To Cultivate Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, HCSB)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. – (Galatians 5:22-23, VOICE)

As we nourish our spirits with the goodness of God’s word and spend time seeking Him to teach us and grow us, He cultivates this sort of fruit within us. We discover love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faith and gentleness, and our self-control rises up. Though people decide they are opposed to following Christ, I have never met anyone who was opposed to being on the receiving end of the fruit that Christ within us produces. Perhaps the opposition that people feel stems from those who claim to follow Christ, yet do not spend time with Him and give God room to transform them more into His likeness. If none of the Spirit’s fruit is evident, then the soil of the heart is parched and unable to produce the good fruit. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for it is through our time with Him, that the soil of our heart is nourished and good fruit is produced to share with those around us.

Lord, help us seek You,

With ev’ry new day;

And grow within us,

Fruit that shows Your way.

Water and nourish,

The soil of our hearts;

As You produce fruit,

Your ways You impart.

Let Your love and joy,

Peace and patience too;

Kindness and goodness,

And faith that is true.

May Your gentleness,

And great self-control;

Show others Your heart,

As You we extol.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the fruit of Your Spirit is not something that we have to try to grow on our own, but rather is something that You plant within us and cultivate as we continue to come before You to listen and learn. Forgive us for thinking that we can just try to be better and do better, and that somehow, the fruit of Your Spirit will rise up within us. Show us what it is to give You our whole heart so that You can transform us into who You created us to become. Lead us to love as You do, in ways that make Your fruit evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to continue to grow Your fruit well within us, so that we can extend Your nourishment to those around us. Amen.

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

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. – Romans 14:19

Each A Part

For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also in Christ. – (1 Corinthians 12:12, HCSB)

A person has only one body, but it has many parts. Yes, there are many parts, but all those parts are still just one body. Christ is like that too. – (1 Corinthians 12:12, ERV)

Just as a body is one whole made up of many different parts, and all the different parts comprise the one body, so it is with the Anointed One. – (1 Corinthians 12:12, VOICE)

People in a community are created with the same intention as the parts of the body. Each one of us has been created with a unique purpose, passions and strengths. When we come together, we can accomplish far more than we can on our own; we need each other to function in a way that is whole and complete. Though some strengths are seen and obvious, others are behind the scenes, each helps contribute to keeping the body running. When I consider the different communities to which I belong, this truth is evident. Since my current reality is school, it is an easy comparison to this passage. It takes every staff member to make each day run smoothly, and each of us contribute differently. Additionally, because we have different strengths, talents, personalities and the like, we are able to reach different kids. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to do our part and operate in the strengths He has given, and work together with those around us to contribute to the whole group, functioning as we were intended. 

We all are a part,

Of a greater whole;

Made to contribute,

To each fill a role.

Working together,

Our strengths are made known;

Each with a purpose,

Where goodness is shown.

Lead us together,

In kindness and grace;

To work together,

Build a safe, sweet space.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You create each of us with purpose and strengths that make a community complete. Thank You that each person is needed to function as the group was intended. Forgive us for the times that we have stood back or stayed stuck when we were meant to press on. Teach us to trust You more so that we would work together in the communities to which we have been called. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the ways in which we all have been uniquely designed and how You place us together in communities. Amen.

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

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keep(ing) the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

– Ephesians 4:2-3

Simple to Love

This is what I command you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, HCSB)

This is My command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, ERV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

Each year, the more I experience life, the more I recognize how critical it is for us to prioritize following God’s greatest commands: to love God and love one another. If what we do and say is fueled by His love, we are making a positive impact on the world, no matter how small. It is amazing how this lens changes our approach in what we say and do. In fact, it truly changes our perspective on everything. One example that is a part of my everyday routine is to take our dogs on long walks. Each morning I anticipate how God might use me (and them) to love others well. Incredibly, there is some sort of interaction or exchange with others along our route every time we go out. Sometimes, it is simply a warm smile and friendly hello, yet other times it is a sweet stop to chat with another and extend kindness. On our route, as we near home, there is an older gentleman in a wheelchair. What began as simply smiling and waving, has turned into a stop each time Michael is outside, so that we can check in and he can give pets to the pups. Michael is forty years and ten days my senior, and sits outside working on Suduko puzzles and gladly greets us with a warm smile and gratitude. It amazes me how God can take something so ordinary that we already do, and use it as an opportunity to show His love to those we encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us as we go, and may His love be made evident through our every word and deed. 

We are commanded,

To love each other;

As mothers, fathers,

Sisters and brothers.

Wherever we go,

Whatever we do;

Our God is able,

To show His love true.

It is quite simple,

To choose to give love;

A smile and kind word,

Show hope from above.

May we make the choice,

To love each other;

In the little things,

It’s worth the bother.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love each other. Thank You that love looks different to everyone. Thank You that You can use a smile, a kind word, a friendly wave – all to be expressions of the goodness of Your love. Forgive us for the missed opportunities to love when we have been in a hurry, distracted, or “not in the mood.” Show us how to love in the little things, for it is the little things that lead to the enormity of how good and loving You are. Lead us to love those around us in ways that speak directly to the heart so that the recipient will feel and know how good You truly are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You as we choose to love each other well. Amen.

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

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Slow Down and Celebrate

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)

Despite the turmoil that seems to be constantly swirling in our nation, the goodness of God is still evident all around us. No matter what we see or hear going on around us, we can take refuge in the Lord, for His love remains the same forever. For me, as I pause and take inventory of God’s goodness, gratitude rises for the family and friends whom He surrounds me with, and for the grace and kindness He provides, no matter the circumstances that we walk through. He is near and always good, and we can depend on Him to be our space of safety and peace. May we take time to reflect and recognize God’s goodness all around us, and choose to trust and run to Him.

Look all around you,

image by Soda Head

Choose taste and you’ll see;

The goodness of God,

His love’s given free.

Our safe place to run,

His arms full of love;

Safety, provision,

All good from above.

So, trust in the Lord,

Give all thanks to Him;

Celebrate the good,

That He’s placed within.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to slow down and celebrate Your goodness, as we gather and enjoy the communities in which we’ve been placed. Thank You that You provide Your love and faithfulness wherever we go. Forgive us for not noticing the blessings that You have placed all around us. Teach us to observe Your goodness and love all around us. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we slow down to taste and see how very good You are. Amen.

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

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

In Freedom Choose 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)

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. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

God has given each of us a free will. His intention has always been for us to be free to choose. The love of God draws us unto Him, yet we always have a choice as to whether to accept or reject it. When we follow our own path with little care or concern for others, we are gratifying the flesh and not choosing love. However, when we seek the Lord to lead us in His love, we are opting to walk in His way and using our freedom to love as Jesus loved. Incredibly, as we select a life that follows after Him, we become free from the weight of being stuck in our own selfishness, and discover the joy that awaits as we choose to walk the path that He prepares for us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us, as we freely choose to love and serve one another as we are called to do.

Brothers and sisters,

We all have been called;

In freedom to choose,

To love one and all.

For as we choose love,

Selfishness will fade;

True freedom and joy,

Are found in His ways.

So, let us look up,

Select the Lord’s best;

Love one another,

As grace is expressed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us each with a free will. Thank You that with our freedom, we can choose to follow after You and select a life of loving as You first loved us. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to stay stuck in our sinful patterns instead of choosing to follow after You. Teach us to freely choose to love and serve one another, for in doing so, we come to know the joy that is found in opting to utilize our freedom for good. Show us how to love and serve those around us in ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve with the freedom that we are granted in You. 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

Look Up and See

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. – (Psalm 19:1, HCSB)

The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what His hands have made. – (Psalm 19:1, ERV)

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. – (Psalm 19:1, MSG)

This weekend, my love and I are camping. We did not travel far from home, yet far enough to feel as if we were somewhere else. The amazing thing about the short drive from home, is that yesterday as we were leaving, the skies were gray and it was sprinkling. When we drove across the bridge, the skies opened up and there was far more blue sky than gray. The sun was shining and I had to dig my sunglasses out of my purse. I love that the same God who created the clouds that provide water to the soil, painted the sky a brilliant blue, and His creativity is displayed uniquely each morning and evening as the sun rises and sets. Camping provides the opportunity to be outdoors more, and for me, there is nothing better than being outside and taking in the beauty of creation. May we all find time to observe all of the beauty that God’s hands have made, and take notice of the intricate details that He so lovingly included in creation.

The glory of God,

Ever evident;

Through just looking up,

Become reverent.

Beauty all around,

For us to enjoy;

Bountiful color,

That nature employs.

To You, we give thanks,

Where all praise is due;

Beauty created,

That shows Your heart true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is evidence of Your creation everywhere. Thank You that we need only look up to see Your hand tangibly at work. Forgive us for somehow making You less than You are. Teach us to trust in You, the One who holds us all in the hollow of Your hand. Lead us to notice the beauty all around us, and show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the beauty all around us and time to get outside and enjoy it. Amen.

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

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

Justified and Redeemed

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

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)

You see, all have sinned and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 3:23-24, VOICE)

Because of the events of this most Holy Week, we all have access to forgiveness, grace, and redemption from our sin. On our own, we cannot live right every moment of every day. However, when we seek and accept the grace that God has freely given through Jesus, we are made clean and holy before God – not because of anything that we have or have not done, but because He who knew no sin dwells within us and has already paid the price that our sins deserve. Through Him, we are considered right before God and have a future and a hope in Him. This is why we celebrate Easter, and why we ought to pause and remember with gratitude, the ultimate sacrifice that we made on our behalf so that we might know life with God forever.

The purpose of Easter,

Much more than the cross;

His redemption for all,

He has paid the cost.

Much more than suffering,

For death could not keep;

Jesus, the Messiah,

In eternal sleep.

It is through the rising,

That our hope was found;

Nothing could defeat Him,

His power abounds.

And more than the rising,

Return to His throne;

Seated up in heaven,

His goodness made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son so that we might come to know forgiveness and grace that His sacrifice provides. Thank You that there is nothing that we can do to earn our way into Your glory, but rather it is a matter of us receiving what You freely offer through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to recognize the depth of Your love that sacrificed all. Teach us to live in awe and gratitude throughout all of our days. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart is made evident to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank and praise You for all that You have done and continue to do to demonstrate just how great Your love is for all. Amen.

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

Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. – Acts 2:33

Hope That Will Not Disappoint

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5:5, HCSB)

And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit He gave us. – (Romans 5:5, ERV)

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. – (Romans 5:5, VOICE)

The hope of God is what we have to hold onto. Over the past few months, I have learned of several friends from my formative years who have had difficult diagnoses that require lengthy treatment and follow ups. Each has some sort of cancer that has necessitated surgery and chemotherapy in the many months to come. Incredibly, each of these precious people have a strong faith that includes hope in He who is our Healer. Looking at the clouds and ocean this morning, the image I captured seems to provide a visual of what is going on. If you look only at the horizon, a storm is evident and the rain in the distance appears to be coming down. However, if you look up, the light is glowing above, around and from behind the clouds. To me, this is the perfect picture of hope. We traverse life’s storms, yet what is above us, behind us and surrounding us is full of life and light and hope. God is good, even in the midst of the awful, and is present to help and uphold us. May we ever turn to the Lord and trust in Him, for He will never fail to satisfy our deepest need as He overwhelms us with His love.

O Lord hold our heart,

When storms come our way;

Flood us with Your love,

True hope that will stay.

Provide what’s needed,

For those in the fight;

Strengthen, surround them,

With Your loving light.

Grace in the process,

As You hold us up;

Love overflowing,

As You fill our cup.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that hope in You never disappoints, for Your love is poured out to fill us, surround us, and hold us up in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for our fears when we see and hear diagnoses that seem discouraging. Thank You that You are bigger than anything and everything that comes against us. Please hold each of these dear ones in the hollow of Your hands, and bring miraculous healing as only You can. Strengthen and encourage each with the power of Your great love. Show us how to love those in the fight well, and practical ways to encourage and lift up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they witness the power of Your great love and care for all. Be glorified O God, as we trust and hope in You, even when storms rage around us. Amen. 

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

Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Tangible Love for the Common Good

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. – (Hebrews 13:16, HCSB)

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)

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship – a different kind of “sacrifice” – that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets. – (Hebrews 13:16, MSG)

God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He supplies us with all that we need. Our purpose is to love God and love people. To truly love requires actions, not mere words. His love and care for us is made evident when we see, feel and understand how He cares for the smallest details in our lives. A thoughtful gesture, a kind word, a helping hand – all provide evidence of God’s goodness made tangible. So many times God uses people to demonstrate the abundance of His goodness and love for us. I cannot even count the times that I have been blessed, encouraged or built up through the loving kindness of others in exactly the way that I needed. God’s hand and heart were evident, and His love for me, overwhelming. Each one of us has the opportunity to demonstrate His love every day. When we choose to be led by His love, we see spaces that need light and life and love and are able to reach out and do something tangible for another. May we seek the Lord in prayer and listen to His leading, so that we may be His ambassadors of love throughout each new day.

Let us not neglect,

To love and do good;

To choose be aware,

How love’s understood.

For it is not words,

That show love alone;

But rather actions,

That make His love known.

Encouraging words,

A tangible touch;

A need that is met,

Truly means so much.

Lord, show us the needs,

Where we can reach out;

So we might love well,

Show what love’s about.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give abundantly in love. Forgive us for the times that we have taken anything for granted and have neglected to work for the common good. Teach us to look for opportunities to bless and give and love well. Show us how to love each person that we encounter, whether it is through meeting a need, giving a helping hand, or extending words of encouragement that are intentional and specific. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to offer worship unto You through the things we do in love. Amen.

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

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – Ephesians 4:2

Release the Wrongs

“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)

“Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge against any of your people. Instead, love your neighbor as you love yourself, for I am the Eternal One.” – (Leviticus 19:18, VOICE)

Holding a grudge is bearing a weight that we are not meant to carry, and revenge is stooping to the level of the offender. Our peace comes when we choose to let go and love rather than hold onto offenses. I know this is more easily said than done, yet it is worthwhile to seek the Lord and His strength to do exactly this. That being said, it does not mean that we are to stay in toxic or abusive relationships or situations, but we are to release the need for revenge and holding the hurt. In the same ways that we would want to be forgiven, we ought to also forgive. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love and to release that which is not our weight to carry.

Release all the wrongs,

That are done to you;

Forgive and choose love,

As we’re called to do.

For bearing a grudge,

Or seeking revenge;

Puts us in the wrong,

Without love to lend.

O Lord please help us,

Place hurts in Your hands;

And flood us with love,

To walk out Your plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to not hold grudges or seek revenge. Thank You that as we seek You, You grant us the strength to release all into Your hands. Forgive us for the grudges we have held or the revenge we have sought. Teach us to choose love every time. Show us how to love those around us, especially those who have brought hurt or harm. May Your love be evident and many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love like You and release what is not ours to hold. Amen.

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

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – Psalm 68:19