Represent in Love

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, NIV)

Just be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, ERV)

Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, MSG)

This is and has been a charge that has felt seemingly absent over the last year and a half on social media. People who love God and love people, have been blasting one another over various “hot topics”, rather than listening to understand in love. The challenge in this is that we all have opinions that rise up, yet if we profess Jesus is Lord, we cannot name call and demean those around us for what they think. That is not love. Yes, we can have civilized conversations face-to-face, but yelling, name-calling, and demeaning is not beneficial to anyone. All of us have opinions and positions on the various things that are going on in the world that bring about differing views, yet what we do with those opinions is on us. If we are to profess our faith in love, our every interaction must be led in love. I too, have opinions and reactions rise up, but have learned that I cannot simply react, but rather I must listen in love and seek the Lord to lead. Most often, that means that I must scroll past the “blasting” and only discuss my thoughts when I am able to listen in love and calmly share my concerns and ideas. It is a delicate balance to continue to learn how to live in such a way that we are honoring God in all that we do and say. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in our conversations and exchanges of thoughts, ideas and opinions so that love is what is evident in all.

Love is the answer,

We’re each called to give;

In speech and actions,

Each day that we live.

No matter our thoughts,

To what’s going on;

If not led in love,

Validity’s gone.

What good is shouting,

Finger-pointing wrongs?

Instead, let’s listen,

Show that love belongs.

O Lord, we need You,

To lead us in love;

To follow Your heart,

Speak in peace and love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to conduct ourselves in a manner that ever demonstrates Your goodness and love. Thank You that You call us to represent You with our words and deeds. Forgive us for our every word, thought and deed that has not demonstrated Your goodness, love and grace. Teach us to interact with one another in love, no matter how differently we view the world. Show us how to love greatly, and to choose to love in our every action, reaction and interaction with those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love in everything that we say and do so that we may represent who You intended us to become. Amen.

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

Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. – Psalm 17:7

So Much More

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

With God’s power working in us, He can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, ERV)

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! – (Ephesians 3:20-21, MSG)

It should not be easy to overlook this fact, but there are times that I make God too small. I think I get caught up in the frustration, fear, or a funk, forgetting what I know to be true. God has ALWAYS been faithful, and He ALWAYS uses our trials as testimonies and our struggles as ways to show us just how mightily He can move. Incredibly, as we seek Him and allow Him to work in us, through us and around us, He exceeds our hopes and expectations every time. Though His answers and solutions may not look like we had hoped or imagined, they ultimately are far better than what we hoped would be so. As we give God room to move, He is given glory through His church (all of us), and through His Spirit (working in us). Whether we are faithful and trusting or not, He forever remains worthy of all glory and praise. May we ever seek the Lord and allow Him room to be God, for He will do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine.

God’s more is so much,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Immeasurable;

Beyond all our hopes,

Power enabled.

All we imagine,

Is still nowhere near;

What the Lord can do,

When we release fear.

Choose trust in the Lord,

Watch all that He does;

More than we could dream,

Power through His love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine; in us, through us and around us. Thank You that Your glory lasts forever, and You love never quits. Forgive us for thinking our hopes, dreams, trials and difficulties are insignificant to You. Teach us to trust You more, for Your love and ability to move on our behalf are beyond what we could hope or imagine. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant glimpses of the depth and breadth of Your unending love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all the glory forever for all that You have and will ever do. Amen.

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

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

To Be Acutely Aware

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

Even in the midst of the hard and the horrible, God remains good. He surrounds us with His goodness and provides His peace when it ought not be found. Yesterday, I found myself in the midst of a horrible mom moment. My son was not doing well, and it was clear that an ER run was going to be needed. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his symptoms, no one was permitted to be with him. Having to drop off my heart outside my body and place him in the hands of someone else’s care, was gut wrenching. It matters not that he is a young man; he is still my child. We waited in the parking lot for hours. At first, we were hearing nothing. I had my phone and noticed that he was active on social media, so I tried messaging him that way. Incredibly, it worked, and we discovered a way to communicate. After x-rays and a laundry list of tests, they determined that he was to be admitted. My heart sank, and I had no choice but to trust. From discussing the treatment plan to learning to be an adult and advocate for himself, God has been showing me His goodness. When my heart did not know what to pray, He still heard me. Though it is still extraordinarily difficult to not be with my son, I see evidence of God’s goodness surrounding him and all around me, and trust that my boy is exactly where he needs to be. May we ever seek the Lord and trust in His goodness, for He holds us up in His hands.

The Lord, He is good,

We need taste and see;

He surrounds with love,

And grants us His peace.

The Lord makes a way,

When we cannot see;

What way is the best,

He meets all our needs.

Today I choose trust,

I will taste and see;

Goodness in action,

And know the Lord’s peace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good. Thank You that we simply need to open our eyes and hearts to all that is around us to be acutely aware of Your love. Thank You that as we seek You to be our help and hope, You hold us up in Your hands. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears, for You love our children even more than we do. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and love visible and tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and run to You to be our shelter and perfect peace. Amen.

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

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

Redeemed to Love

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

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)

For we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God. Yet through His powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away His righteousness. His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin! – (Romans 3:23-24, TPT)

We all are broken and fall short. However, Jesus came so that we could be forgiven and free from all of our sin and shame, and find new life in Him. This is available for all people, for the hardened criminal and the good citizen alike; it is up to us to receive what He freely offers, and pursue a life following after Him. Today, this is my reminder to not allow anger or frustration a foothold, for the ones who did such such horrible things are received and forgiven if they repent and turn to God, in the same way it is available for you and me. If I am truly to have a heart like Christ, this indeed must be my hope for them. There are consequences for criminal behavior, as there should be, yet the heart can be forgiven and set free from all. Though I would be willing to guess that they do not know Jesus, I can pray that they would come to know Him. Eternal freedom is far more important than the temporary satisfaction of revenge or retaliation. The law is clear and there will be consequences for their actions, so my responsibility is to keep loving God and loving people, even when it means praying for those who inflicted harm on the defenseless. It is a process, daily, and at times, hourly; for I know what I must continue to do. May we ever seek the One who sets us free from our sin and shame, and allow Him to soften our hearts and love bigger than we ever thought possible.

O Lord help our hearts,

To forgive, set free;

Place all in Your hands,

Lord Jesus, help me.

A sin is a sin,

And I’m not the judge;

Help me to release,

A hold of a grudge.

For true forgiveness,

Sets our own hearts free;

So sins ugly grip,

No longer holds me.

For justice belongs,

To the Lord above;

True freedom is found,

Through grace, hope and love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have made the way for all to know freedom and forgiveness in You. Thank You that none are disqualified from receiving redemption in You, regardless of our sin. Forgive us for our desire to retaliate and return evil for evil. Teach us to trust You and the laws that are established to take care of what is just. Show us how to love like You so that we would willingly pray for our enemies and those who have hurt us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You and discover the overwhelming mercy, goodness and love that You pour out upon all who receive what You offer and pursue eternity with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You access to transform our hearts so that we may mirror You lavish love to the world. Amen.

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

He Suffered for Our Sake

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. – (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

But He was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of His pain. – (Isaiah 53:5, ERV)

But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries He suffered became our healing. – (Isaiah 53:5, VOICE)

As I continue to fix my heart and mind on the significance of Easter, my study this morning landed me in Isaiah 53. Isaiah was written long before the birth of Jesus, so it is a prophetic foretelling of what was yet to come. Jesus was indeed pierced for our transgressions, taking on the guilt and punishment that was deserved, so that we might know healing, wholeness and peace. His suffering on Friday brought us to the freedom that arrived on Sunday with an empty tomb. The very One who bore the weight of the world, overcame death in order to bring us new life. It is mind-blowing to think of anyone taking the punishment we deserve for our wrongdoing, and even more baffling to consider He who took ALL for EVERYONE. I know as a parent, I would gladly take pain in the place of my children. However, I am flawed and I fail; Jesus, who knew no sin, had done no wrong, endured the guilt and suffering for all that we have ever done, are doing, and will ever do, so that we have the opportunity and freedom to decide to follow after God and be in a right relationship with Him. Jesus made the way for all. In God’s eyes, every sin is a sin, and we all fall short. I cannot imagine what life would be like if we did not have the Savior to seek in our shortcomings, suffering and struggle. May we ever give glory to God, who sent His Only Son, and all praise to Jesus, who bore all on our behalf so that we would know God’s goodness and love.

Love chose be broken,

For once and for all;

Suffering Savior,

Love tore down the wall.

The wall between us,

Kept apart by sin;

His love brought new life,

Our only way in.

Into His goodness,

Overwhelmed by grace;

Hope that’s eternal,

O Ancient of Days.

Let us give glory,

Where glory is due;

All thanks for new life,

Through that empty tomb.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored in relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for bearing the weight of my sin upon Yourself so that I might know abundant life in You. Forgive us for allowing this holy week to come and go without pondering and pursuing a deeper understanding of all that You did to bring us into Your kingdom. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to love those around us intentionally and with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the magnitude of Your sacrifice and suffering that brought us new life in You. Amen.

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

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9

Pause, Ponder and Praise

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

Christ had no sin, but God made Him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, ERV)

How? You ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, MSG)

As we enter this most holy week, in preparation for Easter, it is good to consider what Christ did for us in order for all to have the opportunity to be right with God. Jesus left heaven, was born as a baby, grew up in an ordinary place, and began touching and changing lives when His time had come. For more than three years, He lived, loved, taught, encouraged, healed, touched, and transformed the lives of those whom He encountered. Though Jesus knew what stood before Him as He made His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, He loved so much that He continued. His fate was to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders, as He hung on the cross that dismal Friday. Jesus’ decision to die in our place, made the way for us to be forgiven and set free to be in the very presence of God. Gone are the days of sacrifice and atonement for our sin because of that one decision to take it all. Sin, shame and sorrow were surrendered on the cross, so that we might experience forgiveness, blessing and joy. Though we all fall short, as we choose to pursue a life after God, we are forgiven and led forward into a life everlasting. Pondering all that Christ went through on my behalf, intensifies my desire to live a life that is pleasing unto Him. May we ever make time to reflect on the goodness of God, and give praise for the way that has been made for us to be right before Him.

Sinless was Jesus,

Hanging on the cross;

Done on our behalf,

Aware of the cost.

To become the sin,

All that we have done;

He felt the anguish,

The Most Holy One.

Willing He chose death,

To offer new life;

Hope for all people,

An ending to strife.

Earnestly seek Him,

Pursue Him with praise;

He loves forever,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved so much that You sent Your one and only Son. Thank You Jesus, that You lived and loved and led a life that was without sin. Thank You that You took our sin upon Yourself so that we could come into relationship with You. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder and praise You for all that You have done to may the way for us to be in Your presence forever. Teach us to recognize Your goodness and Your nearness. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart may be made known to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take pause to ponder all that You have done and praise You for who You are. Amen.

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

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? – Psalm 8:3-4

To Grow in Love

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, NIV)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, ERV)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. This will enable you to choose the most excellent way of all – becoming pure and without offense until the unveiling of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, TPT)

Paul’s encouragement to the church of Phillipi is still relevant to us today. If our love grows more and more, so that we gain knowledge and understanding to discern what is best, we will become more and more of who God calls us to become. To be pure and blameless is not something we attain on our own, but rather through Christ within us. We fall short and make poor choices, but Christ loves and forgives us and places us back on the path that He has set before us. In light of all of the countless ideas and ideologies that seem to swirl about in current culture, I need Christ to give me revelation and insight into what is His very best. To choose the most excellent way of all is to choose love in all things. So often, it is difficult to know how we can love best. God is gracious and kind, and He answers when we ask Him. Constant pursuit leads to rich revelations, for God is our Father who longs to teach His children. Intentional time with Christ is the way to grow in understanding, as we learn more of who He is, we more clearly reflect His heart to the world. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom and understanding so that we can grow more and more in His loving likeness.

O Lord let us be,

Ever seeking You;

Grant understanding,

So we may love true.

Grow us in likeness,

Understanding too;

Forgive us our faults,

Please change and renew.

Show us each new day,

What You ask of us;

Give wisdom to know,

Love just like Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You honor our earnest seeking with wisdom and understanding. Thank You that You ever change, renew and grow us to love more like You. Forgive us for thinking we can somehow change or do better on our own. Lead us to follow after You with all that we are, so that we may grow in knowing how to love You and love people better. Show us what to do to make Your love known to all those whom we meet. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with all that we are so that we may become all that You intend. Amen.

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

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

The Blessing of Confessing

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

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

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

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

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

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

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

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

Forgiveness Brings Freedom

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, NIV)

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV)

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kindness. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE)

When we are certain of our identity in Christ, we become far less offendable. We recognize all that we have been forgiven by God, and find it easier to forgive others. Our forgiveness is not to say that the wrongs against us were somehow right, but rather it is so that we do not hold the weight of the offense and allow it to poison us. God calls us to forgive so that we can experience the fullness of Him. Grudges and offenses held get in the way of realizing all the good that God has intended for us. The more we let go of the offenses and wrongs, the more we recognize God’s goodness and grace for us. It does not mean that we forget or place ourselves in harm’s way, rather it is an intentional choice to take away the power that was once held in an offender’s hands. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in forgiveness, in the same way that He has forgiven, so that we may operate in His kindness to all.

Let go of anger,

The weight of offense;

Release the grudges,

For God’s our defense.

The choice to forgive,

Unchains what is bound;

Our hearts find freedom,

His grace is profound.

As God forgives us,

May we do the same;

Find His perfect peace,

As His love’s proclaimed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have forgiven us and You call and equip us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we hold onto the heaviness of hurts and offenses rather than laying them at Your feet. Teach us to release all to You so that we may walk in the freedom of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to love like You, so that we may be quick to forgive and lavish in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the overwhelming outpouring of forgiveness that You grant to us, and for the freedom we find when we do the same. Amen.

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

The Look of Being Chosen

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle and patient. – (Colossians 3:12, ERV)

You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. – (Colossians 3:12, TPT)

If we love God and choose to serve Him, we are His chosen people. We are dearly loved and viewed through the lens of Christ by God. It ought to be our ambition to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Each are attributes that demonstrate God’s love to others in tangible and visible ways. Additionally, it is a way to worship and love God, as we are intentional to love others well. Kindness, humility, gentleness and patience only exist if there is love. To know and extend love, we need to know He who is love. As we receive God’s love, we are equipped and empowered to love as we have been called. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us and show us His love, so that we may go forth in mercy, with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to all.

Because we are loved,

We’re called to the same;

Live life with mercy,

Honor Jesus’ Name.

Be kind and humble,

Choose humility;

Be gentle, patient,

To all whom we meet.

May our love and life,

With clarity show;

God’s kindness to all,

Make His goodness known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are dearly loved by You. Thank You that You call us to extend Your goodness through our every word and deed. Thank You that You tell us what it ought to look like. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Teach us how to extend each of these things in all that we say and do. Show us how to love everyone as You call us to do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to help us be merciful, kind, humble, gentle and patient with all people. Amen.

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

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you. – 1 Thessalonians 1:4