We Were the One

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?” – (Luke 15:4, HCSB)

“Suppose one of you has 100 sheep, but one of them gets lost. What will you do? You will leave the other 99 in the field and go out and look for the lost sheep.  You will continue to search for it until you find it.” – (Luke 15:4, ERV)

“Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it?” – (Luke 15:4, VOICE)

Jesus views us in the same way. Each of His kids is of infinite worth, and He passionately pursues us when we have gone astray or have become lost. His heart is ever for us, to protect us and love us well. Additionally, I am certain it is why He places us in community. When we are invested and engaged with others, we are less likely to become lost or wander off on our own. Together, we have each other to help us remain engaged and accountable to be who He has created us to be. May we ever seek the Shepherd who loves each of us so much that He would relentlessly pursue us if we became lost. 

The Lord’s our shepherd,

Watching over us;

In love, He protects,

Our faithful Jesus.

If we go astray,

He’ll ever pursue;

The heart of the lost,

To cleanse and renew.

For in Him is grace,

Forever, He’s good;

He helps us see Him,

Makes love understood.

Each day we draw breath,

He’s present to care;

He loves with His life,

He’s ever aware.

He knows when we’re near,

Or if we are lost;

His heart beats for us,

Made clear at the cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You pursue us when we are lost or have gone astray. Thank You that You know and see us individually, and care about every detail of our lives. Forgive us for somehow thinking that You don’t, or for not recognizing how deeply You love us all. Teach us to see every single person we encounter as one whom You would leave all to pursue and bring safely into Your care. Show us how to love everyone as You do, so that those who are hurting, struggling, or wandering aimlessly would be pursued as the “One” with Your love and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for pursuing us when we were the “One”, and for placing us in community to keep us from wandering. Amen.

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

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Quick to Listen

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Provision

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

(We pray) that 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)

This morning, as I was reading my devotions, my phone began buzzing beside me. When I realized what was happening, I quickly slid the bar to access the video chat that was coming in. My dear friend was calling from Burundi. She knows that I am an early riser, so I will happily chat in the wee hours of the morning when it is well into the afternoon there. Anyway, seeing the joy on her and her husband’s faces after more than fourteen months apart, waiting, showed me a tangible example of just how prayers such as Colossians 1:11 apply. The two of them have been surrounded and covered in prayer, and have been patiently enduring the wait, and continuing to communicate, trust and wait with joy. Because of Covid, the spousal visa that should have taken a week or two, has taken well over a year. They have reached the home stretch of the wait, but have to continue to endure until the interview appointment is scheduled and done. Thankfully, the visa has been approved, and it is just one more step before they are at long last together for good. May we ever lift each other up in prayer, for strength, endurance, patience and joy. God is good, and His love endures through all things.

Patient endurance,

A gift from the Lord;

Joy in the waiting,

All grace God affords.

When we turn to Him,

His love leads us through;

Strength to press forward,

Into what is new.

All thanks be to God,

For goodness and joy;

May we turn to Him,

As love He employs.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You strengthen us and keep us in Your loving care as we face challenges and endure hardships that require seasons of waiting. Thank You that You provide joy, despite our circumstances. Forgive us for our impatience and lack of faith when seasons seem far longer than anticipated. Teach us to trust and give thanks to You, for even in our challenges, You are near to love, strengthen and equip us with all that we need. Show us how to love those around us with joy and grace, so that Your goodness may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your provision in all situations and circumstances. Amen.

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

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. – Matthew 6:33

Upheld

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. – (2 Timothy 1:7, HCSB)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. – (2 Timothy 1:7, VOICE)

The Spirit of God that dwells within us when we invite God to be Lord of our lives is one of power, love and self-control. With God in us, we need not fear, for He empowers us with strength, love and self-discipline. Right now, there are many situations and circumstances surrounding us that can cause fear, yet God within us is greater. When fear creeps in and anxiety rises, it is God who is able to steady our hearts and soothe our spaces of unrest. May we ever turn to the Lord in trust to be our strength, love and peace of mind, for in Him, we have all that we need to persevere.

For God’s within us,

We need not choose fear;

He helps, upholds us,

Remains ever near.

Lord, help us rise up,

And hold fast to You;

Our anchor of hope,

That’s steady and true.

When fear finds a way,

To make waves, roll in;

Bring peace and Your strength,

Help and hope within.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we need not fear, for You provide the help that we need to overcome whatever lies before us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Teach us to trust in You, for You are our Source of power, love and self-discipline. Lead us to love those around us as You do, and keep fear far from us. Show us Your power and love in every space we find ourselves in. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You our fears and receive Your strength, hope and love that bring peace in its place. Amen.

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

God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life. – Psalm 54:4

The God of All Comfort

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, HCSB)

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 praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, VOICE)

I am so thankful for the comfort that God provides, and that He calls us to offer the same to those around us. Every time I have experienced hardships, struggles or affliction, He has provided people to make His comfort tangible to me. We are in a season where so many have suffered, be it due to hardship, isolation, illness or strife. For each time that we have known comfort in these things, we have been prepared to extend the same comfort to those around us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, for He has shown us how to love and comfort those around us through His ongoing goodness and grace.

All praise to the Lord,

The God of all grace;

Our peace and comfort,

Throughout all our days.

Each time we struggle,

The Lord’s ever near;

Holds us in heartache,

And calms all our fears.

He shows us goodness,

When goodness seems gone;

Hope when we’re hopeless,

Strength to carry on.

Just as He shows us,

His love, hope and grace;

He leads and equips,

So we do the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind and full of grace. Thank You that You comfort us with Your faithful ways. Thank You that You call us and empower us to comfort others in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not reached out to those in need. Teach us to have Your eyes to see what we can do to comfort those around us, and Your heart to love as You love us. Show us how to love each other well, in good times and in bad, so that all might know the healing and help that You provide. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift up those around us, and extend our hands and hearts to show Your tangible and unfailing love. Amen.

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

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – Psalm 94:19

Found in the Seeking

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. – (Jeremiah 29:13, HCSB)

You will search for Me, and when you search for Me with all your heart, you will find Me. – (Jeremiah 29:13, ERV)

You will look for Me intently, and you will find Me. – (Jeremiah 29:13, VOICE)

Even when things seem the darkest or most difficult, God is near and ready to help. He is gentle and kind, and waits for us to call on Him. As we do, we discover that God is present and hears our every cry. May we ever seek the Lord earnestly, for He is faithful to be found.

In the sweet seeking, 

Photo by kinkate on Pexels.com

The Lord’s ever found;

Faithful to answer,

His love does abound.

No matter what comes,

The Lord remains near;

Our hope and our help,

Each prayer He does hear.

So call on the Lord,

Our hope, help and peace;

Earnestly seek Him,

His love will not cease.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You are ever faithful to be found. Thank You that You are for us and You remain near. Forgive us for our lack of seeking in our spaces of need. Teach us to turn to You in all things, for You are present to help and worthy of all praise. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your love evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with all of our heart, knowing that You are faithful forever. Amen.

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

Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Pray for Problematic People

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – (Matthew 5:44, HCSB)

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. – (Matthew 5:44, ERV)

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you. – (Matthew 5:44, CEB)

When Jesus was teaching His disciples on the mountaintop, He gave them specific instructions about how they were to love. Incredibly, Jesus modeled this sort of love in everything that He said and did. Even when He was hanging on the cross, He prayed for God to forgive the ones who put Him there. If Jesus can pray for those who persecuted Him and ultimately put Him to death, we can pray for those who treat us badly, irritate us, mess with us, or just plain annoy us with their behavior. As a middle school teacher, I am provided the opportunity to do this daily. Some students are still struggling to behave in a way that is conducive to teaching and learning. Each day I pray for my students and for the day on my way to school, and most days, I am challenged to love within the first five minutes of my first period class. Though exhausting, and often exasperating, I know that I continue to be called to pray and choose to love. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us to love and pray for those who are the most difficult.

Lord, help us to love,

To seek You and pray;

For strength and courage,

Each and ev’ry day.

Grant us Your wisdom,

The words we need hear;

To love people well,

And trust You are near.

Lead us in Your love,

To pray and to give;

Grace, hope and Your love,

Each day that we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and pray for all people. Thank You that you modeled this perfectly, for You continued to love and pray for those who persecuted You and crucified You. Forgive us for the times that we act as though we are exempt from this command because somehow people’s unkindness justifies us to do the same. Teach us how to love best and give us the words to pray for all who are difficult to love. Lead us each new day to pray and to trust in Your provision for the wisdom and strength to love well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in prayer and trust Your provision to love all. Amen.

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

The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. – Zechariah 7:9

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

Tangible Peace

May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with all of you. – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, HCSB)

We pray that the Lord of peace will give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, ERV)

May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you! – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, MSG)

Now, may the Lord himself, the Lord of peace, pour into you His peace in every circumstance and in every possible way. The Lord’s tangible presence be with you all. – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, TPT)

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, this verse is a portion of his closing. His exhortation to them remains relevant and applicable to us today. I, for one, need God’s peace now more than ever. I am so thankful for His presence that provides peace, even when peace does not make sense. Getting along with others actively contributes to peace, and His presence makes it possible. As a visual and experiential learner, I so appreciate The Passions Translation that says, “the Lord’s tangible presence be with you all.” When God’s truth is made tangible, something that we can see, feel, experience and hold onto, it becomes a reality that we will not readily release. The more we invest in intentional time with Him, the more we understand and experience His peace. May we ever seek the Lord to be our peace in every situation and circumstance, and may we rely on Him to help us be at peace with all of those around us.

O Lord, hear our prayer,

For Your perfect peace;

To ever be near,

And set hearts at ease.

Show us Your goodness,

Fill us with Your love;

Lead us to live well,

With grace from above.

Help us show others,

Your love and Your grace;

Your heart tangible,

In all things, always.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the same encouragement that was needed and granted so long ago, is still relevant and a blessing today. Thank You that You are the God of all peace, and You provide us paths to live accordingly. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears that disrupt the peace that You are offering. Show us how to lean into You in places that it is difficult to see and experience peace in the midst of seeming chaos. Lead us to love in a way that makes Your loving kindness tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love and be promoters of peace in places it is needed most. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

To Stay Steadfast

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, NIV)

God, You give true peace to people who depend on You, to those who trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, ERV)

Perfect, absolute peace surrounds those whose imaginations are consumed with You; they confidently trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, TPT)

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE)

As I read the first translation of this verse, I really paused to think about what it means to have a mind that is steadfast. I even went so far as to look it up, so that I might ponder the meaning further. According to dictionary.com, steadfast is to be fixed in direction, firm in purpose, and unwavering. To be fixed in direction and firm in purpose without wavering does indeed protect His perfect peace. It is in that space of knowing Who is leading us in the direction to which we are called, and Who has created us with purpose that we find His peace is present as we trust in Him. Our peace wavers when we trust what we see rather than who holds us in the hollow of His hands. Though my heart and mind are dedicated to Christ, my eyes deceive my heart when I allow my peace to be found in what I see. For the last couple of years, what has been seen has not pointed to peace. However, each time I slow down, fix my eyes and heart on Him, His perfect peace is present and my mind returns to the steadfast state to which I have been called. It is an ongoing battle, particularly when few things are as anticipated or hoped for. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to be steadfast in Him, so that we may know His perfect and ongoing peace.

Lord, help us trust You,

To keep perfect peace;

In each steadfast heart,

That faithfully seeks.

You’re ever present,

To hear all we pray;

In love, You answer,

As peace comes to stay.

Help us fix our eyes,

Securely on You;

Let not what surrounds,

Take away the truth.

In You there is peace,

A hope that’s secure;

Future forever,

Knowing You’ll be near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that the peace You provide is not dependent on our circumstances. Thank You that You bring peace to us amidst chaos, and settle our weary hearts. Forgive us for allowing the trials of this world to steal the perfect peace that You offer. Teach us to continually, steadfastly fix our eyes and hearts on You, for in that space of trust, we find Your peace is present. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer Your peace, even when it seems impossible to find. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep our minds steadfast on You because You are trustworthy, and Your promises true. Amen.

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

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10