The Priority of Knowing and Loving Jesus

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV)

This is what the Lord says: “The wise must not brag about their wisdom. The strong men must not brag about their strength. The rich must not brag about their money. But if someone wants to brag, then let them brag about this: Let them brag that they learned to know Me. Let them brag that they understand that I am the Lord, that I am kind and fair, and that I do good things on earth. I love this kind of bragging.” This message is from the Lord. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ERV)

God’s Message: “Don’t let the wise brag about their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know Me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are My trademarks.” God’s Decree. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, MSG)

This ought to be our priority – knowing and understanding who God is and how He loves. Everything good that we have in our lives is a gift from God. Every blessing, every help, and every hope – all come from Jesus. May we ever prioritize knowing and loving Jesus, for it is through this knowledge and love that we find understanding and recognize the abundant blessings that are ours in Him. Understanding who God is and how He loves shifts our perspective on everything. For example, when there is an illness or struggle, we can either think, “Woe is me,” or we can pause and praise Him for bringing us through it and showing Himself faithful again and again. Additionally, knowing God helps us recognize that every good and perfect gift has come from Him. In all things and at all times, may we seek to know and love Jesus more.

Lord, help us to see,

All that we’ve received;

The blessings You give,

Perfect loyalty.

Love in abundance,

Peace and eyes to see;

Plentiful blessings,

Granted lovingly.

In everything,

You bring forth Your good;

Your help, love and hope,

Your grace, understood.

Help us to make it,

Our priority;

To know and love You,

And ever seek Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us far beyond what we can fathom. Thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to know and love You more. Forgive us for not making it a priority to know You more; for it is through knowing You that we love more deeply. Show us how to prioritize our time with You so that You can transform our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your goodness and love. Lead us in our pursuit of You and our interactions with those around us. Make Your love and understanding grow greater each day that we draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we prioritize knowing and loving Jesus. Amen.

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

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Give Praise

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV)

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His Holy Name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His Holy Name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG)

So far, it has been a strange winter break. My love and I spent Christmas morning driving south to my sister and brother-in-law’s home to enjoy time together with their family and my mom. My kids were unable to go, as they were recovering from a virus and did not want to share it with mom. Yesterday, we spent a few hours helping organize and set up mom’s new place near my sister. Change can be overwhelming yet being close to family in a space that is equipped to help and support mom well, is a positive change, as she was alone far too often. It is a tremendous blessing that mom was able to get in, as there is a long wait list to move into her new place. I mention these things because though not typical, I can see and celebrate God’s blessings through it all. For my kids, they had down time to rest and relax, and for us, we were able to visit and help, even with a quick turn-around. This morning, my love is back to work, and I am back to running practice for my gymnasts. I still have another week off from teaching, but coaching continues throughout. There is joy in this as well. Another praise is that my surgeries went well, and I am on the mend. The specialist was confident that she removed all the cancerous cells, and the reconstructive surgery of the site is healing nicely. For all these things and more, I am truly grateful to God and cannot help but give Him thanks and praise. May we ever bless the Lord and give Him thanks, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

All praise be to God,

I lift up His Name;

For all that is good,

His grace to proclaim.

Through all things that come,

On this road we take;

God will be faithful,

For a way He’ll make.

Faithful through valleys,

And on mountain tops;

He will never leave,

Our struggles He swaps.

He exchanges dark,

With glorious light;

Grants peace with presence,

In Him we delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have so much to be grateful for in You. Forgive us for the times that we forget our blessings and focus on what we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful to respond each time we call on Your Name. Show us how to praise You in all things, especially through how we choose to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the countless blessings that You bring into our lives and for the love that You show. Amen.

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

Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. – 1 Kings 8:56

Bloom Under Pressure

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – (James 1:2-3, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. – (James 1:2-3, ERV)

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. – (James 1:2-3, VOICE)

I most appreciate the Voice translation of this particular passage, as it is far easier to relate to finding joy in the midst of our trials, rather than considering them joy. The older I get, the more I both witness and experience this truth. Between the progression of aging in both us and our parents, the frequency of trials and health challenges in our lives and those of dear family and friends around us seem to be on the rise. What I continue to witness is faith rising up, and joy found in the midst of unpleasant circumstances as patience and endurance are provided. God is faithful to meet us every step we take, be it through the deepest valleys or on the highest peaks. One of the greatest things that I am continuing to learn is that God provides people that lighten our loads – be it physically, emotionally, or financially in the center of our storms. Throughout the early days and weeks following my mom’s stroke, people sent notes, called, encouraged and lifted up, which strengthened us and brought joy in the midst of the fearful unknown. On Thursday, I was supposed to have a consultation with a surgeon about a procedure to remove cancerous cells from my upper lip. The appointment turned into a bigger biopsy than I had previously had, and resulted in a couple of stitches, with further surgery still looming ahead. Incredibly, I feel total peace about the ultimate outcome of all this. My trepidation lies in the process. Even with the unanticipated procedure, God provided a kind staff that blended humor and compassion perfectly for me. Despite the unpleasantness of the process, their demeanor set my heart at ease and I left the appointment with much gratitude for those charged with my care. Additionally, I had a conversation with a colleague and friend whose father had undergone something similar to what is in store for me, and she was able to share great encouragement as he had minimal scarring and complete success. God is good and He uses our circumstances to grow and encourage us as He strengthens us with His overwhelming love. May you be encouraged by His goodness and kindness, even in the midst of challenges, today and always.

In heartache and joy,

Challenges and peace;

The Lord is near us,

And strength He’ll increase.

Through each new trial,

Faith He will increase;

As we choose to trust,

His power’s released.

In the dark spaces,

Keep seeking His light;

Endurance will bloom,

To joy and delight.

Delight in moments,

Where His love is clear;

Trust in the process,

God is always near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use our trials and challenges to grow us in strength and endurance. Thank You that You provide joy, even in the most difficult circumstances. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the midst of the unexpected trials that we face. Teach us how to lean into You for strength and endurance as we navigate whatever comes our way. Show us how to encourage and support those around us well, so that they may see tangible evidence of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our strength in the struggles, and praise You for Your provision of joy despite our circumstances. 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

The Purpose is Love

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, NIV)

My purpose in telling you to do this is to promote love – the kind of love shown by those who are pure, who do what they know is right, and whose faith in God is real. – (1 Timothy 1:5, ERV)

Our teaching about this journey is intended to bring us to a single destination – a place where self-giving love reigns from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and  genuine faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, VOICE)

Our call, command and purpose is to love. This is not merely some romantic love or infatuation, rather God’s love is sincere, from a pure heart and a genuine faith, that ever seeks to lift up, do right, and encourage the best in others. I imagine we all can think of people who have shown us love like this. Those individuals are God’s gifts to us. Each models what it means to love as God intended, and their loving kindness has been and continues to be an encouragement to do the same. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, purify our hearts, cleanse our conscience, and grow in a genuine faith.

The purpose is love,

In all that we do;

Our ultimate goal,

To learn to love true.

For God has shown us,

What it is to love;

Without conditions,

He gives from above.

Love overwhelming,

With goodness and grace;

It meets us always,

As we seek God’s face.

May we learn to love,

With hearts that are true;

That choose give freely,

As we’re called to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love, not out of our own selfish desires or ambitions, but rather from a pure heart, clean conscience, and genuine faith. Thank You that this is not dependent on our own reserves, but rather is endlessly supplied as we seek You. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love. Teach us how to love in every situation and circumstance. Show us how to love each person we encounter in a way that demonstrates Your goodness to them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and grow us in Your love, and as a result, give love to all as You have designed us to do. Amen.

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

I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me. – Psalm 40:8

Comfort and Joy

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – (Psalm 94:19, HCSB)

I was very worried and upset, but You comforted me and made me happy! – (Psalm 94:19, ERV)

When I was upset and beside myself, You calmed me down and cheered me up. – (Psalm 94:19, MSG)

When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul. – (Psalm 94:19, VOICE)

The psalmist who penned this Psalm knew and understood the nature of God, individually; personally. Throughout time, this has remained true. Whenever we worry, find ourselves anxious or upset, or become overwhelmed with cares, as we slow down and seek the Lord, He brings us comfort and joy, even in the midst of circumstances that are not ideal. God is good and loving and kind, and He provides comfort in our cares and peace in our spaces of unrest. His love has brought joy in the midst of horrible situations. 

A few years ago, my mom suffered a massive stroke. The circumstances and situation surrounding it were devastating. However, God made a way for me to be with her and to spend the first few months following the incident with her. He brought joy and laughter to us both, even in the most challenging of circumstances. We were able to delight in simple things, and His goodness and grace were overwhelmingly apparent. It has been a roller coaster of a road to recovery ever since, but all the while, God has brought comfort and joy to us all each step of the way. 

May we ever look to the Lord when we feel our cares compounding, for He is faithful to meet us in our moments, as He shows us His goodness and love, and comforts us with true joy that comes from Him alone.

The Lord brings comfort,

Sunset on Oahu. ❤

When chaos surrounds;

He’s peace that’s present,

And love that astounds.

God grants us His joy,

In the midst of pain;

He lightens our load,

And shows us He reigns.

When worry creeps in,

And peace slips away;

Seek the Lord Jesus,

For He is the way.

The way to know joy,

When it seems so far;

His love overwhelms,

Wherever we are.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You meet us in our chaos and anxiety and bring us comfort and joy. Thank You that You are our peace in all things and at all times. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to flood our hearts with anxiousness and fear. Teach us to turn to You in all things, and to trust You to lead us through with Your goodness and strength. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we might be bearers of joy and comfort in challenging times. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in all things and at all times, knowing that You alone are our source of comfort and joy. Amen.

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

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. – Isaiah 49:13

The Lord’s Great Works

Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. – (Psalm 111:2, NIV)

The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. – (Psalm 111:2, HCSB)

The Lord does wonderful things, more than anyone could ask for. – (Psalm 111:2, ERV)

The works of the Eternal are many and wondrous! They are examined by all who delight in them. – (Psalm 111:2, VOICE)

The works of God are always something to delight in as we ponder all that He has done. It takes but a moment to create a long list of how the Lord has moved in my life and the lives of those around me. He is good, and He does wonderful things for all who seek Him. All things, great and small, He uses to bless and encourage us to trust in Him. Even something so simple as peace in our household, God cares and can make it happen. 

We were among the many that adopted puppies during Covid. First, we were able to get a sweet male yellow lab. He came to us at seven weeks, and has been an energetic spaz ever since. Four months after bringing Thor home, a friend of mine was fostering my husband’s dream dog in Arizona. After much discussion and deliberating, we were able to bring home a sweet and feisty blue nose little girl. At this point, Thor was nearly nine months, and Tali was a bit over four months. In the beginning, the two were fast friends. However, several months later, we began having issues with them brawling. Not just wrestling, but fighting that drew blood. It was an agonizing six months or so of having to alternate every hour, which dog was upstairs and which was downstairs in their own crate. Slowly, we began reintroducing time together, and it was solidified best when they were walked together on a splitter leash. 

Now, all these months later, the two still like to wrestle and play, but we have learned what to do if one is a bit amped up to calm them down, and to get them to give each other space. They truly love each other, and Tali wants her big brother to play every waking moment of every day. This is a small example of God’s faithfulness and wondrous works, as at one point, we were not sure we would be able to keep them both. God cares about even the small things. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom and strength, and watch and wait as He moves in wonderful ways.

The Lord is so good,

His love wonderful;

His heart is for us,

He cares about all.

He loves beyond words,

All created things;

He blesses with peace,

His goodness He brings.

When we look around,

And see how He’s moved;

Our hearts overflow,

By how love is proved.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your wonderful works in our lives. Thank You that You love us and care about all aspects of our lives. Thank You that You see and know, and You give us Your strength and endurance to keep moving forward to the good that You have in store for us all. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of fortitude when things are challenging. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our strength and peace as we patiently  wait. 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 reflect on the wondrous things that You have done and place our trust in You for all that lies ahead. Amen.

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

For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth. – Psalm 26:3

Belief Makes Right and Confession Saves

One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. – (Romans 10:10, HCSB)

Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in Him, and so we are saved. – (Romans 10:10, ERV)

Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that’s right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. – (Romans 10:10, VOICE)

I am so thankful that it is our belief and trust in God that makes us right with Him, and our expression of this belief that saves us, rather than some sort of performance rating that has to be earned. As we trust in the Lord, we desire to do what pleases Him. That being said, we all fall short. Thankfully, it is not about what we do or don’t do to earn His grace, but rather He freely gives, and because of it, we rise. May we ever seek to know God more so that we might trust Him more deeply and confess our faith more freely. 

With hearts we believe,

That God is what’s true;

Faithful confession,

Salvation ensues.

It is by His grace,

That we are made right;

And because of this,

In Him we delight.

The more we pursue,

The more we can see;

The Lord’s faithfulness,

Hope eternally.

To choose to have faith,

Trust what we can’t see;

Leads to evidence,

He shows tangibly.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust in You and profess that You are Lord, we receive Your grace and gain the hope of eternity. Thank You that though we cannot see You, it is not blind faith. Thank You that there is evidence of who You are and how You love all around us, if only we open our eyes to see. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Thank You that You are not offended by our questions. Show us more and more of who You are and how You love, so that we may represent Your love well to those around us. Teach us how to love everyone whom we encounter as You would. Give us Your goodness and grace to share. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with all that we are and confess aloud our love and trust in You, our hope forever. Amen.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Take Time to Delight

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

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

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

Even in difficulty, there is an opportunity to taste and see how good God really is. Yesterday, despite my gnarly case of seasickness throughout our day of fishing, the smile on my Viking’s face as he caught fish and lived in the moment, made it all worthwhile. It is far too easy to get caught up in the to do lists and what lies ahead, but when we slow down and simply revel in the right now that the Lord is providing, there is joy and goodness and grace. Additionally, the blessing of a bountiful catch by both of us will put fresh fish on the table throughout the coming months. Each time we prepare it, we will remember God’s goodness and provision. May we ever look to the Lord to truly see, for He shows us, again and again, how good He really is.

Take time to delight,

In all that is good;

For the Lord provides,

His love understood.

The goodness we taste,

The beauty we see;

By His loving hands,

For you and for me.

Each time we slow down,

And run to His good;

We find true blessings,

How God’s love withstood.

Even in trials,

He shows us beauty;

Goodness and His grace,

His love tangibly.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can taste and see how good You truly are. Thank You that Your goodness and grace are not limited to good times, but rather You show us Your love in all things if only we look and listen. Thank You for the beauty that surrounds us, and for showing Your creativity as we witnessed whales and porpoises and a giant sunfish during our day at sea. Forgive us for the times that we fail to look to You when things get difficult. Teach us to always look to You in all things and at all times, for You are always faithful to meet us when we call on You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how very good You are. Amen.

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

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. – Psalm 37:4

The Port of Peace

He stilled the storm to a murmur, and the waves of the sea were hushed. They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet. Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for. – (Psalm 107:29-30, HCSB)

He stopped the storm and calmed the waves. The sailors were happy that the sea became calm, and He led them safely to where they wanted to go. – (Psalm 107:29-30, ERV)

He commanded the storm to calm down, and it became still. A hush came over the waves of the sea, the sailors were delighted at the quiet, and He guided them to their port. – (Psalm 107:29-30, VOICE)

I feel like this is a perfect parallel to the end of the school year. The chaos and craziness of teaching through a pandemic, as the waves roared around us, are being silenced. At 10:30 today, teachers will be rejoicing as calm comes and we make our way into the peaceful harbor of summer. In the same way that educators have been carried through this crazy school year, God carries us through our most tumultuous storms. Challenge, heartache, illness, loss, and places we are lacking, God meets us where we are and walks beside us to the other side. There were days early on in the school year that I questioned my profession and purpose. Somehow, a way was made and things did improve. I have much hope that next year will be far better than this one. Kids will have become acclimated to being back at school, and two grade levels of students will have had a full school year on campus as they return. May we ever seek our Savior who is the calmer of the storms, and the One who is our safe harbor in whom we can delight.

With merely a word,

The storms had to cease;

Into safe harbor,

As calm is released.

Both throughout the storm,

And when the calm comes;

God will be with us,

The most Holy One.

Our anchor that holds,

No matter the waves;

Our Guide to safety,

Throughout all our days.

Now the safe harbor,

Is plainly in sight;

May we give Him praise,

Our strength and delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can calm our chaos with merely a word, and lead us to safe harbor when the storms rage around us. Thank You that You strengthen and support us, and lead us through to places of peace. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when the storms last longer than we think they should. Teach us to ever trust in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that provide safe harbor and extend Your perfect peace, even when storms rage around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our anchor and our Guide throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety. – Psalm 4:8

All Through Him

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. – (Romans 11:36, HCSB)

Yes, God made all things. And everything continues through Him and for Him. To God be the glory forever! Amen. – (Romans 11:36, ERV)

Everything comes from Him; everything happens through Him; everything ends up in Him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. – (Romans 11:36, MSG)

As we draw ever closer to the close of what has been the most challenging school year yet, I cannot help but give God praise for all He has done throughout every day. He has provided strength in our weariness, and hope in spaces of despair. Today, we begin the twenty-day countdown. Twenty more school-day wakeups and the year will be done. I don’t know about you, but when the days remaining are countable on our fingers and toes, it seems far more manageable. This morning, as I prepare for my day, not only do I present my requests for strength and peace and patience and love, but also, I give God praise for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. May we rise with purpose and make the most of each day that we draw breath.

Twenty days remain,

Home stretch…

Until we are through;

Year never-ending,

Almost done, it’s true.

God has been faithful,

To provide our needs;

His grace, sufficient,

And His love exceeds.

On the darkest days, 

In Him, was still light;

The song in our hearts,

Hope, love and delight.

Let us choose rise up,

With purpose, go forth;

Love one another,

And bask in God’s warmth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all things are in You, from You, with You and through You; for You lead, guide, sustain and strengthen us to do more than we ever hoped or imagined. Forgive us for losing sight of the truth of who You are and how You carry us when our strength is gone. Teach us to trust and praise You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they may know glimpses of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You forever for who You are and how You lovingly lead us through all things. Amen.

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

All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. – John 1:3