How Love Abounds

My beloved is mine and I am his… – (Song of Songs 2:16a, NIV) 

My love is mine, and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, VOICE) 

Song of Songs captures the blessings beheld in love as God intended. Over the last four years, I have come to understand such love in a very tangible way, especially over the last two years, as today my Viking and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Genuine love establishes a bond that requires the dedication and devotion of both partners, so that no matter what comes, it can be faced together. For me, God provided the man that I never knew I needed. He loves fiercely, gently and with a devotion that I have never questioned. We have had to navigate some serious challenges over the last two years, between the loss of his father, my mom’s stroke, and various other familial health concerns. Additionally, we have shared great joys. Our three children have all now graduated from high school and are on their way to navigating adulthood well. One is working full-time, and the other two are preparing for their first year of college in the fall. There have been births, deaths, weddings and milestones that we have celebrated and grieved together. Even in this crazy season of COVID-19, we have found comfort, security and safety in Christ and one another. There is no one that I would rather navigate this life with, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with such love. May we all seek the Lord as our provider of love the way He intended, and give Him praise all of our days, as we discover together, how great His love truly is. 

To fully embrace, 

All that God’s love is; 

We must choose to trust, 

And know we are His. 

As we come to know, 

His kindness and grace; 

Our hearts are opened, 

To God’s loving ways. 

Such blessings are found, 

The more that we know; 

His heart is for us, 

To bless and to grow. 

O what a treasure, 

To have and to hold; 

The one He’s given, 

Such love does unfold. 

Today I give thanks, 

For the love I’ve found; 

As I’m fiercely loved, 

And goodness abounds. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for first loving us and for designing us to love and be loved. Thank You for the incredible blessing of a husband that loves me completely, despite all of my flaws and shortcomings. Forgive me for the times that I have failed to love as You intended. Show me how to love completely, each and every day that I draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as Your love is made known through willing hearts. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as You created us to love. Amen. 

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

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:16

Free to Humbly Love

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

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

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

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

Freedom in the Lord, 

What we’re called to be; 

Able to choose love, 

With grace, humbly. 

For as we choose love, 

Others are set free; 

Immersed in goodness, 

Intentionally. 

So, let us go forth, 

And in freedom choose; 

To love as we’re loved, 

And sinfulness, lose. 

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

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

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

Let Go and Love

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” – (Leviticus 19:18, NIV) 

“Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” – (Leviticus 19:18, ERV) 

“Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.”  – (Leviticus 19:18, MSG) 

Revenge and grudges do not bring change. Love, however, does. If we truly love our neighbors as we are called to love, how can society help but change? Wrongs cannot always be righted, yet changed behavior can make the present and future far better. The more we understand one another, the better we are able to love. I imagine that the reason God says to love our neighbors as ourselves is because we know well, how we want to be treated and loved. Not one of us wants to be treated as less than, so we ought to always aim to love more. To love as God loved us means that we put others first, and seek to do good in ways that help and bless and lift our sisters and brothers up. We are all a work in progress, but we must do our part to pursue God’s best for one another. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, so that we are solution seekers rather than those who seek revenge. 

Do not seek revenge, 

Or carry a grudge; 

But instead, love well, 

Let God be the judge. 

Seek always love well, 

Sisters and brothers; 

Let’s choose to love first, 

Help one another. 

Find ways to lift up, 

Encourage others; 

Bless and do not curse, 

Goodness discovered. 

For just as God loves, 

We’re called to the same; 

Give goodness and grace, 

To honor God’s name. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us better than we could love ourselves. Thank You that You call us to the same. Forgive us for the times that we have sought revenge or held a grudge. Teach us to give our anger and frustration to You, and lean on You to lead us to love well. Show us how to bless, encourage, lift up and love well, all of those whom You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of ugliness and embrace one another in love. Amen. 

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

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

Listen and Learn

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. – (Proverbs 23:12, NIV) 

Pay close attention to the teaching that corrects you, and open your heart to every word of instruction. – (Proverbs 23:12, TPT) 

Develop a disciplined life. Be attentive so you can be well informed. – (Proverbs 23:12, VOICE) 

The beautiful thing about learning is that it never ends. We are all a work in progress, with much learning and growing to be done. As we choose to be attentive and invest in trustworthy instruction, our minds are challenged and our hearts are transformed. With formal education, there may be a point where we have gone as far as we want or need to go, yet the wisdom and understanding that will propel us forward and transform our hearts and minds, knows no end. When we listen more and speak less, our grasp on the world around us grows stronger, and we are better equipped to love well. This is the space where being invested in Christ and listening to His Spirit within us, is critical. That still small voice within, guides our hearts and minds in how we ought to hear, receive, and act on words of instruction. Learning how to live a disciplined life, empowers us to be attentive to the lessons that our peers, mentors, family, friends and experiences are showing us along the way. Often, our greatest growth comes out of the most difficult of seasons. For many of us, this time of solitude has served to lead us to a greater awareness of the people and world around us. The more we know and understand, the better equipped we are to be agents of change for injustice and inequity, as we learn to love better. May we seek the Lord to guide us, so that we may continue to listen and learn all that He has for us.   

To listen and learn, 

With an open heart; 

Is how to grow wise, 

Treat love as an art. 

For wisdom, it grows, 

As we choose invest; 

Seek understanding, 

And bless as we’re blessed. 

Choose be disciplined, 

Ever seeking truth; 

Throughout our whole lives, 

Not merely in youth. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pay attention, listen and learn. Thank You that You are the ultimate teacher and example for us. Forgive us for the times that we have not listened to Your leading, or have not slowed down to listen and learn. Teach us to be lifelong learners, so that we may grow more and more like You. Show us how to love and listen well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen and trust as You lead. Amen. 

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

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. – Psalm 54:4

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

To Do Good and To Share

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. – (Hebrews 13:16, VOICE)

 

It is amazing to see how an order to “Stay at Home” has produced incredible opportunities for people to utilize their time and talents to do good and share with others. One of the things that I have been most impressed with that my school district is doing, is they are mobilizing and making “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches available to all students in our district. The service will continue during our scheduled spring break, despite it technically being a time that our amazing nutrition service team ought to have a reprieve. In addition to the breakfast and lunch program, local businesses and churches, including my own church, have partnered with the district to identify families that may need additional meal/grocery support in this season, and are providing extra supplies to assist. The stories of neighbors helping and caring for one another bless my heart each time I hear them, and the army of seamstresses that are heeding the call for protective masks and sewing for hours on end are doing the very good and sharing with others as we have been called to do. Doing good can be acts that are great or small – each will make a difference. Our time, talent and resources are what we have to offer. Sometimes, doing good is reaching out and checking on whomever comes to mind. It is never an accident. May we seek the Lord and ask of Him how we can do good and best share what we have with others. He is faithful and will show us where to best utilize our time, resources and talents to bless and encourage those around us.

 

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And choose ask of Him;

What shall I do next,

Where do I begin?

Show me how to use,

Time, talents, supplies;

To bless and to serve,

Lord, help me be wise.

For each choice to give,

Is honoring You;

Overflow of thanks,

As Your love shines through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good and to share what we have with those around us. Thank You that You bless us with more than just “things”, but You grant us time and talents too. Thank You that all of us have something to offer. Thank You for the countless examples of those who are rising up and doing good, selflessly, in this season. Forgive us for forgetting that we were indeed uniquely and intentionally designed with purpose to do good for Your glory. Show us how to best honor You in all that we say and do. Teach us how to love those around us in the ways that You have designed us to love and serve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good and serve others with our time, talent and resources. 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 must love one another – John 13:34

Live “Otherly”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, TPT)

 

If this were truly the standard that people were following, I do not think that we would have empty store shelves and discover shortages of basic necessities. Before all of this COVID-19 craziness hit, stores were seldom out of the items that people needed on their typical grocery list. Now, however, grocery shopping online is not even an option, as such a large portion of one’s list is unable to be filled. Thankfully, we are well, and have all that we need. Being an early riser is helpful in more ways than one. That said, it matters how we conduct ourselves as we venture out to find what we need for our families. We must only take what is needed, so that others too may have what they require for their families. Also, how we treat these essential employees matters. Yesterday morning after I ran, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid to purchase Vitamin C for my family. The store was quiet, and the sweet cashier looked uncertain as she made her way to the register as I approached. We engaged in friendly conversation, and before I left, she was expressing her gratitude for my kindness. I had not done anything unusual, I simply was polite and respectful, and let her know that I appreciated her hard work, as it is likely a challenge right now in the midst of these circumstances. She informed me that she had been yelled at multiple times, for things that were completely beyond her control. I imagine I had a look of shock and horror on my face as she told her story, that I followed with an understanding apology for the ugly that comes out of humanity when fear enters in. Though our exchange was brief, I am further reminded of just how important it is to prefer others and make sure they know that they are valued and appreciated. This passage in Philippians is written to the church in Philippi, yet it can be applied to all of us and how we treat one another. It is amazing to see the shift in people as they are the recipients of being a priority and treated with respect and dignity. May we all seek the Lord to show us how to steer clear of selfishness and pride, and how best to honor and prefer others around us, above ourselves.

 

Let not our motives, Ambassadors of Love

Be driven by pride;

Lay down selfishness,

Seek the Lord to guide.

For He will show us,

How to choose to serve;

Prefer each other,

Help each see their worth.

Choose live “otherly”,

With kindness and grace;

Look for ways to bless,

As we live each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to live life this way through Your Son. There was no selfish ambition nor pride within Him, and He walked out His days humbly and sought to serve. Forgive us for the times that pride or selfishness get in the way of who You want us to be. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we prefer one another and extend kindness and grace in humility, without selfishness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lay down our selfishness and own ideas of how things ought to be, and look for opportunities to prefer others by extending kindness and care in tangible ways. Amen.

 

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

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Perfect Faithfulness

Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. – (Isaiah 25:1, NIV)

Eternal One, You are my God. I will lift You up and praise Your Name. Because You have made wonders marvelous and beautiful – the most ancient designs holding strong and sure. – (Isaiah 25:1, VOICE)

O Lord, I will honor and praise Your Name, for You are my God; You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now You have accomplished them, just as You said! – (Isaiah 25:1, TLB)

 

In perfect faithfulness is such a powerful description of the truth of how God moves. There are so many wonderful things – marvelous and beautiful, that He has done, that bless, encourage and uphold us in ways that only God can do. Incredibly, the Lord moves through things, great and small, that remind us again and again that He is our God who is worthy of all of our praise. Sometimes, it is a matter of arriving at the end of a long week and looking back, in order to see how He has been faithful to bring us through the days that felt impossible. And in the midst of the long, there have been blessings to behold, that God brought forth. Time with my family, conversations with mom, working with wonderful colleagues, coaching great girls in a sport I love, and actual sightings of sunshine, have all been reminders of His faithfulness and reason to give Him praise. For the faithfulness of God, and the power of His plans that are steadily accomplished, may we honor and praise His Name.

 

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Faithful for all times;

He plans in advance,

The blessings we find.

He’s true to His word,

God knows what we need;

He hears each request,

As with love He leads.

Such beautiful things,

Through love and His grace;

Endowed unto us,

Let us give God praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so well. Thank You that You do wonderful and marvelous things that You planned long ago, to bless us and show us Your faithfulness. Thank You that in all things, You are present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the wait between what we know is promised and the fulfillment. Teach us to be patient and full of praise as we wait and trust in You. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may know Your goodness and grace through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

 

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

 

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. – 1 Chronicles 16:9

How We Love

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. – (1 John 4:9, NIV)

The light of God’s love shined within us when He sent His matchless Son into the world so that we might live through Him. – (1 John 4:9, TPT)

Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. – (1 John 4:9, VOICE)

 

We know love, because God first loved us. Jesus made the way for all who choose believe and receive, to access a love so great, that once it is known, it must be shared. The beauty of God’s love is that it is so all-encompassing that we are filled to overflowing and cannot help but give love as we have been given. Our challenge is to actually receive what is being extended. When we truly take the time to taste and see how good God is and how vast His love is for each one of us, it is impossible to not be overwhelmed with gratitude. It is in that space of grace, when we are fully aware, that we long to give that which we have been given. May we each take pause and allow God’s love to wash over us so that we may view others through His lens of love.

 

The love of the Lord,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Is granted to us;

Ready to receive,

Through His Son, Jesus.

In Him there is life,

Grace and lasting love;

Floods both heart and mind,

As we trust above.

And as we receive,

We expand and grow;

Equipped to love well,

So grace overflows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us love and to equip us with the capacity to love others as we are loved by You. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may view others through Your lens of love, and extend all of Your goodness and grace to each person we meet. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your light and love in ways that bless their hearts most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You have to give so that we may go forth and love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him. – 1 John 2:5

To Demonstrate Love

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

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

Love one another, on this day, where people are intentional to express their love and appreciation for others, there is the perfect opportunity for loving one another as we are called and commanded to do. In this particular passage, Jesus had just washed the feet of His disciples, and was sharing a last meal with them, prior to His betrayal that took Him to the cross. Jesus was giving charge to His disciples, as He knew the road that lay before Him, and wanted the faithful followers to be prepared to persevere. When Jesus told the disciples to love as He had loved them, they understood the enormity of the love that they were being called to give. First hand, they had been the recipients of the care, provision, healing, help, patience, kindness, faithfulness, honesty, hopefulness, perseverance and protection that His love provided. Jesus knew the task was impossible in their own strength, yet with His help, they could do all things. We are no different today. The command to love each other deeply and fully, remains. Our Source of strength to love anyway, even when those we know we are called to love seem unlovable, is Christ. He empowers us to love as He loves. Sometimes love is simply a kind word or an encouraging smile. Other times, love reaches out and goes beyond what is comfortable, to be certain that those around us know that they are valued and worthy of love.

One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Jesus at the well, speaking to the Samaritan woman. He crossed cultural divides and racial relations to reach out and impact the heart of a hurting soul. The very act of speaking to her in the first place, violated all sorts of barriers that normally were in place between Jews and Samaritans, much less men and women. Because Jesus loved, He spoke truth in love, and her heart was forever changed. What had been a space of sin and shame, became her testimony to tell of who Jesus was and how He knew about her before she said a word. That woman at the well went from being an outcast, to knowing that she was loved, valued and known. That is our purpose in love. May we seek the Lord and His strength, so that we too may acknowledge those around us in ways that help them feel valued, loved and known.

 

We are commanded,

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The loves of my life. Photos courtesy of Dee Jones, Open Door Photography

To go forth in love;

Value each other,

Like the Lord above.

Love grants us value,

Helps us know we’re known;

When unseen is seen,

God’s true love is shown.

Let us seek His strength,

So love leads the way;

May we follow Him,

And love well each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love. Thank You that this is not something done flippantly, but rather it is intentionally and specifically, as there are countless examples of love in Your word, and directions as to what love is and how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love those around us well. Teach us to seek Your strength, even when we are struggling with our own trials and frustrations. Thank You that often the antidote for difficulty is to reach out and give love, support and encouragement to others, in spite of ourselves. Grant us the strength and wisdom to seek You and show us how to love those around us best. You know each need and what will bless and encourage the most. Show us, I pray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and choose to love one another. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9