Look to the Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, ERV)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, MSG)

This passage is from when God called Samuel to go and anoint the one who was to succeed Saul as king. To the ordinary observer, David’s older brothers seemed to be far more appropriate candidates. However, God saw so much more. In David, God saw a man after His own heart. David had the heart of a warrior and a worshiper – both of which God used while David grew and learned the faithfulness of God as he faced a giant with a sling and a stone, and later led a nation as he sang and danced praising God for His faithfulness. Incredibly, what this shows us is that we never know who God is raising up for great things. Our task is to love and encourage all, and to look past appearances and instead see the heart. I know in relationships, the people I am most drawn to have beautiful hearts. The more I get to know them, the more I see who they are radiating through, and recognize what draws others in. As a teacher, this is critical. We never know who the next leaders, doctors, pastors, educators, community advocates, parents and more are in the ones seated in our classrooms. Each has been created with a purpose, and it is our job to help strengthen the heart so that they can see their own potential and pursue all that God has for them. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see, so that we may encourage those around us in the strengths that they have been given, and glorify God for His goodness.

Look not at the face,

But rather the heart;

The true character,

Where seeing must start.

For we never know,

All that God has planned;

Purpose He has placed,

In women and men.

A mere shepherd boy,

Was anointed king;

Despite appearance,

Beyond what was seen.

God looks at our hearts,

The strengths found within;

His plan and purpose,

Waiting to begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see beyond what others see. Thank You that You look to the heart to lead us into all that You have for us. Forgive us for selling others short based on what we see. Teach us to look through Your lens so that we see the potential and promise in everyone we meet. Lead us to love those around us in ways that encourage and strengthen each in the gifts and talents You have placed in them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and trust in You to lead them to walk out their purpose. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to help us see others as You do. Amen.

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

The One who chose you will do that for you. You can trust Him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Comfort That Conveys Joy

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

I was very worried and upset, but You comforted me and made me happy! – (Psalm 94:19, ERV)

When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul. – (Psalm 94:19, VOICE)

This weekend has been exactly what my husband and I have needed. The weight of the week had grown heavy, and time away together has been a space to relax and recharge. For me, I find joy being outside in God’s creation. There is nothing that makes me more aware of Him than fresh air and all of the colors that surround us. My husband is his best self when he gets to let go of the burdens and be himself. After much pondering about how to best discover a way for both of us to really relax and enjoy our time together, I ordered two e-scooters and helmets for us, prior to this weekend. My Viking and I scooted along miles of trails that run beside the bay, and run through lush green vegetation. We were further able to explore the town, and spent hours riding around, taking in all of the beauty of the area. I am not sure which brought me more joy – our surroundings or watching my mister play and enjoy himself in a childlike manner. I don’t think a smile ever left our faces. We will have time again this morning to explore a bit more before we need to pack up and head home. Already, I feel as if my soul has been lightened, and I am better equipped to navigate the week that lies ahead. God is good, and I am so grateful that He provides joy in ordinary spaces when we take time to get out and enjoy all that He has made.

When life feels heavy,

Take time and slow down;

Observe surroundings,

For peace will be found.

View all the beauty,

That His hands have made;

Joy rises within,

And worries will fade.

Place all in His hands,

For they’re strong enough;

He lightens our load,

Brings smooth to the rough.

Rise up each morning,

And look all around;

Joy is waiting,

In Christ it is found.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can bring our cares and burdens to You, and You soothe our souls and fill us with Your joy as we delight in You. Forgive us for allowing worries to overtake us instead of bringing all before You. Thank You that You call us unto Yourself and restore joy anew. Show us how to love those around us well, so they too, may be filled with Your joy and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You with our worries and cares, and recognize the joy that is within as we appreciate all that You have made. Amen.

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

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Seek His Leading

Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him. – (Mark 7:15, HCSB)

There is nothing people can put in their mouth that will make them wrong. People are made wrong by what comes from inside them. – (Mark 7:15, ERV)

It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart. – (Mark 7:15, NLT)

We all have to make our own choices about what we allow our hearts and minds to consume, however, what we take in and that which is around us is not what defiles us, but rather it is what comes from our heart and escapes through our mouths, attitudes and actions, that becomes sinful when we choose to act or speak from a space that ought to be given to God. To keep our hearts and minds in the right position with God, it requires intentional time with Him. God is faithful to lead us and guide us in the ways in which we are meant to go, and He shows us what is good. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in our every word, thought and deed, so that we may be blameless before Him by His amazing grace.

Lord, lead us in love,

In all that we do;

Make our hearts like Yours,

With love, ever new.

Let not surroundings,

Taint what is within;

Lead us in Your ways,

Keep us far from sin.

It’s only by grace,

Found as we seek You;

That ugliness goes,

And our hearts love true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live in Your love and extend the same to those around us. Thank You that what we take in, the things that surround us, do not make us impure before You, but rather what we think, say or do that does not align with You. Forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented the goodness of Your love and grace. Teach us to immerse ourselves in time with You, so that we live out Your love and rid ourselves of what defiles us from the inside out. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your goodness and love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love in every word thought and deed that we live out. Amen.

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

This God, our God forever and ever – He will always lead us. – Psalm 48:14

Beauty in Gentleness and Quiet

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. – (1 Peter 3:4, NIV)

No, your beauty should come from inside you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God. – (1 Peter 3:4, ERV)

Let your adornment be what’s inside – the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights. – (1 Peter 3:4, VOICE)

In today’s twisted culture that has an ever-changing ideal as to what beauty is, it is critical to remember how God defines beauty. We ought to be far more concerned with our inner selves, rather than what is on the outside. To have a gentle and quiet spirit, the peace of God must be present, and our hearts need to be aligned with His. When I consider the most beautiful women I have ever known, each has had an uncompromising inner beauty that radiated from the inside out. May we ever seek the Lord to renew our hearts and minds and allow His peace and love to fill us to overflowing. As we do, the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit will radiate from the inside out.

May our adornment,

Be from the inside;

A heart full of grace,

As Christ is our guide.

He’ll lead us in peace,

Love and gentleness;

A beauty unmatched,

Like His faithfulness.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

To love as You do;

So a lovely heart,

Displays beauty true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the beauty You call us to does not fade, in fact, it grows as we learn to live and love as You do. Thank You that You call us and equip us to love with a gentle and quiet spirit, for Your peace is made evident as we do. Forgive us for allowing the standards of the world to taint our perception of what beauty truly is. Show us how to see the world through Your lens, so that beautiful hearts are what we are drawn unto. Teach us to love as You do, so that our inner beauty is what blesses those around us as we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in gentleness and peace. Amen.

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

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

Time to Notice

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – (Romans 1:20, NIV)

There are things about God that people cannot see – His eternal power and all that makes Him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do. – (Romans 1:20, ERV)

Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as His eternal power and transcendence. He has made His wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse. – (Romans 1:20, TPT)

In today’s fast-paced society, I think it is far too easy for people to lose sight of the blessings and beauty that are all around us. When our eyes divert to “things” or agendas, we become blind to that which truly matters. However, when we set our hearts and minds on loving well and being grateful, there is suddenly no denying the goodness of God. This morning, as I write, our two dogs remind me of the intentional love God placed in creation. In the still and silent morning, sweet snuggles remind my heart of just how good God is. He loves us so much that He created creatures that love without hesitation, and desire nothing more than to be in our presence. Soon, the two doggos and I will get outside and walk, and the scenery that we will witness again points to His glory. May we ever seek to love and give thanks, so that our eyes and hearts will be open to the tangible evidence of God all around us.

Though all is not seen,

The heart truly knows;

The goodness of God,

As creation shows.

Beautiful landscapes,

And those whom we love;

Sweet, loving creatures,

The gifts from above.

Take time to notice,

In wonder and awe;

The goodness of God,

Blessings He foresaw.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is evidence of Your existence all around us. Thank You for the beauty and blessing that You placed in creation for all of us to enjoy. Forgive us for losing sight of the intention of all that Your hands have made. Teach us to appreciate and care for all of creation well. Show us how to love all those around us and to be good stewards of all that You have created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize Your goodness and love through all that You’ve created and through the love You have deposited in us to give away. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for all that Your hands have made and seek You to show us how to love best. Amen.

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

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

Always Good

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

Then I will sing to the Lord because He was so good to me. – (Psalm 13:6, ERV)

I will sing to the Eternal, for He is always generous with me. – (Psalm 13:6, VOICE)

There is something about reaching a Friday after a busy week that floods my heart with gratitude. Right now, days are long, especially when my sleep is disrupted, yet somehow, God always grants me the strength I need to navigate whatever comes my way. In this season of new, I am so grateful for God’s goodness. I am ever aware of Him holding me up by His loving hands. From the early onset of daylight in the mornings so that I can get outside and walk the dogs before work, to the ability to share dinner together as a whole family, these are but an example of how I am acutely aware of God’s goodness. May we ever recognize the goodness of God in our lives that surround us, and sing Him praise for His great love.

I sing to the Lord,

For He is so good;

His love is outpoured,

Kindness understood.

In busy seasons,

He shows us His grace;

Grants strength when weary,

Throughout all our days.

When things seem slow down,

The Lord provides rest;

His love is lavish,

For He knows us best.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving kindness that meets us where we are and provides what we need. Thank You that You are present and bless us with Your peace and strength to navigate each new day. Thank You for the songs in our hearts that remind us to give You the glory. Forgive us for neglecting to recognize Your goodness when things seem overwhelmingly busy. Teach us to pause and breathe in Your grace, for You meet our needs throughout all our days. Show us how to love those around us as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing praise unto You, for You are so good. Amen.

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

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

Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, VOICE)

This morning, at 2:45, as I heard my dog making retching sounds, joy was not exactly what came to mind; sadly, neither was prayer nor thankfulness. As I jumped out of bed and threw on some extra layers to take him outside, I groggily checked to be sure he was okay. He took care of business outside, and returned to his crate to rest. Again, rest did not come. Whining began and would not relent. Finally, after a good fifteen minutes of trying, I gave in and brought my giant pup upstairs. Again, he went outside and then returned ravenous. After he ate, he settled in a bit as I attempted to doze on the couch. When the time was nearing my scheduled wake up, I took Thor back downstairs and returned upstairs to begin my day. My celebration was that I have a roof over my head and that there is coffee in our house to brew. I am thankful that it is Friday, and that I do not need to rise as early tomorrow. God is kind, and shortly after I returned to resume my regular morning routine, my love came upstairs too. In the calm stillness of the morning, I am so grateful to God for another human that can rise early, and find joy and contentment in the silence. Early mornings are something to be celebrated, even when they come far sooner than anticipated. Before long, I will witness the early morning light, as the sun makes its appearance on the horizon. God is faithful to meet us, even in the wee hours of the early morning. He hears our heart’s cry, despite the momentary frustrations when our schedules are disrupted. Today, my heart will rejoice, for I have countless reasons to give God thanks, as I have His light, and life, and hope. May we ever celebrate the goodness of God, giving Him thanks as we are intentional to spend time seeking Him.

May our hearts give praise,

In Christ we rejoice;

Let’s prayerfully seek,

Give thanks with our voice.

No matter what comes,

We’ve reason for joy;

The Lord’s always good,

To thank is a choice.

Today I will choose,

To celebrate Christ;

For goodness and grace,

And loving advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless reasons You grant us to have joy in You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and You supply what we need to navigate each new day. Thank You that You remain present, no matter what comes our way or how our day begins. Forgive us for our frustrations and delay in seeking You when things are thrown off course. Teach us to lean into You and listen to Your heart. Show us how to love those around us in all things, and grant us patience when it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and pray to You, ever giving You thanks for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your Name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:2

To Still Our Storms

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41, NIV)

They were very afraid and asked each other, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and water obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41, ERV)

But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey Him?” – (Mark 4:41, TPT)

This verse follows the account of Jesus and the disciples immediately after they had been caught in the midst of a giant squall, feared for their lives, and Jesus had stood and spoke to the wind and sea to “be still”. The wind and water stopped immediately as He spoke, and the disciples were awestruck and afraid. Most of the disciples were experienced fishermen and were overwhelmingly aware of the sudden danger of a storm that started with little warning. Additionally, the very notion of such a squall being silenced by the mere words of a man did not make sense. The wind and waves did not simply stop, but there, in that experience with Jesus, they did. Though the disciples had been with Jesus and seen Him perform miracles for many people, speaking to a storm and the sea was beyond what they likely could have ever imagined. Perhaps the silencing of the storm experience was an “aha” moment in which they began to grasp just how powerful Jesus truly was. For us, today, we have the benefit of beholding a collection of the experiences of those who walked with Jesus, and the opportunity to experience a life with Him, by His Spirit within us. We may not see squalls at sea silenced, but many are the storms that He has calmed within. Christ is our peace in the places of chaos, and our hope when we feel helpless. His power to be present and bring peace is beyond what we can fathom until we begin to experience it for ourselves. May we ever seek the Lord, both in the midst of storms and in the calm, for He is faithful to be present to help us and hold us, no matter what life brings our way.

When storms are raging,

Outside or within;

We need our Savior,

To bring peace again.

And when all is calm,

May we too delight;

In He who’s present,

The Maker of right.

Let us stand in awe,

Of all He has done;

Give glory to God,

The most Holy One.

Please never forget,

The power that’s found;

Through merely His words,

As His grace abounds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son to show us the incredible power of Your love through Him. Please forgive us for the times that we allow the storms around us or within us to create fear and steal our peace. Teach us to trust in Your power and goodness, as You walk with us all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend peace and comfort and make Your power and heart for all known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn how to lean into You through the storms and in our spaces of calm. Amen.

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

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

Strength in the Waiting

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, NIV) 

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting – for He will never disappoint you! – (Psalm 27:14, TPT)

As usual, a verse from my daily reading stands out in the timeliness of the message presented. While there have been so many jokes and memes about the neverending year that is 2020, I find I can relate to the sentiment of this being a very long season. We just passed the seven-month mark of the closure of traditional schooling and society functioning as we had always known before. While I understand the necessity to protect our most fragile population, I also see, first hand, the detrimental effect that isolation is having on our young people. Untimely deaths have impacted numerous communities, including our own, and the rate of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed. Lack of contact and community for our teens and young adults is taking a horrendous toll. For me, I have had to be intentional to get outside and exercise, find ways to connect with my own family and community, and seek strength anew every morning. Getting out of the house, even if it is only for a drive, walk or run, makes a world of difference for my heart and mind. I can only imagine the angst and frustration this causes young people, as few have the option or luxury of simply getting in the car and going just to find a change of scenery. Add to that the lack of interaction with their peers, and it is no wonder we are seeing such struggle. I know I have taken a bit of a detour as I am attempting to process the application of this verse. Perhaps it is a reminder to lift up those around us, and to encourage strength and hope in the waiting, and dependence on He who is our help and hope. May we seek the Lord each new day, and extend the strength and hope that He grants us in the waiting, to all those around us.

O Lord, I’m seeking,

Your hope and Your strength;

Comfort to pass on,

Your grace through great lengths.

Lead us in goodness,

May we each take heart;

Trusting Your kindness,

As strength You impart.

Help us be patient,

In You, as we wait;

Remind us again,

That You’re never late.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us in the waiting, and that You are our hope and our strength.  Thank You that we can be brave and take heart in You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as the waiting seems so long. Teach us to trust You more, as You do great things in us as we wait and trust in You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, especially those who are feeling stuck or isolated. Grant them hope and strength in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in the waiting and reach out to love well, all those around us. Amen.

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

Lord, I wait for You; You will answer, Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15

The Second Day at the Tomb

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So, they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – (Matthew 27:62-66, NIV)

That day was the day called Preparation Day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, ‘I will rise from death in three days.’ So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that He has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about Him before.” Pilate said, “Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know.” So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it. – (Matthew 27:62-66, ERV)

 

The somber silence of Saturday, was really not so silent at all. Behind the scenes, those who had accused, tried and crucified Jesus, were now scrambling to make certain that what He had foretold, would not in any way, appear to be the truth. It is almost comical to imagine the Pharisees, chief priests and Pilate as they have their troubled exchanges, as all the while, the disciples are grieving their loss. Stealing the body was likely the furthest thing from their mind. Mary and Martha were waiting to attend to His body, to further treat it properly for burial, but taking His body from the tomb… Eww… What I love most of all about this short passage of scripture, is that Jesus’ accusers took such care to be certain the tomb was guarded and secure from the outside, yet could not control the miracle that was taking place on the inside. Can you imagine the shock and awe that was to come for the soldiers sent to guard the tomb? Soldiers who were to be wary of those who would come near the tomb, would suddenly find themselves face to face with an angel of the Lord, and then the risen Christ himself, less than twenty-four hours later. Jesus was not a liar nor a deceiver. He is the truth, the way and the life. All who choose come to Him, may know love and life everlasting in Him. Though Saturday was somewhat silent, Sunday was on its way!

 

The day in between,The Second Day at the Tomb

His death and new life;

Silence in waiting,

After sacrifice.

Scrambling soldiers,

Sent to take up guard;

They sealed Jesus’ tomb,

All passage was barred.

Pharisees fearful,

Of what Jesus said;

That after three days,

He’d no more be dead.

No sealing nor guards,

Could ever prevent;

Miracle coming,

Sunday’s big event!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us Your goodness, grace and power. Thank You that You demonstrated Your incredible love for us as You willingly went to the cross and died the death that should have been ours, so that we could be forgiven and know life in You. Thank You that the grave was not the end. Thank You that hope rises, and that Sunday is coming for all. Forgive us for allowing our sorrows and grief to feel hopeless and helpless in the tomb of our heart. Thank You that You do Your miraculous work from within, so how things appear do not matter in order for You to move. Show us how to love in ways that offer 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 embrace the hope that is ready to rise, each day, because of the third day at the tomb. Amen.

 

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24