Praise for the Blessings

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has provided redemption for His people. – (Luke 1:68, HCSB)

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. – (Luke 1:68, ERV)

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. – (Luke 1:68, VOICE)

This verse was the beginning of Zechariah’s praise in response to the birth of his long-awaited son, John. John, was the one who was to go before Jesus and prepare the way in the wilderness, sharing the light and hope of the One who had come to save us all. Zechariah was a priest who understood the promises of God and the incredible power in the fulfillment. He could not help but praise God for the blessing that had been poured out upon him and Elizabeth, and all people, for what was soon to come. Our response in this most holy season of remembrance should be likewise, overflowing with praise. No matter the challenges that have been along our path, there is always a reason to praise the Lord. He is faithful forever and sent heaven to earth as Jesus came near. May we ever give God praise for the most precious gift ever given as we remember the reason for the season.

Songs full of praises,

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Should flood ev’ry heart;

For the Lord came near,

To grant us fresh start.

First, He gave us John,

To prepare the way;

To speak of the Lord,

With all of his days.

Before he was born,

The Lord had proclaimed;

The baby to come,

Would honor His Name.

The grateful response,

Was great words of praise;

Giving God glory,

For His faithful ways.

In this sweet season,

May we choose give praise;

For love and for life,

Faithful gracious ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You foretold of Your arrival and sent messengers before Jesus to prepare hearts to receive all that His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension does for all who choose to believe and receive. Forgive us for neglecting to recognize and celebrate all that You have done for us. Teach our hearts to embrace Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways so that Your heart may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing songs of praise and give You all of our worship during this most blessed time of year. 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

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

Extraordinary Through the Ordinary

And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” – (Luke 1:28, HCSB)

The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to Him.” – (Luke 1:28, ERV)

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Rejoice, beloved young woman, for the Lord is with you and you are anointed with great favor.” – (Luke 1:28, TPT)

I imagine this whole experience was a bit surreal to Mary. A visit from a messenger of God, followed by words that called you favored and anointed. She was a young girl, likely in her mid-teens, and engaged to be married. Was she an ordinary girl with extraordinary faith? Or perhaps there was something in her heart of worship that demonstrated her faithful and willing heart that was ready to respond with her very best yes? Either way, of all the women of child-bearing age in the world, God saw and chose her to carry His Son. As we gain further glimpses of her heart through the conception, development in the womb, time of arrival, and throughout the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, her character is revealed as one who is ever faithful to the Lord. She had extraordinary insight into who God is through a seemingly ordinary life. Mary witnessed God in everyday circumstances as she raised Jesus, who was without sin. There were many reasons to rejoice throughout her entire experience, yet there were times of great grief as well. Ultimately, she came to know and understand the plan and purpose of the promised baby that would become the Savior of the world. May we reflect with awe and wonder at the amazing ways that God came near to ordinary people to show us His great love.

Called highly favored,

Chosen to be blessed;

A holy calling,

That might cause a mess.

A virgin promised,

To Joseph to wed;

Yet called to be more,

As the angel said.

God knew the people,

Who’d answer the call;

Despite how things looked,

To one and to all.

Ever He’s faithful,

The Lord God above;

Who sent us His Son,

To show us His love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do extraordinary things through ordinary people who are willing to say yes to You and the plans You have. Thank You that You sent Your Son through ordinary people with extraordinary faith. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith when things we know we ought to do seem inconceivable. Teach us to trust You to lead us in all that You have for us, and to trust that Your plans are for good. Show us how to love and honor You in all that we say and do, and help us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the amazing things You do through ordinary people who trust You well. Amen.

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

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!” Then the angel went away. – Luke 1:38

Choose Praise

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … for the Mighty One has done great things for me – Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46,47 & 49, NIV)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy. – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, ERV)

Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, VOICE)

 

I observe in awe and wonder, the heart of Mary, as she focused on the gift and the honor for which she had been chosen, rather than the stigma and challenges that would come with what was being asked of her. She trusted God, and praised Him. In this season, and always, I desire to have a heart like hers. God has done incredibly great things for me, and I know with all that I am, that He indeed, is holy. When challenges come, I desire for my focus to be on glorifying God for who He is, so that I may rejoice in Him, rather than my circumstances. As we walk into the wearying last week before break, may we look to the Lord and celebrate all that He has done. May praise be present within me, as I know the true joy in who He is and how He loves so well.

 

I choose praise the Lord,

With all of my heart;

Celebrate His grace,

And strength He imparts.

So many great things,

The Lord does in love;

Worthy of our praise,

All gifts from above.

He’s mighty to save,

And faithful to show;

The mercy we need,

As His blessings flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have unending reasons to glorify You and rejoice in Your Mighty Name. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You love us with an unfailing love. Forgive us for doubting the depths of Your love and care when life takes difficult turns. Teach us to trust You more, as You know the outcome and walk beside us each step of life’s journey. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we extend grace and strength and hope to those who are lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise, our Savior, who does great things for us all. 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

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

All Praise is Due

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, NIV) 

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, ERV) 

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. – (Luke 1:68-69, VOICE) 

 

These verses are a portion of Zechariah’s song, which are sung in a praise-filled celebration of sorts, following the birth of his son, John (the Baptist). As a faithful follower of God, Zechariah understood the significance of all that was taking place, as it had long before been foretold. The birth of his son was the prelude to the coming of Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer and Savior. Zechariah’s stretch of silence, after his holy visitation that left him mute, ended with the faithful obedience of writing down the name he was told to give his son. The first thing he did with his reopened lips was give glory and honor to God for His faithfulness. May we each embrace the incomprehensible grace that came to us through a virgin birth, and praise the Lord for being faithful to fulfill His promises forever. 

 

All praise to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

For all praise is due; 

For what He promised, 

Was provided true. 

A Savior to come, 

The Light for mankind; 

Entered a baby, 

Yet fully divine. 

The hope of the world, 

Had come down to earth; 

To set captives free, 

And grant us rebirth. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You for those who set the example of recognizing who You are and how You love. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same God who set aside His throne to be God-with-us, still dwells within the hearts of those who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on You for all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for Your faithfulness, and conveys Your heart and character to all those with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wonderful things that You have done to extend Your grace and send us Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Understanding Leads to Gratitude

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47,49, NIV) 

Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my Savior, because the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, CEB) 

And Mary sang this song: “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God! The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me; holy is His Name. – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, TPT) 

 

As I continue to read through and take in the story of Jesus’ arrival, I am moved by the willingness and awareness that Mary had, as the miracle of Christ was coming into existence through her humility and faith. She stands in continuous awe at the wonder unfolding in her life, and gives God praise for who He is and what He is doing. “Her humble perspective forms the basis of her gratitude. The exemplary character of Mary grows out of her understanding of God’s character.” – (The IVP New Testament Commentary) Mary’s example demonstrates how we ought to view both ourselves and our Mighty God. She recognized that though God owed her nothing, He had chosen her. Consequently, Mary knew that God ought to have all – her heart, soul, mind and strength, because He is the One who is holy and deserving of all praise. May we also recognize the holiness of God, the great things that He has done, and as a result, offer all of our praise. 

 

Let all that I am,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Offer the Lord praise; 

For who our God is, 

And all of His ways. 

My heart cannot help, 

But give thanks to Him; 

For all He has done, 

Brought light where life’s dim. 

May my very soul, 

All that’s within me; 

Honor God always, 

As His love sets free. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Mighty God who does wonderful things and the One alone who deserves all of our gratitude. Forgive us for not recognizing and honoring You for who You are and all that You do. Teach us how to recognize the everyday wonder that You place in our path and the people whom You provide as blessings in our lives. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects our gratitude and awe at who You are and how You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with all that we are for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16

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

A Longing Fulfilled

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days He has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” – (Luke 1:24-25, NIV) 

Later, Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth became pregnant. So, she did not go out of her house for five months. She said, “Look what the Lord has done for me! He decided to help me. Now people will stop thinking there is something wrong with me.” – (Luke 1:24-25, ERV) 

Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for the next five months. She said with joy, “See how kind it is of God to gaze upon me and take away the disgrace of my barrenness!” – (Luke 1:24-25, VOICE)

 

God’s miracle for Elizabeth and Zechariah, through granting them a son after many years of being barren, was a magnificent prelude to the miracle arrival of the soon-to-follow birth of Jesus. Elizabeth had gone from years of longing and hoping and waiting, to a space of hope fulfilled, when she likely no longer thought it possible. Though I have not experienced the heartache of infertility personally, I have had several friends walk through a similar season of waiting and hoping and longing. Like Elizabeth, some received their own miraculous blessing through conception, others discovered their miracle through adoption, whereas others, still remain in a space of waiting. My heart cannot help but celebrate at the thought of Elizabeth’s joy, at such a longing fulfilled. May we give thanks for the gifts all around us, and for those that are yet to come.  

 

A longing fulfilled, The Mirror of the Heart

Such wonder indeed; 

A hope that’s answered, 

God’s grace meeting needs. 

Needs birthed within us, 

Desires of the heart; 

Treasured reflections, 

Of where His grace starts. 

Seek Him in longing, 

Place hope in His Name; 

Wait and choose trust Him, 

He does what He claims. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the examples of real-life heartache and hope that You give us in Your word. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that You are the same God who has done countless miracles throughout the ages, and are present to make the impossible possible still. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith based on what we see. Teach us to trust You more, knowing that You are moving, even when we are unaware. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages hope, despite the way that things may appear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness, grace and presence that remains the same forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. – Joshua 21:45

Recognizing and Responding to Good

Mary responded, “Oh how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, NLT)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, ERV)

My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, VOICE)

 

Mary both recognized and responded to the glory of God and the good gifts that He gave. This morning, as I rose long before it was necessary, I find myself in a similar space of gratitude. Though Mary’s circumstances were far different than my own, I share the very same God, and He comes closer still, because of what was done so long ago through the willingness of His faithful. I am regularly in awe of His grace and mercy, and can see how His hand has carried me through the times of trial. He is good, and my whole heart celebrates His loving kindness. May we look to the Lord in awe and praise, for His love and goodness granted all of our days.

 

Let us set our hearts, Believe Instead of Striving

In a poise of praise;

Because the Lord saves,

For all of our days.

The Lord is our help,

May spirits rejoice;

Celebrate our God,

With mind, heart and voice.

Praise for what He’s done,

And who the Lord is;

Our life, love and song,

Why all praise is His.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, whom You sent to us to save us. Thank You for the great things that You have done for us, in us and through us. Thank You that we can call You our Savior. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and praise for all that You have done throughout all of our days. Teach us to take time to look around and see the work and wonder of Your hand, help and great love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and points people to Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in all that You have done; for You are great and worthy of all of our praise. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25