Agony and Wonder

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. – (Matthew 27:50-51, NIV)

Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. – (Matthew 27:50-51, ERV)

Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart. – (Matthew 27:50-51, TPT)

Good Friday was a day full of agony and wonder. Jesus endured tremendous suffering in the temple courts, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the soldiers, and went on carrying His cross to the horror on the hill. There Jesus was hung upon a cross between two criminals, mocked and rejected, yet all the while chose to remain in place for a purpose. Not only did He bear the weight of all our sin, but He cried out for God to forgive all who caused Him to endure the agony upon the cross. When He had accomplished all that was intended, He cried out to God and gave up His Spirit. Darkness had overcome the land, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split apart. The tearing of the veil was incredibly significant, as the split opened the curtain to the Holiest of Holies, thus removing the barrier between God and people. Christ’s death on the cross removed the sin and shame that had been cause of the need for the barrier from the beginning. Because He bore our sin and shame, our own behavior that created the divide between us and God, had been removed. In the same way that the rocks were shaken and split, our hearts ought to be stirred to split away from that which keeps us from closeness with Christ. May we be intentional to look to all that Christ endured upon the cross, and give Him praise with awe and wonder at the depth of love that would compel Him to bear all of our sin and make the way for a right relationship with God.

Willing to suffer,

He bore all our sin;

To open the way,

Let new life begin.

It was through His pain,

And all He endured;

That we’ve been made clean,

Granted hope secure.

The goodness that day,

Was promised in three;

A soon empty tomb,

Power to set free.

Let’s look to the cross,

Thank the Lord with praise;

Receive forgiveness,

True hope for all days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible love that sacrificed and endured for our sake. Jesus, thank You for suffering in our place to make the way for relationships to be restored with You. Forgive us for every portion of pain that our thoughts, words and deeds heaped upon You on the cross. Teach us to live in the freedom of forgiveness and grace that grows our hearts to love like You. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your heart visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done, still do, and will continue to do, to make the path clear as we seek to serve and honor You. Amen.

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

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

The Blessing of Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, NIV)

But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, ERV)

But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, TPT)

Confessing our sins is meant to be freeing and cleansing. Too often, we get caught up in presenting our laundry list of requests before God, and perhaps praising Him for who He is, but neglect the part of pausing to reflect on places where our thoughts, words or deeds were not pleasing to the Lord. This is not meant to be a space of shame, but rather of recognition of our wrongs and an active, intentional awareness of how we can do and be better, not in our own strength, but with the forgiveness and freedom that our Heavenly Father brings as we ask.  Incredibly, as we ask, He answers. God is faithful to forgive each time we ask, but it is our responsibility to request that He show us where we have fallen short. We all do, as we are all a work in progress. I am so thankful that though there is a long way to go, I am closer than I was before. May we ever come before Christ and confess our sins, for it is in this space that we are set free from the shame and guilt, and turned back to the One who leads us in the ways that He intended.     

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will show us our sin so that we may confess and be cleansed. Thank You that You receive us, cleanse us, and point us on the path that follows after You. Please forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented Your heart well. Teach us to keep short accounts with You so that we may do and be better. Show us how to love with mercy and grace, granting glimpses of Your heart to all who come our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confess our sin before You and follow Your leading to love as we were created to do. Amen.

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

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

What is Really Wanted

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, NIV)

Now, Israelites, listen! What does the Lord your God really want from you? The Lord your God wants you to respect Him and do what He says. He wants you to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, ERV)

So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in His presence in holy reverence, follow the road He sets out for you, love Him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, MSG)

Though these were things asked of Israel as they were in the desert, preparing to move toward the promised land, these are still the same things that God asks of us today. To love and respect the Lord and to serve Him, is the gist of what Jesus told us the commands of God meant. We are called to love God and love people. If we truly love, we will respect, honor, and serve with all that we are. This applies to every aspect of our lives. To love God means to love His creation as well. Everyone we see, and all those whom we encounter, are created and loved by God. As we love God wholeheartedly and seek to do His will, He grows in us the desire to love others as He loves us. May we ever pursue the Lord and His path for our lives, so that we learn to love Him and all people as He intended.

Long gone are the days,

Of Levitical law;

Instead we’re to love,

And of God, stand in awe.

For God has made us,

To give and receive love;

And walk in His ways,

Choose seek the Lord above.

For the more we seek,

We forever shall find;

The ways we’re to walk,

And the grace to be kind.

Lord, help us rise up,

To love all others well;

You are the reason,

That in love we may dwell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan and purpose for us has always been to be in a loving relationship with You and all those around us. Thank You that You show us and lead us in the love we are meant to give. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts and deeds have not aligned with loving You and loving those whom You have placed on our path. Teach us to love, honor and serve You with our whole heart, so that we may grow in love and grace to love well, all those around us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our heart, soul, and mind into loving You and all those whom we meet. Amen.

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

Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:30-31

Wisdom in Seeking

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. – (James 3:13, NIV) 

Are there any among you who are really wise and understanding? Then you should show your wisdom by living right. You should do what is good with humility. A wise person does not boast. – (James 3:13, ERV) 

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his/her example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. – (James 3:13, VOICE) 

Thankfully, I am blessed to be surrounded by some very wise folks. Their example of wisdom, understanding, gentleness and humility, encourage and challenge me to do and be better. Though I know wonderful examples, the ultimate example is Jesus. He walked in wisdom, humility and gentleness, ever reaching out to do good for those He encountered. He helped, He healed, He encouraged, He taught, He loved, He touched, He cared, and He provided – to name a few. If all of us were to seek Him to equip us to follow His example, our lives would be reflections of His. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and teacher, so that we may grow in wisdom and understanding, and humbly and gently walk out our days in His love. 

The gift of wisdom, 

Grows greater with time; 

As we seek to love, 

Keep others in mind. 

A sweet gentleness, 

With humility; 

Extends His goodness, 

Lord, let love lead me. 

Show us Your goodness, 

Lead us in Your grace; 

Grant us Your wisdom, 

As we run our race. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grant us Your wisdom and grace. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You. Teach us to seek You to grow in wisdom and gentleness, so that we may humbly love as You love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness clear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grant us wisdom so that we might do good in humility and gentleness. Amen. 

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

Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

Be Kind to All

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV) 

‘’You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves. This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – (Matthew 5:43-48, MSG) 

Yesterday, the message delivered by one of the pastors at our church, resonated so clearly with me. (Link here, if you wish to listen.) His message mirrored the cry of my heart and what I have felt compelled to and ascertain to accomplish, for as long as I can recall. The bottom line is to love as God loves us. That means EVERYONE! Does this mean that I am successful every minute of every day? No. However, I am ever seeking to learn and grow and be established and rooted more deeply in Christ, so that I may do and be better each day. This is the reason that I refuse to engage in political banter on social media. When it is words being spewed into the oblivion, it seems to get really ugly, really rapidly. There is no capacity to see and hear the heart of the “speaker”, therefore it becomes a matter of attempting to prove why one’s own position is right, and the other is wrong. Kindness and love fall away, and what we are called to do, is far from done. We are not called to attempt to prove why our thinking is right and the other person’s is wrong. We are called to LOVE. Period. End statement. Love acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly. (Micah 6:8) Love is patient, kind, protective, honest, full of hope, and always perseveres. Love does not envy, boast, dishonor others, have a “me-first” attitude, is not easily angered, and does not keep record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Jesus loved the sinners and the saints; shared meals with both the despised and the embraced, and He shared much with the masses. He helped, He healed, He accepted, and He loved. What Jesus did, is what we are called to do. Our charge, as children of the Almighty God, is to LOVE. No matter who it is or what circumstances surround us, we must be kind and figure out how to love. Incredibly, when we ask and actually listen for answers, He will teach and equip us to love as He is calling us to love. Every act of kindness is an investment in others. As we sow love and kindness and generosity, God works in the hearts of those who receive. We are not called to preach at people, but rather we are called to love as Jesus loved. If we do so, according to His call, hearts can be changed and minds renewed. May we seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us each day, so that we may go forth and love one another according to His good and perfect will. 

We are not just called, 

To love those who love; 

But also, those who, 

Challenge us above. 

Jesus has shown us, 

To love enemies; 

For as we choose to, 

Both sides are set free. 

Set free from anger, 

From ugly dissent; 

For kindness disarms, 

Leads us to repent. 

Lord teach us to see, 

Others with Your love; 

To live as You lived, 

Give kindness above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip and empower every willing heart to love as You loved, as we earnestly seek You. Forgive us for the times that our words or deeds did not reflect a love like Yours. Teach us to love both friend and foe in the same way that You love each of us. Show us what it means to love like You, and how to be kind and loving, even to those who make it difficult. May hearts be changed and relationships mended, as we seek to love ALL, as You love us; and may many come into a lasting relationship with You, the One who loves forever. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us in Your love for others. Amen. 

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

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

Awareness of Everywhere

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 23:24, NIV) 

“Someone might try to hide from Me in some hiding place. But it is easy for Me to see that person”, says the Lord, “because I am everywhere in heaven and earth.” This message is from the Lord. 

Am I a God anyone can hide from? Do I not see what happens in secret? Am I not everywhere, filling heaven and earth? – (Jeremiah 23:24, VOICE) 

There is both comfort and concern in knowing that God sees and knows all. Comfort comes in knowing that He is aware of all that causes fear and overwhelms us. Concern exists in the awareness of our own faults and failures. God is gracious, but He knows all that we think, say and do. When we are unkind, complacent or far from exhibiting His heart, we grieve the heart of God. In the same way that a parent grieves when their children stray from the way they know they should go, He too, is saddened. However, just as a parent will love their child all the while, He too loves us, His children. Incredibly, God sees and knows all, and still He loves. Because He loved us first, we too have the capacity to love. The more we know Him, the more we long to bless His heart with our words, thoughts and deeds. If we go off course, we need to confess to Him our wrongs, and He lovingly forgives and receives us into His arms. May we ever be aware of God’s loving presence, as He is faithful to help us navigate well.  

The Lord God above, 

He sees and He knows; 

Whatever we do, 

Wherever we go. 

There’s no place on earth, 

Where He will not see; 

All His creation, 

His vast majesty. 

So, seek the Lord’s heart, 

In all that we do; 

To love as He loves, 

He will lead us through. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You see, hear and know all that we think, say and do, You are present to help and love in all that we do. Forgive us for all that we think, say and do that does not honor You. Forgive us also, for the times that we somehow thought You would not see, or neglected to give thought to Your awareness of all. Teach us to trust and lean into You, so that our every word and deed demonstrate Your loving kindness to all. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your presence and seek to honor You in all. Amen. 

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

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? – Romans 2:4

Protect Well Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, ERV)

So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life. – (Proverbs 4:23, TPT)

 

The condition of our hearts is of utmost importance, for from them flows everything we think, say and do. As time is intentionally invested with God, He refines our hearts to more clearly reflect His own. The more care we place into guarding our hearts from taking in what does not belong, the better the condition of our inmost being, and consequently, the more life-giving our words and deeds become. May we ever guard our hearts so that light, life and love are the things that flow out of our lives.

 

Protect well your heart, Protect Well Your Heart

Give care to each thought;

For from deep within,

Our affections are sought.

If we take in good,

Seek after the Lord;

The same flows from us,

All grace He affords.

Pursue with intent,

God and His great grace;

Allow Him to reign,

As love shapes our ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we come to You and seek You to guard our hearts, You protect and refine us to better reflect Your love to the world. Thank You that in You, there is an overflow to give away. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed anything other than Your truth to have a voice in our lives. Teach us to trust You more so that we would be protected and directed by the light of Your perfect love. Show us how to make room for what You are doing in us to overflow through love to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we guard our hearts and seek Your guidance in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

Filter the Flow

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” – (Mark 7:15, NIV)

“Your souls aren’t harmed by what you eat, but by what you think and say!” – (Mark 7:15, TLB)

“There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him.” – (Mark 7:15, VOICE)

 

The things that surround us do not defile us by their mere existence. It is what we do with what we take in that determines the outcome. Our thoughts, words and deeds are what demonstrate the condition of our heart, not what we eat or where we happen to be planted. We all have a choice as to what we do with what we take in – we either embrace whatever it is and it seasons that which we say and do, or we recognize the need for a Godly filter, and cast aside that which is of no benefit to us or others. May we seek the Lord and His goodness and grace, allowing room for His heavenly filter to decipher what is beneficial and what needs to be let go, so that what comes out of us is wrapped in the love of God.

 

Our heart is the space, Enter With Thanksgiving

Where we all decide;

Which words and actions,

In life, be applied.

It is these choices,

Not things that surround;

That lift or corrupt,

As the truth is found.

May we all choose seek,

The Lord and His grace;

May our words and deeds,

Provide love’s embrace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what is outside of us and even what we take in is not what corrupts us. Thank You that it is a matter of the heart and what we do with our thoughts and actions that determine whether we are walking in line with You or far from You. Forgive us for the times that we have wandered on our own with our words, thoughts or actions. Please repair the damage done by our lack of listening. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would take pause and listen to Your leading in every word, thought and deed. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and guide us in our thoughts, words and actions. May we ever honor You in all that we say and do. Amen.

 

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

 

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. – Psalm 54:2

Called to Be Light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – (Matthew 5:14-15, NIV)

“You are the light that shines for the world to see. You are like a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden. People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house.” – (Matthew 5:14-15, ERV)

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!” – (Matthew 5:14-15, MSG)

 

When we come into a relationship with Jesus, we discover that we are called and created to be His light in the world. The love that He deposits in us is meant to be shared as it illuminates through us. As we allow God room to move and transform, the more clearly His heart can be made known through our words, deeds and existence. Not one of us was created to live in isolation, but rather to be invested in a community where we can live and love in such a way, that His heart is shared and He is glorified through how we live. I imagine we all can think of examples of those who shine so brightly, that others cannot help but be drawn to the loving light that they exude wherever they go. May we walk so closely with God that His love within us, shines through us, as we live and love each day that we draw breath.

 

We’re called to be light,

wp-15793587109953212378564539317630.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To make God’s love known;

Through our words and deeds,

May His light be shown.

The more that we soak,

In God’s holy space;

The more we reflect,

His love and His grace.

Choose walk with the Lord,

Seek His face to shine;

Reach out and love well,

Intended design.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be Your light unto the world. Thank You that You do not desire for any of us to live hidden or in isolation, but to be present and illuminate Your love to those around us. Thank You that Your love within us is greater than the darkness around us. Forgive us for attempting to be hidden or to isolate ourselves when You call us to be invested and present. Teach us to trust the power of Your love to light our way. Show us how to love like You, so that we may shine brightly wherever we go and bless all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your light to shine through our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

Let It Shine

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

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

You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it. – (Matthew 5:16, VOICE)

 

What we do and how we live speak volumes about God. Our choices either point to Him in a positive light, or one that is less than edifying. For some, our light, life, and approach in what we do, is the only exposure to Christ that exists in their lives. How we choose to live, matters. As we invest in our relationship with Christ, our lives are transformed to more clearly reflect His light through how we choose to live. May we ever invest in the Light of the World, for He grows the good within us that fans the flame of our light to shine ever brighter before those around us.

As for Mom, she is happily back in the routine of life with my sister and her family. It is a joy to receive texts and sneak in quick phone calls, as we lovingly laugh about the fun we had shopping with the driving carts and checking in with one another. She continues to build confidence with using her cane, as there has been no looking back. Yesterday marked one whole week of only using a cane as a walking aid! We are celebrating and praising God, as this is remarkable progress in this healing process Mom is walking through. Please continue to pray for strength to return to her right arm and pathways to be made. She is able to move her right arm when it is unweighted in a hydraulic contraption at physical therapy, but she does not yet have the strength to move the weight of her arm on its own. Again, the capacity to move is there, she now needs the strength to be built up and returned to make it all work together. Mom’s positivity and perseverance shine brightly wherever she goes.

 

We are all equipped,let-it-shine.jpg

To rise up and shine;

Embrace all God gives,

Love as we’re designed.

For how we choose live,

Determines the light;

That shines to others,

Through both day and night.

As we choose give good,

God’s love light’s made known;

Darkness fades away,

As kindness is shown.

Let us choose to love,

To live in God’s light;

Extend love and grace,

And do what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be light wherever we go. Thank You that it is not something that we do on our own, but rather it is Your light within us that shines through us, as we trust and follow after You. Forgive us for neglecting to listen to Your leading and doing what serves us best, rather than seeking the good of others. Show us how to be Your light wherever we go. Teach us to love all those around us as Your do. Help us to do the practical and tangible good that blesses hearts and soothes minds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue the path that You make plain before us so that we may shine Your light before those around us through doing good. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you. – Luke 11:36