Pray and Pursue Understanding

May my cry come before You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:169, NIV) 

Please, Lord, hear my prayer and give me the understanding that comes from Your word. – (Psalm 119:169, CEV) 

Lord, listen to my prayer. It’s like a sacrifice I bring to You; I must have more revelation of Your word! – (Psalm 119:169, TPT) 

In this ever-changing world, there is tremendous comfort in knowing God, for He remains the same forever. No matter what goes on around us, He who dwells within us, is constant. The better we know God and understand His word, the greater we are prepared to navigate whatever comes our way. As we call out to God, pray, and read His word, He grants us greater understanding of how to see people and situations through His lens of love. May we constantly pursue the Lord in prayer, and invest time in His word so that we may live and love well, in ways that are pleasing to Him. 

O Lord, hear my cry, 

As I come to You; 

Grant understanding, 

So that I’ll love true. 

As I read Your word, 

Help me understand; 

How to apply it, 

And walk out Your plan. 

Please give me insight, 

To live and love well; 

So words aren’t needed, 

As loving acts tell. 

Tell of Your goodness, 

Display well, Your grace; 

Let all that we do, 

Show Your loving ways. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we cry out to You and invest time in Your word, You grant us insight and understanding so that we may be a clearer reflection of Your lavish love. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You and have acted upon our own selfish tendencies. Teach us to seek You in all things for the insight and understanding that is needed to love well. Show us how to love all those whom we encounter, so that Your love may be evident through our every word and deed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cry out to You for understanding, and gain new revelation through Your word. Amen. 

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

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2:23

Free to Humbly Love

You my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV) 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – (Galatians 5:13, ERV) 

Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do. – (Galatians 5:13, TPT) 

Because Christ so loved, all who choose to accept what He freely offers are set free from sin and shame. We are forgiven and equipped to overcome the snares that sin once held. Freedom does not mean we ought to do whatever we desire and then rely on goodness and grace, but rather we need to allow His love to compel us to humbly love one another as He loves us. Fleshly indulgences are temporary, and still leave us wanting more. Loving others as we are loved by God, has a lasting impact. Not only does it bless the recipient, but it draws the giver into a deeper understanding of the power of His love within us. May we seek the Lord to consider one another in our freedom of choice, so that our every word and deed are a reflection of His voice. Let us humbly choose to love. 

Freedom in the Lord, 

What we’re called to be; 

Able to choose love, 

With grace, humbly. 

For as we choose love, 

Others are set free; 

Immersed in goodness, 

Intentionally. 

So, let us go forth, 

And in freedom choose; 

To love as we’re loved, 

And sinfulness, lose. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom we have in You. Forgive us for using the freedom we have been given through Your sacrifice, for anything other than loving as You have loved us. Teach us to choose well, so that we would love You and love others as we are called to do. Show us how to love all those around us, with humility and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they come to understand the freedom we are granted by Your love. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart to humbly love all those whom You have placed around us. Amen. 

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

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36

Quick to Listen

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV) 

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV) 

Post this at all intersections, dear friends: lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG) 

On this Memorial Day, it is a great reminder of how to operate in love, as we remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Because they gave, we are able to express our opinions, worship as we choose, and select whatever path we choose to walk. However, if we love God, and want to love people as we are called to love, this verse is a great reminder of how to go about communicating with those around us. Listening first, rather than spewing opinions or instantly judging others, is how we are called to live. There is righteous anger, but it should be in control and utilized with wisdom and grace, not acted upon in haste or revenge. Patient pursuit of understanding is far more productive than angry exchanges of insults. Through listening, we can discover common ground, and recognize the value in one another, rather than grow angry at a seeming “sacred belief” that seems to differ. Our current political climate seems to dictate ugly banter rather than patient listening and well thought out conversations. Honestly, there are very few people with whom I will even discuss anything even remotely political, as it seems far too risky, as I value friendships far more than topical discussions. However, when something is blatantly wrong, and unjust, that is where righteous anger takes a stand and acts wisely, in a manner that seeks to bring change.  Love is patient and love is kind, and as we choose to love this way, good grows and communities flourish. May we ever seek to listen to each other; being slow to speak and slow to anger, so that peace may reign and love may abound. 

May we seek listen, 

And ever be wise; 

Slow to choose to speak, 

Grace uncompromised. 

Be slow to anger, 

And when anger reigns; 

Use it to bring change, 

Rather than disdain. 

Brothers and sisters,  

May we ever choose; 

To love at all times, 

So goodness is proved. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to lay down one’s life as a sacrifice. Thank You for all those who have laid down their lives for us to enjoy the freedom we know and love as a nation. Forgive us for the times that we have not listened in love first, and have spoken in haste or been quick to grow angry. Teach us to listen in love; being slow to speak and slow to anger. Lead us to love others as You so generously and graciously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your incredible love and seek You to love the same way. Amen. 

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

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

The Second Day at the Tomb

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So, they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – (Matthew 27:62-66, NIV)

That day was the day called Preparation Day. The next day, the leading priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. They said, “Sir, we remember that while that liar was still alive He said, ‘I will rise from death in three days.’ So give the order for the tomb to be guarded well for three days. His followers might come and try to steal the body. Then they could tell everyone that He has risen from death. That lie will be even worse than what they said about Him before.” Pilate said, “Take some soldiers and go guard the tomb the best way you know.” So they all went to the tomb and made it safe from thieves. They did this by sealing the stone in the entrance and putting soldiers there to guard it. – (Matthew 27:62-66, ERV)

 

The somber silence of Saturday, was really not so silent at all. Behind the scenes, those who had accused, tried and crucified Jesus, were now scrambling to make certain that what He had foretold, would not in any way, appear to be the truth. It is almost comical to imagine the Pharisees, chief priests and Pilate as they have their troubled exchanges, as all the while, the disciples are grieving their loss. Stealing the body was likely the furthest thing from their mind. Mary and Martha were waiting to attend to His body, to further treat it properly for burial, but taking His body from the tomb… Eww… What I love most of all about this short passage of scripture, is that Jesus’ accusers took such care to be certain the tomb was guarded and secure from the outside, yet could not control the miracle that was taking place on the inside. Can you imagine the shock and awe that was to come for the soldiers sent to guard the tomb? Soldiers who were to be wary of those who would come near the tomb, would suddenly find themselves face to face with an angel of the Lord, and then the risen Christ himself, less than twenty-four hours later. Jesus was not a liar nor a deceiver. He is the truth, the way and the life. All who choose come to Him, may know love and life everlasting in Him. Though Saturday was somewhat silent, Sunday was on its way!

 

The day in between,The Second Day at the Tomb

His death and new life;

Silence in waiting,

After sacrifice.

Scrambling soldiers,

Sent to take up guard;

They sealed Jesus’ tomb,

All passage was barred.

Pharisees fearful,

Of what Jesus said;

That after three days,

He’d no more be dead.

No sealing nor guards,

Could ever prevent;

Miracle coming,

Sunday’s big event!

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us Your goodness, grace and power. Thank You that You demonstrated Your incredible love for us as You willingly went to the cross and died the death that should have been ours, so that we could be forgiven and know life in You. Thank You that the grave was not the end. Thank You that hope rises, and that Sunday is coming for all. Forgive us for allowing our sorrows and grief to feel hopeless and helpless in the tomb of our heart. Thank You that You do Your miraculous work from within, so how things appear do not matter in order for You to move. Show us how to love in ways that offer hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope that is ready to rise, each day, because of the third day at the tomb. 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

Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

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

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Love Reaches Out

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – (1 John 4:10, NIV)

True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent His Son as the way to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, ERV)

This is love: He loved us long before we loved Him. It was His love, not ours. He proved it by sending His Son to be a pleasing sacrificial offering to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, TPT)

 

Love is sacrificial and does not love because it receives. Love chooses to give because it is the right thing to do. God has shown us what it is to love, as He loved us while we were far from loving Him. His love covers us and changes our hearts, leading us to Him who is love, so that we too, might love one another. To love is a daily decision to choose, not an emotion based on how we feel. Extending God’s heart to the world is our opportunity and call to love as we are commanded to do. This is a far easier charge with those who love us back. However, we are still called to love those who do not. It does not mean we are to be unwise and take abuse or allow boundaries to be violated, but it does mean that we must continue to extend kindness and grace, even to those who do not seem to understand either in return. We never know the impact that our choice to love will have, yet we do know that each decision to love plants a seed that another can water, and still another can sow. God knows, and this is why He calls us to keep loving as He loves us. May we go forth and choose to love, just as God first loved us.

 

After eluding to the pending change, today is the official day that Mom will be moving into her new place, back in Wenatchee. She still has her home, but for now, will be in a smaller, more manageable space where help is available as needed, while she continues to rebuild and gain strength. Already, there have been joyful celebrations, as Megan and Scott made the journey with her back to Wenatchee from Albany, Oregon, and have spent time since Thursday afternoon in Mom’s home. What a difference for Mom to be back in her home and able to walk around freely with her cane, rather than using a walker with someone following closely behind to be sure she was steady on her feet. Mom’s joy has returned, as it was apparent that she desperately needed to be back home, in her own community. Mark and I are very much looking forward to driving over tomorrow to spend the day with her and check out her new place, and take her wherever her heart desires to go. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the sacrificial love that my sister and her family have made over the last six months, as they opened their home and hearts to walk with mom through the most recent leg of her healing journey. We all are excited to see the progress she will make now, as she reenters life back in her own community. Mom loved the support of family that she has had since her stroke, but we all knew that she was at a point where she needed to be reengaged with the community she loves and has invested so deeply in. May love be what leads every person who interacts with Mom as she continues to move forward on this healing journey.

 

To love is a choice, 0530190535_hdr7684487105677418242.jpg

It reaches out first;

Gives kindness always,

In best and in worst.

For just as God loves,

And shows love to us;

We must also love,

Choose extend kindness.

True love gives the best,

Prefers each other;

No matter what comes,

Love one another.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us and made the way for us to love You and love one another. Thank You that You are love. Forgive us for the times that we do not extend the love that we are called to give. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would love big, even when what comes back to us is less than loving. Show us how to love those around us in the ways that it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love each other as You love us. Amen.

 

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

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Set Aside Distractions

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

But King David answered Araunah, “No, I will pay you the full price. I will not take anything that is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not give offerings that cost me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, ERV)

David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, MSG)

 

The back story prior to King David determining to give an offering at that particular place, is that he had just been spared the full brunt of God’s wrath on Israel. David’s lack of trust in God led to a seemingly severe punishment, yet God relented prior to the complete fulfillment of what He had said would be done. David contended for mercy and an angel of the Lord told him to go up and build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice at that particular place. Being a man who understood what it meant to offer a sacrifice, he knew it required a cost on his part. When King David approached Araunah about purchasing the parcel of land to use to present sacrifices to God, Araunah was ready to give the land as a gift. David could not accept the land as a gift if it was part of a sacrifice, because for him, it had to have a cost. King David needed to be acutely aware of the expense, as a reminder of the mercy extended to him and all of Israel. When we make a sacrifice, it does not necessarily have to be monetary, yet it ought to be something that makes us aware of its absence so that we are expectant in wait of the better that is yet to come. For David, it was mercy for all of Israel. That was indeed far greater than the cost of a space to offer sacrifices. Today, the same principle still applies. When we are seeking answers, giving something up as we seek the Lord so that we might fully focus on Him, helps remind us what matters most. What are the answers you are seeking or the help you are needing? What is getting in your way? Identifying the distraction may be the first step in knowing what to set aside for a time, in order to seek the Lord for the help that is needed most. May we look to the Lord for the help and answers that we seek, and set aside that which distracts us from fully pursuing Him.

 

Seek the Lord our God, Set Aside Distractions

And all of His ways;

Remove distractions,

As we give God praise.

Pursue the Lord’s best,

As we set aside;

Barriers to Him,

Draw near, choose abide.

For when we focus,

On God and His will;

He leads and guides us,

And peace comes to fill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and set aside the things that distract us, You answer us and show us more of Yourself. Thank You that You only ask us to lay things down so that we can have something better in You. Forgive us for allowing so many things to draw our attention away from You. Set our hearts and minds on You so that we live and love according to Your plan. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless and encourage and illuminate Your heart to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to sacrifice things that distract us from You and wholeheartedly pursue You and all that You have for us. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your Name, Lord, for it is good. – Psalm 54:6

Honor and Protect

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You. – (Psalm 25:21, NIV)

You are good and do what is right. I trust You to protect me. – (Psalm 25:21, ERV)

May honor and strong character keep me safe. Vigilantly I wait for You, hoping, trusting. – (Psalm 25:21, VOICE)

 

One of my husband’s favorite things about his job is that he works with great people. He is especially drawn to the motor officers, as he has had the privilege of working closely with and attending training each summer with them, as he keeps their motorcycles running safely throughout the year. Last evening, we were honored to attend a small retirement dinner for one of the motor officers, whom Mark has worked with the entire time that he has been employed by the city. It was a joy to be in the company of men and their wives who live upright and are of strong character; humbly trusting and hoping in God as they choose to serve their community. In such a position, I imagine it requires intentional trust each day, for protection and direction as they seek to fulfill their duties with integrity and uprightness. In the same way that I pray daily for the safety and protection of my family, I ought to also remember those who serve our city, state and our nation. May integrity and uprightness protect us all as we place our hope in the Lord, who is worthy of all of our trust.

 

Lord, help me to seek, Honor and Protect

A heart after Yours;

Strong in character,

That in trust, endures.

May I walk upright,

In all that I do;

Let each word and deed,

Clearly reflect You.

Protect me, O God,

In all of my ways;

So Your light is shown,

Today and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and for the protection You provide for those who faithfully pursue Your ways. Thank You for those who willingly place their lives on the line to keep us safe, daily. Watch over and provide for their families too, as there is sacrifice in the space of uncertainty. Forgive us for taking such servants for granted, as so many seek You to lead and guide them in what they do. Teach us to remember in prayer, all who serve, and to pursue You to live with integrity and uprightness every single day. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage goodness, honor and strong character to rise up and be rooted securely in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we trust our lives into Your hands and seek You to live in such a way that You are honored well. 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

Love in Action

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – (1 John 3:18, NIV)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, or love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. – (1 John 3:18, TPT)

 

Today is a day off for many of us, as we celebrate and honor the men and women who have and still serve in our armed forces. These individuals have demonstrated what it is to love with action in truth, as they willingly chose to honor, serve and protect our nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. For most of us, today becomes a bonus day to either rest or accomplish items on our to-do list. Not only are we called to love with actions and in truth, but we ought to take time to appreciate and remember those who have modeled this before us. May we make time to honor, thank, remember or pray for those who have loved with actions in truth, and for those who are still making the decision to do so for the good of all. May the peace and protection of Christ be with each man and woman who has served, and those who still serve, as they understand what it is to love in action and in truth.

Love in action is exactly what is taking place in mom’s current location as she navigates this road to recovery. My sister and her family demonstrate love daily, as they honor and include Mom in their everyday lives. A favorite set of images that I caught on Instagram from Meg were of she, Scott, Mom, and their friends at an event in Corvallis. Smiles were abundant, and it was clear that Mom was enjoying herself and included. Love in action, again and again; chosen daily.

 

Limit not our love,

fb_img_1573485268955430866742791878631.jpg

My favorite veteran.

To mere words or speech;

But rather allow,

Our actions to teach.

For the things we do,

Each act done in love;

Makes God evident,

As truth shines above.

Words are forgotten,

But feelings remain;

How we are treated,

Oft’ love’s greatest gain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to demonstrate love through the truth of our actions, not just in words. Thank You for the powerful example set before us by so many who have chosen to sacrifice to protect. Forgive us for taking their sacrifice for granted, as we enjoy our freedoms every minute of each day. Father, quicken our hearts to remember to pray for Your protection, peace, presence and blessings over each man and woman who has served or is currently serving. Show us how to love all those around us with actions and in truth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the ultimate sacrifice that You made on our behalf, so that we could have a relationship with You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:17