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

Give Praise

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)

So far, it has been a strange winter break. My love and I spent Christmas morning driving south to my sister and brother-in-law’s home to enjoy time together with their family and my mom. My kids were unable to go, as they were recovering from a virus and did not want to share it with mom. Yesterday, we spent a few hours helping organize and set up mom’s new place near my sister. Change can be overwhelming yet being close to family in a space that is equipped to help and support mom well, is a positive change, as she was alone far too often. It is a tremendous blessing that mom was able to get in, as there is a long wait list to move into her new place. I mention these things because though not typical, I can see and celebrate God’s blessings through it all. For my kids, they had down time to rest and relax, and for us, we were able to visit and help, even with a quick turn-around. This morning, my love is back to work, and I am back to running practice for my gymnasts. I still have another week off from teaching, but coaching continues throughout. There is joy in this as well. Another praise is that my surgeries went well, and I am on the mend. The specialist was confident that she removed all the cancerous cells, and the reconstructive surgery of the site is healing nicely. For all these things and more, I am truly grateful to God and cannot help but give Him thanks and praise. May we ever bless the Lord and give Him thanks, for every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

All praise be to God,

I lift up His Name;

For all that is good,

His grace to proclaim.

Through all things that come,

On this road we take;

God will be faithful,

For a way He’ll make.

Faithful through valleys,

And on mountain tops;

He will never leave,

Our struggles He swaps.

He exchanges dark,

With glorious light;

Grants peace with presence,

In Him we delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have so much to be grateful for in You. Forgive us for the times that we forget our blessings and focus on what we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful to respond each time we call on Your Name. Show us how to praise You in all things, especially through how we choose to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the countless blessings that You bring into our lives and for the love that You show. Amen.

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

Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. – 1 Kings 8:56

Hope in the Promise

“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, NIV)

“Now, Lord, You can let me, Your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, ERV)

“God, You can now release Your servant; release me in peace as You promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen Your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealed light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, MSG)

Simeon, who had lived in prayerful expectancy, had been shown by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. Can you imagine waiting your whole life for a promise, and then recognizing the moment that it had been fulfilled? Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus to the temple on the eighth day after His birth, and the above verses are Simeon’s words of praise for his promise provided. Mary and Joseph had already been visited by angels and shepherds, and now were witnessing one who had waited his whole life to see God’s promised hope, was holding their baby and declaring praise for who He was. Simeon saw Jesus with so much more than human eyes. His heart heard hope in the sweet small breaths of the Savior, and his spirit sensed the significance of the One whom he was holding. God gave Simeon insight, wisdom and words that would make a lasting imprint on the hearts of Mary and Joseph. This is the sort of joy and celebration that we ought to hold as we embrace this most sacred season. Jesus came to earth to save us and was the promise that had been so long awaited, fulfilled. Despite the things that go on around us, be it challenge, loss, struggle, or strife, may we pause and recognize the One who has experienced all and took it upon Himself so that we might know light, life, hope, peace, joy and love that last forever. Glory to God in the highest, and upon us all, may His favor rest.

Hope in the promise,

Spoken long before;

Joy through revealing,

The One we adore.

Promise awaited,

With joy, realized;

The Savior had come,

Seen with his own eyes.

The One who arrived,

The hope for the world;

Made the way for us,

Fulfillment observed.

May we take the joy,

The love, hope, and peace;

Into the new year,

His presence increased.

Sing praise, all the earth,

Our Savior has come;

His light unto us,

The Most Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to us so that we might come to know and understand the goodness of Your love. Thank You for time during this sacred season to gather and remember just how good You truly are. Forgive us for the things that we allow to distract us from the reason for this season. Teach us to lean into You and receive all that You offer, so that we might be bearers of Your loving light. Show us how to love those around us like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make room to recognize who You are and how You love us all beyond what our hearts can hold. Amen.

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

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. – Micah 7:7

The Light of Hope

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)

Hide me and protect me. I trust what You say. – (Psalm 119:114, ERV)

You are my hiding place and my shield of protection; I hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, VOICE)

The dictionary definition of hope is: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. (dictionary.com) However, for those who hope in Jesus, the word means so much more. When we place our hope in God and His word, it is the blessed assurance that we know God is with us, and are confident that no matter what is going on now, our future is certain in Christ. There is comfort, joy and peace when we place our hope in the Lord and His word. Throughout scriptures, we are reminded that God’s goodness triumphs over all that would feel like it is against us. Ultimately, Jesus provides our every reason to have hope forever. He took all of our sin, shame, hurts, heartaches and fears with Him to the cross. Jesus has felt what we feel, and knows how to contend for us. When we trust in Him and place our hope in His goodness and love, we not only know and experience it here, but we have the blessed assurance that we will spend eternity with Him in the place He has prepared for us. This is the reason that the Christmas season is one that is filled with hope, for Jesus arrived as the hope of the world that had been promised long before. His arrival was hope realized, and His life and love have shown us not only what we have now, but all that is yet to come. May we ever seek the Lord to remind us of the hope we have in Him, and celebrate the blessed assurance that came into the world when Christ was born.

The Light of the world,

Came down unto us;

The hope realized,

Was found in Jesus.

Our safety and help,

Both now and to be;

Blessed assurance,

For you and for me.

Our true hope is found,

Sweet security;

Comfort in knowing,

Love eternally.

No matter what comes,

Hope in God is true;

He’s present to help,

And carry us through.

His light will lead us,

Our anchor through storms;

Good everlasting,

The Hope that transforms.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what hope truly means. Thank You that You are our hope in the here and now, and the blessed assurance we have in forever with You. Forgive us for forgetting that hope is not a feeling, but rather it is the knowing that is deeply rooted in our souls that reminds us that we are not home yet. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate and pass on what hope really means. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You and trust in the blessed assurance that we have through knowing You and spending time in Your word. Amen.

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

“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” – John 9:5

All Thanks and Praise

Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:20, NIV)

Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:20, MSG)

And give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done. – (Ephesians 5:20, VOICE)

Gratitude is what sets our hearts right. No matter what is going on in our lives, around us, or in the world, there are always reasons to give thanks to God. As I watch our puppies play in the living room as I write, I am thankful to God for our home and for the joy that these two pups bring to our family. It is easy to expand from there, as I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my family – both in our home and beyond. Additionally, I am grateful for the friends that surround us, and for the communities to which I belong. God is intentional in the people whom He places beside us and around us, as He knows what we each need and how to help us each navigate as He intended. May we ever be intentional to stop and give thanks to God for all that is good in our lives, for as we do, we recognize how good He is and how loved we truly are.

All thanks be to God,

For all that is good;

His loving kindness,

And grace understood.

Family and friends,

Each community;

In which we’ve been placed,

Opportunity.

A chance to be kind,

Encourage and love;

To help each other,

Like the Lord above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless ways that You love, encourage, support and provide for us each day we draw breath. Thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives. Forgive us for neglecting to give Your praise for all that You provide. Teach us to recognize the overwhelming goodness and love that You have for us, and how You care for us individually. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and give You thanks for who You are and how You love us all. Amen.

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

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15

To Cultivate Good Fruit

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

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

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

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

Lord, help us seek You,

With ev’ry new day;

And grow within us,

Fruit that shows Your way.

Water and nourish,

The soil of our hearts;

As You produce fruit,

Your ways You impart.

Let Your love and joy,

Peace and patience too;

Kindness and goodness,

And faith that is true.

May Your gentleness,

And great self-control;

Show others Your heart,

As You we extol.

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

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

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

Extend Love

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, HCSB)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE)

Life cannot just be about ourselves. When we are inwardly focused, we become miserable, and end up spreading our misery to others. However, when we take our eyes off of the mirror and begin looking out the window, we see those around us and recognize ways that we have been designed to reach out and to love. This is true in our household, neighborhood, communities, and beyond. When we care about the lives of those around us, our love seems to multiply and joy is discovered in the little things. A simple example of this being applied at home is the way that time yesterday was spent. If I had my way (my own selfish agenda), the day would have been spent taking off and exploring and being outdoors. That being said, my husband had just returned from being out of town all week, and there were things around the house that desperately needed to be done. His military background creates a need in him to have order. My artist brain does not mind a bit of clutter, as long as things are cleanish. The decision to spend several hours cleaning and organizing and purging, was an act of love that spoke clearly to my husband’s “acts of service” love tank. Incredibly, as I saw the appreciation on his face and the peace that settled in his countenance, I was blessed as well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to look for ways to love and care for those around us. 

When we take the time,

To pause, look around;

Places to reach out,

Are easily found.

An arm to extend,

Encouraging words;

Help we can offer,

Make the Lord’s love heard.

Instead of just self,

Look out for others;

Find God’s way to love,

And bless each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be “otherly”. Thank You that You showed us what it is to look like through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do the good that we were designed to do because we were too busy worrying about ourselves. Teach us to look around and to love one another as You intended. Show us how to love in practical and tangible ways, for it is in the simple and everyday acts of love that we can clearly see Your heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love to be extended to those around us in the same way that You so lavishly give unto us. Amen.

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

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24

Our Provider

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

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

Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully. – (Colossians 1:11, VOICE)

Though this was part of Paul’s prayer for the church of Colossae, it is applicable and needed still today. Being strengthened with His power rather than our own, is the very thing that provides patient endurance when troubles come. Knowing He is for us and with us provides joy, even in the midst of challenges. I know not what you are facing, but I do know the presence of God and His power are beneficial to everyone. The gift of finding joy in the midst of challenges is the very thing that reminds us that we can press on. May we ever seek the Lord, who lovingly strengthens us and empowers us to press on, no matter what comes our way, and fill us with His patience and joy as we navigate all things.

Lord, grant us Your strength,

To keep pressing on;

No matter what comes,

In You, we are strong.

Grant us endurance,

Fill us with Your joy;

Patience and Your peace,

With grace to enjoy.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

In You, make us strong;

Grant all that’s needed,

In You, we belong.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You strengthen us in Your power and fill our hearts with patience and joy, even when trials come our way. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of hope when the road before us is rocky. Teach us to turn in trust to You, for You alone provide what is needed to navigate well. Show us how to love as You love, with patience and joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, and the One who provides patience and joy. Amen.

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

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Pause and Praise

We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near. People tell about Your wonderful works. – (Psalm 75:1, HCSB)

We praise You, God! We praise You because You are near to us. We tell about the amazing things You have done. – (Psalm 75:1, ERV)

We thank You, O True God. Our souls are overflowing with thanks! Your name is near; Your people remember and tell of Your marvelous works and wonders. – (Psalm 75:1, VOICE)

There are always reasons to give thanks to God. As we wake and draw breath to begin another day, we have reason to give thanks. For the roof over our heads, the comfort of our own beds, friends and family near and far – so many reasons to praise the One who provides it all. God is as close as our next breath, as present as each beat of our heart, and the wonder of His works does not end. He gives us life, love, joy, peace, strength and more. All the beauty that surrounds us is the work of His loving hands. May we take time to give God thanks for His presence and all that He has done as we begin each brand new day. 

God, we give You thanks,

For all that You do;

How love provides all,

All goodness from You.

Each time we’ve conquered,

In You, overcome;

The strength You’ve given,

The battles You’ve won.

All by Your strong hands,

Full of love and grace;

Hope made tangible,

Let us praise Your Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for who You are and how You love. Thank You that You are ever near, and that You move on our behalf. Thank You for the countless blessings You have given us. Forgive us for not making the time to simply give You thanks. Teach us to always have a long list of gratitude for You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may recognize Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we intentionally pause and praise You for who You are and all that You have done. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Take Time to Delight

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

Even in difficulty, there is an opportunity to taste and see how good God really is. Yesterday, despite my gnarly case of seasickness throughout our day of fishing, the smile on my Viking’s face as he caught fish and lived in the moment, made it all worthwhile. It is far too easy to get caught up in the to do lists and what lies ahead, but when we slow down and simply revel in the right now that the Lord is providing, there is joy and goodness and grace. Additionally, the blessing of a bountiful catch by both of us will put fresh fish on the table throughout the coming months. Each time we prepare it, we will remember God’s goodness and provision. May we ever look to the Lord to truly see, for He shows us, again and again, how good He really is.

Take time to delight,

In all that is good;

For the Lord provides,

His love understood.

The goodness we taste,

The beauty we see;

By His loving hands,

For you and for me.

Each time we slow down,

And run to His good;

We find true blessings,

How God’s love withstood.

Even in trials,

He shows us beauty;

Goodness and His grace,

His love tangibly.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can taste and see how good You truly are. Thank You that Your goodness and grace are not limited to good times, but rather You show us Your love in all things if only we look and listen. Thank You for the beauty that surrounds us, and for showing Your creativity as we witnessed whales and porpoises and a giant sunfish during our day at sea. Forgive us for the times that we fail to look to You when things get difficult. Teach us to always look to You in all things and at all times, for You are always faithful to meet us when we call on You. 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 taste and see how very good You are. Amen.

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

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. – Psalm 37:4