Courage for the Calling

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – (Joshua 1:9, HCSB)

“Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – (Joshua 1:9, ERV)

This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, VOICE)

God did not mean that fear never comes our way, but rather that when He calls us to things that seem beyond our own abilities, He will be with us and we need not fear. Yesterday, I lost my planning period because a teacher was absent and no substitute had accepted the job. When I found out I had to cover that particular class, my heart was filled with dread. The last time I covered that class, it was a nightmare. This time, as I walked in, I discovered that the majority of the students are either in my second semester art classes or are gymnasts. Suddenly, what I had feared was far from reality. I knew the majority of students by name, and their response to me was kind and pleasant. Because I knew them and they knew me, the interactions were entirely different. The path had been prepared for me. For some, it might be a little thing, but for me, it was a reminder that God has me. May we ever trust in Him and seek the Lord for all that we need, for we need not fear, as He will be with us, always.

No matter what comes,

The Lord will be near;

He grants us His strength,

To overcome fear.

Despite what we think,

God will make a way;

For us to press on,

Embrace each new day.

All thanks be to God,

Our strength, hope and grace;

To navigate well,

All that comes our way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our need and You strengthen and equip us for all that You call us to do. Thank You that You care about the little things too. Forgive us for our fear or dread when we walk into what we think we know. Teach us to trust You, for You can do wondrous things that we would never anticipate. Show us how to love all those around us well, so that they too, might be strengthened and encouraged in all that they do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your presence and know that You are greater than all that we face. Amen.

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

Each one helps the other, and says to another, “Take courage!” – Isaiah 41:6

Praise for the Blessings

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has provided redemption for His people. – (Luke 1:68, HCSB)

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. – (Luke 1:68, ERV)

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. – (Luke 1:68, VOICE)

This verse was the beginning of Zechariah’s praise in response to the birth of his long-awaited son, John. John, was the one who was to go before Jesus and prepare the way in the wilderness, sharing the light and hope of the One who had come to save us all. Zechariah was a priest who understood the promises of God and the incredible power in the fulfillment. He could not help but praise God for the blessing that had been poured out upon him and Elizabeth, and all people, for what was soon to come. Our response in this most holy season of remembrance should be likewise, overflowing with praise. No matter the challenges that have been along our path, there is always a reason to praise the Lord. He is faithful forever and sent heaven to earth as Jesus came near. May we ever give God praise for the most precious gift ever given as we remember the reason for the season.

Songs full of praises,

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Should flood ev’ry heart;

For the Lord came near,

To grant us fresh start.

First, He gave us John,

To prepare the way;

To speak of the Lord,

With all of his days.

Before he was born,

The Lord had proclaimed;

The baby to come,

Would honor His Name.

The grateful response,

Was great words of praise;

Giving God glory,

For His faithful ways.

In this sweet season,

May we choose give praise;

For love and for life,

Faithful gracious ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You foretold of Your arrival and sent messengers before Jesus to prepare hearts to receive all that His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension does for all who choose to believe and receive. Forgive us for neglecting to recognize and celebrate all that You have done for us. Teach our hearts to embrace Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways so that Your heart may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing songs of praise and give You all of our worship during this most blessed time of year. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my Father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Present in All

By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life. – (Psalm 42:8, NIV)

By day the Lord shows His faithful love, and at night I have a song for Him – a prayer for the God of my life. – (Psalm 42:8, ERV)

Yet in the light of day, the Eternal shows me His love. When night settles in and all is dark, He keeps me company – His soothing song, a prayerful melody to the True God of my life. – (Psalm 42:8, VOICE)

The reminder in this verse is that God is with us all of the time; when it is light and when things are going well, also, He remains present in darkness and through challenging times. His faithfulness is not dependent on circumstance nor timing. God is greater than all. Our song to Him flows out of our response to His nearness. As we look to the Lord with thanks or to be our help in time of need, He makes His nearness known. There is something that rises up within us when we are aware that God is present and moving on our behalf. No matter what lies before us, God is within us. The wisdom, strength and fortitude needed to persevere are available to us all. It is through our seeking that we find the Lord’s help and nearness, and reason to give Him praise. In this ever-changing, seemingly endless season of uncertainty, the Lord is the certainty that we can always count on. May we ever seek the Lord to be our Rock and the love that surrounds us, no matter what lies ahead.

With each new sunrise,

God’s love is made known;

His grace and goodness,

Clearly they are shown.

When the darkness falls,

God will remain near;

His strength and comfort,

In love, He makes clear.

In uncertainty,

His presence remains;

God’s love that comforts,

And makes our paths plain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your nearness and goodness are not dependent on timing or circumstances. Thank You that You are present, night and day, and ready to hear us, be it praise or petitions. Forgive us for making You too small, for You are greater than all. Teach us to trust and praise You in all seasons, for Your goodness does not change. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too might understand the goodness of Your love and faithfulness of Your presence. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and praise You in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Simply Be Still

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

You will not have to do anything but stay calm. The Lord will do the fighting for you. – (Exodus 14:14, ERV)

The Eternal will fight on your behalf while you watch in silence. – (Exodus 14:14, VOICE)

The context of this passage is such a powerful reminder of who God is and how He loves. As the Israelites had escaped Egypt and traveled into the desert, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army decided that they had made a mistake in allowing the people to go, and were pursuing them with chariots and horses. In fear and frustration, the Israelites began second-guessing their departure to the desert, and Moses called on the Lord. The response Moses was given was the above verse that he was to share with his people. God demonstrated His power and provision to His people, as He parted the Red Sea and threw the Egyptian army into confusion. The Israelites safely crossed through, and once the Egyptians were all in the middle of the sea, God released the Red Sea and covered the entire military movement, leaving no Egyptian survivors. Often, when we are in the midst of our biggest battles, God tells us the same, “Be still and I will fight for you.” What I have discovered over and over again, is that when I am meant to be still, and actually listen, God moves in miraculous ways. There are times that He calls us to fight or to move as He leads us and strengthens us, yet there are times when we are simply meant to be still and seek Him. May we ever seek the Lord and listen to His voice, as He instructs us to be still before Him and observe all that He will do.

Let us seek the Lord,

When we’re overwhelmed;

For God has a plan,

In Him, we’re upheld.

Sometimes in trials, 

He tells us, “Be still,”

The Lord is greater,

With grace He will fill.

Our battles belong,

To the Holy One;

Who loves us so much,

That He sent His Son.

All trials we face,

In Him, they are won;

He overcame death,

So we’d overcome.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, yet powerful and ready to fight on our behalf. Thank You that often You call us to be still and give You room to move. Forgive us for the times that we try to keep fighting in spaces that were meant to be Yours. Teach us to seek You and truly listen, so that we may know when to fight and when to be still. Show us how to love all those around us, for everyone has battles that are meant to be Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift our laments before You and listen for Your leading, every step of the way. Amen.

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

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Kindness Over Customary

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – (Matthew 9:13, NIV)

“You need to go and learn what this Scripture means: ‘I don’t want animal sacrifices; I want you to show kindness to people.’ I did not come to invite good people. I came to invite sinners.” – (Matthew 9:13, ERV)

“Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” – (Matthew 9:13, MSG)

This passage is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees after they questioned Him about His dining with Matthew, the tax collector and the fellow “sinners” that had been invited. In their pseudo piety, they saw the tax collectors and sinners as those who were beneath them and unworthy of the teacher’s time. Jesus, in His wisdom, pointed out that it is the sick who need medical attention; in the same way, sinners need salvation. The Pharisees were already well versed in scriptures and the laws, yet they saw following them as routine and religion, not as love, grace, mercy and sacrifice. Their priorities were all out of place. Time with Jesus was not meant to be an exclusive club or gathering, but rather He prioritized His time for those who were hungry to know more. We are no different today. Often, we get caught in the trap of thinking that if we do enough, or study enough, or pray enough in the four walls of our sanctuaries, we will have somehow arrived. The reality is that we are all called to do as Jesus did. We are charged with going forth in love. This means actively loving those around us; reaching out to those who need hope and help. It looks different for each of us, but the common threads are love, mercy, grace, goodness and kindness. Though we cannot make a difference for everyone, we can have a positive impact on the people whom we encounter;one person at a time. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile or an encouraging word, whereas other times there may be more action required. God is faithful to meet us and show us how to love each person we encounter with His heart. It is up to us to seek Him and trust Him to lead and guide us in the ways that He has for us to love. May we ever seek the Lord to equip us to go forth and love well, in the same way that Jesus chose to reach out, include, serve, honor and love.

For sinners He came,

To seek and to save;

Jesus led with love,

As we should today.

Love is inclusive,

It seeks to meet needs;

Love chooses reach out,

The hungry it feeds.

Sick and the hurting,

Those who’ve lost their way;

Are those Jesus loved,

And pursued each day.

He willingly left,

The flock for the one;

To lovingly lead,

Those who’d come undone.

For it’s through Jesus,

We each come to find;

A loving Savior,

Who has us in mind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be merciful and kind. Thank You that You first loved us, though we were sinners. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to reach out in love, or think somehow that we are good in our comfortable safety circle. Teach us to reach out beyond our four walls to love all those we meet. Show us how to love the lost and the broken in ways that point their hearts to the truth of Your love and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love, with all people at all times. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

The Calm to Our Storms

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” – (Matthew 8:27, NIV)

The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at His command!” – (Matthew 8:27, MSG)

The disciples were astonished by this miracle and said to one another, “Who is this Man? Even the wind and waves obey His Word.” – (Matthew 8:27, TPT)

Verse twenty-seven is the disciples’ response after experiencing a harrowing event. A storm had come on them suddenly, in the middle of the lake, and the waves were so wide and wild, that they feared the boat might sink. They went to Jesus, whom they found asleep, and woke Him with their worry and fear. Jesus asked them why they were afraid, then stood and spoke, commanding the wind and waves to be still. In an instant, calm came over the water. Verse twenty-seven is the disciples response to the wonder they had just witnessed. Though they had been listening to Jesus teach, and had watched as He healed, their awe and wonder multiplied as they observed the power present as Jesus calmed a raging storm with His words. The very same Jesus who healed, taught, touched, and silenced storms back then, is available and present for us still. He hears our cries and listens in love as we call on His Name. Sometimes, He silences the storm around us, yet other times, He settles the storm within us. He is our peace and hope that we can cling to, no matter the size of the storm we face. May we ever call on His Name and trust in His presence, for He is our peace, our comfort, our help and our hope forever.

Lord, please remind us,

To call upon You;

No matter the storm,

Your love sees us through.

Sometimes You silence,

The storm that surrounds;

Yet then other times,

Peace within abounds.

Whatever may come,

The thing we must hear;

Is You’ve promised us,

You’ll always be near.

Show us Your goodness,

Lead us by Your grace;

Teach us to seek You,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You still silence the storms. Thank You for the times that You have brought peace to the storm surrounding us, and thank You for the times that You have silenced the storm within us. Forgive us for being surprised by Your power and goodness, and for the times that we doubt You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times; for You are always good. Show us how to love those around us through the storms, and what to do to pass along Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we surrender the storms around us and within us, trusting in Your faithful promised presence. 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

Hard Hearts Made New

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – (Luke 23:43, NIV)

Then Jesus said to him, “I promise you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” – (Luke 23:43, ERV)

Jesus responded, “I promise you – this very day you will enter paradise with Me.” – (Luke 23:43, TPT)

The response of Jesus to the criminal beside Him who was repentant, reminds us how great His grace truly is. Though He himself was hanging from the cross in agony, Jesus still heard the call of a repentant soul, and let it be known that the promise for all who turn away from their sinful ways and turn to God, remained true, even as they were living out their last breaths of life. No matter how far from God someone may appear, their salvation could be but a few breaths away. God works in mysterious ways. If He can touch the heart of a hardened criminal as he is having his death sentence carried out, God can do the same for anyone. We celebrate Christ’s arrival at Christmas, but this season ought to remind us why He came. Jesus came to bring forgiveness, peace, hope, love and joy to all who are willing to receive. May we fix our eyes on the greatest gift ever given, and celebrate as we walk in forgiveness, extending peace, love, hope and joy to all those around us.

The promise through Christ,

Was given for all;

So love might be known,

Through us, great and small.

For nothing we do,

That’s done with great love;

Goes without notice,

By the Lord above.

The Lord takes our gifts,

In love, multiplies;

The impact they have,

His grace maximized.

Lord, help us to rise,

With purpose each day;

Let our love spread hope,

Lead us in Your way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to save us. Thank You that You receive us as we call on Your Name and recognize our desperate need for You. Forgive us for frustration and lack of faith when things seem impossible through our own eyes and understanding. Thank You that You are so much greater than we realize. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant peace, hope, love and joy to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at Your birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension in awe and wonder and gratitude. Amen.

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

But with You there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You. – Psalm 130:4

Release the Offense

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, NIV)

“Even if they do something wrong to you seven times in one day, but they say they are sorry each time, you should forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, ERV)

“No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” – (Luke 17:4, TPT)

Jesus set the standard as to how we are meant to interact with our sisters and brothers around us. We are called to forgive every time that someone recognizes their wrongs and apologizes. The reality is that we all fall short and need forgiveness and grace. For me, I know that I have far more grace for my children and spouse than I do for folks out and about. When one of my kids forgets to do what has been asked of them, and then apologizes, it becomes as if it has never happened; yet if someone cuts me off on the road and then waves an apology, it takes a moment to slow down and actually forgive, instead of being annoyed. Our intentional decision to forgive is not meant to be submission to abuse, rather it is for us to release the offense and move on so that we do not carry the weight of unforgiveness.There are enough burdens among us; grudges are far too weighty to hold. May we seek the Lord to grant us the grace to forgive, in the same way that He continually forgives us.

Count not offenses,

But rather, give grace;

Love one another,

Throughout each new day.

When there’s a sorry,

Let go, choose release;

Hold not the offense,

May our grace increase.

Lord, help us to love,

As You choose love us;

Let our response be,

Just like Yours, Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love and forgive. Forgive us for not being quick to forgive when we ought to. Show us how to give the very same grace and forgiveness that we have been given by You. Lead us in love for all those around us so that each may know the overwhelming, never ending, power of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love and forgiveness for all. Amen.

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

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

His Wisdom

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible is it for us to understand His decisions and His ways! – (Romans 11:33, NLT)

Yes, God’s riches are very great! His wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain what God decides. No one can understand His ways. – (Romans 11:33, ERV)

Who could ever wrap their minds around the riches of God, the depth of His wisdom, and the marvel of His perfect knowledge? Who could ever explain the wonder of His decisions or search out the mysterious way He carries out His plans? – (Romans 11:33, TPT)

 

This is arguably one of the strangest seasons in modern history. Neither our parents, nor grandparents, experienced quite a time such as the one we are living in right now. For many of us, our grandparents lived through the depression, WWII, Vietnam, Polio, and the like, but nothing that ever brought the entire world to a screeching halt, in the same way that this current pandemic has done. Many are left wondering why. Why would this happen? If God is good and just and kind, why allow so many to suffer? This is the space where it is impossible for us to understand the mysterious ways of God. He can bring beauty from something that has caused so much destruction, and good, from something seemingly so horrid. I know not what all of His plans entail, but I do see evidence of the good, all around me. People are intentional to reach out to one another. They are creative and innovative to find ways to help people feel celebrated and loved when they achieve milestones or have birthdays, and there is much philanthropy in the hearts of the community, as so many needs are being met through both individuals and various organizations that have popped up in response to known needs. The “church” is not limited to a building to thrive, and healthy churches are staying connected, holding services online, and reaching out to serve their communities in practical and tangible ways. Though I long for the freedom to travel, especially to go and see my mom, I am grateful that we live in the era we do, where we have access to one another, more than we ever have before. Communication is at the touch of a button, and there are countless methods we can use to stay connected with one another. God is good, and His wisdom supersedes that of humanity. Our plans are not His, nor our ways, His; and trusting Him is what we need most to navigate this season. May we seek the Lord in His wisdom, for He is able to provide all that we need to persevere through the wait.

 

The riches of God, Ongoing Peace

Are beyond compare;

His wisdom, kindness,

And limitless care.

Though we cannot know,

Why all things occur;

From all can come good,

For God’s love is sure.

In seasons of loss,

In love, He provides;

All that is needed,

As we choose abide.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all wisdom and knowledge and provision come from You. Thank You that though we do not understand the reason why things happen as they do, You love us through them. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations and doubts. Teach us to trust You; always. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as trust in Your wisdom in every circumstance. Amen.

 

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

 

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding. – Job 37:5

Promised Peace

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33, NIV)

“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in Me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” – (John 16:33, ERV)

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in Me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in Me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

 

Jesus never promised us an easy life; He promised us peace in His presence and the recognition that we can take courage, for He has already overcome every obstacle that we will ever face. Not one of us has any guarantees. We know not the triumphs and tragedies that lie before us, yet in Christ, we know Who will be present with us to see us through. The longer I live, the more I recognize these words to be true. Trouble does come, when we least expect it, yet if we cling to Christ, He will be our peace, our strength, and our hope. Perhaps it is my current age and stage in life, but this past year has been particularly weighty for many that I know. That being said, for each of the heartaches, there have been tremendous blessings, and God’s peace has been present. Each time we experience a struggle, heartache, or tragedy and lean into the Lord, we learn more deeply the truth of this verse. There is peace in Him. He has overcome trouble and sorrows and grants courage and strength and resolve to press on. Even when life seems less than what we are hoping for, God is present, and our future is secure in Him. May we hold fast to the hope we know in Christ, for He is our peace and our strength, no matter what comes our way.

 

Though troubles will come, Ongoing Peace

They’re part of this life;

Jesus brings us peace,

He loves us through strife.

In heartache or loss,

The Lord will be near;

He comforts with peace,

And wipes away tears.

God grants us the strength,

To rise and press on;

Brings blessings our way,

Love is His response.

So, lean into Christ,

The hope that we know;

His grace and His love,

Will lead as we go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have troubles and trials to face in this life, You are present to be our peace and strength. Thank You that as we call on You and depend on You, You equip us with all that we need to press on. Thank You for the blessings that You pour out upon us. Forgive us for our frustrations when troubles come. You did not promise us an easy life, You promised us Your peace, hope and presence. Thank You that You are forever faithful. Teach us to trust You more, in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace, strength, grace and hope where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever. Amen.

 

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

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13