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

To Cultivate Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, HCSB)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. – (Galatians 5:22-23, VOICE)

As we nourish our spirits with the goodness of God’s word and spend time seeking Him to teach us and grow us, He cultivates this sort of fruit within us. We discover love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faith and gentleness, and our self-control rises up. Though people decide they are opposed to following Christ, I have never met anyone who was opposed to being on the receiving end of the fruit that Christ within us produces. Perhaps the opposition that people feel stems from those who claim to follow Christ, yet do not spend time with Him and give God room to transform them more into His likeness. If none of the Spirit’s fruit is evident, then the soil of the heart is parched and unable to produce the good fruit. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for it is through our time with Him, that the soil of our heart is nourished and good fruit is produced to share with those around us.

Lord, help us seek You,

With ev’ry new day;

And grow within us,

Fruit that shows Your way.

Water and nourish,

The soil of our hearts;

As You produce fruit,

Your ways You impart.

Let Your love and joy,

Peace and patience too;

Kindness and goodness,

And faith that is true.

May Your gentleness,

And great self-control;

Show others Your heart,

As You we extol.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the fruit of Your Spirit is not something that we have to try to grow on our own, but rather is something that You plant within us and cultivate as we continue to come before You to listen and learn. Forgive us for thinking that we can just try to be better and do better, and that somehow, the fruit of Your Spirit will rise up within us. Show us what it is to give You our whole heart so that You can transform us into who You created us to become. Lead us to love as You do, in ways that make Your fruit evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to continue to grow Your fruit well within us, so that we can extend Your nourishment to those around us. Amen.

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

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. – Romans 14:19

Teach Me Your Paths

Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. – (Psalm 25:4, HCSB)

Lord, help me learn Your ways. Show me how You want me to live. – (Psalm 25:4, ERV)

Demonstrate Your ways, O Eternal One. Teach me to understand so I can follow. – (Psalm 25:4, VOICE)

God is faithful to show us the ways in which we are meant to go and how to navigate every step. It is up to us to listen and follow where and how He leads. He gave us His Spirit to dwell in us, and His still small voice, that check in our spirits, is Him leading and guiding us as we go. May we ever seek the Lord and His leading so that we might learn His ways and follow His paths that He has set before us.

Help us, Lord Jesus,

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To learn well Your ways;

Teach us Your wisdom,

As we wake each day.

Lead us and guide us,

Where we’re meant to go;

Give understanding,

To things we need know.

Show us each step, Lord,

In all that we do;

May each word and deed,

Reflect Your heart true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your ways and how You want us to live when we earnestly seek You. Thank You that You are faithful to answer when we ask. Forgive us for the times that we have asked and ignored Your leading, and for the times that we have neglected to even seek You. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times. Grow us in Your wisdom and understanding so that we may follow the path that You set before us well. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and guide us as You teach us more and more of who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

You are good, and You do what is good; teach me Your statutes. – Psalm 119:68

Ongoing Transformation

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, HCSB)

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. – (Philippians 1:6, VOICE)

 This verse is such a wonderful reminder that we are ALL a work in progress. Not one of us has “arrived”; we all can continue to be transformed more and more by the goodness of God and His unending grace, if only we are willing to seek and trust in Him. The process is different for everyone, and what we see is not the whole story. We all have challenges and triumphs, detours and direct routes as we navigate this life with the intent to grow more like Jesus. I love that the Lord will not stop in the middle, but rather will continue to work in us and through us as we depend on Him. Though I am certain I have passed the midpoint in this life, I am well aware of the work that still needs to be done. There is always more to learn, and always more patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and more to gain. It is only through looking back that we can see how far we have come. For some, change is subtle, as the external has mostly always been a pleasant demeanor, however, the work in the heart is what transforms the mind to think and respond in love in all circumstances. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us more in His love, and recognize that we are all a work in progress and in desperate need of His love and grace.

Confidently trust,

The work is not done;

A lifelong process,

As we seek the Son.

Each day we choose Him,

His love is our guide;

To give as He gives,

With arms open wide.

Lead us in Your love,

To care as You do;

Let Your goodness show,

As we follow You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are all a work in progress and that Your work in us will not stop until the day that we see You face-to-face. Thank You that none of us “arrive” and are somehow without room to grow. Forgive us for our expectations and frustrations with others, for You are working in and through all of us. Teach us to trust in You in all things, for growth happens as we seek You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we encourage one another to grow more like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to keep transforming our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your goodness and love throughout each day that we draw breath. Amen.

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

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

Truth in Love Brings Growth

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. – (Ephesians 4:15, HCSB)

No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. He is the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, ERV)

Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him – the Anointed One, the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, VOICE)

We are called to speak the truth in love. As we do, we grow more like Jesus. He modeled love in all things, and we have been created to do the same. This growth is a lifelong process, for we are constantly in a battle between acting and reacting in our broken human nature, and responding in love as we are called to do. We must not grow weary in doing good, for it is always worthwhile, and can have a lasting impact that goes far beyond what we might see or understand. There have been countless times in my own life when dear ones have spoken the truth in love to me, and because it was delivered in love, what was said had a lasting positive impact. Such words can change a moment, a day, a week, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. Our intentional decision to choose love has the power to grow not only ourselves, but those around us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in all that we say and do, and give Him room to grow us in the ways He intended from the start.

Speak the truth in love,

For it is our call;

To grow more like Christ,

As we choose love all.

Lord, show us the way,

To love like You do;

Do all things in love,

So Your heart shines through.

Grow us in Your strength,

To do what is right;

As Your love leads us,

To walk in Your light.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to speak the truth in love and to grow more like You as we do. Thank You that this is not something that we do on our own, but rather, as we seek You and listen to Your leading, You show us how and You transform us to more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for every word that we have spoken that was not in truth and love. Show us how to do all things in Your love. Lead us to love those around us with our words and actions so that Your love is clearly shown. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak the truth in love and to grow ever more like You. Amen.

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

Brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good. – 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Amazing Adoption

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – (Galatians 4:4-5, HCSB)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

But when the time of fulfillment had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Yet all of this was so that He would redeem and set free those held hostage to the law so that we would receive our freedom and a full legal adoption as His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, TPT)

God sent His Son to us in the same way that each of us arrived. Jesus was born of a woman, grew up as a human, and was subject to the same sort of trials and triumphs that we all have as a part of the human experience. However, Jesus did so without sin. He was subject to temptation as we are, yet He navigated all in accordance to the Father. Because He did, He was able to be the perfect and pure sacrifice for all so that we could come before the Father and be accepted and embraced as His own. Adoption is a beautiful grafting of a person not born into a family as one of their own. Once adopted, the law sees that individual as an equal member of the family into which they have been adopted. Beautifully, I have two dear friends who were adopted as infants, and were raised in wonderful, loving homes. Incredibly, they have also been fully accepted and embraced into their biological family as well as adults. It is through these tangible examples that my heart is best able to grasp the beauty and love that is held in the process of adoption. I am overwhelmed in knowing that the God of the entire universe calls me His own. To be the daughter of the ultimate Father is a blessing that goes beyond my understanding. Though I have done nothing to earn such a blessing, that is not how adoption works. We are received and loved for who we are, however and whenever we come to Him. May we take time to ponder the powerful love that would come from heaven to earth to make the way for each of us to become daughters and sons of the living God.

When heaven came down,

Through God’s only Son;

He showed us the way,

That battles are won.

He grew as a man,

Tempted in all ways;

Yet was without sin,

For all of His days.

He made plain the path,

Through love’s sacrifice;

For our adoption,

Into paradise.

Thank You Lord Jesus,

For making the way;

So we might be heirs,

To hope each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son in such a way that He would understand all of our trials and triumphs as He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice so that we might be called Your own. Thank You that as we come to You and receive all that You offer, we are adopted as Your children. Forgive us for not receiving all that You offer and for the times that we have not represented Your family well. Teach us and grow us so that we may more clearly reflect Your likeness to the world. Lead us to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the privilege of being called Your sons and daughters that receive an inheritance into Your kingdom forever. Amen.

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

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. – 2 Corinthians 6:18

Strengthened With Power

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy. – (Colossians 1:11, HCSB)

(We pray) that God will strengthen you with His own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when trouble comes. Then you will be happy. – (Colossians 1:11, ERV)

And we pray that you would be energized with all His explosive power from the realm of His magnificent glory, filling you with great hope. – (Colossians 1:11,TPT)

I am so thankful that it is Friday, as the few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving seem especially long. To be energized and filled with hope is the prayer I have for myself and all those around me. Joy comes as we persevere, even when things are difficult. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and empower us with patient endurance so that we press on with great hope. 

O Lord, as we come,

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Seeking You for strength;

Lead us and guide us,

Grow patience at length.

Grant us endurance,

To keep pressing on;

Be the strength we need,

When we don’t feel strong.

Through perseverance,

We come to know joy;

You graciously give,

With You our hearts join.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You strengthen us with Your power so that we have strength and resolve to persevere and discover the joy found in Your heavenly hope. Forgive us for our discouragement when we are depleted. Teach us to turn to You to strengthen and lead us in Your love. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may be strengthened in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and rely on You to supply all that we need. Amen.

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

But You, Lord, don’t be far away. My Strength, come quickly to help me. – Psalm 22:19

To Live and Love Well

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – (Philippians 1:9, NIV)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight. – (Philippians 1:9, TLB)

Though this is from Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi, the message still resonates today. It is my prayer for myself and all those around me that our love will grow to overflowing, and that we would ever pursue knowledge and insight. God is gracious, and His love abounds more and more as He grants us insight and understanding of how deep and how wide His love is and how He has hand-crafted us to love well. Additionally, as we seek to know and understand more, He shows us more of who He is and how to care well for those around us. May we ever pursue the heart of God so that our love continues to grow as our understanding and insight expands.

May our love abound,

As we seek to grow;

Knowledge and insight,

To make His love known.

It’s through our pursuit,

That we come to know;

The depths of God’s love,

Then it overflows.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To love as You do;

And help us learn well,

The light of Your truth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Paul’s prayer and exhortation to the Philippians is still relevant and applicable today. Thank You that as we seek You to lead us in love and grow our understanding and insight, You are faithful to show us more and more. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love and learn as You intended. Show us how to ever pursue Your heart and wisdom so that we may love out of the overflow that comes from knowing You. Teach us to love those around us with the same heart that You have for all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as Your love is made tangible. Be glorified O God, as we pursue Your heart of love and Your wisdom and insight so that we may live and love well. Amen.

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

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

Guided By Love

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)

So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that your commendable works will shine as light upon them, and then they will give praise to your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, TPT)

This aligns with one of my favorite quotes: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi) Our charge is not to simply speak of our faith, but rather it is to live it out. If people see Christ in us through how we live and care for others, they will ask questions and provide opportunities for us to use words. However, if there is nothing that separates us from anyone else then anything we say will fall on deaf ears. This does not mean that we have to be perfect, or that we have to fear our human flaws, but rather it frees us to walk in God’s grace and choose to love big. When all that we do is guided and steeped in love, His light shines through us and is made known. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in His love so that we may shine brightly before all.

O Lord help Your light,

Shine brightly through us;

As we grow and learn,

To love like Jesus.

Let all that we do,

Be guided by love;

So others may know,

It’s from You, above.

Thank You for Your grace,

For the times we fail;

Love that leads us on,

So Your love prevails.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your son to show us what it is to lead a life of love. Thank You that as we invest in our relationship with You, You increase our capacity to love well and live out a life in You. Forgive us for our faults and failures, the words and actions that have been lacking Your love. Show us how to love all people in all circumstances, and to live a life according to Your loving plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our hearts and lives into knowing more of You so that we may be a reflection of Your love. 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

Called to Compassion

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. – (Romans 12:15, TPT)

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. – (Romans 12:15, VOICE)

We are called to be compassionate and to have empathy for one another. This is natural with those with whom we are closest, but it requires an intentional decision to love enough to invest in the hearts of others. When we do, we understand and care about what transpires in the lives of those around us. A love that is true is one that celebrates with others when good comes their way, and mourns alongside them when losses are experienced. Such love not only asks how others are doing, but is prepared to receive honest answers through active and intentional listening. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in compassion and empathy for those around us, so that we may truly love as we are called to love by God.

To love as God loves,

Requires intent;

To seek understand,

Purposeful time spent.

Called to compassion,

To walk alongside;

Love for the hurting,

With arms open wide.

And when there’s reason,

To rise and rejoice;

Shoulder to shoulder,

In praise, lift each voice.

Through ev’ry season,

Choose to truly love;

For that’s how others,

Know they are thought of.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to compassion and empathy for those around us. Thank You that You showed us through Your Son, what such love looks like. Jesus rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and wept with those in mourning. Forgive us for the times that we either ignored an opportunity to love well, or sought to help without truly responding in love. Show us how to celebrate with those who celebrate and to mourn with those who are grieving. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart for those around us so that we may love like You. 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