The Way to Love Well

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Kindness and compassion, love and forgiveness, must be how we allow God to lead us in His grace, if we are to love as He loves us. Mother’s Day, or any other day that is intended to celebrate an individual – be it a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or the like – is a perfect opportunity for these attributes to be extended, especially when what is hoped for is not realized. For example, my incredible husband is a total acts of service guy, his love language is to go above and beyond to do the little things that keep our home running smoothly, and does so without any sort of “honey do” list. In fact, he does things long before I even consider the need for them to be done, and if an issue arises, he fixes it barely after the concern has left my mouth. I, on the other hand, am all about quality time. My heart’s desire is to spend time with the people I love, doing fun things together. Being outdoors, playing games, hiking, walking, biking, going to the beach – you name it – anything together where all those present are engaged, and my heart is filled. As you can imagine, the two methods of expressing love do not always align. Saturday, I did have quality time with the family, and quality time with my love. Sunday, however, turned into a list of things that needed to be accomplished, and it felt as if Mother’s Day was all but forgotten. Now, encouraging words are a close second, and my boys did make a point to speak sweet and encouraging words of their appreciation to me as their mom. They were apologetic about not having a gift, and my genuine reply was about them being my greatest gift, and the two of them continuing to work hard and finish the school year strong would be the best gift they could give.  After a weird lull in the late afternoon, Mark and I spoke about hopes versus reality, and there was kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness extended on both sides by His grace. The evening was concluded with quality time, playing our favorite board game, as love and laughter filled the room, and my heart. We are still learning how to love one another best, and I am certain that it is a lifelong process. Thankfully, we are committed to learning and growing together, and depend on God to guide us in the process. Grace after grace after grace… May we all be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other in the same way that Christ forgives each of us, as we learn to love as we are loved by God.

 

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Forgiveness and grace;

The way to love well,

As we run our race.

In the same way God,

Loves and He forgives;

We’re called do likewise,

To bless as we live.

Extend forgiveness,

Lavishly give grace;

Love as we are loved,

Wherever we’re placed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving through the example of Your Son. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend to others what you so freely give to us. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love those around us well. Amen.

 

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

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Clear the Temple

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer’, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.” – (Matthew 21:12-13, NIV)

Jesus went into the Temple area. He threw out all those who were selling and buying things there. He turned the tables that belonged to those who were exchanging different kinds of money. And He turned over benches of those who were selling doves. Jesus said to them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer’. But you are changing it into a ‘hiding place for thieves.” – (Matthew 21:12-13, ERV)

 

My focus this week is to take a deeper look at the series of events that took place leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus left Bethany, cursed a fig tree, cleansed the temple, healed and taught in the temple (as God intended), left the city, and returned back to Bethany where He stayed the night. The portion of scripture that stood out to me, was the passage where Jesus, in His righteousness, cleared out of the temple, that which did not belong. He did not just clear out what did not belong, but went on and loved, touched, taught and healed, according to what did belong in His Temple. Jesus did not simply say how things needed to be, but rather He modeled it through every aspect of His life. The way that Jesus cleansed the temple demonstrated His authority and His passion for His Father’s house, and the way that He restored the space to what it was intended through His loving people well, reminds us of the kindness of God. May we take time this week to clear the temple of our hearts and rid ourselves of anything that does not belong, and allow the Lord to restore us with His loving kindness and grace that reaches out and loves as He so passionately loves each of us.

 

Within all our hearts, Restore to Me the Joy

There’s things to be cleared;

Misguided beliefs,

Irrational fears.

We have a Savior,

In love, who comes near;

He’ll wash away waste,

Make our value clear.

As we know our worth,

We love differently;

No longer hindered,

Able to be free.

Free to love greatly,

As God first loved us;

Love with abandon,

Just like our Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the difficult road because of Your great love for us. Thank You that You cleared the temple of what did not belong, and replaced it with what did. Forgive us for allowing anything into the temple of our hearts that does not belong. Show us how to clear the chaos and crud that does not align with Your design, and teach us to seek You to fill our hearts with things of You. Lead us to love those around us in the same way that You love – lavishly, tangibly, and without qualifications. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we clear the temple within, and praise You for the incredible sacrifice You made on our behalf. Amen

 

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

 

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. – Mark 11:15-16

Confidently Heard

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. – (1 John 5:14, NIV)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

We live in bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. – (1 John 5:14, VOICE)

 

First and foremost, we can come to God confidently, as He hears our hearts whenever we seek Him. Just as a loving parent listens to their children when they come, so too, does our Heavenly Father, each time we bring our heart before Him. That being said, He is not a fairy godparent nor a genie that grants wishes; rather, God is loving and all-powerful, and has plans and purpose for each of our lives. When the things we bring before Him align with His will, He hears and responds accordingly. Likewise, when we are seeking something that is not in our best interest, He closes doors and places that check in our spirit that tells our heart that whatever it is, is not in our best interest. God’s ways are not our ways, nor His timing aligned with our own. Often, we seek and ask, and wait in wonder for what seems like forever, only to discover that God has been moving on our behalf all along, as there were things in us that needed preparing before the actual request could be fulfilled. God is good and faithful and worthy of our trust. May we ever live in bold confidence that He hears us when we ask of Him, things that align with His good and perfect plan.

As for Mom, she began more of her out-patient therapies this week. She was encouraged and determined when we spoke, and hopeful, as she recognized the new opportunities for growth to reestablish pathways that were lost. I love that one of the things that she said was that she wished she could go to therapies every day. Mom knows that the hard work is what is required of her, and she is ready to do exactly that. It will be a joy and a blessing to see the strides that she has made between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we all gather together again.

 

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May we all choose come;

Before the Father,

The Most Holy One.

For as we seek Him,

He’s faithful to hear;

Honoring requests,

When His plan is clear.

The Lord, He knows best,

Despite what we see;

He knows the outcome,

And what is to be.

So, trust in the Lord,

Place all in His hands;

Seek follow His heart,

To walk out His plans.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come before You boldly and bring our requests to You. Thank You that You listen and hear our hearts. Thank You that You move on our behalf in the way that is best for us, redirecting our hearts to the path You have placed before us when we don’t know the way. Forgive us for our doubts when we do not see the evidence of You moving. Teach us to trust You more, as Your timing is not ours, nor are Your ways our own. Thank You that You do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine when we place things in Your mighty hands. Show us how to love those around us in ways that come alongside to strengthen and encourage those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You, knowing that You hear us and move on our behalf when we ask things that follow the plan that You designed for us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. – Psalm 28:7a

Desires Fulfilled Through Delight in Him

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. – (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

Take great joy in the Eternal! His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires! – (Psalm 37:4, VOICE)

Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and He will provide for you what you desire most. – (Psalm 37:4, TPT)

 

The caveat to this verse is to be mindful of the first half, prior to fixating on the second. It is only when we delight in the Lord and take pleasure in that which pleases Him, that our heart’s desires transpire, as they are aligned with His good and perfect will for us. This is a great reminder on days that life doesn’t seem to go our way, as one day does not define our eternity. Yesterday, I had one of those days that required me to dig deep and choose to delight in God, as various circumstances sprinkled throughout my day, challenged my heart. God is faithful, and He provided good in the midst of the trying. Sweet reminders of His goodness and faithfulness were made evident through the people He has placed around me. Lovely colleagues and sweet students were mingled in between a migraine and a handful of students who were struggling behaviorally. At last, once the school day was done, my love and I were able to load the car and begin our journey to mom in Oregon. Traffic was terrible, yet I was able to take joy in the beauty along the way, and behold the blessing of the company I was keeping. What I desired most was to see Mom, and by 9:00 pm, we arrived and were greeted with such joy, my heart could hardly contain it. God is so good, and He blesses our hearts as we earnestly seek Him.

 

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In Him, seek true joy;

Ever He’s faithful,

Blessings He employs.

As we seek the Lord,

Our hearts shall align;

With His pleasing will,

His goodness we find.

For all things give thanks,

Each day we draw breath;

The Lord is so good,

By grace we are blessed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we delight in You and seek to find joy in You, we discover the desires of our heart are met in You. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the obstacles that attempt to steal our joy. Teach us to recognize the blessings, even in the trials; for You are always good. 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 take delight in You and give Your praise for the blessings You pour upon us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. – Psalm 37:23

Be Interruptible

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

People might make many plans, but what the Lord says is what will happen. – (Proverbs 19:21, ERV)

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. – (Proverbs 19:21, MSG)

 

Yesterday was a fantastic day, as my husband drove over the mountains to spend time with mom and me. We enjoyed our afternoon and evening together, balancing time between just he and I as mom took an afternoon siesta, and a wonderful adventure of preparing and partaking in dinner with one another, as a trio. Interestingly, we had a plan in place, as a dear friend, (who was like a second mom to me growing up) was going to come spend time with mom, so that Mark and I could go into town for a quick visit with our best friends, who are here for a ball tournament. Well, the timing did not align, and our plans did not go according to what we had imagined, but we ended up having a fantastic evening of playing a family favorite game with mom, my second mom, Mark and myself. So often, what we think we ought to be doing turns out to not be the actual plan. What unfolds, ends up being a perfect sort of wonderful, and exactly the sort of evening that each of us needed. God knew, even if we did not. Though we are not meant to sit idly by and wait for life to unfold; we ought not get flustered or forlorn when plans do not go as we thought they ought to have gone. Rather, we should be open to the idea that when things do not go the way we thought they should, perhaps God had a better plan all along. No matter how the road before us unfolds, God is with us, God is for us, and God is good.

 

Many are the plans, Be Interruptible

Deep down in our heart;

Yet it’s God’s purpose,

That will find a start.

Sometimes the best plans,

Go a different way;

And we discover,

His path is made plain.

All praise to the Lord,

On whom we rely;

For His ways are best,

And His strength supplied.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways, and Your plans, greater than our own. Forgive us for our initial frustration or disappointment when our plans seem to fail. Teach us to trust You more, as Your plans provide us with all that we need and more. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may encourage, strengthen and build each other up in Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep pressing forward in faith, but allow our plans to be interruptible and embrace the way that You direct our steps. Amen.

 

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

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Nothing Without Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NIV)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ERV)

If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, CEB)

 

All that we say and all that we do is meaningless if each are not motivated by love. More than any words or any deeds or any acts of faith, God desires that we choose love. Above all else, there must be love. Jesus went on to tell us that all of the commandments and all of the laws can be fulfilled if we love God and love people. May we ever pursue a path that presents a palpable passion to love God and love people, as we are loved by Him.

 

Wonderful, wise words,

Peace Through Understanding

Mean nothing at all;

If not said in love,

Such words with just fall.

Great acts of giving,

Or faith that moves all;

If not done in love,

They’ll be our downfall.

Our call from the Lord,

To love Him and all;

Lest our words and deeds,

Must reflect our call.

So, let us go forth,

In word and in deed;

Choose love over all,

For such love meets needs.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us, above all else, to love. Thank You that You give good gifts and equip Your people to love in a variety of ways. Forgive us for every word spoken and every deed done, that were not motivated by love. Teach us how to align our every word and action with the love that comes from You. Show us how to love those around us as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to love You and love those around us, above all else. Amen.

 

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

 

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”… And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37 & 39

Love is Truth in Action

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT) 

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

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE) 

 

Love is so much more than words. Though words can build up and encourage, the tangible evidence of love in action tends to last far longer than something that is simply spoken. Despite the tremendous value I hold in both spoken and written words, I find myself overwhelmingly assured of the truth of love spoken when everyday actions align. It is in the small and simple faithful gestures done in love, that truth is demonstrated over time. We can say whatever we wish, but if our actions do not align, the words are meaningless. However, when we choose love, again and again, through the things that we say and do, the recipients of our words and deeds cannot help but begin to believe the truth that they are loved. May we reach out and love others with the things that we do, just as God so graciously and generously loves each of us, so that all may know that love is not just an idea, but rather a reality intended for us all. 

 

May the Lord’s great love,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Lead all that we do; 

So that our actions, 

Display loving truth. 

Though our words matter, 

Our deeds speak much more; 

For our follow through, 

Shows love’s open door. 

Let us choose to act, 

In word and in deed; 

Do all things with love, 

So God’s love’s received. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to a life of love – not just with our words, but with everything that we do. Thank You that You have shown us what it is to live a life of love through Your Son. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to do anything that was less than loving. Teach us to trust You more, so that our words and deeds would be an extension of Your heart and hands to those around us. Show us how to love those around us with our very lives, making Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your love and grace to love others with our every word and deed. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

The Intended Target in Training

Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. – (1 Timothy 4:8, NLT)

Training your body helps you in some ways. But devotion to God helps you in every way. It brings you blessings in this life and in the future life too. – (1 Timothy 4:8, ERV)

Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things – holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. – (1 Timothy 4:8, VOICE)

 

Just as physical training provides benefit to our body, devotion to God (spiritual training), benefits our mind and spirit. Though both types of training have value, the latter lasts forever. What we know and how we grow, impact our eternity. Training our body can help us be our best self, so that we are physically equipped to do all that the Lord asks of us. However, if we do not train our heart and mind to be in tune with Christ, how will we know and recognize His voice in our lives? May we ever pursue the path of righteousness, for it holds promise in the Lord both for now and forever more.

 

Training has purpose, The Intended Target in Training

In all that we do;

For what we practice,

Leads to what’s pursued.

If we train for good,

Seek align with God;

We’re aptly prepared,

Despite how we’re flawed.

We’ll learn how to walk,

In His righteousness;

Allow God to reign,

By His faithfulness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue Your path prepared for us, You meet us, lead us and bless us both now and for all time. Thank You that You are faithful to all who seek You. Forgive us for our inconsistency in training in our pursuit of You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would make time to fix our eyes, hearts and minds on You. Show us how to love those around us well, as we grow in our likeness to You through continued pursuit of Your path and purpose for our lives. Be glorified O God, as we train our hearts, minds and entire beings to become who You intended us to be. Amen.

 

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

 

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – Proverbs 21:21

 

 

Clothed in His Character

Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. – (Colossians 3:12, NLT)

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)

 

As God’s dearly loved children, we are called to clothe ourselves with His character. Thankfully, we are given specific attributes to lead us and guide us to represent our Father well. Just as we have been shown mercy, we too must be merciful to others. Kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ought to be the guiding principles that lead us in a life lived out in love. The more we know and understand what it is to be loved, the greater our capacity becomes to love in the same way. May we depend on the Lord to fill us with His love as we endeavor to understand and extend His kindness and compassion to others.

 

As we show mercy,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

God’s heart is made plain;

A love lived out loud,

Points hearts to His reign.

Kindness extended,

In humility;

Mends what is broken,

And sets captives free.

Patience has power,

As does gentleness;

Quietly they wait,

In love to express.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call us to judge or create barriers between us and those who do things that do not align perfectly with the way we see the world. Thank You that You call us to love with mercy, kindness, patience and gentleness, just as You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked Your love for others in our responses. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would respond from a space of love that follows after Your heart. Show us how to extend mercy, be kind, have patience and extend gentleness to those around us in Your love. May many come to know You as Lord. Be glorified O God, as we live a life of love through our mercy, kindness, patience and gentleness. Amen.

 

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

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. – Proverbs 31:25

Tend to This Temple

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, NIV)

Dear friends, we have these promises from God. So, we should make ourselves pure – free from anything that makes our body or our soul unclean. Our respect for God should make us try to be completely holy in the way we live. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, ERV)

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, MSG)

 

Each one of us who claims Christ as our King, is a temple in which His Spirit dwells. Our charge, as one who tends His temple, is to be mindful of our body and spirit, so as to nourish our very being with what we take in. When we fuel and care for our bodies well and spend time in His word, our thoughts align with His and our bodies are better equipped to do that to which we are called. The decision to be wise with what we opt consume – physically, mentally and emotionally, is an act of reverence to the very One who created us. May we make clean breaks from all that distracts or defiles us so that we may become fit and holy temples for He who dwells within us.

 

Lord, help us be wise, strength-in-waiting

With things that we choose;

For heart, mind and soul,

Your way, let’s pursue.

In You, there is truth,

Love, laughter and light;

Sound mind and body,

True space of delight.

Lord, may this temple,

Be prepared for You;

Help me to tend well,

And walk in Your truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You come and dwell in all who call on Your Name. Thank You that You created each one of us to be a temple for Your Holy Spirit. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected the care of either body, mind or spirit, as all work together for You. Teach us to trust You more, as You lead and provide what we need to be a suitable space for Your Spirit. Show us how to love those around us in a way that models and provides care for mind, body and spirit in each one. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and guide the decisions we make about how to best tend the temple You have provided. Amen.

 

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

 

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? – 1 Corinthians 3:16