Willful Obedience

Just as Jesus was coming out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” – (Mark 1:10-11, NIV) 

But as Jesus was coming out of the waters, He looked up and saw the sky split open. The Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove, and a voice echoed in the heavens. “You are My Son, My beloved One, and I am very pleased with You.” – (Mark 1:10-11, VOICE) 

 

In an act of obedience, Jesus went out to His cousin, John, in the desert, and asked to be baptized. At first John was reluctant, as he knew that God was doing something incredible through Jesus, and did not feel worthy to baptize Him. After a brief exchange, John agreed, and as he did, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God made His presence known, and proclaimed from above, who Jesus was and how He felt about Him. The obedience of both Jesus and John opened the way for God to make Jesus’ significance known. I can only imagine the awe and wonder that took place in those who were nearby. Not only did they witness His willful act of obedience, but they saw the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus, as they heard the voice of God. Though we are not the Son of God, we are His children. When we choose to willfully obey, we make room for others to see His power and goodness at work in and through us. Our charge is to love God and love people. As we do, His heart is made known to those around us, whether they realize it is Him or not. May we ever seek the Lord and walk in willful obedience, so that He may make Himself known to those around us. 

 

The power of God, willful obedience

A choice to obey; 

God makes His heart known, 

When we walk His way. 

As children of God, 

We each have the call; 

To seek the Lord’s strength, 

And show love to all. 

May we one day hear, 

A similar claim; 

That God’s pleased with us, 

As we’ve walked His way. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You empower us to do all that You say. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored or delayed in walking out the things that You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that expresses Your loving kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in willful obedience to all that You ask. Amen.

 

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

 

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2

Beholding New Blessings

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV) 

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His holy name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV) 

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG) 

 

This morning, after perusing Facebook while my coffee was brewing, I discovered the story I have watched unfold over the last five years through countless runs (that we affectionately call therapy sessions), poured out with complete honesty and zero ill intent, as my dear friend commemorated in writing, her journey to freedom through faith and forgiveness. Her story and my own, though different, had some common threads that ultimately led to a similar outcome. This story tells of one dream being destroyed, while tremendous blessings of God’s faithfulness tenderly delivered she and her children into an incredible new chapter, with many more blessings yet to unfold. These verses, written by David, are amazingly appropriate as my heart responds with joy and praise for all of His faithfulness and blessings poured out over the past several years. The freedom, goodness and grace received are remarkably evident. Though the story seems to be one of extreme heartache, the other side of it holds dreams realized and hopes restored and made far greater than one could begin to imagine. God is faithful, even on our darkest nights, as His light comes and reveals the truth, hope and good that are meant to remain. May we hold fast to God and His grace, ever praising Him for every blessing He pours out upon us as we choose to allow Him room to lead. 

 

With all of my heart, 385ace51-24e7-416b-8430-0515506705ec7822422687448967530.jpg

I choose bless Your name; 

For You are the One, 

Who does what He claims. 

You take our heartache, 

Darkness and despair; 

And lead to freedom, 

In Your tender care. 

Where hope seems but dashed, 

You mend and renew; 

Your blessings poured out, 

As we trust in You. 

All thanks be to God, 

Whose faithful indeed; 

He loves us to life, 

And meets all our need. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You turn stories of darkness and despair into ones of healing and hope and beautiful blessings. Thank You that You turn our ashes into beautiful stories of Your redemption and grace. Forgive us for our times of fear and doubt, as You alone are the One to work all things out. Teach us to trust You in every season and circumstance, as You have a far greater plan that our limited understanding can grasp. Show us how to love those around us well, as You use our stories of struggle to illuminate, encourage and bless those who are in their own spaces of darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we bless You with all of our being for the hope, goodness and promise that You have for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

(God) who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:4-5

 

*Click on “This story” as highlighted in the text to read the story to which I am referring.

A Glimpse of Heaven

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10) 

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! It is for everyone everywhere! – (Luke 2:8-10, TPT) 

 

Ordinary shepherds learned of extraordinary news. The men out in their fields were used to fending off predators to their flock, but angelic visits were not within their repertoire of everyday occurrences that they encountered while watching their sheep. Clearly it was an overwhelming sight, as the radiant splendor of God’s messenger caused great fright within the shepherds, and the angel of the Lord had to tell them that they need not be afraid. Incredibly, these faithful shepherds were the first to receive news of the Savior’s birth, and were quick to leave their fields to go and see what the angel had spoken of in Bethlehem. The shepherd’s rapid response to the angel’s news led to them being among the very first to witness and marvel at the miracle lying before them in a manger. The Son of God, Christ the Savior, had arrived. Just as the shepherds received the news so long ago, we are reminded each year during this season of celebration, of the great news that began with the birth of Jesus, that ultimately led to the opportunity for salvation for all who choose believe. May we take time to meditate on the splendor of Christ’s majesty, and recognize the remarkable way in which He came into the world. No palace nor throne, but a simple stable in the open air of night, as an angel proclaimed the arrival of Christ the Lord to some faithful shepherds. Ordinary men received extraordinary news, and because they chose to listen and go see, their lives were changed for all eternity. 

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

In the fields that night; 

Met by an angel, 

Terrifying sight. 

Radiant glory, 

Overwhelmed the men; 

Unprepared to see, 

A glimpse of heaven. 

The angel told them, 

“Do not be afraid; 

For I bring good news, 

To tell you this day.” 

Birth of the Savior, 

In the town nearby; 

They rushed to go see, 

The sweet babe that night. 

Imagine the sight, 

As shepherds arrived; 

Just as they had heard, 

The hope for mankind. 

Though but an infant, 

The shepherds, they knew; 

What had been spoken, 

Was certainly true. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be among us. Thank You that though He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, He came in a way that is approachable and relatable. Heaven came to earth through a miraculous birth, and was declared to ordinary people, just like us. Forgive us for not recognizing in wonder, the magnitude of what took place. Teach us to see and imagine the mountains You moved to bring heaven to earth, so that we all could come to know You, personally. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects the depth and willing sacrifice that Your love has given through Jesus. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe and wonder at the humble and incredible way that Jesus came to make the way for us all to know You. Amen.

 

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

 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” – Luke 2:15

Called to Task

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. – (Luke 1:76-77, NIV) 

Now you, little boy, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go first before the Lord to prepare the way for Him. You will make His people understand that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven. – (Luke 1:76-77, ERV) 

 

As Zechariah’s song of praise continued, he proclaimed words of truth, as God revealed the role that his son, John, would play in preparing the hearts of people for all that Christ had to offer. John was a faithful proclaimer of truth, and he spent his life, even unto his own death, speaking of the way to salvation through the forgiveness of sins. As the parents of John, Zechariah and Elizabeth knew their son was called to a task that was beyond their own human understanding. Both, likely spent John’s formative years, educating and raising him close to God, guiding him in the direction that he was meant to go. I imagine it took tremendous faith and dependence on God, to lead a child who was called to such specific work for the Lord. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Raising children who have been set apart from infancy, or even earlier, would be a task that takes trust beyond measure. In my own experience, simply being responsible for two tiny humans at the same time, took formidable faith, as premature twins in the care of a first-time parent was slightly terrifying. God’s grace, mercy and strength made the unknown and unyielding, manageable and marvelous. May we seek the Lord and His strength, as we recognize that He is our help and our hope in raising up the next generation of faithful followers of Him. 

 

O Lord, let our faith, 0119180406679500301.jpg

Be rooted in You; 

Our strength and our hope, 

For Your love is true. 

However You call, 

Whatever our way; 

Your help, grace and hope, 

Will lead us each day. 

Faithful forever, 

O Lord God, You reign; 

Please show us each day, 

The path we’re to take. 

  

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness, grace and faithfulness forever. Thank You that You never call us to anything that You are not also willing to equip us to do. Forgive us for our fearfulness when the call seems far beyond our ability to navigate. Teach us to trust You more, for You are greater than any seeming impossibility that lies before us. Show us how to faithfully navigate the roles to which we are called. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and grace tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things at all times, and faithfully walk wherever You lead. Amen.

 

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

 

When I called to You for help, You answered me and gave me strength. – Psalm 138:3

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

To Keep the Peace

They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. – (Titus 3:2, NLT)

They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone. – (Titus 3:2, CEB)

Don’t tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone. – (Titus 3:2, VOICE)

 

These words are still completely applicable to us all. Can you imagine our schools, our work places, our cities, and our nation, if people chose to be considerate and humble toward everyone, refusing to tear others down with their words? If we treated each other the way God intended, peace would reign, and we would no longer witness wars of words as a “that’s just how they communicate” situation. Though the high road takes more work, it always leads to a more worthwhile destination. The result of peace, patience, kindness, humility and self-control, far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of a curt reply. May we seek the Lord and His grace so that we may respond to others according to His ways.

 

 

A gentle answer, Made With Purpose

Can turn away wrath;

Bring peace in chaos,

Point to the right path.

For where we choose love,

God’s grace is made plain;

Through humility,

Our life is our claim.

So, let us choose love,

Kindness and His grace;

Ways that point people,

To seek the Lord’s face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peaceful and considerate, so that we might choose to walk humbly in love, just as You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have been less than loving in our response to people. Teach us to trust You to give us the grace to be humble and kind, acting in love to all people at all times. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your unfailing love to lead us well. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5

Worth the Wait

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, NLT)

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting – for He will never disappoint you! – (Psalm 27:14, TPT)

 

Waiting is one of the most challenging things that humans are called to do. Strength and courage are necessary to be upheld as we stand by in hope for what is yet to come. Without the Lord’s grace and strength and courage, it would be seemingly impossible to hold-up for that which has not yet happened. I imagine that whomever originally spoke (or penned) the words, “Good things come to those who wait,” had experienced the joy that arrives when hope long awaited is at last realized. God is good, and He has good things in store for us. Often, we have to walk through trials or seasons of waiting before we discover the blessing that comes when the wait is done. As we choose to patiently trust in the Lord, our hearts are strengthened and we grow in our capacity to hope. The grace and presence of the Lord ultimately lead us to the beautiful blessing He intended all along. May we ever wait patiently for the Lord with courage and strength, for He is faithful, always.

 

With patience, choose wait, Made With Purpose

For the Lord is good;

Faithful to meet us,

Our need understood.

Though the wait may be,

Seemingly too long;

God’s courage and strength,

Will help keep us strong.

So, wait on the Lord,

Trust His love and grace;

Now and forever,

He is worth the wait.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we wait on You, You are faithful to grant us courage and strength as we standby. Thank You that You are good, always. Forgive us for our impatience and our desire to see things done on our timeline rather than Yours. Teach us to trust You and Your timing. Show us how to love those around us in ways that give courage and strength in the waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your faithfulness, even when we cannot see answers on the horizon. Amen.

 

 

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

Lord, I wait for You; You will answer, Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15

 

Hearing Our Heart

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – (Jeremiah 29:12, NIV)

Then you will call my Name. You will come to Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – (Jeremiah 29:12, ERV)

At that time, you will call out for Me, and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. – (Jeremiah 29:12, VOICE)

 

God is faithful to hear us every time we call on His Name. Though His answers do not always look the way that we might envision, He is loving and kind and has our very best in mind. In my life, though I prayed one way for years, hoping that He would intervene and bring restoration, He instead protected, provided, and brought me to a place that is far better than I could have even dared to dream. God is good, and He hears our every prayer. May we pray with persistence, trusting that He is faithful and has a plan and a future for us that far exceeds what we could hope or imagine.

 

No matter the state,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Our heart when we come;

Each prayer that we pray,

Heard, His will be done.

For God’s will is good,

Because He is love;

His plans are greater,

Grace shines from above.

Though how He answers,

A bit a surprise;

His ultimate good,

Will grant strength to rise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our every prayer and listen to our heart. Thank You that Your plans are far greater than what we could hope or imagine. Forgive us for not seeking You or for questioning Your faithfulness when we cannot see how things could possibly be moving in a direction for good. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful forever, and have a plan and a future for each of us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages and strengthens each as they go throughout their days. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray to You and trust You to hear and move on our behalf, even when we do not understand the direction. Amen.

 

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

In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

Pursuing What is Right

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – (Matthew 5:6, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who want to do right more than anything else. – (Matthew 5:6, ERV)

How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness. – (Matthew 5:6, TPT)

 

As we pursue God’s best for us, we find He is faithful to meet us. God’s presence assures, His love endures, and His grace is far greater than we could ask or imagine. Blessings come when we are aware of the work of God in and around us. He is good and He endows the seeking with His presence and His grace, and makes His nearness known throughout all of our days. May we ever crave to do what is right, as our Savior surrounds us with His presence and provision to pursue His path.

 

Help us to pursue, pursuing what is right

All that’s good and right;

For each who does so,

Becomes God’s delight.

Ever He’s faithful,

To all those who choose;

To seek the Lord’s best,

For grace and breakthroughs.

So, let us rise up,

With hearts full of praise;

Pursue the Lord’s best,

For all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we pursue righteousness, we discover the blessings that You have for us. Forgive us for the times that we have gone our own way without seeking, or have neglected the direction that You have provided. Teach us how to come to You in trust and to follow all that You are asking. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them see the blessings found in Your faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue the path of righteousness that You have prepared for us to follow. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth (Moreno) 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

 

 

Blessings to the Seeking

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and living righteously, and He will give you everything you need. – (Matthew 6:33, NLT)

What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what He wants you to do. Then He will give you all these other things you need. – (Matthew 6:33, ERV)

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. – (Matthew 6:33, MSG)

 

As we pursue God and the path He has placed before us, He provides all that we need. We may not acquire everything we want, yet so often what we receive in His time, is a far greater gift than anything that we could ever ask or imagine. In my life, I was content in my season of singleness, and set my sight on loving God and my children well. All that we needed, His hand provided. Incredibly, He did so much more. New love took root where any thought or hope of such love had been long since lost. It was nurtured to grow as never before, and the longing to be loved as God intended that had been buried in the depths of my heart, has become a true tangible. All of this to say, as we seek our Savior and pursue the path that is upright, He provides all that we need and more. May we seek the Lord above all else, doing what He asks of us, and we will know the bounty of His provision, personally.

 

Seek first our Savior,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

And pursue what’s right;

He honors each heart,

In Him who delights.

With grace, He meets us,

In goodness He gives;

All that is needed,

As by faith we live.

Incredible still,

He goes on to bless;

His kids who seek Him,

Despite our life’s mess.

Kindness in chaos,

Peace throughout our storms;

Ongoing goodness,

As His love transforms.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, we find You. Thank You that when we pursue the path You place before us You provide all that we need to navigate. Forgive us for the times we have attempted to go our own direction and lacked the faith to trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful forever and have great things in store as we walk in Your way. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and pursue what is right in Your eyes. Amen.

 

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

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:8