Strength and a Clear Path

God – He clothes me with strength and makes my way perfect. – (Psalm 18:32, HCSB)

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – (Psalm 18:32, NIV)

God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. – (Psalm 18:32, ERV)

The True God who encircled me with strength and made my pathway straight. – (Psalm 18:32, VOICE)

As so many of us return to school today after what felt like the first “real” summer in the last few years, may we be equipped with the strength of the Lord for all that lies ahead. Teaching through the pandemic made for challenge after challenge, and last year, as we all returned to buildings, there were even more trials through the process of having to reacclimate to being on campus and interacting with live humans. This morning, though it marks my 26th first day of school as a teacher, the nervousness and anticipation are still securely in place. How will I create community in my classroom, and how can I help each student feel as if they belong? We all need strength and clarity to navigate this new year, and a clear path to lead and guide well. May we all seek the Lord to be our strength and to show us the steps we need to take to help each student feel as if they belong.

O Lord, bring the new,

Better than before;

Please lead and guide us,

To open new doors.

Show us Your goodness,

Lead us in Your way;

Each step that we take,

Throughout each new day.

Help all who enter,

Feel welcomed and known;

Valued and noticed,

Let Your love be shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and the Light that leads us in the direction You want us to go. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and walk beside us as we navigate each new day. Forgive us for our fearfulness of what is not yet known. Teach us to trust in You to be our strength and lead us well. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. Give us clear direction in our classrooms so that we might create a welcoming community where every child knows that they belong. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to be our strength and seek You to direct our steps. Amen.

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

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Ongoing Transformation

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, HCSB)

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. – (Philippians 1:6, VOICE)

 This verse is such a wonderful reminder that we are ALL a work in progress. Not one of us has “arrived”; we all can continue to be transformed more and more by the goodness of God and His unending grace, if only we are willing to seek and trust in Him. The process is different for everyone, and what we see is not the whole story. We all have challenges and triumphs, detours and direct routes as we navigate this life with the intent to grow more like Jesus. I love that the Lord will not stop in the middle, but rather will continue to work in us and through us as we depend on Him. Though I am certain I have passed the midpoint in this life, I am well aware of the work that still needs to be done. There is always more to learn, and always more patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and more to gain. It is only through looking back that we can see how far we have come. For some, change is subtle, as the external has mostly always been a pleasant demeanor, however, the work in the heart is what transforms the mind to think and respond in love in all circumstances. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us more in His love, and recognize that we are all a work in progress and in desperate need of His love and grace.

Confidently trust,

The work is not done;

A lifelong process,

As we seek the Son.

Each day we choose Him,

His love is our guide;

To give as He gives,

With arms open wide.

Lead us in Your love,

To care as You do;

Let Your goodness show,

As we follow You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are all a work in progress and that Your work in us will not stop until the day that we see You face-to-face. Thank You that none of us “arrive” and are somehow without room to grow. Forgive us for our expectations and frustrations with others, for You are working in and through all of us. Teach us to trust in You in all things, for growth happens as we seek You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we encourage one another to grow more like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to keep transforming our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your goodness and love throughout each day that we draw breath. Amen.

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

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

Hope Through The Heartache

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, HCSB)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

This morning, as I perused my Facebook feed, I was met by the devastating news of a friend, former classmate and fellow coach, who lost the love of her life with no warning. Her immediate response was to get the information out there (for there would be far too many calls to make) and to ask for prayer for her and their five children as they navigate this horrendous loss. The hope to rejoice in is that one day, there will be no more death and no more pain. In the meantime, our patience and peace in the process is found as we pray. God hears and sees and knows. He provides strength, comfort, wisdom and peace in our spaces of greatest need. May we seek the Lord in all things and at all times, and ever be persistent in prayer.

Lord, help us rejoice,

In hope that is true;

Through ev’ry season,

We can trust in You.

Help us be patient,

When we see such pain;

Help us keep praying,

Throughout all our days.

Bring comfort and peace,

Where there is great pain;

Lead us in Your love,

You’re where good is gained.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope, comfort, strength and peace, no matter what life brings our way. I lift up my friend and her family in the midst of their great loss, and pray for You to provide for their every need – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially, Lord be tangibly present. Forgive us for the times that pain and circumstances overshadow the hope we know. Show us how to hold fast to hope through all things with patience and perseverance, and to continually seek You in prayer. Lead us to love those around us through every trial and heartache, so that they may know the hope in You that does not waver. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the hope that we have forever in You, and for the love that You give that carries us through. 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

Not Finished Yet

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, HCSB)

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV)

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. – (Philippians 1:6, VOICE)

We are all a work in progress. Not one of us “arrives” at some point in our lives, but rather as we seek the Lord, He continues to transform our hearts to more clearly reflect His own. The great work He does in us is an ongoing process that we must be willing to pursue, for it is by His grace that we can live and love through a life that extends His heart to others. In our broken humanity, we all fall short, yet it is Christ who picks us up, dusts us off, and encourages and strengthens us to press on. May we ever seek the Lord to lead and guide us in His love, so that He may continue the good work that He has begun in each of us. 

Lord, please continue,

What’s begun in us;

Love’s transformation,

Power of Jesus.

For as we seek Him,

He shows us the way;

To love as He loves,

A bit more each day.

Such love’s a process,

That grows and refines;

Power of Jesus,

To change hearts and minds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the work You began in us will continue until the day that we see You face-to-face. Thank You that You are not finished with us yet. Forgive us for failing to press in when You are calling us to so much more. Teach us to trust and continually pursue You and all that You have for us. Show us how to love You and love people in the way that You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they witness the depth, power and goodness of Your unending love. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us and transform us to love as You do. Amen.

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

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

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

Plans Purposed for Good

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, HCSB)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

No matter what we face or challenges that come our way, God will ultimately use it for good somehow. I know in my own life that this has proven true, again and again, even when it seemed that nothing good could ever come from it. Incredibly, often He takes us out of what we think we want and leads us to something far better than we could have hoped or imagined. Through the process He refines us and makes us more like Him. May we bring all before the Lord in faith, and trust that He will use all things for good because we love Him.

No matter what comes,

God can use it for good;

Beauty for ashes,

His true hope, understood.

The more we love Him,

The clearer we can see;

How all works for good,

Love moving tangibly.

So, choose to love God,

Ever trust in His plan;

Good will always come,

When we don’t understand.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can use ALL things for good for those who love You, despite what we see or are experiencing in the here and now. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for the times that we have felt that we were forgotten or left on our own when things seem to lack hope. Teach us to trust and rely on You, for Your promises never return void, and You are faithful to use even our most difficult seasons to bring good. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant hope and encouragement. May many come into a lasting, loving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the good that You will bring from all that we walk through. Amen.

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

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

The Process of Perfect Love

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, HCSB)

That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, ERV)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love! – (1 John 4:11-12, MSG)

God’s love changes our hearts and transforms our minds so that we too, might love as He loves. As humans, we are subject to sin and falling short, so the process of being transformed is one that requires an entire lifetime. That being said, it is a process that is well worth the while. When we allow God’s love to reconstruct our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect His own, we have the opportunity to show God’s love to all those around us. In this space of loving as God loves us, we can become His representatives of what love ought to be. The challenge is that when we do not choose to act in love, we are responding as the world does, and discrediting the heart of God for others. I say that not to bring shame, but rather to encourage each of us to seek to love God and love people (His creation) as He loves us. We all fall short, but what we do with our shortcomings makes all the difference. Are we quick to apologize and make amends, or do we ignore and let things go that can create a divide? The more I seek the Lord, the more I see opportunities all around me to show evidence of His love. Love is patient and kind, it rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. It does not envy, is not boastful or conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love never ends and has set before us the way to love well. (see 1 Corinthians 13) May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that those around us might experience for themselves the goodness of God.

The love of the Lord,

Is greatest of all;

For it lifts us up,

Each time that we fall.

It brushes us off,

And fills us again;

Overwhelms with good,

As each day begins.

Press in, keep seeking,

For God’s always found;

Perfect love won’t fail,

Hope in Him is sound.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You fill and equip us to love like You as we seek You and depend on You. Forgive us for our shortcomings and failures when we did not choose love. Lead us in Your kindness so that we may love as You love each of us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your perfect love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love those around us as You intended. Amen.

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

This is My command. Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

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

Grow Our Love

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment. – (Philippians 1:9, HCSB)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. – (Philippians 1:9, TPT)

Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi was full of encouragement. I find this particular verse encouraging this morning, as each new day we have the opportunity for our love to grow so that we might have knowledge and understanding in all things. We all need discernment to love as God loves us. May we ever seek the Lord and pray that He continues to grow us in knowledge and discernment so that we will love well.

The Lord is faithful,

Each time that we seek;

His love and wisdom,

Granted where we’re weak.

Love that increases,

Learns to understand;

Knowledge and insight,

All part of His plan.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

Each morning anew;

To love others well,

May Your heart shine through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our love and understanding is not something that we can grow on our own. Thank You that the more we seek You and know Your heart for us, the greater You grow our capacity to love and understand those around us. Forgive us for our impatience with the process, as our limited understanding can be a barrier to loving well. Teach us to seek You in all things so that we may continue to grow in our understanding, insight, and capacity to love. Show us how to love those around us well, in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to ever grow us in our capacity to love like You. Amen.

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

But in speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

Encourage Each Other

But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. – (Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

Encourage each other every day – for as long as we can still say “today” – so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. – (Hebrews 3:13, VOICE)

We need each other to be the best version of ourselves. God intentionally created us for community so that we might encourage one another to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. As we do, we are aware of the things that try to pull us away from the path that He has placed us on and are equipped to love and navigate well. Incredibly, the more we encourage others, the more we discover that we too are encouraged in the process. May we ever seek the Lord to point us to those who need encouragement and to give us the words that lift others up best.

Today is the day,

We’ve been called to love;

To lift others up,

Point hearts to above.

Encouraging words,

We choose to speak well;

Bring hope and resolve,

With goodness we tell.

Let’s help each other,

Walk in the Lord’s way;

With love and kindness,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community and surround us with those who love and help encourage us to follow after and stay true to You. Forgive us for our attempts to navigate on our own. Teach us to trust You more and to invest well in the relationships that You bless us with. Lead us to love and encourage those around us in ways that fend off the temptations to go astray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be an encouragement to those around us daily. Amen.

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

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11