The Priority of Knowing and Loving Jesus

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV)

This is what the Lord says: “The wise must not brag about their wisdom. The strong men must not brag about their strength. The rich must not brag about their money. But if someone wants to brag, then let them brag about this: Let them brag that they learned to know Me. Let them brag that they understand that I am the Lord, that I am kind and fair, and that I do good things on earth. I love this kind of bragging.” This message is from the Lord. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ERV)

God’s Message: “Don’t let the wise brag about their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know Me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are My trademarks.” God’s Decree. – (Jeremiah 9:23-24, MSG)

This ought to be our priority – knowing and understanding who God is and how He loves. Everything good that we have in our lives is a gift from God. Every blessing, every help, and every hope – all come from Jesus. May we ever prioritize knowing and loving Jesus, for it is through this knowledge and love that we find understanding and recognize the abundant blessings that are ours in Him. Understanding who God is and how He loves shifts our perspective on everything. For example, when there is an illness or struggle, we can either think, “Woe is me,” or we can pause and praise Him for bringing us through it and showing Himself faithful again and again. Additionally, knowing God helps us recognize that every good and perfect gift has come from Him. In all things and at all times, may we seek to know and love Jesus more.

Lord, help us to see,

All that we’ve received;

The blessings You give,

Perfect loyalty.

Love in abundance,

Peace and eyes to see;

Plentiful blessings,

Granted lovingly.

In everything,

You bring forth Your good;

Your help, love and hope,

Your grace, understood.

Help us to make it,

Our priority;

To know and love You,

And ever seek Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us far beyond what we can fathom. Thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to know and love You more. Forgive us for not making it a priority to know You more; for it is through knowing You that we love more deeply. Show us how to prioritize our time with You so that You can transform our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your goodness and love. Lead us in our pursuit of You and our interactions with those around us. Make Your love and understanding grow greater each day that we draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we prioritize knowing and loving Jesus. Amen.

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

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

To Love All

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV)

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV)

But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you – in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us – good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner. – (Matthew 5:44-45, VOICE)

Though few of us have experienced persecution like the early church, we all have experienced unkindness, irritation, and attitudes that we do not appreciate. As a middle school teacher, I am reminded daily of the need to pray for my students. The unkindness they display to others is usually a response to unkindness that they have received. At that age, one typically gives what they get. If I can show kindness, goodness and grace, perhaps a seed of the same will be planted in them. It requires God’s grace to extend the same to those who are all over the place when they are meant to be engaged. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, and depend on Him to show us how to love all those whom we encounter in the same way that He loves us all.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

How to choose love all;

Extend Your goodness,

Let love be installed.

Grant us Your patience,

And Your kindness too;

Despite what we get,

Let us reflect You.

Please grant us the grace,

To love as You do;

Be gracious and kind,

So good is shown true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love as You love. Thank You that there are no exceptions to whom we should give kindness and grace. Thank You that You love us all, no matter who we are, where we have been, or what we have done. Forgive us for our lack of patience and grace. Grant us wisdom as to how we are meant to love those around us. Lead us in Your love so that all feel valued and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and grace for us all and seek You to love likewise. Amen.

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

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

Purposeful Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. Thant’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

When we truly seek the Lord to lead us in His perfect peace, we are equipped and empowered to bring His peace wherever we go. People recognize there is a difference when we operate from a position as a peacemaker, rather than as one who seek only to be right or to be heard. Peacemakers prioritize people. Their mode of operation is loving kindness and grace. Above all else, when we extend God’s peace to those around us, He calls us His own sons and daughters. Our place is in His family, and our hearts begin to more closely resemble His own as we follow after Him. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His peace in all things, and may we recognize and receive who we are as His beloved children.

Cooperation,

And purposeful peace;

Are brought together,

As grace is released.

The Lord equips us,

To in love, bring peace;

Living with purpose,

His good does increase.

The more we choose love,

As it’s meant to be;

The more peace will spread,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip and empower us to pass on Your perfect peace to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos to get in the way of showing love and grace as You intended. Teach us to depend on You to provide wisdom, strength, and peace in all things. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and those around us, and by Your grace, extend Your purposeful peace wherever we go. Amen.

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

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. – Ephesians 2:14

Hope in the Promise

“Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, NIV)

“Now, Lord, You can let me, Your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, ERV)

“God, You can now release Your servant; release me in peace as You promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen Your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealed light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:29-32, MSG)

Simeon, who had lived in prayerful expectancy, had been shown by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. Can you imagine waiting your whole life for a promise, and then recognizing the moment that it had been fulfilled? Mary and Joseph had brought Jesus to the temple on the eighth day after His birth, and the above verses are Simeon’s words of praise for his promise provided. Mary and Joseph had already been visited by angels and shepherds, and now were witnessing one who had waited his whole life to see God’s promised hope, was holding their baby and declaring praise for who He was. Simeon saw Jesus with so much more than human eyes. His heart heard hope in the sweet small breaths of the Savior, and his spirit sensed the significance of the One whom he was holding. God gave Simeon insight, wisdom and words that would make a lasting imprint on the hearts of Mary and Joseph. This is the sort of joy and celebration that we ought to hold as we embrace this most sacred season. Jesus came to earth to save us and was the promise that had been so long awaited, fulfilled. Despite the things that go on around us, be it challenge, loss, struggle, or strife, may we pause and recognize the One who has experienced all and took it upon Himself so that we might know light, life, hope, peace, joy and love that last forever. Glory to God in the highest, and upon us all, may His favor rest.

Hope in the promise,

Spoken long before;

Joy through revealing,

The One we adore.

Promise awaited,

With joy, realized;

The Savior had come,

Seen with his own eyes.

The One who arrived,

The hope for the world;

Made the way for us,

Fulfillment observed.

May we take the joy,

The love, hope, and peace;

Into the new year,

His presence increased.

Sing praise, all the earth,

Our Savior has come;

His light unto us,

The Most Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son to us so that we might come to know and understand the goodness of Your love. Thank You for time during this sacred season to gather and remember just how good You truly are. Forgive us for the things that we allow to distract us from the reason for this season. Teach us to lean into You and receive all that You offer, so that we might be bearers of Your loving light. Show us how to love those around us like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make room to recognize who You are and how You love us all beyond what our hearts can hold. Amen.

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

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. – Micah 7:7

Compassion and Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, ERV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

Most nights, I wake and have little or no recollection as to what I dreamed about. This morning, however, I woke after having dreamed all throughout the night about the surgery that was just scheduled yesterday. It was neither bad nor good, but rather felt like an abundance of waiting. I imagine that it was sparked by the concern that has been weighing on me since I was told the appointment schedule, and it carried over into my dreams. It is no mystery that I am anxious about what lies ahead, yet I know I am in a space where I must simply trust and go through the process. Though I have never experienced anything quite like this before, I have experienced the unfailing faithfulness of God. God is compassionate and is our comfort, and time and time again, I can share His heart for these things in our lives. He has been with me, provided for me, and comforted me through some of life’s lowest valleys. God stayed beside me, held me up, and provided all that I needed to keep moving forward. In fifteen days, the process will have begun, and in sixteen, it will be complete. Right now, that seems like a very long wait. However, when I look back, it does not feel like gymnastics season is nearly a month in. Even when days drag on, the weeks have flown much more rapidly than realized. Time is tricky, as it goes quickly when we want it to slow down, and it seems to stand still when we desire time to speed up. God is faithful through it all, and when my focus is on praising Him and His goodness, time does not matter. May we ever seek God in all things and at all times, for He is compassionate and provides comfort as each is needed.

Praise be to the Lord,

In all things, always;

For He’s our comfort,

Throughout all our days.

When we are anxious,

We need not give fear;

A foot to stand on,

For God is so near.

His great compassion,

Comfort for the soul;

Soothes us in stillness,

As He makes us whole.

So, trust in the Lord,

Ever give Him praise;

Our hope forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our hearts and our needs far better than we do. Thank You that You are our Comforter, and You are full of compassion for us all. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we face unknowns. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, for You are faithful to go before us, stay beside us, and hold us up when we are unable to move forward without Your strength. Show us how to navigate the unknowns with faith in Your nearness, and grant us wisdom to know how to encourage and walk beside those who are in such spaces. Let Your love be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our every fear and concern in Your capable and compassionate hands, for You are with us and will not leave us. Amen.

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

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

To Live and Love With Wisdom

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. – (James 3:17, HCSB)

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and to do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – (James 3:17, ERV)

But the wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, considerate and teachable. It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form. – (James 3:17, TPT)

In order to be the person that God has called and created me to be, I need His wisdom. I desire to be pure, peaceful, gentle and easy to please, and I long to do good for others without favoritism or hypocrisy. This does not naturally flow from humans on our own, but rather these traits grow in us when we seek the Lord and His wisdom. May we ever invest our hearts, minds and lives into knowing and growing in the Lord, so that we may live a life of love that bears good fruit.

The wisdom of God,

Bears beautiful fruit;

Pure, peaceful, loving,

Good soil grows deep roots.

Roots that are planted,

Secure in God’s love;

Seek to love others,

Like the Lord above.

Gentle with mercy,

Looking to do good;

Loving all others,

As God’s children should.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You teach us to seek You for wisdom, as Your wisdom teaches us to love as You do. Thank You that You are gentle, peace-loving and full of mercy, and that Your love extends to all who seek You no matter where we have come from or what we have done. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought Your wisdom to lead us in love. Teach us to turn to You, for You alone know how to live and love best. Show us how to love wisely so that all those around us might come to know the power of Your loving kindness and the peace that is found in Your presence. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for the wisdom to live and love in the ways You have called and created us to live. Amen.

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

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. – Ephesians 1:17

Way Maker

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)

So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago, because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land. – (Isaiah 43:18-19, ERV)

Eternal One: Don’t revel only in the past, or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by. Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; waters will flow where there has been none. – (Isaiah 43:18-19, VOICE)

Though this was written centuries ago, it is a relevant encouragement to me this morning. Being an educator is an adventure for sure, yet there have been experiences that have impacted the way that I view things today. This year, I am teaching a subject in a grade level that I have never taught, with a completely new curriculum, and I have to let go of my former experiences in said subject, (my previous experience in such nearly had me walk away from teaching), as I can see that God can do something new both in me and through me. This hope is so helpful, as I do, at times, feel as though I am wandering through a desert without water. God is good, and He provides all that we need to navigate the new. He leads us, guides us, and grants us the strength, wisdom and resources we need as we seek and trust in Him. Additionally, He brings the right people alongside us to help us navigate the new. I never cease to be amazed at how He cares about the seemingly insignificant things, just as much as He is concerned with the big things. May we ever seek the Lord as we keep moving forward in faith, for He is doing something new, and continually pouring new life into us.

Like streams through dry land,

The Lord’s bringing new;

Forget the former,

God’s faithful and true.

The past is not now,

New things will arise;

Possibilities,

To yet realize.

In faith, let us seek,

Choose to trust the Lord;

He will make a way,

And keep us on course.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not dwell on the past, but instead, ought to look forward in faith to You. Thank You that You provide strength, refreshment, support, growth, wisdom and encouragement as we navigate the new You call us into. Forgive us for our fears and anxieties that prevent us from fully recognizing Your goodness and faithfulness. Teach us to trust You more, as we seek You and praise You for the support that You provide. Show us how to love those around us in ways that feel like water where souls are parched, and hope where it has been absent. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look ahead with eager anticipation, to see how You will move mountains on our behalf. Amen.

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

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

How Harmony Happens

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus. – (Romans 15:5, HCSB)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

I pray that our God, who calls you and gives you perseverance and encouragement, will join all of you together to share one mind according to Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 15:5, VOICE)

I don’t know about you, but endurance, encouragement, perseverance and patience are all necessary for me to navigate each new day. Each morning, I am encouraged and strengthened anew as I invest the start of my day with God. He is the source of each of these, and is faithful to supply what is needed. Harmony with those around me is always a goal, for there is wisdom and grace and goodness in those whom God places in our lives. Not only that, but this is what Jesus wants for us. Agreeing with one another does not mean that we must see eye-to-eye on every detail in our lives, but rather that we be like-minded on what truly matters. Loving God and loving people ought to be our priority. If we are alike in our care and concern for others, harmony happens. May we ever seek the Lord to be our source of endurance, encouragement, perseverance, patience and peace, as we pursue Him to lead us well.

The Lord is faithful,

To meet us each day;

He gives what we need,

For work and for play.

He shows us His heart,

For those who are near;

And calls us to love,

And set aside fear.

Strength and endurance,

Patience and His peace;

All that is needed,

For love’s sweet release.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You are faithful to supply all that we need. Thank You that as we do, You show us the strength in the community that surrounds us, and how to live in harmony together. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to seek You or have not sought to love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our strength and supply. Show us how to love those around us best, for You know the needs in every heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue the path that You have placed before us and the peace that surrounds us as we do. Amen.

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

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. – Psalm 133:1

Seeking What is Right

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. – (1 Corinthians 10:23, HCSB)

“All things are allowed,” you say. But not all things are good. “All things are allowed.” But some things don’t help anyone. – (1 Corinthians 10:23, ERV)

There’s a slogan often quoted on matters like this: “All things are permitted.” Yes, but not all things are beneficial. “All things are permitted,” they say. Yes, but not all things build up and strengthen others in the body. – (1 Corinthians 10:23, VOICE)

Just because something is allowed, does not mean it has benefit for all. There are things that are good for one, yet not so good for another. It is between each individual and God to know what is helpful and builds us up. We were created with a free will. When we choose God and live for Him, He leads us and guides us in our decisions and helps us determine what is good for us, personally. It is not our place to judge one another, each of us is responsible to answer for our own decisions. Instead of judging or worrying about what people do or do not do (within the bounds of what is legal), we ought to mind our own business and seek the Lord to lead us in all that we say and do. May we ever seek the Lord who gives us freedom, and ask Him to lead us in all that is good, helpful, and builds others up.

God gives us free will,

Allows us to choose;

What we say and do,

Perspective and views.

Yet, when we seek Him,

He shows us what’s best;

For us in our lives,

When to work, to rest.

It is by His love,

Wisdom and foresight;

That He’ll lead us on,

As we seek what’s right.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are each uniquely created by You. Thank You that we have different strengths, talents and challenges. Thank You that You lead us individually; personally, according to what is best for each unique person. Forgive us for judging others for the choices they make, for we know not what is helpful and beneficial to them. Teach us to place our trust in You, and to seek You to lead us to what is good and helpful and beneficial. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead each of us in what is Your best, and to allow others the same freedom. Amen.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Keep Moving Forward

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB)

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, VOICE)

I appreciate that the three different translations remind us that we have examples of great faith that have gone before us, those that walk beside us, and others that are all around us to encourage us to press on in living the life to which we have been called. Additionally, the reality that our race is one that requires endurance, is an indicator that it is a long and varied course. It is not about speed nearly as much as it is about forward momentum in the direction to which we have been called. Like with running, we do not want to carry extra weight or have things stick to us that impair our movement. Istead, it is ideal to run with nothing to weigh us down. Sin is anything that diverts our feet from the course we are called to run, or distracts us and pulls our attention in a different direction. To run our race with endurance, to live out our days in the direction to which we are called, we must be in tune with He who maps our course. The more we spend time with God and read His word, the more clearly we understand the race plan and how to avoid the things that lead us off the course He has prepared for us or that which will trip up our footing and make us falter from the path. May we ever seek the One who equips us with the strength and endurance required to run our own race, and listen to His leading so that we may encourage those around us to keep moving forward too.

Keep moving forward,

No matter how slow;

It’s not about speed,

But how you choose roll.

One step at a time,

Honoring the One;

Father, Son, Spirit,

The Most Holy One.

Each move done in love,

Is what we need bring;

Sweet perseverance,

Will honor our King.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

The race we’re to run;

Help us keep moving,

‘Til each day is done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to run with perseverance and set aside all that would get in our way, but You surround us with those who know how to run well and encourage us as they set an example. Forgive us for the times that we have given up or have allowed our hearts to be led away from the path that You set before us. Show us how to stay the course and keep moving, even when things are difficult and we cannot see the next water station or place to pause and rest. Lead us to love and encourage those around us as they navigate their own race. Grant us Your wisdom, grace, generosity and kindness to share with all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at the examples that have gone before us, those You have placed beside us, and ultimately, to You to lead us well. Amen.

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

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14