Justified and Redeemed

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

All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. They are made right with God by His grace. This is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. – (Romans 3:23-24, ERV)

You see, all have sinned and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 3:23-24, VOICE)

Because of the events of this most Holy Week, we all have access to forgiveness, grace, and redemption from our sin. On our own, we cannot live right every moment of every day. However, when we seek and accept the grace that God has freely given through Jesus, we are made clean and holy before God – not because of anything that we have or have not done, but because He who knew no sin dwells within us and has already paid the price that our sins deserve. Through Him, we are considered right before God and have a future and a hope in Him. This is why we celebrate Easter, and why we ought to pause and remember with gratitude, the ultimate sacrifice that we made on our behalf so that we might know life with God forever.

The purpose of Easter,

Much more than the cross;

His redemption for all,

He has paid the cost.

Much more than suffering,

For death could not keep;

Jesus, the Messiah,

In eternal sleep.

It is through the rising,

That our hope was found;

Nothing could defeat Him,

His power abounds.

And more than the rising,

Return to His throne;

Seated up in heaven,

His goodness made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son so that we might come to know forgiveness and grace that His sacrifice provides. Thank You that there is nothing that we can do to earn our way into Your glory, but rather it is a matter of us receiving what You freely offer through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to recognize the depth of Your love that sacrificed all. Teach us to live in awe and gratitude throughout all of our days. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart is made evident to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank and praise You for all that You have done and continue to do to demonstrate just how great Your love is for all. Amen.

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

Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. – Acts 2:33

Love Beyond What is Seen

For we walk by faith, not by sight. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, HCSB)

We live by what we believe will happen, not by what we can see. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, ERV)

The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, VOICE)

When we know God and trust in Him, we need not fear what we see with our eyes, but rather hold fast to the truth of all that He has promised. What we see is only a small part of the big picture; we only know in part what God knows in whole. He knows the outcome before things begin, and He holds us in the hollow of His hands. In Him, we can trust that He will lead us, guide us, and stay beside us, through every step of every day. So often, things have looked bleak or hopeless or impossible through my own eyes, yet with Christ, the bleak became beautiful; the hopeless, full of hope; the impossible was indeed possible and my perspective was persuaded to see beyond what my eyes could take in. Walking in faith is not blind, but rather it is seeing through His eyes rather than our own. May we ever walk in faith, trusting beyond what we cannot see, for God sees and knows all and has our very best in mind.

O Lord help us walk,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

By faith and not sight;

For we’ve but a glimpse,

Of all You make right.

Seasons of heartache,

And mountains we climb;

All with a purpose,

Holy and divine.

Each new obstacle,

You grant us the strength;

To keep on moving,

Through height, depth and length.

As our view changes,

And we have moved past;

You show us purpose,

Your love beyond our ask.

So, trust in the Lord,

Not in what we see;

For God’s always good,

In love He will lead.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith helps us to trust beyond what we can see, for we only see in part what You see in whole. Forgive us for our lack of faith when what we see seems far beyond what we are capable of navigating. Teach us to recognize that You can do far more than we could ever hope or imagine. Show us how to walk by faith and live out Your love for all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust beyond what we can see, for You are good and far greater than anything that comes before us. Amen.

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

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. – Ephesians 2:8

Power to Press On

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. – (2 Timothy 1:7, HCSB)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. – (2 Timothy 1:7, VOICE)

God’s Spirit is the Provider of every good and perfect gift. The struggle, however, is when our circumstances make us question what we know is the truth. His power, love and sound judgment are greater than anything and everything that we face. He is good, even when our circumstances are not. Here, in the midst of struggle, we need His nearness and grace to remind us to rise up in all that He has placed within us so that we can be who He has created us to be. May we ever seek the Lord to remind us of all that He’s placed within us by His power and His grace so that we can navigate each new day in His power, love and self-discipline.

Fear is not from God,

For He is our strength;

Great Overcomer,

Who goes to great lengths.

No height is too high,

Nor depth that’s too low;

He comes as we call,

And makes His grace known.

Power to press on,

When we have no more;

Love and His wisdom,

The hope to endure.

Lord, please come closer,

Remind us again;

Of Your great goodness,

That ushers hope in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have not given us a spirit of fear, but rather one of power, love and self-control. Thank You that You begin where our strength ends, and You are present to help and uphold us. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the midst of struggle. Teach us to turn in trust to You, for You supply all that we need to continue moving forward in all that we are called to do and become. Show us how to love those around us well, so they too may be strengthened and encouraged in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in all things and trust You to supply all that we need to press on. Amen.

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

Yet He saved them because of His Name, to make His power known. – Psalm 106:8

Hope Nourishes Joy

But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” – (Psalm 40:16, NIV)

But may those who come to You be happy and rejoice. May those who love being saved by You always be able to say, “Praise the Lord!” – (Psalm 40:16, ERV)

But may all who look for You discover true joy and happiness in You; may those who cherish how You save them always say, “O Eternal One, You are great and are first in our hearts.” – (Psalm 40:16, VOICE)

The rejoicing and gladness comes from the seeking and finding. Each time we seek the Lord, He is faithful to be found. He waits for us, patiently, and is faithful to help restore the joy that gets stolen by our circumstances, or hidden by our hurts. Joy is not dependent on that which is going on around us, but rather it is planted deep within us as we learn and lean into the Lord. It is in the recognition that we are not alone and that we have a faithful friend and father to walk beside us and lead us until He calls us home. Joy is rooted in hope, and hope is held as we choose to trust in Him. In this seemingly never-ending season of Covid and of national and international crisis, there is still joy because God is our hope. May we seek the Lord new every morning, and praise Him for the joy that He places in our hearts.

Choose cherish the Lord,

He’s where joy is found;

It’s all about hope,

In Christ, it abounds.

Give Him the sorrow,

The stress and the fear;

Allow the Lord in,

He always is near.

Let us discover,

Our hope held in Him;

That’s where joy rises,

Shines out from within.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are where our hope is held, and that because of the hope we have in You, joy rises within us. Thank You that joy is not dependent on our circumstances nor station in life, but rather is held in knowing how deeply we are loved by You. Forgive us for losing sight of the hope we have in You. Teach us to lean into You, no matter what comes. Show us how to allow the joy within us to rise up and overflow as we love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You, for You bring us joy and are the one deserving all of our praise. Amen.

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

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – Psalm 119:114

Remember the Wonders

Well, apparently today is not meant to look like any other day. I rose at the usual time. Spent time in the word. Prayed, pondered, and then wrote out my reflections on the passage and how it applied to my life. Rather than finish the process of editing, copying, pasting and editing again, prior to publishing, I simply saved my Word Document and determined to finish the process after my early morning exercise session. Sadly, when I returned, I opened my document, copied to paste, then shifted applications to continue, I discovered, much to my dismay, what pasted was a bunch of coded garbled gunk, that in no way resembled what I had written. I deleted that, went back to my Word Document, and umm… it was blank. Everything I attempted was fruitless. After fifteen plus minutes of doing all that I knew to do, I gave up. My writing was gone.

There is always a lesson in the lesson, so here I sit, open to discover why. The gist of what I wrote about was my reflection on the following verse:

He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. – (Psalm 111:4, NIV)

Today, exactly one year ago, my sister and I received the news that rocked our world in a way that we had never anticipated. Our strong, healthy, independent mom, had suffered a massive stroke. What made matters worse, is that we had not been able to reach her for a few days. The news that was a dread to us, was simultaneously the most welcome sight in the world to our mom. What I mean is, mom lived alone and was alone. She suffered the stroke and was left isolated and half-paralyzed, as she drifted in and out of consciousness for a couple of days, with her voice too weak to be audible beyond a few feet away. Our well-check request of the local police, resulted in her receiving medical attention hours sooner than if we had waited to drive there to find out for ourselves.

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This photo is from the last time all of us were able to get together. Mom is even stronger now than she was then!

So, where I am I going with the connection to wonders and grace and compassion? Honestly, in spite of everything, God was incredibly faithful and kind, as He provided the right people, places, resources, and time to allow the best possible road for mom’s recovery to be set in place. His grace and compassion have been made new every morning, and I remain in a space of awe at the determination and resilience that He has supernaturally given our mom. She went from barely speaking above a whisper, while struggling to find words, to now speaking and carrying on conversations in a normal voice. Additionally, when she was first in the hospital, we were excited about small muscle twitches in her right side, particularly in her right leg. Now, a year later, she is walking independently with a cane, and continues to work on rebuilding her strength and stamina to increase her speed and the steadiness of her gait. Every step of the journey, God was gracious and compassionate. We have grown even closer as an extended family, and will be having some serious gatherings when these restrictions are finally lifted. In the meantime, there are many phone calls made and photos shared, as we continue to work together to move forward on this healing journey. May we each take time to remember in wonder the incredible ways that God has been gracious and compassionate to us, even in our most trying of times.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that through every season in our lives we have reason to look back in awe and wonder, for You have always been gracious and compassionate to us. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations, and our “if onlys”, for You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You are not finished yet! Teach us to trust You more, so that we can go forth and love those around us with the same compassion and grace that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You in wonder for who You are and how You love us so well. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

Strength When Things Seem Senseless

Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. – (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. – (Ephesians 6:10, TLB)

Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of His explosive power flowing in and through you. – (Ephesians 6:10, TPT)

 

Life is full of obstacles, challenges, peaks and valleys that appear before us without notification. We need the Lord’s strength to navigate trials and heartache, and His power to persevere on this journey set before us. In Christ, we have what we need to press on and discover the beauty on the other side. Though it does not always feel that way in the middle of the loss, trial or difficulty, His presence and His peace are always available if we choose depend on Him.

The impact of loss struck me yesterday, as the tragic news of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the other seven people on the helicopter that crashed, had lost their lives. It is not so much that it was a celebrity who was lost, but rather one who represented a dream for so many young people, who was passing his dream on to his daughter, and an entire generation that followed after him. A common expression heard in my classroom when students toss trash into the can in basketball fashion, is “Kobe!” if the shot makes it in the can well on the first try. His impact has been tremendous throughout his well-decorated NBA career and beyond.

Where am I going with all of this? Honestly, I am not sure. What I do know, is that we need Jesus, and we need to love the people around us well. It requires strength from within to keep moving forward when we are blind-sided by tragedies. My heart aches for the wife and three daughters left behind, as well as for every young person who looked to the example set before them by the man who successfully navigated a phenomenal NBA career and beyond, as well as a family life, beautifully. May we seek our Savior to be supernaturally infused with His strength all of our days, so that we may go forth and love well.

 

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For in Him, we’ll stand;

No matter what comes,

We’re held in His hands.

Choose seek after Him,

In good times and bad;

His grace and His strength,

Our safe space to land.

Lord, hold in Your hands,

Each heart that’s in pain;

Let Your love be known,

As Your goodness reigns.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and power when we need it the most. Thank You that though we cannot begin to understand why tragedies occur, You remain present to help, hold and love us through them all. Forgive us for our lack of seeking in spaces of loss. Teach us to trust and depend on You more deeply, for no one understands like You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your kindness and comfort may be made tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our strength in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – 2 Samuel 22:33

Restore to Me the Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, VOICE)

 

As I sat down to read my devotions this morning, the words that kept resonating in my heart and mind, were “restore to me the joy”, despite the lack of connection to the passages I was reading. For the last few days, I have been in a bit of a funk. I seemed to reach my breaking point yesterday, as I could not coax the normal joy from within, to make any sort of appearance externally. The weight on my heart and mind was just too heavy. Between sickness, disease, and pending death in family members, work, home, and numerous responsibilities and demands that go far beyond what one person is meant to bear alone, I was beginning to crumble on the inside. Kindness extended from colleagues made my eyes threaten to defy me, and it took everything in me to fend off tears. Isolation and work best suited my sullen state during lunch, and God granted me the strength to navigate the remainder of the day. Thankfully, gymnastics practice after school is a place that brings joy, as I delight in the doing that offers help and encouragement in an arena outside of the classroom, where I am not being assessed on every move that I make. Post practice I had the privilege of meeting up with my running buddy for a run, and that too, reminded me of the joy that is within me as I moved freely, pounding out the pain into the pavement. Upon arriving home, my amazing husband was set to love me well. He was aware of my struggle, and took care of dinner preparations, clean up, and then just sat with me, in silent support loving me all the while. This morning, I feel lighter somehow. God is faithful, and He is willing to restore His joy in us as we seek Him. His joy is not happiness with our circumstances, but rather a deep delight in Him, despite what we are walking through. The smile that is typically so readily seen on my face is not because life is always easy, but rather it is rooted in the joy granted through knowing who holds me in the hollow of His hands, every minute of every day. Perhaps yesterday I lost sight of that for a time, or my frail humanity reared its ugly head. Either way, sorrow and heavy took a spot not designated for them, and today, they are being placed back in the palms of He who can carry it all. May we ever seek the Lord to hold our heart and our hands in our heaviness, and pursue Him to restore the joy that comes in knowing our eternity is secure forever in Him.

 

O Lord God above, Restore to Me the Joy

May I ever seek;

Your joy in sorrow,

And strength when I’m weak.

For You are faithful,

You’re mighty to save;

You love us to life,

Through all of our days.

Help us to place all,

In Your mighty hands;

As Your love restores,

Faith we need to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One who restores true joy within us. Thank You that You love us and take our burdens upon Yourself, when we are carrying more than we should. Forgive us for losing sight of where our true joy resides. Teach us to trust You more, so that Your light will shine through us, always. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore our joy in You. Amen.

 

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

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12

This Wonderful Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. – (Ephesians 2:8, NIV)

I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. – (Ephesians 2:8, ERV)

For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in Him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! – (Ephesians 2:8, TPT)

 

I am forever grateful for God’s grace. His grace grants us the faith to receive the gift that He freely offers. All we need already is, it is simply up to us to embrace His grace or reject it. Daily, I am reminded of my own need for His grace. Whether in moments of frustration or through opportunities to extend kindness, grace is a gift that brings us back to Christ, and reminds us of His goodness. Each time we extend grace, we are offering glimpses of God’s goodness to those around us. May we give thanks for the grace that saved us, and continue in faith, extending the same to those around us, so they too may understand the precious gift that God gives.

 

The grace of the Lord, stone of grace

That’s mighty to save;

Freely grants new life,

All sins He forgave.

Not because we’ve done,

Acts of good to earn;

But simply through trust,

By faith, standing firm.

His glorious gift,

Of love and of grace;

Given lavishly,

So all might embrace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that salvation is an amazing gift of grace that You grant us through faith. Thank You that none of us could somehow earn our way into Your grace, but rather You readily receive all who call on Your Name. Forgive us for not extending grace to others in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would be tangible examples of Your grace to the world. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer the grace that is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we glorify You for the amazing gift of Your grace that saves, and praise You with our lives as we extend grace to those around us. Amen.

 

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

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:3

To Carry the Sweet Scent

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV)

Our offering to God is to be the perfume of Christ that goes out to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, ERV)

In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued, we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, VOICE)

 

When we invite Christ to come and dwell within us, He covers us with His goodness and grace. No longer do we wreak of the stench of sin and death, but we are made new, filled with His scent of hope and light, life and love. Our charge is to go forth in His love and love others. As we do, we carry His aroma by association. To those who are in need of hope and ready to receive it, the scent is sweet; yet to those who have set their heart on the sin they are in, the scent we bear is pungent. Incredibly, each one of us had to be drawn to God in our own time, before we recognized how sweet the fragrance of our Heavenly Father. May we ever seek the Lord to listen and do His will, so that we may carry His sweet scent wherever we go and in all that we say and do.

 

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Before God above;

Of Jesus, His Son,

Through how we choose love.

For as we love well,

The fragrance of life;

Shared with each other,

Brings an end to strife.

Yet, sometimes the smell,

Is not found so sweet;

Only the ready,

Come forth in receipt.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Christ brings the sweet scent of life and hope and love to all who are ready to receive Him. Thank You that as we do, we too may bear the favorable fragrance found in You. Forgive us for the times that we have been a bit pungent, as our words or actions did not clearly reflect who You have created us to become. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would bear Your beloved scent before all others. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may embrace Your sweet fragrance of life. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to ever transform us, so that we may carry the blessed aroma of Your Son, that leads to everlasting life. Amen.

 

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

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

 

 

Selected to Serve

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. – (Philippians 2:5-7, NIV)

In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought. He was like God in every way, but He did not think that His being equal with God was something to use for His own benefit. Instead, He gave up everything, even His place with God. He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form. – (Philippians 2:5-7, ERV)

And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let His mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet He gave no thought to seizing equality with God as His supreme prize. Instead He emptied Himself of His outward glory by reducing Himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! – (Philippians 2:5-7, TPT)

 

Jesus was the ultimate example of how we ought to relate to one another. He let go of who He was so that He could love all in a way that was tangible and approachable. Heaven came to earth and walked among us. The Creator of all that is and was and ever will be, set down His deity to become like us, so that we might understand what love means. Jesus did not come as a king demanding to rule, but rather as one who served and loved, helped and healed, touched and taught. By serving in love, Jesus influenced the hearts of humans for all of eternity. We are called to do the same. May we seek the Lord and His loving kindness, so that we may love and serve with the same mindset that Christ has for us.

 

How vast is the love, Healed Hands Reach Out

That set throne aside;

To be made like man,

Deity denied?

And O so much more,

Jesus came and gave;

He taught, lived and loved

Healed, sacrificed, saved.

O how the Lord loves,

Still unto this day;

Contending for us,

To walk in His way.

We are also called,

To choose do the same;

To love and to serve,

Honor Jesus’ Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Jesus. Thank You Jesus for the example You lived, and for Your ongoing help through Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You showed us what it looks like to serve and love. Forgive us for not following the example that You are calling us to walk out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose loving kindness, regardless of what we receive. Show us how to love those around us with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength to walk in Your ways and do Your will, all of the days of our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. – Ephesians 6:7