The Baptizer with the Holy Spirit

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” – (John 1:32-33, NIV)

Then John said for everyone to hear: “I also did not know who the Messiah was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rest on this man. He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” – (John 1:32-33, ERV)

John clinched his witness with this: “I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” – (John 1:32-33, MSG)

Though John was the cousin of Jesus, he did not fully realize who Jesus was until the Spirit of God descended upon Him when John was baptizing Jesus with water. God had shown him that the Messiah would be the One to whom the Spirit comes down and rests upon. Imagine the awe and wonder that John must have experienced as he witnessed the Spirit of God resting on Jesus… Incredibly, when Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised that He would send His Spirit upon all who believed. As we read in Acts, that is exactly what He did. The same Spirit that came and filled the room on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, is the same Spirit that comes and dwells in us as we choose to believe and receive all that God has for us. Furthermore, His power is poured out as we ask Him to move in and through us. May we ever seek the Lord for a fresh anointing of His Spirit so that we may encourage and build up all those around us.

Heavenly Father,

Before You, we come;

Breathe in Your Spirit,

So Your will be done.

Fill us with power,

To love others true;

And move as You move,

So we reflect You.

Release the great gifts,

That Your Spirit brings;

Ever grow our faith,

As we see these things.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You send us Your Spirit so that we may live and love in Your wisdom and power. Thank You that You move among us and through us as we invite You in. Forgive us for not asking or not utilizing what You have already given. Teach us to listen to Your leading as we live out our days and show us how to move as You move so that all might see Your goodness and grace. Lead us to love all whom we encounter in a way that makes Your heart evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invite You anew to come and move in and among us. Amen.

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

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful that I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. – Luke 3:16

The Work of Wisdom

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV)

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

The older I get, the more aware I become of just how short life truly is. Each day is a gift, and we either learn and grow as we go, or life passes us by. Wisdom is the work of God in us as we seek Him to teach us more of who He is and how He calls us to love. To gain a heart of wisdom, we must be intentional to seek the Lord in all things and to trust Him as He walks beside us and leads us in the directions we are meant to go. This does not transpire overnight, but rather is a lifelong process. God has gifted me with access to wise women who have a few years more life experience than me to bless, encourage, challenge and model what it is to ever grow in wisdom. Each are acutely aware that every single day is a gift to be treasured, and their faithfulness models what an ongoing pursuit of wisdom in Him looks like. My hope for the coming year is to ever seek the Lord to grow in His wisdom so that I may walk out my days according to His purpose.

Please teach me, O Lord,

To number my days;

To grow in wisdom,

And walk in Your ways.

I need Your guidance,

Each day that I wake;

To love as You love,

And learn from mistakes.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That all that life brings;

Can be used for good,

Because You’re the King.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we grow and trust You more, we gain wisdom and insight in You. Thank You that You are faithful to show us how You can work all things together for our good, even when our circumstances are not. Forgive us for being flippant with our time and for the times that we have delayed in seeking You. Show us how to turn to You first in all things, and to listen to Your leading. Help us to love those around us as You do, so that all might gain glimpses of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the gift that each new day brings and choose to seek You with intention so that we may continue to grow in wisdom as we go. Amen.

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

Reverence for the Eternal is the first step toward wisdom. All those who worship Him have a good understanding. His praise will echo through eternity! – Psalm 111:10

Compassion and Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, ERV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

Most nights, I wake and have little or no recollection as to what I dreamed about. This morning, however, I woke after having dreamed all throughout the night about the surgery that was just scheduled yesterday. It was neither bad nor good, but rather felt like an abundance of waiting. I imagine that it was sparked by the concern that has been weighing on me since I was told the appointment schedule, and it carried over into my dreams. It is no mystery that I am anxious about what lies ahead, yet I know I am in a space where I must simply trust and go through the process. Though I have never experienced anything quite like this before, I have experienced the unfailing faithfulness of God. God is compassionate and is our comfort, and time and time again, I can share His heart for these things in our lives. He has been with me, provided for me, and comforted me through some of life’s lowest valleys. God stayed beside me, held me up, and provided all that I needed to keep moving forward. In fifteen days, the process will have begun, and in sixteen, it will be complete. Right now, that seems like a very long wait. However, when I look back, it does not feel like gymnastics season is nearly a month in. Even when days drag on, the weeks have flown much more rapidly than realized. Time is tricky, as it goes quickly when we want it to slow down, and it seems to stand still when we desire time to speed up. God is faithful through it all, and when my focus is on praising Him and His goodness, time does not matter. May we ever seek God in all things and at all times, for He is compassionate and provides comfort as each is needed.

Praise be to the Lord,

In all things, always;

For He’s our comfort,

Throughout all our days.

When we are anxious,

We need not give fear;

A foot to stand on,

For God is so near.

His great compassion,

Comfort for the soul;

Soothes us in stillness,

As He makes us whole.

So, trust in the Lord,

Ever give Him praise;

Our hope forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our hearts and our needs far better than we do. Thank You that You are our Comforter, and You are full of compassion for us all. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we face unknowns. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, for You are faithful to go before us, stay beside us, and hold us up when we are unable to move forward without Your strength. Show us how to navigate the unknowns with faith in Your nearness, and grant us wisdom to know how to encourage and walk beside those who are in such spaces. Let Your love be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our every fear and concern in Your capable and compassionate hands, for You are with us and will not leave us. Amen.

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

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

A Life of Love

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – (1 John 3:18, NIV)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE)

The old adage that actions speak louder than words is true. When we are shown love over and over again, we are secure and confident in that love far more than from those who speak love or about love, but do not have actions that align. Some of the best ways to show love are displayed through living out the fruit of the Spirit. Love is patient and kind, it is humble, it honors others, it looks out for others, it is gentle and forgiving. Love celebrates the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. (See 1 Corinthians 13) It is the people that surround me and show me these things that assure my heart that I am loved, seen and known. This weekend alone, I have had several friends reach out with messages and texts to check in and encourage me as I wait on a surgical date. It is the small acts of kindness, the reaching out that remind my heart of God’s goodness and love. May we ever seek to pattern our lives after Jesus, and may love be our true way of life. 

Lord, help us to make,

Love our way of life;

Kindness extended,

An end brought to strife.

Grant us Your patience,

So love’s what we choose;

For one another,

As Your love is proved.

Help us see the ways,

Where we can show love;

May our actions point,

To how Your heart loves.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us that love is an active way of living, not a theory or mere words. Forgive us for the times that our words and actions have not been in alignment with what we know love to be. Teach us how to rely on You to show us how to truly love those around us. Lead us to live a life of love that chooses to reach out and make love tangible for those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to make love a way of life. Amen.

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

But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. – Psalm 59:16

In All Things Praise

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. – (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father. – (Colossians 3:17, VOICE)

This verse, paired with what I know and love about the Psalms, remind me that it is okay to struggle with and lament what is going on, yet we must ultimately fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he questioned, lamented and cried out to God, yet ever kept perspective on who God is and gave Him the thanks that belongs to God alone. Right now, I am still reeling a bit from the prognosis I received from the specialist on Wednesday. I am still grateful that the carcinoma was discovered sooner than later, yet I am very much dreading the process of the prescribed procedure. It is not the pain I fear, but rather my body’s reaction to the process. God is good, and He will supply all that I need, however, my humanity is not looking forward to any of it, and the specialist’s insistence that I be fast-tracked to have the surgery sooner than later, adds a bit of angst as well. This is the space that I can pause and remember God’s incredible faithfulness in my life thus far, and His kindness to provide a long weekend to process and prepare my heart before heading back into the work week. Additionally, there is just enough activity sprinkled in, that I will not have too much time to dwell on what lies ahead. There is time to rest, to spend time with my loved ones, to cuddle my dogs extra often, to coach my gymnasts as they are working on building routines, and to celebrate the retirement of one of our dearest friends. I am missing my mom and sister terribly this holiday weekend, but know that I can joyfully anticipate time together at Christmas. May we ever fix our eyes on Jesus, our Help and our Hope in all things, and give Him all of our praise for His faithfulness throughout all of our days.

O Lord, in all things,

Will You help me praise;

Your great faithfulness,

Throughout all my days.

Each day You are good,

Even when life’s not;

You share our burdens,

Each time that You’re sought.

Thank You for kindness,

For goodness and grace;

For hope and Your help,

On difficult days.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You’re good always;

And Your faithfulness,

Is reason to praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, faithful, loving and kind, and the Provider of all that we need each day. Thank You that no matter what lies ahead, we have You to walk beside us and to carry us when we can walk no further. Forgive us for our fears of the unknown, for You are known in all, even when what lies ahead is not. Teach us to trust You more each day, and lead us to live out each day trusting in Your unfailing love that never leaves us. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us in ways that make Your love tangible and Your goodness evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to praise You throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

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

Trust to Hope Overflowing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, NIV)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, VOICE)

As we trust in Christ, His joy and peace fill us with hope. When hope grows it overflows and reaches those around us through the power of the Holy Spirit. I have several friends who are walking difficult roads that have been clinging closely to Christ. The trust they have has filled them with His joy and peace, and their hope has been an encouragement to me and many that know them. It always amazes me that God can take our challenges and turn them into encouragement to others. How we walk in the midst of life’s trials speaks clearly of the hope we know in Christ to those around us. May we ever trust in Him who is our hope, and may we be filled to overflowing with joy and His perfect peace. 

May hope overflow,

Through all that we do;

As we place our trust,

In that which is true.

The Lord is our peace,

When peace seems beyond;

And joy is present,

For His love responds.

When the road is rough,

God’s faithful to be;

Right alongside us,

Granting us His peace.

May hope overflow,

From us to others;

True joy and sweet peace,

To sisters, brothers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust in You, You meet us, walk beside us, strengthen, encourage, and fill us with joy and peace so that hope in You overflows to those around us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts that creep in when we take our eyes off of You. Show us how to trust You more and more so that hope ever flows out of our every word and deed. Lead us to love and encourage those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to trust You in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. – Psalm 19:8

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

Confident Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. – (Hebrews 11:1, VOICE

Faith is a necessary component to all that we do. When we marry, though we cannot actually see the future or know how life will unfold, we can trust God and have faith that He has brought us together for a purpose and on purpose. With children, we trust in the hope that we have for them to grow and thrive, though we cannot see nor predict the future. By faith, we rise each new day and do our best, trusting that God will do more than we could ever do on our own. Confident hope in Christ and all that He has done for us, is the faith we need to navigate our days well. Just as we cannot see the wind, we know it is there as we see the evidence through how things move. It is the same with Christ. Though we cannot see Him, we can see evidence of His goodness and love all around us. May we hold fast to our faith in Christ, for all that is hoped for comes through Him, and He is the blessed assurance of all that is still unseen.

Faith comes in knowing,

Our hope is secure;

Not in things we see,

In Him, who is near.

Though we can’t see Him,

We know He is true;

His grace and His love,

Are found in plain view.

As the sun rises,

Each day as we wake;

We have a fresh start,

New hope to embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have faith in You, for we are assured of the hope held in You, even though we cannot see You. Thank You that there is clear evidence of who You are and how You love, all around us. Forgive us for our lack of faith when troubles come. Teach us to trust You more, for You are always moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see or fathom what You are doing. Show us how to love and encourage those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to the faith we have in You, for our confident hope is held in Your heavenly hands. Amen.

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

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

Opportunities for Good

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – (Galatians 6:10, NIV)

When we have the opportunity to do good to anyone, we should do it. But we should give special attention to those who are in the family of believers. – (Galatians 6:10, ERV)

So seize any opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family. – (Galatians 6:10, VOICE)

It always amazes me that when we take the opportunity to do good, we end up feeling blessed. Every time I choose to help, extend kindness, walk beside – whatever the good God is showing me to do – I discover my heart is filled and I feel blessed in the process. I imagine that this is why God calls us to be in community. We are provided opportunities to both give and receive His goodness through those whom He has purposefully placed in our lives. May we ever use every opportunity provided to do the good that God intended, for He is faithful to bless and encourage us all as we do.

The Lord is faithful,

To give us the chance;

To do the good things,

Just as the Lord’s asked.

The good that we do,

Becomes a blessing;

To us and to them,

His love expressing.

So, look for the good,

That we each can do;

Opportunities,

To see God’s love true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good. Thank You for providing opportunities for us to walk beside, help, and encourage those around us. Thank You that in the process, we end up blessed with Your goodness and faithfulness in ways we would never expect. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to do the good You were showing us to do. Teach us to trust You and Your leading, for You are faithful to show us each next step. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and faithfulness known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take every opportunity to do the good that You show us to do. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Words to Heal

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, HCSB)

Kind words are like a life-giving tree, but lying words will crush your spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, ERV)

A word of encouragement heals the one who receives it, but a deceitful word breaks the spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, VOICE)

There is something to be said about encouraging words. They truly give life in the midst of difficulty, especially when the one who extends encouragement is genuine. Conversely, devious or deceitful words can be devastating. As an educator, I am witness to both types of communication. Far too often, kids are speaking crushing words to one another. Intentionally, I choose to speak encouragement at every opportunity possible, as my hope is to combat the negative messages they are receiving. The thing is, words have the power to bring life or destruction to all of us. I imagine we all can recall the way words have impacted us. Even if I do not recall the specific things that those who have spoken life-giving words to me said when I needed it most, I do remember how their kindness made me feel. My hope is that I can extend the same to the people whom God places along my path. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to offer encouragement to those around us that is life-giving. 

O Lord, help us speak,

Though I have no recollection of what he said, it is clear how his words made me feel.

Encouraging words;

Words that offer life,

That love may be heard.

Please silence the thoughts,

That need not a voice;

Words that would bring harm,

Let love be our choice.

Lead us in Your love,

To speak as You would;

To lift, encourage,

Choose highlight the good.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that words have the power to encourage and build up. Thank You that as we seek You, You give us words to speak and eyes to see where it is needed most. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken words that have done harm. Show us how to silence the words that wield wounds, and to speak the healing words that You place on our hearts to encourage those around us. Lead us to love people as You do, and use our words to bring light and life and joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us ways to offer encouragement and speak life into the lives of those around us. Amen.

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

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. – John 6:63 (Jesus was our ultimate example of life-giving words)