Look to the Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, ERV)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, MSG)

This passage is from when God called Samuel to go and anoint the one who was to succeed Saul as king. To the ordinary observer, David’s older brothers seemed to be far more appropriate candidates. However, God saw so much more. In David, God saw a man after His own heart. David had the heart of a warrior and a worshiper – both of which God used while David grew and learned the faithfulness of God as he faced a giant with a sling and a stone, and later led a nation as he sang and danced praising God for His faithfulness. Incredibly, what this shows us is that we never know who God is raising up for great things. Our task is to love and encourage all, and to look past appearances and instead see the heart. I know in relationships, the people I am most drawn to have beautiful hearts. The more I get to know them, the more I see who they are radiating through, and recognize what draws others in. As a teacher, this is critical. We never know who the next leaders, doctors, pastors, educators, community advocates, parents and more are in the ones seated in our classrooms. Each has been created with a purpose, and it is our job to help strengthen the heart so that they can see their own potential and pursue all that God has for them. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see, so that we may encourage those around us in the strengths that they have been given, and glorify God for His goodness.

Look not at the face,

But rather the heart;

The true character,

Where seeing must start.

For we never know,

All that God has planned;

Purpose He has placed,

In women and men.

A mere shepherd boy,

Was anointed king;

Despite appearance,

Beyond what was seen.

God looks at our hearts,

The strengths found within;

His plan and purpose,

Waiting to begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see beyond what others see. Thank You that You look to the heart to lead us into all that You have for us. Forgive us for selling others short based on what we see. Teach us to look through Your lens so that we see the potential and promise in everyone we meet. Lead us to love those around us in ways that encourage and strengthen each in the gifts and talents You have placed in them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and trust in You to lead them to walk out their purpose. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to help us see others as You do. Amen.

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

The One who chose you will do that for you. You can trust Him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Our Present Strength

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, HCSB)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

So don’t be afraid. I am here with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

No matter what comes against us, God is for us and with us. He is our help and our hope; He provides the strength that we need and people to walk beside us to encourage and uphold us. Regardless of how things seem, God is faithful to carry us through, and lead us to something new. May we ever seek the Lord to bring His perfect peace as we recognize His nearness and strength to uphold us and carry us through every challenge we face, and how to be present for those who are in the midst of trials.

In You, Lord, there’s light,

Full of good and grace;

You strengthen, uphold,

As we seek Your face.

Victory in You,

Will surely be found;

Where hope is restored,

For Your love is sound.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To trust well in You;

For You are our peace,

And all that is true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear, for You are with us to uphold and strengthen us. Thank You that You see well beyond today, and make a way where there seems to be no way. Forgive us for our fears when we cannot see an end in sight. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to walk beside those who are in the midst of struggle, and use us to be Your hands, heart and voice to bring peace, strength and encouragement. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to strengthen and uphold us, and help us to ever look to You to lead us to walk alongside those in the midst of challenge. Amen.

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

But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Faithful Love in the Morning

Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You. – (Psalm 143:8, HCSB)

Show me Your faithful love this morning. I trust in You. Show me what I should do. I put my life in Your hands! – (Psalm 143:8, ERV)

Make me hear of Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Teach me how I should walk, for I offer my soul up to You. – (Psalm 143:8, VOICE)

There is something so sweet about intentional time with God in the early morning. While the world seems to still be asleep, I soak in the goodness of silence before Him. Aside from the shifting positions of the pups, all is still. The goodness of God and the faithfulness found in His word echo through the chambers of my heart when I seek Him. He shows me anew the kindness of His grace, and the promise that He will remain present forever. When the world seems upside down and things don’t make sense, God’s faithful love remains. Regardless of what we see or feel, He remains present and is the One in whom we can trust. May we ever seek the Lord at the start of our day, for He will show us how to walk if we ask Him to lead us.

Each morning I rise,

And You are so near;

Each time I seek You,

My heart knows You hear.

Your goodness is shown,

As I read Your word;

And beauty surrounds,

Through promises heard.

You’re faithful to lead,

Wherever we roam;

As we trust in You,

Make our heart Your home.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You in the morning, we experience the faithfulness and goodness of Your great love. Thank You that You show us the steps we ought to take as we trust in You. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to navigate on our own. Show us how to seek You first and to trust and rely on You to lead. Teach us how to walk in Your love wherever we go and with whomever we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You anew each morning and trust You to lead us well. Amen.

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

Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. – Romans 12:10

Trust in His Love

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song. – (Psalm 28:7, HCSB)

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trusted Him with all my heart. He helped me, so I am happy. I sing songs of praise to Him. – (Psalm 28:7, ERV)

The Eternal is the source of my strength and the shield that guards me. When I learn to rest and truly trust Him, He sends His help. This is why my heart is singing! I open my mouth to praise Him, and thankfulness rises as a song. – (Psalm 28:7, VOICE)

Yesterday, upon our return home, we discovered our eldest broke his tibia and fibula, and was in Seattle, about to go into surgery. This was not on our radar as we arrived home, but the details quickly unfolded when the vehicle was home and he was not. What does this verse have to do with all that? After the initial fear, frustration and beyond, God came close and reminded us of the good, even in this awful situation. For example, the circumstances surrounding his injuries could have been much worse or potentially even taken his life. Additionally, he has a place to stay to recover and rehabilitate his injured leg, and will have time to take care of his schooling that has long been set aside. We are grateful that God spared his life and that his brother was with him to get him to the hospital quickly. The Lord’s help was and continues to be present, even in the midst of unexpected challenges. May we ever seek Him to lead us and strengthen us to do what we need to do. All praise and thanks to God, for His love and mercy do not end.

The Lord is my strength,

And I trust in Him;

My shield and my help,

As love enters in.

My help and my hope,

God is ever near;

Our reason to sing,

He silences fear.

As we know His help,

Reminders to sing;

Grace overflowing,

All good His love brings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are ever-present to help, and that You care about all things. Thank You that You strengthen and provide for us where we need it most. Forgive us for the times that we allow our vision to be clouded by the struggles before us rather than focus on Your help and strength that are present and available to us. Teach us to trust You in every circumstance and to seek You to lead and guide us. Flood our hearts with praise unto You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that point to You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your ongoing provision of help, strength and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Amen.

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

The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

Sing in Strength

Be exalted, Lord, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your might. – (Psalm 21:13, HCSB)

Lord, we lift You up with our songs of praise. We sing and play songs about Your power! – (Psalm 21:13, ERV)

Show Your strength, God, so no one can miss it. We are out singing the good news! – (Psalm 21:13, MSG)

The strength of the Lord is all-encompassing; body, heart, mind and spirit. He provides the strength we need where it is needed, and it is yet another reason that we ought to sing and praise His Name. As we ask, God is faithful to provide. Most of this past year, I feel like that has been my constant prayer – Lord, please give me the strength that is needed to navigate this day. Each day, as I drove home from work, I could not help but sing from a grateful heart, for His strength had been provided anew, and His power, evident to me. Even on the days that were less than stellar, God’s strength was refreshed and renewed. Each morning, it was in the seeking that my heart was recharged and made ready for the new day. May we ever seek the Lord and ask Him to show us His strength where we need it, and let our hearts sing praise for His faithfulness that knows no end.

O Lord, we cry out,

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To You once again;

To meet us with strength,

And make our paths plain.

May we ever sing,

Of the strength You give;

Grace for each new day,

Goodness as we live.

With arms wide open,

Let us choose give praise;

For strength provided,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your strength again and again, and that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that You are our reason to sing praise. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to give You credit for supplying all that we needed and more. Teach us to acknowledge and honor You for who You are and all that You do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may recognize the strength that You provide. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing praise and give You thanks for the strength that You alone provide. Amen.

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

But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble. – Psalm 59:16

Rest for the Weary

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, HCSB)

Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

Are you having a real struggle? Come to Me! Are you carrying a big load on your back? Come to Me – I’ll give you a rest! – (Matthew 11:28, NTE)

This morning, despite being a day off, I was up at the usual time. However, knowing that I do not have to work today brings a different sort of rest. The ability to have a leisurely morning doing devotions with a second cup of coffee, followed by a long walk with the pups, provides rest for my soul. Rest looks different for everyone, yet God knows what we need. When we seek Him and hand Him the weight of our burdens, He gives us rest – body, heart, soul and mind. May we all seek the Lord to lay down our burdens this long weekend, and allow Him to show us His perfect rest.

All who are weary,

We are not alone;

To God up above,

Our burdens are known.

He walks beside us,

And shoulders the weight;

He renews our strength,

His love’s never late.

He knows what we need,

In love, He provides;

A space to recharge,

As we choose abide.

Lean into Jesus,

His strength is enough;

To carry the weight,

Of our heavy stuff.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our weariness and find Your rest. Thank You that You lovingly walk beside us and carry the weight that we cannot. Forgive us for not slowing down with intention to seek You in our spaces of need. Teach us to come to You to be our strength, rest and resolve in all things and at all times. Show us how to love and bless those around us in ways that bring rest to weary spaces. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our weariness and find true rest in the light of Your perfect love. Amen.

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

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:4-5

In All Things, Pray

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, HCSB)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder, as it seems to be a season of tough news about people I love and care about. Yesterday afternoon, I found out that my nephew is in the hospital and dying of renal failure. I haven’t seen him in years, but when he was a little boy, he spent quite a bit of time with our family. Learning this heartbreaking news, I had to pause and pray; for I do not know what else to do. He is my boys’ cousin, their dad’s nephew, and their aunt’s first born. Sometimes, praying is really all we can do. Though I know not every need, I am able to pray for healing, health, hope and wholeness. I can pray for peace and strength and provision for the family. Prayer does not require eloquent words or religious utterances, it is simply talking to God with your heart, mind, and if it helps, your voice. He hears every word, thought and request. Incredibly, He provides what we need to get through each next moment, hour, day and beyond. His peace brings calm in the chaos and the ability to breathe when it feels as if we cannot. May we ever reach out to the Lord who hears our prayers, and seek Him for strength and peace in spaces where we have none.

O Lord, I draw near,

Seeking You for peace;

When I can’t fathom,

How You’ll bring release.

Somehow Your peace comes,

And fills up my heart;

Your love settles in,

Hope for a fresh start.

Be it a minute,

Or for a new day;

Your love and Your peace,

Always make a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than all of the trials and sorrows we face. Thank You that You flood us with Your love, surround us with Your care, and fill us with Your peace, even when peace does not make sense. Forgive us for worrying about having the words to pray, for You hear each cry of our heart as we reach out to You. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those whom You have placed in our lives, and to pray without ceasing for Your love to be made evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our worries to You as we call on Your Name and pray to You about all things, trusting that You hold us in the hollow of Your mighty hands. Amen.

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

The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

Effort to Grow

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, HCSB)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, ERV)

To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith, and then knowledge to your virtue; to knowledge, add discipline; to discipline, add endurance; to endurance, add godliness; to godliness, add affection for others as sisters and brothers; and to affection, at last, add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, VOICE)

If we all sought God to grow His blessings in us, we would abound in faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, patience, devotion to God, kindness, and love. He is faithful to meet us as we seek Him, and strengthens us to rise up in these blessings He instills in us. It is up to us to pursue God and grant Him access to our heart, soul and mind so that we become more of who He has made us to be. This is not a one-time thing, but rather a life-long process. The people I know who best exemplify these things are those who continually and faithfully pursue the Lord each new day. May we ever go to God each new day that we draw breath to lead and refine us so that we more clearly reflect His heart to the world.

The Lord is faithful,

To refine each heart;

That earnestly seeks,

His grace He imparts.

True faith will rise up,

As His goodness grows;

Knowledge imparted,

Love grants self-control.

Patience, devotion,

And kindness to all;

Let Love lead the way,

Choose answer the call.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we pursue You, You refine and grow us to be more like You. Forgive us for not seeking You in all things and at all times. Teach us to ever pursue Your heart to extend to the world. Lead us to love those around us well, so that Your heart may be made tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow and change us to be more like You each new day. Amen.

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

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. – 1 Corinthians 3:7

Our Source of Strength and Peace

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

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace. – (Psalm 29:11, MSG)

Strength and peace are a perfect pairing, as the two are needed to navigate challenges, exhaustion and the like. This morning, as I prepare for the last day before a four-day weekend, I need both the strength and the peace of God to navigate this day well. With Him, I can do all that I am called to do. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and peace, for He is faithful to meet us where we are and equip us with what we need.

The Lord is faithful,

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He gives strength and peace;

Blessed assurance,

To meet all our needs.

And as the Lord gives,

We’re given enough;

To share with others,

His grace and His love.

In weariness seek,

For in Him we find;

All that is needed,

For heart, soul and mind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our peace in all things and at all times. Thank You that Your love fills and equips us with all that we need to keep moving forward throughout each new day. Forgive us for not slowing down to seek You in our weariness. Teach us to turn to You in all things and at all times, for You are faithful to meet us and supply us with all that is needed and more. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may experience Your strengthening and Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You and praise You for being our Source of strength and peace. Amen.

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

He said, “Don’t be afraid, you who are treasured by God. Peace to you; be very strong!” – Daniel 10:19a

Prioritize Love

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. – (Matthew 22:37-39, HCSB)

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” – (Matthew 22:37-39, ERV)

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others as well as you love yourself.” – (Matthew 22:37-39, MSG)

When we get back to making the main things the main things, and we choose to prioritize loving God and loving people, our lives begin to more clearly reflect what God intended all along. If we invest in our relationship with God and those around us, His grace covers us and His love surrounds us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that we might love one another as He loves us.

Lord, help us to love,

With all that we are;

First You, then others,

Both those near and far.

Lead us and guide us,

So that we love well;

May our words and deeds,

Of Your goodness tell.

Grant us Your patience,

Kindness and Your grace;

To truly listen,

And walk in Your ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You and love those around us. Thank You that as we do so, we are walking in obedience to all that You ask of us. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to operate in love. Teach us how to live in the light of Your love in all that we say and do. Show us how to love You and those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to love You and love those around us as You love all of us. Amen.

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

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” – John 13:34