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

The Blessing of Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, NIV)

But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, ERV)

But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, TPT)

Confessing our sins is meant to be freeing and cleansing. Too often, we get caught up in presenting our laundry list of requests before God, and perhaps praising Him for who He is, but neglect the part of pausing to reflect on places where our thoughts, words or deeds were not pleasing to the Lord. This is not meant to be a space of shame, but rather of recognition of our wrongs and an active, intentional awareness of how we can do and be better, not in our own strength, but with the forgiveness and freedom that our Heavenly Father brings as we ask.  Incredibly, as we ask, He answers. God is faithful to forgive each time we ask, but it is our responsibility to request that He show us where we have fallen short. We all do, as we are all a work in progress. I am so thankful that though there is a long way to go, I am closer than I was before. May we ever come before Christ and confess our sins, for it is in this space that we are set free from the shame and guilt, and turned back to the One who leads us in the ways that He intended.     

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will show us our sin so that we may confess and be cleansed. Thank You that You receive us, cleanse us, and point us on the path that follows after You. Please forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented Your heart well. Teach us to keep short accounts with You so that we may do and be better. Show us how to love with mercy and grace, granting glimpses of Your heart to all who come our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confess our sin before You and follow Your leading to love as we were created to do. Amen.

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

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24

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

Blessed to Love

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, ERV)

So devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness, and to goodness add understanding, and to understanding add the strength of self-control, and to self-control add patient endurance, and to patient endurance add godliness, and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters, and to mercy toward others add unending love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, TPT)

By faith, we can grow in goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, devotion to God, kindness, mercy and love. Each of these attributes are in existence to help us love as we were called to love. To love God and love people, we need all of these things. Our faith directs and draws us in to seek the Lord. As we do, we grow in goodness and understanding, and are equipped with strength, self-control and patient endurance. With these things, our devotion and kindness grows, and love more easily flows from us. Everyday, I need a fresh supply of each of these. God is faithful to meet us each time we earnestly seek Him. Though we are flawed and fall short, we can continue to be devoted to the One who grows good things within us. As we grow, our lives pour out the overflow to all of those around us. My hope is that each day, there is less of me and more of Him. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us more and more, so that we may love as we were designed to love.

Grow us, Lord Jesus,

In each of these things;

So we may love more,

Please tune our heart strings.

Goodness and knowledge,

And true self-control;

Faithful devotion,

Teach us to love well.

May perseverance,

Help us to press on;

Devoted and kind,

‘Til our days are gone.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

In all that we do;

Let our lives reflect,

A love just like You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are forever willing to grow, refine and empower us to love more like You. Forgive us for the times that we are reactive, rather than seeking You to lead us well. Teach us how to pursue You each day, so that we may grow more like You. Show us how to love as You love, with kindness, gentleness, mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow our hearts more like Yours so that we may love as You intended. Amen.

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

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

Saved By Love

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. – (John 3:17, NIV)

God sent His Son into the world. He did not send Him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him. – (John 3:17, ERV)

God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! – (John 3:17, TPT)

If we are to love as we are loved by God, then our charge is not to condemn others, but rather to point them to He who saves. Our words, actions and very existence either reflect His love or distort it. The more we are intentional to love well, the more clearly His heart can be seen by those around us. Days like today remind me of just how deep, wide and all-encompassing God’s love truly is. In the same way that the falling snow covers everything it touches, so too does God’s love for us. If we are open to all He offers, He covers us with His unfailing love. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for His love is so great that He sent His Son to make certain we would have the opportunity to know and experience His love.

The love of the Lord,

Chose sacrifice all;

To make the way clear,

So we’d hear Love’s call.

The purpose was not,

To come and condemn;

But rather to love,

Lead hearts unto Him.

May we choose the same,

Love generously;

Let love lead the way,

Bless relentlessly.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to save us, not condemn. Thank You that You show us over and over again how deep and wide Your love is for us all. Forgive us for the times that we have condemned rather than loved like You. Show us how to love those around us as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your generous and saving grace that equips us to love like You. Amen.

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

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Wrapped in Cloth

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. – (Luke 2:12, NIV)

Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. – (Luke 24:12, NIV)

This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box. – (Luke 2:12, ERV)

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see. He looked in, but he saw only the cloth that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. It was just lying there. Peter went away to be alone, wondering what had happened. – (Luke 24:12, ERV)

You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough. – (Luke 2:12, TPT)

But Peter jumped up and ran the entire distance to the tomb to see for himself. Stooping down, he looked inside and discovered it was empty! There was only the linen sheet lying there. Staggered by this, he walked away, wondering what it meant. – (Luke 24:12, TPT)

What an incredible wonder we find in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus! When He was born, the sign to the shepherds that He was the One, was that Jesus would be wrapped in pieces of cloth, lying in a manger; and when Jesus had risen, the only thing that Peter found in the empty tomb were the pieces of cloth that had been His burial clothes. These pieces of cloth are the shared shreds of humanity between heaven and earth. Our Savior came down from His heavenly throne to live and love among us. The shepherds saw Jesus lying in the manger and held the hope that would be fulfilled when Peter discovered the tomb where Jesus had been laid now only contained similar pieces of cloth. In His humanity, Jesus gave up heaven to come to us, and sacrificed His life so that we one day could join Him in heaven. What a wonder indeed! May we make time to pause and reflect on the incredible gift that God gave to us through His Son, and the hope we now hold because Jesus gave. 

The pieces of cloth,

Wrapped humanity;

As God with us made,

Hope eternally.

Born as a baby,

In a stable bare;

Surrounded by love,

As Jesus lay there.

A life of loving,

Showing good and grace;

Forgiveness, mercy,

The Lord made the way.

Unto that old cross,

Willing He gave;

His life in exchange,

As sin He forgave.

Wrapped up in the tomb,

Death He overcame;

Burial linens,

Were all that remained.

Our Savior’s alive,

Let us celebrate;

The hope we now hold,

Today and always.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the perfect gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, for Your willing sacrifice so that all might find forgiveness and a new life. Forgive us for not holding the sacredness of this season as close as we ought to. Teach us to pause and reflect and worship You, our hope for all of our days. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your perfect, sacrificial love. May many find the hope that is found in You alone this Christmas. Be glorified O God, as we worship and praise You for the perfect gift You wrapped and unwrapped in pieces of cloth for us all. Amen.

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

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – Luke 2:10

Made to Praise

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – (Luke 19:40, NIV)

But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if my followers didn’t say them, these stones would shout them.” – (Luke 19:40, ERV)

Jesus responded, “Listen to me. If my followers were silenced, the very stones would break forth with praises!” – (Luke 19:40, TPT)

During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a whole crowd of disciples was shouting praises to announce His arrival, and yelling out the truth of Jesus’ rightful roles. Some of the Pharisees who were in the area, were not having it. They ordered Jesus to rebuke those who were praising Him. His response reminds us that all of creation was indeed made to praise Him and speak the truth of who He is. The power, grace, goodness, and love of the Lord demands our praise. We were created with an innate need to worship. Where we place our praise matters. If we praise the One who alone is worthy, the truth is declared and we discover the perfect peace that comes as we do what we were created to do. All of creation was made to reflect the Lord’s radiance. The rocks, the mountains, the oceans, rivers and seas – everywhere we look, we can see the evidence of the Lord’s loving and powerful hands. As we draw ever nearer to the day that we celebrate His birth, may we take time to lift our voice in praise for who God is and how our Savior loves.

All of creation,

Was made to give praise;

To honor Jesus,

Throughout our days.

The rocks will cry out,

If people do not;

For He is worthy,

Of our praise and thought.

Let us lift His Name,

For He’s always good;

He came to save us,

Make love understood.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to be our Savior and salvation. Thank You that we were created to praise. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to give praise where praise was due, for all belongs to You. Teach us to see Your goodness, power, and love throughout our days. Show us how to love others in a way that honors You and demonstrates the depth of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and love all of Your creation. Amen.

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

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

Sing, Praise and Encourage

Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV)

Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, ERV)

And your hearts will overflow with a joyful song to the Lord Jehovah. Keep speaking to each other with words of Scripture, singing the Psalms with praises and spontaneous songs given by the Spirit! Always give thanks to Father God for every person He brings into your life in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, TPT)

As we encourage one another and give praise to God, we are reminded of our reasons to praise Him. When I pause and take time to observe everything and everyone that God has brought into my life, I cannot help but praise and thank Him. There is something so powerful about worship and praise. We may come before HIm hoping to show Him our gratitude and appreciation, and discover that as we do, we are the ones who are encouraged and built up. God invites us to enter into His presence. As we do, we cannot help but be changed. While our hearts grow lighter and peace floods in, God fills us with His love to extend to those around us. May we ever lift joyful praise to the Lord and allow our hearts to overflow to all those around us.

Let hearts overflow,

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

With sweet songs of praise;

To honor the Lord,

Throughout all our days.

Sing and make music,

For all that is good;

Encourage others,

Be kind as we should.

May our hearts reflect,

Our thanks to the Lord;

As our lives give praise,

To Him we adore.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for who You are and how You love. Thank You that you call us to love like You. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to praise You or encourage those around us. Teach us to recognize the enormous blessing we have in life with You, no matter what goes on around us. Show us how to love all those with whom we interact, so that they may see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we give You praise in all things. Amen.

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

Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting it is to praise Him! – Psalm 147:1

Live a Life of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love… – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, NIV) 

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, ERV) 

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, MSG) 

Everything we do must be guided by love. We are dearly loved by God, therefore, we must follow His example and love others well. This is not a simple a pick and choose who to love, or when to love, but rather it is meant to be a life of love. All that we think, say and do must be steeped in love. What does that look like? Thankfully, He tells us exactly what it means to love.  

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) 

May we seek the Lord to lead us and equip us so that we may be patient, kind, rejoicing in the truth, protective, trusting, hopeful, and always persevere. 

Because God is love, 

And we’re loved by Him; 

We likewise should love, 

Welcome people in. 

Into our circles, 

Where love’s always found; 

Grace freely offered, 

And goodness abounds. 

Treat one another, 

With value and grace; 

Choose love each other, 

And follow God’s ways. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us first, and continue to show us again and again, what it is to love. Forgive us for every word, thought, and deed that does not clearly reflect Your love. Teach us to lean into You so that we may reflect Your love to all those whom we encounter. Show us how to love each individual as You do, in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to follow Your example and live a life of love. Amen. 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Remembering Goodness Gone By

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done. – (Psalm 143:5, NIV) 

But I remember what happened long ago. I am thinking about all You have done. I am talking about what You made with Your hands! – (Psalm 143:5, ERV) 

I remember the glorious miracles of days gone by, and I often think of all the wonders of old. – (Psalm 143:5, TPT) 

Taking time to remember and reflect on all that God has done in the past, reminds us of the power He has for whatever we are walking through right now. David, who penned Psalm 143, knew well of God’s miracles and faithfulness. He was a boy who was anointed king in his youth, yet did not take the throne for several more years. Additionally, David was a shepherd, and he had killed lions that tried to take his sheep, as God strengthened and empowered him. The Lord protected and preserved David’s life on many occasions, and he knew full well of the works of God’s hands. As a person who has known and loved God for as long as I can remember, I need only pause for a moment before I am flooded with memories of God’s miracles in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. Pausing and reflecting is a wonderful way to find faith restored in weariness, and trust fine-tuned in trying times. God is good, and He is faithful forever. May we ever make time to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness throughout the ages; for the same God who parted the sea, makes a way for you and me. 

May our hearts hold fast, 

To all that God’s done; 

From all creation, 

To each setting sun. 

The strength and courage, 

All that He provides; 

Faithful He loves us, 

Ever by our side. 

Look back in wonder, 

And see all the ways; 

He has been faithful, 

Throughout all our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is evident throughout the ages. Thank You that when we look back, we can see the evidence of Your hand – moving, holding, helping and healing. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Forgive us for neglecting to reflect on Your heart for us throughout the ages, as it is through observing Your goodness in days gone by, we gain hope for Your faithfulness in the future. Teach us to trust You more, as we pause and remember all of Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless them today, and give them hope for the days that are yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pause and remember the work of Your hands, gaining renewed resolve for Your presence in all that is yet to come. Amen. 

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

I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself. – Psalm 89:2