Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

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

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Equipped to Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ERV)

All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, TPT)

 

It really is true, that God, in His great love, comforts us in all of our troubles. The amazing thing that I so often discover, is the very things that I have known God’s comfort in, He uses me to offer comfort to those around me in a space similar to that which He brought me through. His comfort, kindness and compassion granted to us, expands our heart and capacity to do the same for those around us. Experience creates a sort of knowing that only one who has walked through a similar space can truly understand what another is going through. Our ability to be compassionate and extend the sort of comfort needed are heightened, when we know the road a person is walking. God is good and He is kind, He knows what we need in the midst of our struggles; He brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. One of the ways that God does this is when He allows us to walk beside another who needs comfort in a space that we, ourselves, have been. There is peace and joy as we give what was given, and watch another press on and get through the difficulty. May we ever give God our praise for being our Comforter and for equipping us to comfort those around us.

 

All praise unto God,Equipped to Comfort

Who comforts us all;

He lifts head and heart,

Each time that we fall.

Because of His grace,

Comfort we receive;

We too can offer,

Love to those in need.

The very same grace,

The comfort we knew;

Is what we can give,

To help others through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all comfort and that the comfort You give to us, You raise up in us to give to those around us. Thank You that the struggles and trials we walk through can always be used for good if we trust in You. Forgive us for our fears and resentment when we are in scary spaces. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may know Your wisdom as to how to navigate, and know Your strength to persevere. Show us how to love those around us in ways that comfort and encourage in ways that bless the recipients best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love, and trust You to help us go forth and do the same. Amen.

 

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

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

Great Comfort in Knowing

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, VOICE)

 

There is great comfort in knowing that there is nothing that surrounds us, comes against us, nor that we could go through, that can separate us from the love of God. His love is eternal and knows no limits. Whether we are having a wonderful day or a day that we would rather have remained in bed, God’s love for us is constant, consistent, and secure. Being loved when we are least lovable, demonstrates the true depth of love granted to us. It is not earned nor somehow rewarded, but rather freely given as the Creator loves His created. May we receive and recognize the remarkable love of our Redeemer, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way.

 

O Lord, as I rise, wp-15820303444235351272726723109852.jpg

Make Your love so clear;

No matter what comes,

Show me that You’re near.

There’s no height nor depth,

That can keep away;

The goodness You give,

When to You, we pray.

Go before us Lord,

With Your love and light;

Be near and guide us,

To choose what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is nothing that can separate us from Your love. Thank You that as we receive the love You offer, You equip us to go forth and love others in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have either not received what You freely give, or have withheld what we were meant to extend to those around us. Show us how to love one another well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your limitless love, and seek You to love others in the same way. Amen.

 

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

 

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – Titus 3:4-5a

To Demonstrate Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – (John 13:34, NIV)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

Love one another, on this day, where people are intentional to express their love and appreciation for others, there is the perfect opportunity for loving one another as we are called and commanded to do. In this particular passage, Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples, and was sharing a last meal with them, prior to His betrayal that took Him to the cross. Jesus was giving charge to His disciples, as He knew the road that lay before Him, and wanted the faithful followers to be prepared to persevere. When Jesus told the disciples to love as He had loved them, they understood the enormity of the love that they were being called to give. First hand, they had been the recipients of the care, provision, healing, help, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, hopefulness, perseverance and protection that His love provided. Jesus knew the task was impossible in their own strength, yet with His help, they could do all things. We are no different today. The command to love each other deeply and fully, remains. Our Source of strength to love anyway, even when those we know we are called to love seem unlovable, is Christ. He empowers us to love as He loves. Sometimes love is simply a kind word or an encouraging smile. Other times, love reaches out and goes beyond what is comfortable, to be certain that those around us know that they are valued and worthy of love.

One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Jesus at the well, speaking to the Samaritan woman. He crossed cultural divides and racial relations to reach out and impact the heart of a hurting soul. The very act of speaking to her in the first place, violated all sorts of barriers that normally were in place between Jews and Samaritans, much less men and women. Because Jesus loved, He spoke truth in love, and her heart was forever changed. What had been a space of sin and shame, became her testimony to tell of who Jesus was and how He knew about her before she said a word. That woman at the well went from being an outcast, to knowing that she was loved, valued and known. That is our purpose in love. May we seek the Lord and His strength, so that we too may acknowledge those around us in ways that help them feel valued, loved and known.

 

We are commanded,

wp-15816817937588641311806906910576.jpg

The loves of my life. Photos courtesy of Dee Jones, Open Door Photography

To go forth in love;

Value each other,

Like the Lord above.

Love grants us value,

Helps us know we’re known;

When unseen is seen,

God’s true love is shown.

Let us seek His strength,

So love leads the way;

May we follow Him,

And love well each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love. Thank You that this is not something done flippantly, but rather it is intentionally and specifically, as there are countless examples of love in Your word, and directions as to what love is and how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love those around us well. Teach us to seek Your strength, even when we are struggling with our own trials and frustrations. Thank You that often the antidote for difficulty is to reach out and give love, support and encouragement to others, in spite of ourselves. Grant us the strength and wisdom to seek You and show us how to love those around us best. You know each need and what will bless and encourage the most. Show us, I pray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and choose to love one another. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Thankful for Blessings

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. – (Psalm 107:8, NIV)

Thank the Lord for His faithful love and for the amazing things He does for people. – (Psalm 107:8, ERV)

So lift your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all His miracles of mercy for those He loves. – (Psalm 107:8, TPT)

 

Whenever the verse of the day comes from the Psalms, I seldom read just the one in which the verse is found. The raw and real that reads like poetry, speak clearly to my heart. As I somehow found myself in Psalm 107, after having begun in 97, I discovered that the words written in verse eight, are repeated three more times in the same Psalm. Any time there is repetition in scripture, it is a clear indicator to pay attention and take note. I appreciate how each of the various translations unpack a slightly different aspect of the truth of God and why we ought to give Him thanks. Unfailing love, wonderful deeds for mankind, faithful love, amazing things for people, marvelous kindness, and miracles of mercy for those He loves, are the specific reasons to give thanks to the Lord, all found in one verse that is repeated three times in a single chapter. Personally, it would take little time to fill an entire page with examples of God’s faithful love and the amazing things that He does for people. I have been both the recipient and an observer, and am equally blessed in knowing the powerful love that fuels such wonderful deeds for humankind. May we ever give thanks to God, for He is faithful and loving and His willingness to extend His marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy to those He loves, never ends.

Yesterday marked the one-week countdown for Mom, before she moves into her next leg of her healing journey. There has been much prayer, preparation and discussion to reach this step of her path, so all encouragement is wonderful and welcome. As with anything new, there are concerns and hesitation; primarily due to change. The struggle comes when those on the outside begin to question decisions that were made with confident faith in Christ, and the determination and resolve begin to waver. For Mom and the immediate family, loving support and encouragement will be the most helpful as the new comes into fruition. Thank you in advance, for all who have been and continue to pray, for we anticipate amazing things in the coming weeks and months! God’s marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy have been present every step of the way so far, and we look forward with faith, to all of the blessings He has in store for Mom that are yet to come.

 

May we choose give thanks, Pleased with Good Plans

To You, Lord above;

For wonderful deeds,

You’ve done in Your love.

For kindness and grace,

We give You thanks too;

With all that we are,

We lift praise to You.

For great miracles,

That make Your heart known;

Thankfulness we bring,

For blessings You’ve shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful love that extends kindness and mercy, goodness and grace, for all of our days. Thank You that Your love for us is greater than our hearts can even begin to comprehend. Forgive us for doubting Your care, concern or nearness when times are trying. Teach us to trust that You are present and moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see what You are doing. Show us how to love those around us through every season and struggle that we walk through. Let Your kindness be evident in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithful love and incredible blessings, as You move in our lives and on our behalf. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Set Aside Distractions

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

But King David answered Araunah, “No, I will pay you the full price. I will not take anything that is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not give offerings that cost me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, ERV)

David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, MSG)

 

The back story prior to King David determining to give an offering at that particular place, is that he had just been spared the full brunt of God’s wrath on Israel. David’s lack of trust in God led to a seemingly severe punishment, yet God relented prior to the complete fulfillment of what He had said would be done. David contended for mercy and an angel of the Lord told him to go up and build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice at that particular place. Being a man who understood what it meant to offer a sacrifice, he knew it required a cost on his part. When King David approached Araunah about purchasing the parcel of land to use to present sacrifices to God, Araunah was ready to give the land as a gift. David could not accept the land as a gift if it was part of a sacrifice, because for him, it had to have a cost. King David needed to be acutely aware of the expense, as a reminder of the mercy extended to him and all of Israel. When we make a sacrifice, it does not necessarily have to be monetary, yet it ought to be something that makes us aware of its absence so that we are expectant in wait of the better that is yet to come. For David, it was mercy for all of Israel. That was indeed far greater than the cost of a space to offer sacrifices. Today, the same principle still applies. When we are seeking answers, giving something up as we seek the Lord so that we might fully focus on Him, helps remind us what matters most. What are the answers you are seeking or the help you are needing? What is getting in your way? Identifying the distraction may be the first step in knowing what to set aside for a time, in order to seek the Lord for the help that is needed most. May we look to the Lord for the help and answers that we seek, and set aside that which distracts us from fully pursuing Him.

 

Seek the Lord our God, Set Aside Distractions

And all of His ways;

Remove distractions,

As we give God praise.

Pursue the Lord’s best,

As we set aside;

Barriers to Him,

Draw near, choose abide.

For when we focus,

On God and His will;

He leads and guides us,

And peace comes to fill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and set aside the things that distract us, You answer us and show us more of Yourself. Thank You that You only ask us to lay things down so that we can have something better in You. Forgive us for allowing so many things to draw our attention away from You. Set our hearts and minds on You so that we live and love according to Your plan. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless and encourage and illuminate Your heart to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to sacrifice things that distract us from You and wholeheartedly pursue You and all that You have for us. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your Name, Lord, for it is good. – Psalm 54:6

This Sort of Hope

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. – (Hebrews 10:23, NIV)

We must hold on to the hope we have, never hesitating to tell people about it. We can trust God to do what He promised. – (Hebrews 10:23, ERV)

So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps His promises! – (Hebrews 10:23, TPT)

 

This sort of hope is the hope that is found in Christ. What it means is that we trust and have confidence that God is true to His word; faithful to keep His promises. Hope is not wishing for “things” to transpire, but rather is trusting in the nature of Him who holds all things in the hollow of His hands. It is believing and trusting in the person of God, not in what He will or won’t do for us in our timing. Sunday, hope was the topic of Pastor Omar’s message. He had a fantastic illustration that sank in. Hope is the pilot light for faith. As long as we have hope, faith ignites and fans to flame. However, if we lose hope, our faith wavers and we need something or someone to come along and reignite the flame, in order for the fire of faith to burn true. The illustration made so much sense; for in hindsight, each time I think of seasons in my life where hope waned, it impacted my faith until glimpses of hope were brought back to life. Thankfully, each time I found myself in such a space, I was surrounded by a community that burned bright, and the light they bore reignited the hope within me. When we cling tightly to He who is our hope, we burn bright and encourage light and life in those around us. May we ever hold hope in He who is faithful; for God is good and His promises are true.

 

Hope is the anchor, Anchor

That settles the soul;

A confident trust,

That mends and makes whole.

True to what’s promised,

The God of all grace;

Fans faith into flame,

This hope we embrace.

So, hold onto hope,

The goodness of God;

Trust in who He is,

Today and beyond.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our hope is in You. Thank You that our reason for hope is who You are, rather than worrying about what we will or will not get. Forgive us for confusing hope with wishing and wanting. Teach us to trust and place our hope in You alone. Show us how to love those around us ways that fan flames of hope where they have grown dim. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You all of the days of our lives, allowing Your love to grow our faith into flames that burn bright and spread to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – Hebrews 6:19a

Joy in the Right Words at the Right Time

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply – and how good is a timely word! – (Proverbs 15:23, NIV)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

There is great joy in having the right answer, and how sweet is the right word at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, VOICE)

 

Words are a powerful weapon; forces of good that extend hope and life and encouragement, or they can become spears hurled at the heart – even when the intent is not harm. When our words land well, we find joy in knowing that the intent and application aligned. However, when words fall flat, or far worse, the desire for a rewind option or the ability to withdraw and delete that which was not received as life-giving is huge. This is where it is critical to remember the power of our words, so that we might pause, take a breath, and think clearly before speaking. God is faithful to provide as we abide in Him. Though we are human, as are the recipients of our words, and each are subject to missteps and misinterpretations, when we seek the Lord and trust in Him to guide our heart, there are far more moments of joy in the right words at the right time.

To update on mom, after Friday’s trifecta of therapies, it was determined that she will be phasing into outpatient therapy within the next few weeks. This is a fantastic graduation of sorts, as outpatient facilities have far more tools to work with to propel mom forward on her healing journey. The challenge remaining will be the logistics and working out the details. Thankfully, mom has two great caregivers that alternate days with her while Meg and Scott are at work. Terry and Angela should be able to coordinate and take mom to her appointments as she makes the change to the new. It will be good, but as always, a covering in prayer for new therapists and all of the details, as well as mom’s ongoing healing, are greatly appreciated.

 

A timely answer,

balance business cobblestone conceptual

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So apt a reply;

Joy to the speaker,

Grace none can deny.

And how sweet the words,

At just the right time;

To bless, encourage,

Show that love is kind.

Our words have power,

To give life, build up;

To love others well,

Seek to fill their cups.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the joy that comes when we are trusting in You to respond to those around us. Thank You for the times that our words are received as they are intended. Forgive us for the times that we have used our words flippantly, grossly unaware of the impact they might have on those around us. Teach us to pause and filter our words through Your lens, as Your heart is to bless and extend love. Show us how to love those around us with our words, each time we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grant us the words we are meant to speak. Amen.

 

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

 

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Come with Confidence

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. – (Ephesians 3:12, NIV)

In Christ we come before God with freedom and without fear. We can do this because of our faith in Christ. – (Ephesians 3:12, ERV)

Now we can come fearlessly right into God’s presence, assured of His glad welcome when we come with Christ and trust in Him. – (Ephesians 3:12, TLB)

 

Though we fall short and are fallible, when we are rooted and established in Christ, we can approach God with freedom and confidence, knowing that He will welcome us; not because we are worthy, but because we are covered and made clean as we come with His Son. There is such comfort in knowing that we may approach our Maker, no matter how we come, and we will be heard and accepted by Him. Christ bridged the great divide between heaven and earth, and because of Him, there is no prayer too great or small to miss the ear of God. He hears and He cares, and we can be confident that He is moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see what is being done. May we hold fast to our faith and trust in the freedom and confidence that we have been granted through Christ.

It has been a strange couple of days with a lack of communication between mom and myself, as my days have been filled with back-to-school meetings and planning time with my colleagues, and my evenings booked with concerts and a football game. Not at all our usual, and it put a wrench in timing for talking. What I did happily observe, however, is that my brother-in-love took mom out for a walk in the sunshine. They made it to a park nearby, and watched a helicopter take off as they traveled. I know how much she loves and needs to be outdoors, so it was a blessing to see that she was out and enjoying the weather. We are still waiting and praying for all of the details to be coordinated for her in-home therapies, and continuing to fearlessly enter His presence with these requests.

 

Unworthy alone,

Yet covered in Christ;

Granted confidence,

As He paid the price.

His goodness and grace,

Covers all our sin;

Makes the way for us,

To pray, enter in.

For God, the Father,

Does not see our flaws; 

He sees Christ in us,

Not what our heart was.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can confidently and fearlessly come before You, because of Christ. Thank You that rather than our flaws, You see the perfection of Your Son. Forgive us for forgetting the enormity of the price that was paid for us to freely enter Your presence, or for somehow discounting the fact that it has been done. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our requests before You and praise You for the work You are doing, and that which You have already done. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be acutely aware of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confidently come to You, trusting You to hear our every prayer. Amen.

 

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

 

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 17:6