Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

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 do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

To Look for Ways to Love

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. – (Romans 12:10, HCSB)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself. – (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. – (Romans 12:10, VOICE)

If we live and love like brothers and sisters, we look out for one another, take care of each other, and extend help where it is needed. Honoring and prioritizing others is to take our eyes off the mirror and look out the window. We must look to actually see how to love, honor and treat others with respect in a way that is a blessing. Something that I have learned is that if I look for ways to bless, honor and show love to those around me, I end up feeling blessed just knowing that a simple gesture encouraged or lifted another up. Yesterday was a rough Monday. Kids were off, and the pollen was pulsating through my sinus cavity. Thankfully, a long, hilly, sunny dog walk after a less than stellar school day set my heart back in the right space to look outward rather than within. This morning, God has granted fresh resolve, and has again given me the reminder to look for ways to love. It looks different for everyone, yet acts of kindness are always good for morale. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love as He intended, and may we be willing to follow His heart with our every word and deed.

Choose love each other,

Like true family;

With care and kindness,

Protect and seek see.

Look for the spaces,

Depleted or down;

Encourage, extend,

Let kindness be found.

For we are all called,

Sisters and brothers;

To choose to love well,

Care for each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and honor each other like family. Thank You that Jesus showed us what that can look like as He loved, served, helped and gave hope to those who were lacking. Forgive us for the times that we withdraw and cannot see past our own circumstances. Teach us to look up and out, so that we may find ways to bless, encourage and build others up, as we honor each other in love. Lead us to see and act upon spaces that we can bless and encourage those around us. Show us how to love those we encounter throughout our day in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love those around us as family, and to honor each as You do. Amen.

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

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

Freedom Through His 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)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love, that’s how freedom grows. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

God created us with a free will. Our freedom is ours to determine how to use or lose. When we indulge in decisions that are not what God intended, we can become trapped in a pattern and are no longer free. However, when we use our freedom to serve one another in love, we find that our freedom grows, and consequently, our joy multiplies. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us and grow us as we pursue a life of loving Him and loving one another.

We’re called to freedom,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

So let us choose well;

In love, opt to serve,

As His goodness dwells.

He dwells in each heart,

That chooses to ask;

He leads us to serve,

To love with each task.

For it’s only love,

That shows the Lord’s grace;

It sets all things right,

Brings peace to each place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called and created us to live in freedom. Thank You that as we love and serve and honor You, we grow in our understanding of what it is to be free from all that has hindered us in the past. Forgive us for holding onto things we should not. Teach us to release that which does not extend love to You or to those around us. Show us true freedom in You. Lead us to love those around us by serving and honoring each other. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we freely choose to serve one another in love. Amen.

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

For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His Name when you served the saints – and you continue to serve them. – Hebrews 6:10

Unity Through Love

Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say. That there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, HCSB)

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, ERV)

My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, VOICE)

It seems that what we are called to do is the very opposite of what popular culture is trying to instill in us. Everywhere I look, there are calls for division rather than unity. Instead of working to agree on the main things, and agreeing to disagree on lesser things, people are pitted against one another without conversation or seeking to understand. This space of agreeing with one another provides a place for unity. It must start within our households, then our churches, and then expand to communities at large. Our charge and our call is to love God and love one another. If we are earnestly seeking the Lord to lead us to do both, unity will follow. There is no room for hate and dissent if love is what leads. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love so that we might be joined together in common purpose as we love one another.

To live united,

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Is God’s own great plan;

He leads us in love,

Helps us understand.

For where we seek Him,

He will show the way;

To rise together,

United in faith.

For where there is faith,

There too should be love;

United purpose,

From the Lord above.

Turn off the tv,

And choose stop the scroll;

Seek the Lord to love,

As goodness unfolds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan for us is to be united, not divided. Thank You that it is by Your love that we can find common ground and choose to agree to love. Forgive us for the times that we have found ourselves caught up in the dissent. Please redirect our hearts to focus on love. Show us how to be united instead of divided. Lead us to love on purpose with purpose, so that we may become united with those around us. Teach us to love those around us with different views and perspectives in a way that unites us together by choosing to love first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love You and those around us in ways that bring unity.

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

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

Truth in Love Brings Growth

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. – (Ephesians 4:15, HCSB)

No, we will speak the truth with love. We will grow to be like Christ in every way. He is the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, ERV)

Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him – the Anointed One, the head. – (Ephesians 4:15, VOICE)

We are called to speak the truth in love. As we do, we grow more like Jesus. He modeled love in all things, and we have been created to do the same. This growth is a lifelong process, for we are constantly in a battle between acting and reacting in our broken human nature, and responding in love as we are called to do. We must not grow weary in doing good, for it is always worthwhile, and can have a lasting impact that goes far beyond what we might see or understand. There have been countless times in my own life when dear ones have spoken the truth in love to me, and because it was delivered in love, what was said had a lasting positive impact. Such words can change a moment, a day, a week, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. Our intentional decision to choose love has the power to grow not only ourselves, but those around us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in all that we say and do, and give Him room to grow us in the ways He intended from the start.

Speak the truth in love,

For it is our call;

To grow more like Christ,

As we choose love all.

Lord, show us the way,

To love like You do;

Do all things in love,

So Your heart shines through.

Grow us in Your strength,

To do what is right;

As Your love leads us,

To walk in Your light.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to speak the truth in love and to grow more like You as we do. Thank You that this is not something that we do on our own, but rather, as we seek You and listen to Your leading, You show us how and You transform us to more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for every word that we have spoken that was not in truth and love. Show us how to do all things in Your love. Lead us to love those around us with our words and actions so that Your love is clearly shown. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak the truth in love and to grow ever more like You. Amen.

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

Brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good. – 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Encourage and Promote Peace

So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. – (Romans 14:19, HCSB)

So let’s try as hard as we can to do what will bring peace. Let’s do whatever will help each other grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 14:19, ERV)

Join us, and pursue a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters. – (Romans 14:19, VOICE)

This is such a powerful reminder, as we are meant to encourage and build one another up, no matter how we are feeling. It is not about how we feel, but rather about what we are called to do and who we are created to be. To live out this life with purpose, we must be bearers of peace and people who encourage those around us. Yes, there is a time for correction and redirection, but love must be the center of all we do. If someone who has my trust and has clearly established that they are for me and not against me, I am receptive to what they say if I have said or done something that was not aligned with love. It requires courage and intention to live in relationships like this, but our investments in one another are always worthwhile. May we ever pursue the Lord to lead us in living a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters.

May we seek pursue,

A life that gives peace;

Build each other up,

As love does increase.

For we have been made,

To love each other;

Encourage, lift up,

Sisters and brothers.

So, let us choose love,

In all that we do;

Be bearers of peace,

Encourage in truth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring peace and encourage each other. Thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives that do exactly that. Forgive us for the times that we have not brought peace or have not been an encouragement where it was needed. Teach us to rely on You to lead us well. Show us how to bring peace to places where it is absent, and to encourage hearts that need lifting up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading so that we can be bearers of peace and encouragement wherever we go. Amen.

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

Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14

Stand Firm

So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Don’t let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the Lord. You know that your work in the Lord is never wasted. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, ERV)

My dear brothers and sisters, stand firmly planted – be unshakable – do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, VOICE)

We are called to stand firm and be strong in who God has called us to be, and in what He calls us to do. No matter how seen or behind the scenes it is, God will use what we offer in love. Everything matters, from the smallest act of kindness to the greatest sacrifice, all is used for good when the heart behind it is for God. May we ever stay firmly planted in the good that God calls us to do, and trust that He is working, even when we cannot see the evidence of an impact. 

Stand firm in the Lord,

And how He’s made you;

Each heart has purpose,

To show His love’s true.

From the small gestures,

That are done in love;

To great sacrifice,

All show God above.

So, keep reaching out,

Allow love to lead;

Kindness speaks volumes,

As does meeting needs.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called and created us to love. Thank You that we are all uniquely designed with different talents and gifts to share. Thank You that every act of kindness matters. Forgive us for thinking that our choice to love does not matter and for the times that we have neglected to act in love. Teach us to stand firm in You at all times and in every circumstance. Lead us to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand firm in Your love and Your purposes for us. Amen.

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

Be careful. Hold firmly to your faith. Have courage and be strong. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The Message Is Love

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. – (1 John 3:11, HCSB)

This is the teaching you have heard from the beginning: We must love one another. – (1 John 3:11, ERV)

The central truth – the one you have heard since the beginning of your faith – is that we must love one another. – (1 John 3:11, VOICE)

The foundation of our faith is meant to be to love God and love people. If we do these things, everything we say, every action and decision we make, ought to be led by love. This is both our charge and our challenge, as human brokenness and frailty can cloud our vision and divert our hearts from love. This is a lifelong process, yet every day is a new opportunity to seek Him to love well. Each day is a fresh start, with direction and appointments to love others as we are loved by God. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love so that we may love one another as He intended.

God’s own foundation,

For what we’re to do;

To love each other,

With His love that’s true.

If left on our own,

We’d fail terribly;

Yet with the Lord’s grace,

We gain eyes to see.

To see each other,

As the Lord intends;

Brothers and sisters,

Meant to love as friends.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

To love as You do;

Make our hearts like Yours,

So each day love’s new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the foundation of our faith is all about love. Thank You that You first loved us, though we were unworthy. Thank You that You have shown us what we are meant to do, and that You are willing to equip and empower us to love like You. Forgive us for our lack of seeking You when we feel irritated or depleted. Teach us to turn to You in all things and at all times, so that we may see others through Your lens of love. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come to know the goodness of Your love and grace and choose to live a life in pursuit of You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live out Your love throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” – John 13:34

Quick to Listen

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Where Strength Comes From

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. – (Ephesians 6:10, HCSB)

To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and His great power. – (Ephesians 6:10, ERV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. – (Ephesians 6:10, VOICE)

Toward the end of Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus, he reminded them where their strength comes from. The same God that strengthened His people back then, is willing and able to do the same for us today. All that stands before us is nothing compared to He who is in us. This is not to discount the struggles and obstacles we face, but rather to remind us that nothing is too big for God. I don’t know about you, but this whole Covid season has felt like a series of mountains to climb and barriers to navigate. That being said, we are a week and a half away from April! Masks are optional, travel is open, and the whispers that life would not be in Covid mode forever are turning into conversations at a normal voice level. Though I am sure that few of us would ever want to navigate such a season again, each of us has stories to tell of how God provided His strength when we needed it most. He is faithful, and we can trust in Him. May we ever rely on the Lord to be our strength, for He is stronger than anything that we have ever and will ever face.

The Lord is our strength,

We need not let fear;

Take hold of our hearts,

For He’s ever near.

The mountains we face,

Are never too large;

Our God is greater,

If we give Him charge.

Invite Him to take,

His place on the throne;

As Lord of our lives,

In Him, strength is known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your strength is far greater than any struggle or obstacle that we face. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us where we are, and lead us to where we need to go. Thank You that all things are possible with You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when what lies before us seems too much. Teach us to trust in You, for You are greater than anything and everything that lies ahead. Lead us in Your love so that we might love those around us in ways that strengthen and encourage people in places where there is fear and feelings of defeat. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, and trust You even when things seem impossible. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11