is the space where being invested in Christ and listening to His Spirit within us, is critical. That still small voice within, guides our hearts and minds in how we ought to hear, receive, and act on words of instruction. Learning how to live a disciplined life, empowers us to be attentive to the lessons that our peers, mentors, family, friends and experiences are showing us along the way. Often, our greatest growth comes out of the most difficult of seasons. For many of us, this time of solitude has served to lead us to a greater awareness of the people and world around us. The more we know and understand, the better equipped we are to be agents of change for injustice and inequity, as we learn to love better. May we seek the Lord to guide us, so that we may continue to listen and learn all that He has for us.   

To listen and learn, 

With an open heart; 

Is how to grow wise, 

Treat love as an art. 

For wisdom, it grows, 

As we choose invest; 

Seek understanding, 

And bless as we’re blessed. 

Choose be disciplined, 

Ever seeking truth; 

Throughout our whole lives, 

Not merely in youth. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pay attention, listen and learn. Thank You that You are the ultimate teacher and example for us. Forgive us for the times that we have not listened to Your leading, or have not slowed down to listen and learn. Teach us to be lifelong learners, so that we may grow more and more like You. Show us how to love and listen well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and trust as You lead. Amen. 

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

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. – Psalm 54:4

Wonderfully Made

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV) 

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was. – (Psalm 139:13-14, ERV) 

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank You, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly You know me, Lord! – (Psalm 139:13-14, TPT) 

Every human on the planet has been created intentionally, and knit together beautifully. I am struggling to figure out where humanity determined that one variation or race or people group is less than or superior to another. What is worse, is that the sin that entered in and tainted the perspective of people, one to another, has been perpetuated throughout history. As a member of Christ’s body, it is my responsibility to identify the places within my own heart where bias, prejudice and the like are hidden, so that I may repent and see all people through the Lord’s lens. Additionally, I must not shy away from the ache that this has caused in my sisters and brothers around me. To be and do better, I must actively seek to listen and understand, so that genuine change may occur. If I truly believe that all people have been intentionally and beautifully made, then I must further pursue how to admonish, defend and support every person around me. Because prejudice and discrimination have taken place for centuries, it is meant to be a lifelong process of pursuing change and bringing restoration to all. It begins within our own hearts, but must continue in our neighborhoods, communities, our nation, and our world. Daily, I am gutted as the stories of people’s own experiences as people of color, are being shared. White privilege is real, as I have not had to be fearful or exercise extreme caution in how I navigated my days because of the amount of melanin in my skin. We must listen and learn. I want to be an agent of change in the world, and this must begin with me. Though I cannot control the actions and reactions of others, I can be intentional to listen and read and learn and speak up when I see anyone being treated as less than intentionally and beautifully made. May we seek the Lord for wisdom and perseverance, as we listen, learn and become a better version of who we have been called to be. 

Each human on earth, 

Purposefully made; 

Hand-crafted by Christ, 

In various shades. 

Unique in design, 

Such intricacy; 

Each one fully known, 

Beyond what is seen. 

Lord, give us all eyes, 

That we truly see; 

Equal in value, 

Planned diversity. 

Bring restoration, 

True community; 

Everyone known, 

In love, unity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that everyone has been intentionally and beautifully made. Thank You that You are a creative God, that has made us beautifully diverse and wonderfully unique. Thank You that You call us to appreciate and celebrate the unique beauty and design that You have intentionally made. Forgive us for the times that we have marginalized another person or people group through ignorance or silence. Teach us to be and do better. Help us to view all people through Your lens, and with Your heart to love. Show us how to best love every individual we meet. May we support, encourage and love one another, as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we repent and rise up to truly be the body of Christ. 

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

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Love Builds Up

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. – (Romans 15:2, NLT) 

But do what pleases them and is for their good. We should do whatever helps everyone grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 15:2, ERV) 

Our goal must be to empower others to do what is right and good for them, and to bring them into spiritual maturity. – (Romans 15:2, TPT) 

In order to help others and build them up in the Lord, we must be invested and growing in the Lord ourselves. The more deeply we understand and receive the love He has for us, the better equipped we are to empower others to do what is right and encourage them to be their best selves. I know I keep coming back to loving God and loving people, but this is the greatest command. If we do this, all else will follow. When we love people, we want to help them do what is best for them. When we love God, we want others to know and understand the beauty and blessing that is held in a relationship with Christ. May we invest in our relationship with the Lord and allow Him to grow us in our love, so that we may go forth and love others in the way that He is calling us to love. 

May we choose to love, 

In Christ’s righteous way; 

Building others up, 

God’s grace on display. 

Empower others, 

To do what is right; 

Support, encourage, 

Shine bright, God’s love light. 

For as we love God, 

And love each other; 

Good and grace rise up, 

One to another. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to build each other up and encourage one another. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to build others up. Teach us to invest in our relationship with You, so that we might love as we are called to love. Show us how to best encourage and build up those around us in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to love like You. Amen. 

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

In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling. – Exodus 15:13

To Be Clothed Well

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

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. – (Colossians 3:12, ERV)

You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. – (Colossians 3:12, TPT)

 

The times that I feel like I am the very best version of myself, are those in which I am led by the mercy that God has overwhelmingly shown me, again and again, so that I might interact with others with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Some of these attributes seem to be more abundant than others, and I clearly have “hot buttons” that when pushed, deplete my seeming supply to love as I am called to love. Constant bickering (when my boys were younger), or a teething puppy that struggles with impulse control to nip, are a few of the things if on repeat all day long, wear me down and deplete my capacity to feel merciful. Thankfully, much in the same way that patience and perseverance carried my boys and me through their younger years when they fought often, I know the same is true with this short-lived stage in puppyhood. The Passions Translation version drives it home well for me, as it is an ongoing reminder of how to operate in the struggle: “Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all.” It is a reminder that there is always a root reason for the unwanted behaviors, and through patience, compassion and kindness, a solution may be discovered and better way be made. Incredibly, sometimes, it is merely consistent kindness that transforms the heart of one who needed it most. May we embrace the blessing we behold in knowing that we have been shown mercy unending and love beyond what our hearts can hold, and go forth choosing to be merciful; ever extending compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to all those with whom we interact.

 

Because we are loved, wp-15892942076306151823366680093252.jpg

We need to love too;

Extend great mercy,

Compassion, exude.

With humility,

May we choose be kind;

Gentle and patient,

With others in mind.

May those whom we meet,

Through our love come know;

What God’s love is like,

Through mercy we show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with kindness and compassion, mercy and patience beyond measure. Thank You that because of Your love, we can love others. Forgive us for the places where we are lacking compassion, humility, patience, kindness, gentleness or mercy. Teach us how to love more like You. Show us the places and space where there is a greater need for mercy, compassion, humility, patience, kindness and gentleness, and help us to love in a way that represents Your heart tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love and mercy, and rely on You to help us love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

The Way to Love Well

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Kindness and compassion, love and forgiveness, must be how we allow God to lead us in His grace, if we are to love as He loves us. Mother’s Day, or any other day that is intended to celebrate an individual – be it a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or the like – is a perfect opportunity for these attributes to be extended, especially when what is hoped for is not realized. For example, my incredible husband is a total acts of service guy, his love language is to go above and beyond to do the little things that keep our home running smoothly, and does so without any sort of “honey do” list. In fact, he does things long before I even consider the need for them to be done, and if an issue arises, he fixes it barely after the concern has left my mouth. I, on the other hand, am all about quality time. My heart’s desire is to spend time with the people I love, doing fun things together. Being outdoors, playing games, hiking, walking, biking, going to the beach – you name it – anything together where all those present are engaged, and my heart is filled. As you can imagine, the two methods of expressing love do not always align. Saturday, I did have quality time with the family, and quality time with my love. Sunday, however, turned into a list of things that needed to be accomplished, and it felt as if Mother’s Day was all but forgotten. Now, encouraging words are a close second, and my boys did make a point to speak sweet and encouraging words of their appreciation to me as their mom. They were apologetic about not having a gift, and my genuine reply was about them being my greatest gift, and the two of them continuing to work hard and finish the school year strong would be the best gift they could give.  After a weird lull in the late afternoon, Mark and I spoke about hopes versus reality, and there was kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness extended on both sides by His grace. The evening was concluded with quality time, playing our favorite board game, as love and laughter filled the room, and my heart. We are still learning how to love one another best, and I am certain that it is a lifelong process. Thankfully, we are committed to learning and growing together, and depend on God to guide us in the process. Grace after grace after grace… May we all be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other in the same way that Christ forgives each of us, as we learn to love as we are loved by God.

 

Kindness, compassion, wp-15892063810227564207240281852178.jpg

Forgiveness and grace;

The way to love well,

As we run our race.

In the same way God,

Loves and He forgives;

We’re called do likewise,

To bless as we live.

Extend forgiveness,

Lavishly give grace;

Love as we are loved,

Wherever we’re placed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving through the example of Your Son. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend to others what you so freely give to us. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love those around us well. Amen.

 

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

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2