Strength and Protection

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest… – (Ephesians 6:14, HCSB)

So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. – (Ephesians 6:14, ERV)

Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. – (Ephesians 6:14, TPT)

The reason I always look at the various translations of a passage is because so often, the slight variation in the phrasing helps my heart to make connections between what is being said and how it applies to my own life. This morning, the imagery of The Passions Translation hits home. In the same way that one wears a belt to lift heavy weights for protecting and strengthening the back, so too does truth girded around us, grant us the strength we need to stand strong in faith. Additionally, protective armor to cover the heart reminds me that we are not called to be hard-hearted, but rather, we are to allow God to protect our tender heart with His armor. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use His strength each day, and His protection over my heart in this incredibly long and exhausting season. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and protect us, for His armor is stronger than anything that comes against us.

The power of truth,

God’s strength unto us;

Protection each day,

Faithful, God with us.

Place over each heart,

Your armor and grace;

Our help and our strength,

Throughout all our days.

Please help us to rise,

In truth, make us strong;

Lead and protect us,

In You, carry on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each time we seek You, You lovingly strengthen and protect us in the truth of You great love. Forgive us for forgetting the strength that is found in Your word and the faithfulness of Your protection when we seek You. Teach us to pursue more of You to be equipped and empowered to walk out each new day well. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exemplify the strength of Your word and protection in Your powerful hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to secure the belt of truth about us, and to be the armor that protects and guards our heart. 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

Sacrificial Love

No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. – (John 15:13, HCSB)

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – (John 15:13, NIV)

For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends. – (John 15:13, TPT)

Today is a well-timed day of rest and a day to honor all who have served our country. I am fortunate to have known and understood the sacrifice that our veterans have made, as my grandfather was a retired lieutenant colonel for the army. Though he spoke little of his experiences, I imagine he saw, experienced, loved and lost more than my mind can conceive. All that he did was willingly and with the intent to protect his family, friends and his country. His dedication to protect was matched by his commitment to love. Though his time on earth has passed, his love and legacy live on through the generations that followed. Today, I have the joy of knowing that my husband, who also served, has a heart like his; one that loves and protects and would lay down his life without a second thought, for his friends and family. It is a special kind of love, in fact, the greatest love of all, that is willing to sacrifice all for others. May we take time to give thanks to God for the heart to love and protect that He has given to those who serve, and pass on our appreciation to all the veterans in our lives for the blessing of their service and sacrifice. 

There’s no greater love,

My husband.

Willing sacrifice;

Ready to give all,

The ultimate price.

For all who have served,

And still serve today;

Thank you’s not enough,

For your loving ways.

May all who have served,

Feel valued and loved;

For your sacrifice,

Shows the greatest love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for demonstrating the ultimate love through sending Your Son. Thank You for the men and women who have willingly sacrificed much to serve and protect our country. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of their sacrifice that demonstrates the greatest love of all. Teach us to appreciate and value our veterans, as we recognize how the sacrifices made demonstrate a love like Yours. Show us how to love like You, and to do all we can to bless and appreciate those who have and continue to protect us all. Amen.

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

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, edures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Be Transformed

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

Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect. – (Romans 12:2, ERV)

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes. – (Romans 12:2, TPT)

We need God to know what is best and then to actually do it. As we seek the Lord and invite Him to transform our minds, He grants us wisdom and insight to know what is good and pleasing to Him, and how to follow His will in every area of our lives. This does not happen overnight, but rather it is a lifelong process. Every day that we seek the Lord with intention, we are transformed a bit more to reflect His heart, love and light to the world. It is impossible to shine for Him if we are imitating what we think the world wants. His loving kindness, goodness and grace flows from those who seek to be authentically who He has made them to be. May we invest our hearts and lives in seeking the Lord, for it is through our seeking that He empowers us to live the beautiful life that He intended.

Lord, protect our hearts,

Show us what is best;

Transform and renew,

And grant us Your rest.

Teach us to seek You,

In all things, always;

So we walk Your way,

Our lives give You praise.

Protect us from lies,

That seem to be true;

Lead us in Your love,

Show us what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lovingly lead us in Your ways, if only we seek and depend on You. Thank You that through our seeking, You transform our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your love to the world. Forgive us for allowing the patterns of this world to influence our decisions instead of You. Show us how to continually seek You and Your will in all things and at all times. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to transform us more and more to become who You have created us to be. Amen.

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

Light shines in the darkness for the upright. He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous. – Psalm 112:4

Grace Exemplified

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my source of strength. He is mine forever! – (Psalm 73:26, ERV)

Lord, so many times I fail; I fall into disgrace. But when I trust in You, I have a strong and glorious presence protecting and anointing me. Forever You’re all I need! – (Psalm 73:26, TPT)

This beautifully describes the plight of people. Failure is a reality in our broken humanity. However, Asaph reminds us that despite our failings and shortcomings, God will be our Source of strength to protect and empower us all the days of our lives. As we choose to trust in the Lord, His presence becomes the strength of our heart and leads us to move forward as we are called. We cannot control exhaustion or illness, but we can seek Him to strengthen and heal us. When we fail and fall short, God is present to pick us up, dust us off, and take our hand to lead us back in the direction we were always meant to go. May we ever pursue the Lord and allow Him to be our strength, for He is what we need to navigate each day best.

The Lord knows I fail,

Grow weak and fall short;

Yet as I place trust,

He gives strength, support.

In love, He lifts up,

My head, hand and heart;

Forgives and restores,

Again grants fresh start.

Forever He’ll be,

Our Source and Supply;

The strength to rise up,

Grace exemplified.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we fail and fall short, You are ever near to forgive and strengthen us to get back up and try again. Thank You that Your loving kindness lasts forever. Forgive us for our failings, falters, and foolishness. Teach us to lean into You to lead and guide us in the ways that we ought to go. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength and support to keep moving forward in the direction they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our source and our strength no matter what state we find ourselves in. Amen.

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

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

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

Good To Be Near

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – (Psalm 73:28, NIV) 

As for me, all I need is to be close to God. I have made the Lord God my place of safety. And, God, I will tell about all that You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, ERV) 

But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good. O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe – I will tell everyone what You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, VOICE) 

Being close to God does not mean that our lives will be easy or void of pain, but rather it is the assurance that His presence will be with us as He strengthens and upholds us with His mighty hands. No matter what we are going through, God is who we can run to and know that in Him, we are safe. The Lord is faithful to protect us body, heart, mind and soul, if we seek Him to be our refuge. To be close to God requires time invested in Him. The more we read His word, pray, and worship Him, the closer we feel and the more aware of His nearness we become. Trust and fear cannot coexist, for if we fully trust, there is no room for fear. Too often, our circumstances lead us to “I trust God, but…” scenarios. If there is a “but”, there is not full trust. Thankfully, it is process and God is full of goodness and grace. So often, in the midst of fear, I find myself turning to the Lord for help, only to discover that the more I seek and give the fear to Him, the greater my faith in His ability to carry me becomes. He is always good, even in our most difficult seasons. Joy, peace and hope are all possible, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Last year, as my sister, myself, and our families navigated how to best care for and aid mom in recovery, we found ourselves with His joy, His peace, and hope in Him for all that was yet to come. Sadly, in this COVID season, we are separated not only by distance, but also by strict rules that we must adhere to in order to maintain health and safety within mom’s community. It stinks, and we all have long since grown weary of it, yet each of us knows the refuge that He provides as we run to Him. God is good; always. May we ever seek the Lord to be our refuge and retreat, and be quick to share of His goodness and faithfulness forever. 

The goodness of God, 

Is readily shown; 

As we choose seek Him, 

His love is made known. 

For when we draw near, 

He is our refuge; 

Comfort and safety, 

Our Source of good news. 

Trust in His goodness, 

Give praise for His grace; 

Seek Him forever, 

And follow His ways. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and safety as we draw near to You. Thank You that Your goodness and love are ever-present and lavishly granted. Forgive us for not trusting You in spaces that feel uncertain. Teach us to draw near to You, for in Your presence we know Your goodness, strength and security. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, may recognize Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize and pursue the goodness that is found in being close to You. Amen. 

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

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

We Wait in Hope

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – (Psalm 33:20, NIV) 

So we will wait for the Lord. He helps us and protects us. – (Psalm 33:20, ERV) 

The Lord alone is our radiant hope and we trust in Him with all our hearts. His wrap-around presence will strengthen us. – (Psalm 33:20, TPT) 

This certainly feels like a season of waiting. Waiting to advance in phases of reopening; waiting to freely visit with friends and loved ones; waiting to celebrate major milestones and birthdays in the way in which we all are accustomed to do so; and waiting for answers as to what the coming year will look like for so many impacted by the public education system. With Christ, we are able to wait in hope, trusting that He has a plan and will protect and strengthen us for all that lies ahead. Though the road ahead feels long and uncertain, we can move forward, one step at a time, with hope in knowing Who is ultimately in control. May we wait on the Lord with hope, ever trusting in He who surrounds us with His presence, and strengthens us as He protects. 

May we ever turn, 

With hope, to the Lord; 

As we have to wait, 

In grace He affords. 

When it seems we’re stuck, 

A space of on hold; 

Hope grants us the strength, 

To trust and be bold. 

Bold in the unknown, 

Recognizing grace; 

Protection and peace, 

Granted all our days. 

Keep moving forward, 

However He calls; 

For there is a plan, 

As strength He installs. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us hope as we trust in You. Thank You that You are our strength and protection. Forgive us for our impatience in the waiting. Teach us to trust You with all of our days, ever aware of Your protection and grace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that present hope that inspires trust in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait with hope for all that is yet to come. 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

Faithful to Hold

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. – (2 Thessalonians 3:3, NIV) 

But the Lord is faithful; He will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind. – (2 Thessalonians 3:3, TLB) 

Still, the Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one. – (2 Thessalonians 3:3, VOICE) 

God is faithful. He strengthens us when we feel weak, and He is our protector and help when evil seems to surround us. Much of our struggle with evil is subtle. Our heart, our mind, and our character are challenged by the darkness. That voice or thought that tells us anything about who we are that does not align with God’s word, is an evil assault on our soul. The more we are immersed in His word, the truth that sets us free, the better we are able to stand strong and secure in the truth that He assures us is so. We are His; we are chosen; He has a plan and a purpose for each of us. God is faithful to meet us in our fear and doubt, and remind us again of what is true. His strength is mightier than anything that may come against us, and He promises are true forever. May we seek and invest time in pursuing God; for He is faithful and with strengthen and protect us from all that comes against us. 

Promises of God, 

The truth that remains; 

No matter what comes, 

We can trust His Name. 

The lies that assault, 

Who we truly are; 

From the pit of hell, 

Intended to scar. 

But God, in His love, 

Speaks truth to each heart; 

Affirming in grace, 

In Him, who we are. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to guard and protect us from evil as we trust and depend on You. Thank You that You speak truth to every heart that seeks You. Forgive us for not seeking You in our fears and doubts. Teach us to lean into You and to listen to what You have to say. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends safety and goodness to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to keep us safe from all evil. Amen. 

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

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. – Psalm 33:4

Place of Perfect Peace

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)

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)

 

Perfect peace. When we feel it, we know it, for there is no comfort that comes close to that of His peace when we are quiet in His presence and able to simply settle in and soak in the sweet safety of knowing He is near. I wish that I could tell you that I am constantly hanging out in this space, but alas, I am not. Yesterday began well, as I spent time in the word and the tone for my day was embedded in truth. However, by early afternoon, the weight of all I had carried throughout the week caught up with me, and I had a mini melt down. Everything felt like it was too much. Hours on end each day, seated in one place, staring at a computer screen, trying to learn and make sense of this new platform for instructing; monitoring incoming daily messages from my mom’s senior living community, and struggling to actually contact and communicate with mom this past week, as we played phone tag more than we spoke live; and finally, not getting out of my house except to exercise or to make a grocery run was all at a point of stealing my peace. Part of me wanted to get in the car and just drive. I didn’t care where, just go and see and that there was more to existence than the walls that shelter and protected my family. Sometimes, as it seems, God uses people to bring us back to His perfect peace. My husband came in, hugged me and listened to me, then told me to get ready to go. He took me for a drive along the water, as he knows that is where I am reminded of God’s peace best, and we enjoyed fresh air and quiet as we traveled along. It took little time before we were talking and laughing, and noticing things along the way. We actually spotted a wedding on the waterfront, as two people, a clergy, and a few socially-distanced witnesses were standing in the pagoda by the Puget Sound, exchanging their vows. Our outing ultimately took us to a Fred Meyer for some needed groceries for the week, before returning home for dinner with the family. The evening was sweet and settled, and peace was again present in my heart. This morning, I am grateful for the family that I am blessed to call my own, and will continue to pursue the Lord any time I feel His peace wavering. May we seek the Lord and trust in Him, for He is our place of perfect peace.

 

The Lord is our peace, Place of Perfect Peace

In Him, we can thrive;

As we choose to trust,

Each day of our lives.

For circumstances,

Come and go like rain;

But as we choose trust,

His peace shall remain.

Choose trust in the Lord,

Place all in His hands;

His strength, hope and grace,

All we need to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You and depend on You to be our perfect peace. Thank You that no matter what we are going through, we can still know Your perfect peace. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to become overburdened by the weight of the world. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that we may know Your peace and only carry that which we are meant to shoulder. Show us how to come alongside those around us and help extend strength, hope and grace in Your love, so that they too, may feel and know Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust and depend on You in all things and at all times, giving You praise for the perfect peace that Your presence brings. 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

Always Love

It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, ERV)

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, TPT)

 

God is love. This perfect sort of love comes from Him alone. We are flawed and frail and fallen; He is good, gracious and merciful. When we seek the Lord first, He deposits these things within us, and grants us the capacity to protect, trust, hope, and persevere in love. In our broken humanity, we will never be flawless in our delivery. However, God is. When we choose to love God and love people as we are called and designed to do, we become better equipped to protect, trust, hope and persevere, as His love leads us in every area of our life that we grant Him access. The more we give God room, the more we become aware of the hope, security, and overcoming, lasting love that is found in Christ. May we ever seek the Lord with our whole heart, so that we too, may love in a way that creates a safe place of shelter, that never stops believing the best for others, never takes failure as defeat, and never gives up.

 

Our space of shelter, Life by Love Defined

When weary and worn;

He grants strength to move,

In Christ, hope’s reborn.

The One we can trust,

Protection in love;

He never gives up,

Our Help from above.

Even through the times,

When we can’t shake fear;

His presence surrounds,

To rise, persevere.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we begin to understand the power of love. Thank You that Your love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Thank You that the more we walk with You, the better we are able to love as You love us. Forgive us for the times that we have been lacking in our love. Continue to teach us how to love like You. Show us practical and tangible ways to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we always trust and hope in You, as You protect us and provide for us, all that we need through Your overwhelming and unending love. Amen.

 

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

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34