Unity in Jesus

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore. – (Psalm 133:1-3, NIV)

Oh, how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people all come together as one! It is like the sweet-smelling oil that is poured over the high priest’s head… It is there that the Lord has promised His blessing of eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, ERV)

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down the head… Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, MSG)

God calls us to live in community with unity. His intent and purpose are for us to get along and work together as one body. When we do, it is like a fragrant anointing, as those around us can see and experience the goodness of God. His blessings are bestowed upon us as we do, for in such space we are continually reminded of His goodness now, and the glorious hope of all that is yet to come. Yesterday, amid mourning and heartache with a beautiful young couple from our church, we witnessed this in a very real and tangible way. Many gathered to celebrate the short life of their baby, who died a few days before his due date in the womb. Despite devastating heartache, there was joy in celebrating together the hope of being reunited one day in heaven. Though the precious boy never was able to experience life with his family, he will never know heartache, sickness, or pain, for he is already in the arms of Jesus where there is perfect peace. The love and support of their family and community was overwhelmingly evident. Together, we gathered as one to celebrate the life and grieve the loss of the precious baby boy. Incredibly, the blessings and joy were more evident than the sorrow. Only in Jesus, is such hope possible. My heart was blessed, despite the tears, in witnessing and supporting the beauty that is found in a community that comes together as one. (For more of Luca’s story, click here) May we ever seek the Lord and His purposes for us, as we rely on Him to help us be in communities that are united, not divided in His perfect love.

Oh, how wonderful,

Is community;

That stands side-by-side,

In true unity.

United purpose,

Love is what is seen;

Brothers and sisters,

Choosing live in peace.

This is the calling,

God give to us all;

Love one another,

Help up those who fall.

When the trials come,

To stand side-by-side;

Love well and support,

With arms open wide.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be united in community. Thank You that You lead us and equip us to love one another and to encourage and support each other as sisters and brothers. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed differences to divide us rather than unite us, for each of us have strengths and gifts to share that make our community stronger. Show us how to see You in all those whom we encounter. Lead us to love and be in community as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love one another, together as one. Amen.

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

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3

Joy and Laughter

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NIV)

So perhaps you might laugh again. Maybe shouts of joy will come from your lips. – (Job 8:21, ERV)

He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight. – (Job 8:21, VOICE)

Though Job’s friends were not the greatest at responding to the devastation and loss that he had experienced, this verse was spot on, as in the end, all that Job had lost was restored and then some. Joy and laughter were restored after such heartache, trials, and loss. Last evening, as my love and I attended his sister’s annual Christmas party, we were both in a space where laughter was needed. Gathering with family and friends, we were able to enjoy the company, love and laughter that burst forth when dear ones get together. There was much laughter, and the joy that dwells deep within, was reminded to surface. Today, I anticipate more laughter and reasons to shout for joy, as we will gather with our church family, and after, I will have the pleasure of time together with dear ones from college group that I met a few decades ago. I am so thankful for the opportunities God brings to grant us laughter and to remind us of the joy we have in and through Him. The people He places in our lives grant us reason to delight.

The gift of laughter,

Reminds us that joy;

An ongoing gift,

That love does employ.

For time together,

With laughter and love;

Show us God’s goodness,

His grace understood.

Trial or triumph,

God’s joy is the same;

Found in the blessings,

As we call His Name.

Joy’s not dependent,

On our circumstance;

It’s found in Jesus,

Not by happenstance.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what is going on around us or what lies before us, we can trust that there will be laughter and joy again. Thank You that joy in You exists even on our darkest days. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed the weight of our circumstances to steal our joy. Teach us to hold fast to the hope we have in You, for it is in that space of hope that we know and understand the joy in the promise of forever in Your presence. Teach us to choose to embrace the joy we have in You, and to allow love and laughter to overflow from our gratitude to You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that remind them that love and laughter, joy and peace are present when we know Your nearness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all praise for the joy we know in You, and for the love and laughter that You provide through those You place in our lives. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Thankful For The Unshakable

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NIV)

So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him. – (Hebrews 12:28, VOICE)

Gratitude ought to be our mode of operation throughout each new day. A thankful heart is not dependent on merely that which we are walking into, but rather gratitude can look back and see the incredible ways that God has moved on our behalf, and look ahead to the faithfulness of God and the hope that is yet to come through eternity spent in His presence. Even in the here and now of difficulty, there are always things to be thankful for. For me, that includes the people whom God has placed around me, and those He has blessed me with as family. To worship God in a way that will please Him is all about the state of our heart. When our heart is full of awe and reverence for who God is and how He loves, our every act of worship is a reflection of such, and is pleasing to Him who we worship. May we ever let our hearts overflow with gratitude for He who deserves all of our worship forever. 

All thanks be to God,

Who sits on the throne;

Our help and our hope,

Through Whom love is shown.

He’s faithful always,

No matter what comes;

So let us give thanks,

For all He has done.

Even through heartache,

And difficulty;

His presence is clear,

Magnificently.

God’s presence gives hope,

Strength, life and His love;

Our anchor secure,

We are His beloved.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are receiving Your kingdom both now and forevermore. Thank You that this means that we have help and hope in You, no matter what lies ahead. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations that block our view of who You are and how You love. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant hope and demonstrate gratitude. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. – Psalm 125:1

All for Good

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, HCSB)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

This does not say that all things happen for good, or have been caused by God. However, God can bring good from even the worst of things if we allow Him room to move. For example, there is nothing good about sickness, disease, or injuries. The good is how God can use such things to grow our faith, show us His power, and lead us to something more than we imagined before. Additionally, He shows us He is good as He loves, supports, encourages and surrounds us. Love is made tangible, even in the midst of great struggle or suffering. Our circumstances are not always good, but God always is good. May we ever seek the Lord to show us who He is, even in the midst of challenges and difficulty; for He is faithful to be present for those who seek Him.

Because God is good,

He moves through all things;

Hope in our heartache,

Strength and peace He brings.

In love, He takes hold,

Of extended hands;

He lifts and He leads,

So we again stand.

Choose look to the Lord,

In each circumstance;

Watch how the Lord moves,

When given the chance.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are able to work all things out for good for those who love and trust in You. Thank You that You are the same God that brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You have shown Yourself faithful time and time again. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we cannot see past our circumstances. Teach us to look to You, for You grant us Your eyes to see the hope held beyond what we are seeing or experiencing right now. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they too come to know and understand that You bring good, always. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to lead us, and trust the hope that we hold in You forever. Amen.

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

But You are near me, Lord, and all Your commands can be trusted. – Psalm 119:151

The Port of Peace

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

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

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

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

With merely a word,

The storms had to cease;

Into safe harbor,

As calm is released.

Both throughout the storm,

And when the calm comes;

God will be with us,

The most Holy One.

Our anchor that holds,

No matter the waves;

Our Guide to safety,

Throughout all our days.

Now the safe harbor,

Is plainly in sight;

May we give Him praise,

Our strength and delight.

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

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

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

With Kindness and Compassion

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, HCSB)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King. – (Ephesians 4:32, VOICE)

If we were to approach every human interaction with kindness and compassion, and were quick to forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven, people would understand the heart of God. We know not the battles that others are facing. Just last week there were five major losses or concerns that weighed on me as the week unfolded. Each day, it seemed, I was met with news of a tragedy or a major medical concern among family and friends. Thankfully, my concerns were met with kindness and compassion and grace. The sort of human-interaction that was extended to me, I was in turn, able to extend to others. When we are intentional to seek God, He shows us His goodness and love, even in the midst of heaviness and heartache. This morning, as I prepare to attend a memorial for a friend’s husband, I feel equipped with kindness and compassion, ready to extend help and hope where so much has been lost. May we continually seek the Lord in all things and at all times so that we might extend the same kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness that we are given through Him.

The Lord is gracious,

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

He’s loving and kind;

Full of compassion,

In Him, we align.

He forgives our faults,

Calls us to the same;

As we extend grace,

We honor His Name.

O Lord, please lead us,

To love as You do;

Ever forgiving,

As goodness shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be kind and compassionate to one another, full of forgiveness and love. Thank You that You not only show us these things over and over again, but You equip us to go and do likewise as we trust in You. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked love, compassion, kindness or forgiveness when interacting with those around us. Teach us to seek You first to fill us and lead us in Your love. Show us how to extend kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love in tangible ways to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to lead us to love as You so completely love us all. Amen.

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

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

Community Brings Comfort

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them. – (Matthew 18:20, HCSB)

Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – (Matthew 18:20, VOICE)

This is one of the reasons we are meant to be in community. When we join together with one another, God is present among us. It does not mean that He won’t be with us on our own, but there is a powerful awareness of His presence when we gather with others. There is something tangible about the nearness of God when there are at least one or two others with You. I imagine that is the reason that we gather for weddings, funerals, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays and the like – all are occasions to join with others in celebration, grief, expectation or gratitude. Tomorrow will be just such an occasion, as a friend, classmate, teammate and fellow coach has to lay her husband to rest. My hope and prayer is that God is tangibly present to comfort, provide, grant wisdom and His perfect peace. He is always good, even when our circumstances are not, so we can trust that He will move in the hearts of all who join together in remembrance. 

O Lord, we invite,

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Your presence come in;

Your hands to hold us,

As Your love floods in.

May peace be present,

In the midst of loss;

Your hope tangible,

As love comes across.

Across the heartache,

And what should have been;

In the loneliness,

May Your peace come in.

Lord, be ever near,

Your heart truly known;

May comfort surround,

And hope in You grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to gather in Your Name, for when we do, You promise to be present. Thank You that You are already preparing the way for tomorrow, as You know every need that will arrive. Forgive us for isolating when we are meant to allow others in. Show us how to reach out and be present with others so that they may experience Your love, comfort and peace, even when it does not make sense. Lead us in Your love to lift others up and be Your hands, feet, heart and voice made tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for knowing our needs and surrounding us with community in every season. Amen.

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

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

Love Beyond What is Seen

For we walk by faith, not by sight. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, HCSB)

We live by what we believe will happen, not by what we can see. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, ERV)

The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, VOICE)

When we know God and trust in Him, we need not fear what we see with our eyes, but rather hold fast to the truth of all that He has promised. What we see is only a small part of the big picture; we only know in part what God knows in whole. He knows the outcome before things begin, and He holds us in the hollow of His hands. In Him, we can trust that He will lead us, guide us, and stay beside us, through every step of every day. So often, things have looked bleak or hopeless or impossible through my own eyes, yet with Christ, the bleak became beautiful; the hopeless, full of hope; the impossible was indeed possible and my perspective was persuaded to see beyond what my eyes could take in. Walking in faith is not blind, but rather it is seeing through His eyes rather than our own. May we ever walk in faith, trusting beyond what we cannot see, for God sees and knows all and has our very best in mind.

O Lord help us walk,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

By faith and not sight;

For we’ve but a glimpse,

Of all You make right.

Seasons of heartache,

And mountains we climb;

All with a purpose,

Holy and divine.

Each new obstacle,

You grant us the strength;

To keep on moving,

Through height, depth and length.

As our view changes,

And we have moved past;

You show us purpose,

Your love beyond our ask.

So, trust in the Lord,

Not in what we see;

For God’s always good,

In love He will lead.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith helps us to trust beyond what we can see, for we only see in part what You see in whole. Forgive us for our lack of faith when what we see seems far beyond what we are capable of navigating. Teach us to recognize that You can do far more than we could ever hope or imagine. Show us how to walk by faith and live out Your love for all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust beyond what we can see, for You are good and far greater than anything that comes before us. Amen.

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

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. – Ephesians 2:8

Made New

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. – (2 Corinthians 5:17, HCSB)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, VOICE)

The first day of a new year is a time that many reflect on what has passed and set goals to focus upon in the coming year. That being said, resolutions tend to fizzle after a few weeks, and frustration and disappointment typically transpire. However, if we set our sights on Christ and all that He has in store for us, each new thing is something to embrace. It does not require a change in the calendar, but rather a change of heart. When we are planted and rooted in our Redeemer, we become new in Him. Jesus gives us new life and new hope each new morning. Just as most of us are more than ready to move past 2021 and anticipate 2022 with hope, we can release old habits, ideas and mindsets that were not of Christ, and cling to Him and all that He is ready to reveal to us. In Him, we are a work in progress that is becoming more and more of whom He has created us to be. May we ever embrace the forgiveness and grace that Jesus offers, and cling to the new He is doing in all who earnestly seek Him.

When we are in Christ,

Beautiful new lies ahead, if only we trust in His direction.

In love we’re made new;

The old fades away,

As He leads us through.

Through all the heartache,

Frustration and fear;

Into the future,

He has for us here.

A hope and future,

That changes our heart;

To be more like His,

Each day a fresh start.

Rise and be ready,

To follow in love;

All that He’s asking,

Trust in Him above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek and trust in You, the old fades away and new we become. Thank You that each day is a fresh start and an opportunity for You to make us more like You. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen and follow what You are asking. Teach us to hold fast to You and Your promises, for in You there is hope, goodness, light and life as You love us perfectly. 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 continue to make us new each day that we are given, so that we may shine Your light into the world. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

To Know Peace

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33, NIV)

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in Me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in Me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

“I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.” – (John 16:33, VOICE)

Because we live in a broken and fallen world, there will be times of trouble. However, with Christ in us, we can have peace despite what surrounds us. He has already experienced the same sort of trials, sorrows, and difficulties that we face and bore the weight of all on His shoulders. In the same way a parent can bring calm and peace to an upset child, God can be our comfort and safe place to rest in Him. His love brings comfort and calm, even through our greatest trials and places of pain. This is not just theoretical, for I have known and experienced God’s peace through heartache, hurt and helplessness. When there was nothing I could do to make my circumstances better or easier, He came alongside me and provided His strength and peace as He walked beside me and loved me through it all. Each time I have to walk through difficulty, God’s faithful, loving kindness meets me where I am at and leads me through; for He is my help, my hope, and my true place of peace. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, no matter what lies ahead.

Trouble comes and goes,

As it always does;

Yet God is faithful,

As He always was.

Peace in our chaos,

Calm through ev’ry storm;

Comfort in heartache,

And strength when we’re worn.

All that we’re facing,

And all we have known;

Jesus experienced,

So grace might be shown.

Lean into Jesus,

For He is the way;

To know love and peace,

He’s promised to stay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort and peace, no matter what challenges we face. Thank You that You know heartache, suffering, and sorrow, and are able to bring comfort and peace in places it seems impossible. Forgive us for our struggle to trust when things are overwhelming. Teach us to turn to You in all things, for You are our perfect peace no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love those around us through every circumstance so that they too, may know Your loving kindness that brings peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our peace in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

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