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

Amazing Adoption

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – (Galatians 4:4-5, HCSB)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

But when the time of fulfillment had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Yet all of this was so that He would redeem and set free those held hostage to the law so that we would receive our freedom and a full legal adoption as His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, TPT)

God sent His Son to us in the same way that each of us arrived. Jesus was born of a woman, grew up as a human, and was subject to the same sort of trials and triumphs that we all have as a part of the human experience. However, Jesus did so without sin. He was subject to temptation as we are, yet He navigated all in accordance to the Father. Because He did, He was able to be the perfect and pure sacrifice for all so that we could come before the Father and be accepted and embraced as His own. Adoption is a beautiful grafting of a person not born into a family as one of their own. Once adopted, the law sees that individual as an equal member of the family into which they have been adopted. Beautifully, I have two dear friends who were adopted as infants, and were raised in wonderful, loving homes. Incredibly, they have also been fully accepted and embraced into their biological family as well as adults. It is through these tangible examples that my heart is best able to grasp the beauty and love that is held in the process of adoption. I am overwhelmed in knowing that the God of the entire universe calls me His own. To be the daughter of the ultimate Father is a blessing that goes beyond my understanding. Though I have done nothing to earn such a blessing, that is not how adoption works. We are received and loved for who we are, however and whenever we come to Him. May we take time to ponder the powerful love that would come from heaven to earth to make the way for each of us to become daughters and sons of the living God.

When heaven came down,

Through God’s only Son;

He showed us the way,

That battles are won.

He grew as a man,

Tempted in all ways;

Yet was without sin,

For all of His days.

He made plain the path,

Through love’s sacrifice;

For our adoption,

Into paradise.

Thank You Lord Jesus,

For making the way;

So we might be heirs,

To hope each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son in such a way that He would understand all of our trials and triumphs as He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice so that we might be called Your own. Thank You that as we come to You and receive all that You offer, we are adopted as Your children. Forgive us for not receiving all that You offer and for the times that we have not represented Your family well. Teach us and grow us so that we may more clearly reflect Your likeness to the world. Lead us to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the privilege of being called Your sons and daughters that receive an inheritance into Your kingdom forever. Amen.

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

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. – 2 Corinthians 6:18

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

Hope in the Waiting

It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. – (Luke 23:54-56, NIV)

It was late on Preparation Day. When the sun went down, the Sabbath day would begin. The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus followed Joseph. They saw the tomb. Inside they saw where he put Jesus’ body. Then they left to prepare some sweet-smelling spices to put on the body. On the Sabbath day they rested, as commanded in the Law of Moses. – (Luke 23:54-56, ERV)

It was Preparation Day – the day before the holy Sabbath – and it was about to begin at sundown. The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required. – (Luke 23:54-56, VOICE)

When I ponder the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I imagine a sense of mourning and anticipation. The women who had been with Jesus from the beginning, had just witnessed the death of their Savior. Rather than running off in their sorrow, they waited and watched to see what they might do next to honor Him. In anticipation, they followed Joseph, the upright man from the Council, who had gone to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body so that he might properly place Jesus in a tomb. When the ladies knew where Jesus was laid, they went home to prepare spices to give the Savior a proper burial. However, as soon as the sun went down it was the Sabbath, and the time of rest and waiting began. It is in that space of rest, that I cannot help but imagine what it all was like. Grief, anticipation, remembering… The women had walked beside Jesus and lived and learned what a sinless life could be, only to see it cut short by the cross. Despite their anguish, they arrived at the conclusion that there was purpose for them to fulfill. Preparation Day was full of preparing for so much more than they could have ever imagined. Today, this day between the crucifixion and the resurrection, we have time to purposefully ponder all that Jesus did for us. Our sin and shame were buried with Him in that tomb, waiting to burst forth with new life, intended for all. May we look to the cross with thanksgiving for all that was placed upon Him, and look ahead with anticipation, to all that tomorrow brings. New life and eternal hope are ours to behold, if only we seek the Savior.

His death on the cross,

And all they had seen;

Lost, seeking purpose,

What did it all mean?

The women in wait,

Watched, followed to see;

Where was their Savior,

What might the Lord need?

Laid in a new tomb,

His location known;

Christ’s body broken,

Somber and alone.

A day to prepare,

To honor the Lord;

They did what they knew,

All time would afford.

Then came the waiting,

Such sorrow unknown;

Grief and a purpose,

Their hope felt postponed.

Soon to discover,

All hope was not lost;

The Savior would rise,

From death on that cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for new life in us. Jesus, thank You that though we lose sight of hope in the waiting, it is simply a time to pause and anticipate the new that is coming. Forgive us for forgetting the power You have. The very One who defeated death is always working on our behalf, and will never leave us nor forsake us. Teach us to trust You more, even in the spaces that seem like we are waiting in darkness. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that hope may rise, even in the darkest tombs in our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for how You endured the cross for our sake, and praise You for the power in You that overcame death to rise again. Amen.

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

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

Pause, Ponder and Praise

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

Christ had no sin, but God made Him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, ERV)

How? You ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, MSG)

As we enter this most holy week, in preparation for Easter, it is good to consider what Christ did for us in order for all to have the opportunity to be right with God. Jesus left heaven, was born as a baby, grew up in an ordinary place, and began touching and changing lives when His time had come. For more than three years, He lived, loved, taught, encouraged, healed, touched, and transformed the lives of those whom He encountered. Though Jesus knew what stood before Him as He made His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, He loved so much that He continued. His fate was to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders, as He hung on the cross that dismal Friday. Jesus’ decision to die in our place, made the way for us to be forgiven and set free to be in the very presence of God. Gone are the days of sacrifice and atonement for our sin because of that one decision to take it all. Sin, shame and sorrow were surrendered on the cross, so that we might experience forgiveness, blessing and joy. Though we all fall short, as we choose to pursue a life after God, we are forgiven and led forward into a life everlasting. Pondering all that Christ went through on my behalf, intensifies my desire to live a life that is pleasing unto Him. May we ever make time to reflect on the goodness of God, and give praise for the way that has been made for us to be right before Him.

Sinless was Jesus,

Hanging on the cross;

Done on our behalf,

Aware of the cost.

To become the sin,

All that we have done;

He felt the anguish,

The Most Holy One.

Willing He chose death,

To offer new life;

Hope for all people,

An ending to strife.

Earnestly seek Him,

Pursue Him with praise;

He loves forever,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved so much that You sent Your one and only Son. Thank You Jesus, that You lived and loved and led a life that was without sin. Thank You that You took our sin upon Yourself so that we could come into relationship with You. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder and praise You for all that You have done to may the way for us to be in Your presence forever. Teach us to recognize Your goodness and Your nearness. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart may be made known to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take pause to ponder all that You have done and praise You for who You are. Amen.

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

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? – Psalm 8:3-4

Take Joy in the Journey

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done. How great are Your works, Lord, how profound Your thoughts! – (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in! Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all You’ve done for me: what mighty miracles and Your power at work – just to name a few! Depths of purpose and layers of meaning saturate everything You do. – (Psalm 92:4-5, TPT)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. Your works are marvelous, O Eternal One! Your thoughts are unfathomable. – (Psalm 92:4-5, VOICE)

Each new day, we have a choice – we can either focus on our struggles, or we can take joy in the faithfulness of God. Some days, this is more difficult than others. This morning as I woke from a very restless night’s sleep, I found myself frustrated and grumpy. It took little time to ponder how God has provided for what my heart has needed, and I could not help but smile and find myself aware of how God works on our behalf. God’s thoughts and plans are not our own, and He can use every test as a testimony. If I pause and reflect, there have been countless times that the Lord has taken my struggles and turned them into strengths, and He has turned my trials into triumphs. In the midst of my challenges, I must remember that God is faithful and is ever working on my behalf. He does a work in my heart as well, and leads me through whatever obstacle lies before me. The Lord is loving and kind, working mightily in us, before us, and through us, even in the moments that we are oblivious to how He might move. May we ever praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness, even when we cannot see how He will work things out.

The work of Your hands,

Is faithful and true;

You help and hold us,

As You lead us through.

My heart sings for joy,

At all You have done;

Our loving Father,

The Most Holy One.

Help us to reflect,

Remember with praise;

Your presence and help,

Miraculous ways.

Lead us with Your love,

When we cannot see;

How things will work out,

May we trust in Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that Your ways are so much higher than our own. Thank You that You work on our behalf, and lead us through the deserts and valleys that are a part of our journey. Forgive us for not lifting praise when troubles come; for You are always worthy. Teach us to depend on You in faith, and to ever praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and all that You have done, trusting that You will forever remain our faithful Father. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Confidently Seek in Love

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. – (1 John 5:14, NIV)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before Him, for if we present any request agreeable to His will, He will hear us. – (1 John 5:14, TPT)

 

At first read, this can be a bit intimidating. Who am I to truly know God’s will? The more I read and ponder and pray, the more I recognize that if whatever I am asking God is aligned with loving Him and loving people, then my prayers will be heard. His will not always revealed to us, yet we do know that what He commands of us, desires of us, and has created us for – loving Him and loving those around us. It seems that the bottom line as we approach God for anything, is what is the condition of our heart? What I mean by that is what is our intention for what we are asking. Is it for the good our heart toward Him? Will it help or better the life of another? What I have learned is that God is gracious and kind and full of love, and He hears our heart cry as we come before Him with honesty and truth. He leads and guides in the ways we are meant to go, and blesses us with His peace. May we ever confidently seek the Lord in prayer, trusting that He hears and cares about what we ask as we pursue His best for every circumstance.

 

We can be certain,

The Lord hears our prayer;

Each time that we seek,

He listens with care.

With a heart for good,

Full of love and peace;

God shows us the way,

As grace is released.

So, choose seek the Lord,

Pray confidently;

With a heart of love,

God hears faithfully.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and showing us what is good. Thank You that if our heart is for loving You and loving people, You hear our prayers with a heart of love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to seek You or have sought You out of selfishness. Teach us to trust and follow You in all things. Show us how to love those around us in the same way that You love us so well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with a heart of love, ever pursuing Your will. Amen.

 

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

 

For You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. – Psalm 71:5

 

 

How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – (Psalm 13:2a, NIV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. – (Psalm 13:2a, TPT)

My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come and strengthen me and encourage me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TPT)

 

I have set aside personal reflection for public view on the shift in schooling for quite some time, due largely in part to weight of my own sorrow. You see, not only is this the loss of concluding this school year with my students, but it is my own children’s senior year, and the second spring in a row that I have been absent from both. Last year, two weeks from now, our entire world came to a crashing halt. My mom suffered a massive stroke, and we were unsure of what the outcome would be. Immediately, my husband and I made the drive over the mountains to be with her, and I made arrangements to take a leave of absence to remain with mom, as Mark returned home to be with our kids. Mom is a fighter, and did remarkably well as my sister and I were able be with her around the clock, and after all of my years of teaching, I had plenty of leave to stay on through the majority of the remaining school year. Because mom was thriving and making gains, I did not give myself room to grieve. Now, nearly a year later, I am in an entirely different circumstance, yet in a similar space of loss. There have been moments of sorrow and grief, but I have given little time or space to ponder or process. Then, yesterday, as I returned to school for my designated twenty minutes to pick up any supplies I might need from my classroom, the weight of reality began to set in. Silent hallways and classrooms without kids running around, laughing, or talking to one another, left a hollow void in my heart.

My friend and colleague has a remarkable way with capturing in words, moments, so eloquently, and when I read what she posted on Facebook as a reflection of her twenty minutes in her classroom, I found myself fighting back the sting of tears. It took deep, intentional breaths to not fully succumb to the depth of sorrow I was feeling as I read what she had written. My own boys had been in her very first sixth grade class, and she recognized and grieved for those seniors too. There is just so much…

The beauty in the brokenness is that we are not stuck in it. God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and grant us fresh resolve. He does strengthen us, and today, my goal and focus is to be prepared for our launch of distance learning, come Monday morning. Additionally, today is my day to email a check-in to my art students, so that holds some hope and joy as well. In all things, God has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. I look forward to seeing how all of this season changes our neighborhood, schools, city, state, and nation for the better.

 

Hollow empty halls,wp-15870437506012790305386090599192.jpg

That mirror my heart;

Loss of what should be,

This season apart.

Such sorrow in loss,

Of all that could be;

Lord help us rise up,

As Your hope sets free.

Even in losses,

You can bring gains;

Beauty from ashes,

For Your love remains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us as we wrestle through our sorrow and heaviness, and You strengthen us with resolve once again. Thank You that You truly do bring beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. Forgive us for allow ourselves to sit in our sorrow too long, or for ignoring it and allowing the weight to burden us. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that You can walk us through it into the good that You have in store for us. Show us how to love those around us well, even though we cannot see people the way we want to right now. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and know the comfort and peace that You alone offer. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort and strength in our sorrow, and anticipate the good that lies ahead. Amen.

 

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

 

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

Clean the Inside of the Cup

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, NIV)

“It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of what you got by cheating others and pleasing yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, ERV)

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, MSG)

 

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus began His day, departing Bethany with the disciples. As they were leaving, they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, only to discover it had completely withered. That point of passage began a day filled with teaching, as Jesus started with a lesson on faith. He further taught several parables and answered important questions as people gathered in the temple to hear. The Pharisees, up to their usual attempt at trapping Jesus in some sort of misstep for which they could arrest Him, began a barrage of questions as well. After Jesus brilliantly answered, and completely silenced the scholars with His wisdom, He began a list of woes to them for the practices that they were participating in. One that stood out to me as particularly poignant, and one to ponder personally, is that which is found in the above listed verses from Matthew 23. What does it mean to clean the outside of the cup, but neglect cleaning the inside? To me, it seems He was using the image as an illustration of the heart versus how things appear. We must attend to the motives, desires and purposes within us to be considered clean. For if we seek the Lord and allow Him room to purify our hearts and cleanse us from within, the outside reflects the beauty on the inside. It does not work in reverse. I imagine we have all met or known someone who at first, appeared quite appealing. However, once the heart was made known, the ugly insides tainted the perspective on the outside. Jesus cares about the condition of our heart. Yes, wash your hands, for at least twenty seconds please, but really, it is what flows out of us that impacts those around us, not the package that holds our hearts. My take away today is to seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what filth within me still needs cleansing. We all have spots that get missed, or manage to lie hidden out of plain sight. Jesus is gentle and kind when we choose to seek Him with the hope of being cleansed to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. Lord, cleanse us from the inside out, so that Your love may be made abundantly clear, and no good thing withheld from those in need.

 

Lord, come and show us, Clean the Inside of the Cup

Where we need be cleansed;

Point out the places,

Help us make amends.

Places we’re selfish,

Greedy or unkind;

Over-indulgent,

Show us what You find.

By Your loving grace,

Show us how to change;

Be cleansed from within,

So Your love may reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way to be cleansed from the inside out. Thank You that not only did You clean the temple, but You are willing to clean the hollows of our heart. Forgive us for the times that we have worried more about “appearances” than being cleansed on the inside. Teach us to fix our eyes and heart on You and what You ask of us. Show us how to love selflessly, without greed, gluttony or reservation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the ways to wash ourselves within, so that we may shine bright, reflecting Your love to all whom we encounter. Amen.

 

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

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1-2

 

 

The Significance of a Shepherd

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

 

It is so interesting that God chose to announce the arrival of the birth of His Son to a group of shepherds who were out in their fields, guarding their flocks at night. The more I pause and ponder, the more fascinated I become with the significant roles and references to shepherds throughout the Bible. David was a shepherd boy who became a great king. Jesus was from the line of David, which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census in the first place. Additionally, there are many references throughout the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the good shepherd, as He tends to us and watches over us as His flock. Shepherds care for and protect their sheep, and know them each by name. Back then, shepherds had to fight off wild animals and protect the sheep from all harm, as well as tend to the sick and injured among them. Their livelihood was dependent on the well-being of their sheep, and from what I have read, the shepherds that tended their own flocks, did so in much the same way as Jesus did for the people all around Him. The shepherds in the fields that night, though well-trained in fending off predators, had no exposure to a visit from heavenly hosts. It is no wonder that the first words prior to announcing the arrival of Jesus, was “Do not be afraid.” Between shock and awe, the shepherds took in the announcement and acted upon it. With great urgency, they hurried off to see what the heavenly hosts had proclaimed.  Lastly, in the same way that shepherds care for their sheep and that Jesus modeled for us what it is do love and shepherd those around us well, we too are called to be shepherds of God’s flock; watching over them and caring well out of our own eagerness to serve. (see 1 Peter 5:2) May we seek the Lord to have the heart of a shepherd; humble, protective, and willing to go to great lengths to love and care for those who are placed in our reach.

 

Fiercely protective,

With hearts full of love;

We’re called to shepherd,

Like the Lord above.

Watch and extend care,

Throughout night and day;

Listen to God’s lead,

So none go astray.

For God chose the hearts,

Of the faithful ones;

In love, tending flocks,

To announce His Son.

He seeks the faithful,

To shepherd and keep;

All His beloved,

His people; His sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the faithful and protective ones to be the recipients of the great news of the arrival of Your Son. Thank You that You call each of us to faithfully love and protect those around us in much the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not been as vigilant as we ought to for those who we are called to care for and protect. Teach us to love and protect like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your comfort, protections, peace and presence known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, the Good Shepherd, to direct our steps as we seek to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. – 1 Peter 5:2