Justified and Redeemed

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

All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. They are made right with God by His grace. This is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. – (Romans 3:23-24, ERV)

You see, all have sinned and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 3:23-24, VOICE)

Because of the events of this most Holy Week, we all have access to forgiveness, grace, and redemption from our sin. On our own, we cannot live right every moment of every day. However, when we seek and accept the grace that God has freely given through Jesus, we are made clean and holy before God – not because of anything that we have or have not done, but because He who knew no sin dwells within us and has already paid the price that our sins deserve. Through Him, we are considered right before God and have a future and a hope in Him. This is why we celebrate Easter, and why we ought to pause and remember with gratitude, the ultimate sacrifice that we made on our behalf so that we might know life with God forever.

The purpose of Easter,

Much more than the cross;

His redemption for all,

He has paid the cost.

Much more than suffering,

For death could not keep;

Jesus, the Messiah,

In eternal sleep.

It is through the rising,

That our hope was found;

Nothing could defeat Him,

His power abounds.

And more than the rising,

Return to His throne;

Seated up in heaven,

His goodness made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son so that we might come to know forgiveness and grace that His sacrifice provides. Thank You that there is nothing that we can do to earn our way into Your glory, but rather it is a matter of us receiving what You freely offer through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to recognize the depth of Your love that sacrificed all. Teach us to live in awe and gratitude throughout all of our days. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart is made evident to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank and praise You for all that You have done and continue to do to demonstrate just how great Your love is for all. Amen.

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

Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. – Acts 2:33

To Magnify

Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created. – (Revelation 4:11, HCSB)

Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You made all things. Everything existed and was made because You wanted it. – (Revelation 4:11, ERV)

Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God, to receive glory and honor and power. You alone created all things, and through Your will and by Your design, they exist and were created. – (Revelation 4:11, VOICE)

God intentionally created all things. For this and so much more, He is the One who deserves all of our honor and praise. Today, on day ten of our twenty-one days of intentional prayer, the title of the guide is Magnify God. To magnify anything, we must look closely and intentionally to see all that is. The closer and more carefully we look, the more in-focus intricate details become. With God, as we magnify Him, we discover more of His heart for us and how deeply and completely He loves. “He is our Author, our Maker, our Ransom, our Savior, our Refuge, our Hiding Place; our Hope in the shadows, our Strength in the battle, our Anchor for all our days.” (Worthy of Your Name by Passion Conferences) When I began thinking about the characteristics of God, immediately my mind was flooded with the above listed song lyrics. They beautifully capture an accurate magnification of who God is and what He does for us. May we ever be intentional to magnify God and give Him all glory and honor and praise for who He is.

Our loving Author,

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Who graciously gives;

Maker, Creator,

Of all that there is.

He is our Ransom,

In love, took our place;

The Savior of all,

Who choose seek His face.

In Him, there is hope,

Even when all’s dark;

He’s strength in weakness,

Through love, He imparts.

Our Anchor to hold,

No matter the storm;

Where we shall find peace,

Our Comfort and warmth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can magnify You as we seek You and walk in the light of Your love. Thank You that any time that we are intentional to seek and look closely at who You are and how You love, we discover countless reasons to praise You. Forgive us for not being intentional to pause and recognize who You are and how You love often enough. Teach us to glorify You in everything that we do. Show us how to love those around us in ways that clearly represent Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we intentionally investigate who You are and how You love so that we can properly magnify You in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

I exalt You, my God the King, and praise Your name forever and ever. – Psalm 145:1

Righteousness and Justice

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. – (Psalm 97:2b, HCSB)

Goodness and justice make His kingdom strong. – (Psalm 97:2b, ERV)

Right and justice anchor His rule. – (Psalm 97:2b, MSG)

His throne of glory rests upon a foundation of righteousness and justice. – (Psalm 97:2b, TPT)

The throne of God is established on Him being just and righteous. Glory and honor are His, for He is good and fair. Because God is these things and so much more, He deserves our worship with reverence. When we are stuck in struggles, we must remember who reigns. Though we may not see resolve in the time frame we desire, it does not mean that God is not working on our behalf. Often, it is only after we have made it through the trying time that we can look back and see how clearly He was our help and our hope to make things new. His ongoing faithfulness reminds us that He is forever good and just. May we ever seek Him and praise Him in all things, for He is right and just and loves us as His own children.

The Lord God, He reigns,

He is right and just;

Hope and salvation,

Worthy of all trust.

His throne, established,

On all that is right;

Justice comes from Him,

Creator of light.

May we ever seek,

Throughout all our days;

And give God glory,

For His faithful ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always right and just, even when our circumstances or surroundings are not. Thank You that You are ever moving on our behalf, even when we are unaware. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, for Your justice is not dependent on what we can see. Teach us to trust You to move in all things, and to know that You will have the final say, regardless of what we see now. Show us how to love those around us faithfully as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You establishing Your throne of what is right and just, and for being forever faithful to all who seek You. Amen.

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

But I will seek Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with Your presence. – Psalm 17:15

Worth the Wait

Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples – a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel. – (Luke 2:28-32, HCSB)

Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, Your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, ERV)

Simeon cradled the baby in his arms and praised God and prophesied: “Lord and Master, I am Your loving servant, and now I can die content, for You have fulfilled Your promise to me. With my own eyes I have seen Your Word, the Savior You sent into the world. He will be glory for Your people Israel, and the Revelation-Light for all people everywhere!” – (Luke 2:28-32, TPT)

Imagine the joy, wonder and awe that Simeon must have felt as he took Jesus into his arms to bless Him, only to have God reveal to him that the baby he was holding was the Savior of the world. God had promised Simeon that he would not die before seeing the Savior with his own eyes. At this point, Simeon was an old man who had faithfully served, waited and trusted that God would do what He’d said He would do. What a joy in the fulfillment, and what a wonder to behold the promised Messiah in his own arms. The faithfulness of God has not changed. What He has promised, He will fulfill to those who trust and wait on Him. Sometimes, the promises are fulfilled quickly, yet other times, we may wait much of our lives to see the fulfillment of something that God has promised. For all of us, God has given each of us a plan and a purpose, a hope and a future. Our charge is to listen, wait and trust as we move forward each day in all that God has called us to do. If it is to serve, serve with all your heart; if it is to love, love with all your heart; whatever it is, do all as unto the Lord. May we ever seek the Lord with trust and anticipation, knowing that He is faithful to fulfill each promise that He makes, no matter how long it takes.

The blessing that comes,

Through trust in the Lord;

Promises fulfilled,

All grace He affords.

The Lord is faithful,

What He says, He’ll do;

His answers will come,

He will follow through.

Sometimes it’s quickly,

Other times seem slow;

God’s time is perfect,

For the best, He knows.

God, help us to trust,

To wait with Your grace;

For all that You say,

Will fall into place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us again and again that You are faithful to fulfill Your promises. Thank You that what seems slow to us, is actually Your perfectly planned time. Forgive us for our lack of patience when answers seem slow or promises seem far from fulfilled. Teach us to trust You and wait with faith like Simeon’s. Lead us to love those around us faithfully, for that is one thing that You have purposed for us all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in the waiting and remain faithful to do all that You call us to do each new day. Amen.

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

On that day it will be said, “Look, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” – Isaiah 25:9

To the Shepherds

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.” – (Luke 2:8-11, HCSB)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.” – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

I love that God first announced the birth of His Son to shepherds who were guarding their sheep from predators. As shepherds, they had to fend off wild animals and poachers, yet an angel was outside their realm of what they might see on any given night. However, the first thing the angel said to them was, “Do not be afraid.” Once the initial fear subsided, imagine being the ones to receive such an amazing announcement. For four hundred years, God had been silent, and yet here, out in a field, the glory of the Lord appeared to shepherds to tell of the arrival of the promised Messiah that had so long ago been foretold. We know what happens next, as the shepherds hurried on their way to see this sight that the angel had proclaimed with awe and wonder. As we continue toward Christmas, may we, as ordinary people, be in awe to recall that God came near to us so that we may all embrace the grace that gives new life through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He came for all to make the way for us to be restored. It is up to us to receive this most precious gift ever given. Lord, lead us in awe and wonder as we ponder the powerful promise fulfilled as You sent heaven to earth to become God with us.

In awe and wonder,

Imagine the sight;

The presence of God,

Gave shepherds a fright.

But to their surprise,

An angel brought news;

The promised Savior,

Was nearby, in view.

Of all the people,

Nearby His birth place;

God chose the shepherds,

To first see His face.

The face of the Lord,

A new baby born;

To save humankind,

The One to adore.

May we remember,

In wonder and awe;

The most blessed news,

And all that they saw.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your messenger to ordinary shepherds to share the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. Thank You that though an overwhelming sight, You had the angel remind them that they need not fear, for You had sent Your Son to be near. Forgive us for forgetting that You do incredible things through ordinary people to look to You. Teach us to ever look to You and remember all that You have done. 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 trust You to do extraordinary things through ordinary people who believe You. Amen.

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

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors! – Luke 2:14

Grow Us in Grace

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – (2 Peter 3:18, HCSB)

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to Him, now and forever! Amen. – (2 Peter 3:18, ERV)

But continue to grow and increase in God’s grace and intimacy with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May He receive all the glory both now and until the day eternity begins. Amen! – (2 Peter 3:18, TPT)

As we grow in grace and understanding of who God is and how He loves, we cannot help but be transformed to reflect His heart to the world. For this and so much more, all glory belongs to Him both now and forever, as He continues to grow and transform us until the day we meet Him face-to-face. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us and deepen our understanding of Him and His perfect love so that we may love well and give Him glory with all that we say and do.

Grow us Lord Jesus,

In Your love and grace;

Grant us Your wisdom,

To walk in Your ways.

Let all that we say,

And all that we do;

Be drenched in Your love,

Give glory to You.

Lead us each morning,

In wisdom to seek;

Your heart for others,

And strength when we’re weak.

Transform our thinking,

So that all we choose;

Is loving and kind,

And shows Your heart true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grow us in our capacity to love and increase our understanding so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for acting and reacting in our own broken humanity rather than through the lens of Your love. Teach us to trust You and to slow down and seek You to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love well, all those around us each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us and transform us so that we may love like You. Amen.

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

Indeed, we have all received grace after grace in His fullness. – John 1:16

Intentionally

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – He remains faithful forever. – (Psalm 146:6, NIV)

He made the heavens and earth. He made the sea and everything in it. He can be trusted to do what He says. – (Psalm 146:6, ERV)

You keep all Your promises. You are the Creator of heaven’s glory, earth’s grandeur, and the ocean’s greatness. – (Psalm 146:6, TPT)

There is nothing quite like being near the ocean for me. Each time I draw near to the salt air, hear the crashing waves, and sink my toes into the sand, peace surrounds me and I am reminded of the powerful love of the One who made it all. Just as we can watch and count on the waves to continue meeting the shore, so too, we can depend on the Lord to be present and faithful forever. I find myself especially aware of God’s faithfulness as I am blessed with a weekend away in my favorite coastal town with my love. It is such a blessing to share the place I love with the one I love. Each wave that meets the shore reminds me that God is present and powerful, and that His love is never ending. May we each take time to observe the incredible beauty around us that is the work of His hands, and recognize the eternal faithfulness found in the One who made it all.

Faithful forever,

Creator of all;

The glory that’s seen,

His hands made it all.

Each great ocean wave,

The gorgeous blue sky;

The sand that warms toes,

Beauty can’t be denied.

The very same hands,

That formed such beauty;

Designed each of us,

Intentionally.

Forever faithful,

The Lord God above;

As He reminds us,

Of unending love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You, who created all of the beauty that our eyes can see, also created each of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that Your faithfulness never ends. Forgive us for losing sight of Your faithfulness and love as we navigate all that comes our way. Teach us to trust in You, for You love us and never leave us. Show us how to appreciate all that Your hands have made, so that we may love those around us in the same ways that You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love and praise You for all that Your hands have made. Amen.

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

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

So Much More

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

With God’s power working in us, He can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, ERV)

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! – (Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG)

It should not be easy to overlook this fact, but there are times that I make God too small. I think I get caught up in the frustration, fear, or a funk, forgetting what I know to be true. God has ALWAYS been faithful, and He ALWAYS uses our trials as testimonies and our struggles as ways to show us just how mightily He can move. Incredibly, as we seek Him and allow Him to work in us, through us and around us, He exceeds our hopes and expectations every time. Though His answers and solutions may not look like we had hoped or imagined, they ultimately are far better than what we hoped would be so. As we give God room to move, He is given glory through His church (all of us), and through His Spirit (working in us). Whether we are faithful and trusting or not, He forever remains worthy of all glory and praise. May we ever seek the Lord and allow Him room to be God, for He will do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine.

God’s more is so much,

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Immeasurable;

Beyond all our hopes,

Power enabled.

All we imagine,

Is still nowhere near;

What the Lord can do,

When we release fear.

Choose trust in the Lord,

Watch all that He does;

More than we could dream,

Power through His love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine; in us, through us and around us. Thank You that Your glory lasts forever, and You love never quits. Forgive us for thinking our hopes, dreams, trials and difficulties are insignificant to You. Teach us to trust You more, for Your love and ability to move on our behalf are beyond what we could hope or imagine. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant glimpses of the depth and breadth of Your unending love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all the glory forever for all that You have and will ever do. Amen.

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

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Time Leads to Hope

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. – (1 Timothy 4:10, NIV)

We hope in the living God, the Savior of all people. In particular, He is the Savior of all those who believe in Him. This is why we work and struggle. – (1 Timothy 4:10, ERV)

This is what we work so hard for! This is why we are constantly struggling: because we have an assured hope fixed upon a living God who is the Savior of all humankind – especially all of us who believe. – (1 Timothy 4:10, VOICE)

To invest in any relationship, it takes effort. We must be intentional to invest time and energy to maintain what has been established. It is no different with God. Deepening our understanding and growing in His grace only takes place when we consistently spend time with Him. As we do, our hope is firmly secured in the Savior. God is for all people, yet He does not force His way in. We all have a free will and are given the choice as to whether we receive all that He offers or not. This is not an easy road, but it is one that is well worth the while. God is faithful, no matter what comes our way, and He is present to help, hold and see us through all things. I am so grateful for who God is and how He loves, as it is in the ever-increasing knowledge of Him that my hope is securely held. May we ever be intentional to invest our love and lives in the living God, for He is our hope forever.

Let us seek the Lord,

Our true living hope;

The more we invest,

The more we feel known.

Creator of all,

Is waiting for us;

To spend time with Him,

Our Savior, Jesus.

Always worth the while,

The time we invest;

His love overwhelms,

Our peace and our rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You invite us to be in relationship with You. Thank You that You meet us as we seek You. Thank You for Your goodness and grace that carries us through every challenge that comes our way. Forgive us for not investing as we should in the most important relationship of all. Show us how to be intentional with our time, so that we may grow in Your goodness and grace as we deepen our walk with You. Teach us to love those around us as You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to invest our hearts and lives into our relationship with You. Amen.

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

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

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