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

Our Strength and Song

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation… – (Exodus 15:2, HCSB)

The Lord is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise to Him… – (Exodus 15:2, ERV)

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory… – (Exodus 15:2, NLT)

This is a portion of the song that the Israelites sang when God saved them in the desert by parting the Red Sea and then closing it again on the Egyptians who had enslaved them. The same God who saved the Israelites back then, can do more than we hope or imagine in the here and now. He saves and strengthens us, and He is our reason to sing songs of praise. Whether it is the need for strength to get through the day, or a victory in a long fought battle, God hears, sees, and meets us where we are when we call on Him. May we ever seek the Lord who saves us, and rely on Him to give us strength and praise Him with our songs.

The Lord is my strength,

My reason to sing;

Hope and salvation,

Source of ev’rything.

Our great saving grace,

All love and all peace;

Gifts from the Father,

Let our songs increase.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our reason to sing. Thank You that You save us and grant us hope and joy in You. Forgive us for making You too small, or thinking our need is insignificant. Teach us to ask and trust in You with all things. Show us how to embrace all that You give. Lead us to love those around us in ways that offer hope and strength and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and praise You forever. Amen. 

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. – Psalm 118:14

To the Shepherds

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

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

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

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

In awe and wonder,

Imagine the sight;

The presence of God,

Gave shepherds a fright.

But to their surprise,

An angel brought news;

The promised Savior,

Was nearby, in view.

Of all the people,

Nearby His birth place;

God chose the shepherds,

To first see His face.

The face of the Lord,

A new baby born;

To save humankind,

The One to adore.

May we remember,

In wonder and awe;

The most blessed news,

And all that they saw.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your messenger to ordinary shepherds to share the glorious news of the Savior’s birth. Thank You that though an overwhelming sight, You had the angel remind them that they need not fear, for You had sent Your Son to be near. Forgive us for forgetting that You do incredible things through ordinary people to look to You. Teach us to ever look to You and remember all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to do extraordinary things through ordinary people who believe You. Amen.

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

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

Incredible Faithfulness

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough – because there was no room for them at the lodging place. – (Luke 2:6-7, HCSB)

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV)

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the newborn baby in strips of cloth, and Mary and Joseph laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village. – (Luke 2:6-7, TPT)

I can’t help but think of Mary and her trust in God as she traveled far from home, very pregnant, knowing that she was likely to give birth while in Bethlehem. Alone in a cave where animals were kept, she and Joseph had to navigate the birth of this promised, blessed baby, in less than ideal conditions. Though a young girl, unmarried and in a seemingly compromised position, she and Joseph delivered the precious baby and wrapped Him in what they had and improvised to provide a safe space for Him to sleep. Imagine both the joy and sorrow as they welcomed Jesus into the world. Joy in the promise fulfilled as they held their firstborn son, yet sorrow in their solitude. No family surrounding them, despite the fact that the family had to have been in Bethlehem too for the census. What is spoken between the lines is the weight they bore and the trust they had in God and His promises. If God can help two young people navigate a lack of space to bring the Savior of the World to the earth, how much more can He help us through whatever challenges we face? God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He was faithful then, He is faithful now, and His faithfulness will not end. May we pause and ponder in awe and wonder as we consider the love and grace granted as Mary and Joseph successfully navigated the seemingly impossible. 

A woman ready,

To bring forth a son;

No place to give birth,

To the Holy One.

A lowly stable,

A cave in the earth;

With only creatures,

To witness the birth.

No bells or whistles,

To welcome the Son;

A quiet stable,

When the day was done.

It did not end there,

For God had much more;

To show they were seen,

And praise the Adored.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your faithfulness again and again. Thank You for sending Your Son in such humble beginnings as You show us Your incredible faithfulness through Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Forgive us for our lack of faith or our fear to trust, for You are the very meaning of trustworthy. Teach us to lean into You in the spaces that seem impossible or overwhelming, for You are so much greater than all that we face. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You this Christmas season. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your unending faithfulness and remember the ways that You have provided again and again and again. Amen.

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

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds. – Psalm 36:5

Assured By Love

Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. – (Luke 1:30, HCSB)

Then the angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. – (Luke 1:30, ERV)

But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear, Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift.” – (Luke 1:30, TPT)

As I continue to ponder the role that Mary played in Christmas, I imagine that she must have been quite startled by the appearance of an angel, and felt fear in the presence of God’s own messenger standing before her. I love that her immediate need was met, as he assured her that she had nothing to fear, for God was pleased with her and she had found His favor. In the present day, we have little understanding of the fear of appearing before a king. Back then, if a person appeared before a king without being summoned, they could be killed if the king was not pleased with them. How much more would they have had a similar fear in being in the presence of the King of the Universe’s messenger? The loving kindness of God was made known through Gabriel as He reassured Mary. To hear that God is delighted with you and has a wonderful gift for you, would likely bring peace in the panicked places. Incredibly, when we seek the Lord and pursue a life of love through Him, He is pleased with us as well. He has good gifts to give us if only we are ready and willing to receive them. Peace, joy, love and hope are the gifts that we celebrate as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s arrival. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, for He is our hope and grants us joy through His love as we seek Him.

Imagine the sight,

Before Mary stood;

God’s angelic host,

With news that was good.

To be called favored,

One whom God called blessed;

Quite overwhelming,

Assured in distress.

Little did she know,

The news he would bear;

Lives changed forever,

God would soon be there.

He’d come in the flesh,

Miraculous plan,

A new baby born;

Where hope soon began.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see us where we are and meet us in our need. Thank You that You see our heart and show us Your great love and grace that provide hope, peace and joy. Forgive us for not turning to You in both our joy and our times of need, for You hear every prayer and are ever near. Teach us to trust You like Mary, for though she did not know what was ahead, she knew and trusted You. Show us how to be willing to listen and give our best yes to You. Lead us to love one another as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside fears and trust big in You and all that You have for us. Amen.

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

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. – 1 John 4:13

Confidently Ask

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. – (1 John 5:14, HCSB)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before Him, for if we ask anything agreeable to His will, He will hear us. – (1 John 5:14, TPT)

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice that covers our sin, we can boldly come before God with our prayers and petitions. He sees and He hears and will move on our behalf when we ask things that are according to His will. His answers may look different than we would imagine, but He hears and provides an outcome that ultimately is for good. May we ever trust the Lord and seek Him with our every prayer, for He hears and cares when we come to Him with love as our motivation for all that we ask.

With great confidence,

Go to the Lord’s throne;

He hears what we ask,

As His grace is shown.

He tells us to ask,

For in love, He’ll hear;

Each faithful request,

As He remains near.

Near us with goodness,

Closeby with His grace;

With love, He surrounds,

Let us seek His face.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can be confident in the sacrifice of Your Son that covers us and provides the way for us to confidently and boldly come before You, and trust that You hear what we ask as our hearts align with Yours. Forgive us for the times that we have not asked, or have not trusted that You hear us when we do not see the answers we hope for or evidence that You are moving on our behalf. Show us how to trust in Your goodness and love, even when we do not see what we hope for. Lead us to love others as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confidently seek You and trust in Your unfailing love to hear us and hold us. Amen.

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

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

Listen in Love

`My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

Can you imagine if we all actually followed this charge? Misunderstandings would be quickly cleared up, and kindness would reign. When we choose to truly listen to understand rather than to respond, and take our time to respond carefully in love, anger dissipates. A heart that is quick to willingly listen in love has the opportunity to slow down and think before speaking.  As we do this, anger does not flair up but rather only rises in spaces that are calling for our attention to change or remove. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intentionally and to respond slowly with His wisdom.

Brothers and sisters,

Let’s all do our part;

To listen in love,

And speak from the heart.

Be slow to anger,

Choose listen, be wise;

Allow the Lord’s love,

Let kindness arise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to listen first and be slow to speak. I imagine that is part of the reason that we have two ears and only one mouth. Thank You that You grant us the patience, wisdom and love to listen first and speak next after truly hearing one another. Forgive us for the times that we have given rise to anger and have spoken without listening.

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

God, hear my prayer; listen to the words of my mouth. – Psalm 54:2

Abound

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)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. – (Philippians 1:9, TPT)

I think we all need a bit more love and insight right now. This has been the longest season, and I can’t imagine where I would be without love. God is good, and He lovingly grants us knowledge and understanding so that we can love well. God places people in our lives who show us glimpses of His love for us. My husband, my best friend, my family and my friends all play an integral role in reminding me of the depth and breadth of God’s love for us all. Each of them encourage, challenge, and help me grow in my understanding and insight as to just how good God is and how intentionally He created us to love. May we ever keep seeking and praying for our love to abound more and more, and to continue to grow in our understanding and insight.

Hand-crafted by Christ,

Intentionally;

All made to love well,

As He helps us see.

Wisdom and insight,

Are granted to us;

So we might choose love,

As given to us.

In good times and bad,

God’s love is made clear;

In seeking, we find,

How good and how near.

Choose love each other,

No matter what comes;

With patience and grace,

Help each to become.

Become what God planned,

Live life with intent;

Choose love others well,

It’s a life well spent.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grant us wisdom and understanding as our love ever increases through You. Forgive us for not seeking or for neglecting to love as You intended. Teach us to listen and love as You do. Show us how to love those around us best, so that Your heart may be made clear to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us anew with Your love and to grant us understanding and knowledge in how to navigate each day best. Amen.

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

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – Psalm 86:5

Together in Peace

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, NIV)

So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV)

Now, this is the goal: to live in harmony with one another and demonstrate affectionate love, sympathy, and kindness toward other believers. Let humility describe who you are as you dearly love one another. – (1 Peter 3:8, TPT)

Imagine what our nation would be like if we all attempted to live this way. It has to start small, and then spread outward. I love that the directive is not simply given and then just dropped. There is a clear explanation of how to make it happen. To live together in peace, we must first try to understand each other. As we actively seek to do so, we are loving each other as sisters and brothers. Additionally, kindness and humility break down barriers and remove walls that keep harmony out. Though it is a seemingly monumental task, if we begin in our own homes, our workspaces, and as we engage in our communities, we are contributing to peace, rather than dissent. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and perseverance to seek to understand one another in love, with kindness and humility, so that we may love as was intended and live in harmony with one another.

We’re all called to peace,

The result of love;

True understanding,

That’s graced from above.

When we are humble,

And choose to be kind;

Anger is diffused,

And love is aligned.

Lord, help us to seek,

To love each other;

Bring peace among us,

As sisters, brothers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live in peace with one another. Thank You that You do not simply call or command it, but rather You give us clear and practical ways to bring harmony into our communities. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to operate out of love. Teach us how to ever seek to understand, so that we may humbly extend kindness and treat all as beloved sisters and brothers. Show us how to love one another well, as clearly You created us for community. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love to live in peace with each other. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Live Out Love

Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV)

Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, TPT)

Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, VOICE)

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all allowed love and kindness to be the motivation behind all that we do? Though we cannot change the entire world’s perspective, we can live out love right here and now in our own households, workplaces, and communities. Each time we let love prevail in what we say and do, we are allowing others to see glimpses of the love of God. It is a joy to be around those who operate accordingly, and a motivation to do likewise. The more we choose love, the more we truly see and hear one another. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love in all that we say and do, so that love prevails in our lives.

Lead us in love, Lord,

In all that we do;

May our words and deeds,

Point straight back to You.

Your love and kindness,

Forever prove true;

Unending goodness,

Shows us what to do.

Help us to listen,

To follow Your lead;

So all’s done in love,

Each word, thought, and deed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live Your love in all that we say and do. Thank You that You sent Your Son to model this perfectly for all. Forgive us for every word and action that has not conveyed love. Teach us to trust and follow Your leading, so that we may demonstrate love in all that we say and do. Show us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they experience the goodness and fullness of Your loving kindness extended to us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live out Your love in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13