Nothing Without Love

If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, HCSB)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even 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 may I have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ERV)

What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, VOICE)

No matter what good we do or say, it is meaningless if love is not our reason. God calls and commands us to love. All words and gestures are lost if love is not the motivation. In order to love in all things, we must be equipped and filled. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a practical application of actions without love. When we become depleted without refreshment, all that we say and do becomes out of obligation rather than motivated by love. Obligation is exhausting. In reality, we all have obligations, yet when we are filled and equipped with love, we are able to fulfill what is required with love and intention rather than frustration. May we begin each day by seeking our Savior so that we may be refreshed, renewed and made ready to love in all things.

Empty are all things,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

If love is not there;

For only with love,

Can we show we care.

May all that we say,

And all that we do;

Be done fueled by love,

So God’s heart shines through.

Help us be people,

After Your own heart;

Lead us in Your love,

As each new day starts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the most excellent way is love. Thank You that You call and equip us to love. Forgive us for the things we have said and done that were not motivated and equipped with Your love. Teach us to rely on You to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to do all things in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You each new day to lead us well so that all that we say and do is done in love. Amen.

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

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Pray for Problematic People

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – (Matthew 5:44, HCSB)

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. – (Matthew 5:44, ERV)

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you. – (Matthew 5:44, CEB)

When Jesus was teaching His disciples on the mountaintop, He gave them specific instructions about how they were to love. Incredibly, Jesus modeled this sort of love in everything that He said and did. Even when He was hanging on the cross, He prayed for God to forgive the ones who put Him there. If Jesus can pray for those who persecuted Him and ultimately put Him to death, we can pray for those who treat us badly, irritate us, mess with us, or just plain annoy us with their behavior. As a middle school teacher, I am provided the opportunity to do this daily. Some students are still struggling to behave in a way that is conducive to teaching and learning. Each day I pray for my students and for the day on my way to school, and most days, I am challenged to love within the first five minutes of my first period class. Though exhausting, and often exasperating, I know that I continue to be called to pray and choose to love. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us to love and pray for those who are the most difficult.

Lord, help us to love,

To seek You and pray;

For strength and courage,

Each and ev’ry day.

Grant us Your wisdom,

The words we need hear;

To love people well,

And trust You are near.

Lead us in Your love,

To pray and to give;

Grace, hope and Your love,

Each day that we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and pray for all people. Thank You that you modeled this perfectly, for You continued to love and pray for those who persecuted You and crucified You. Forgive us for the times that we act as though we are exempt from this command because somehow people’s unkindness justifies us to do the same. Teach us how to love best and give us the words to pray for all who are difficult to love. Lead us each new day to pray and to trust in Your provision for the wisdom and strength to love well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in prayer and trust Your provision to love all. Amen.

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

The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another. – Zechariah 7:9

Teach Us to Love

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, accept one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2, HCSB)

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

With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. – (Ephesians 4:2, TPT)

This is how we are called to love one another. Love is a choice that has to be made again and again. Humility and gentleness take the time to truly listen and seek to understand. Patience propels us to persevere, to accept each other with love, especially those who are more difficult to love. As a middle school teacher, I am provided plenty of opportunities each day to practice doing just this. The kids who act out the worst are typically the ones who need patient and loving acceptance the most. Some days are easier than others, and most days are exhausting. That being said, God does not call us to an easy life, but to one of purpose that is rooted and established in love. May we ever seek the Lord to equip and empower us with His love, so that we may go forth each new day in humility, quiet patience, gentleness and generous love.

Lord, teach us to love,

As You love us all;

Lavished with Your grace,

You hear all who call.

Call on Your goodness,

Seek patience and peace;

Accept each other,

Frustrations released.

Equip us to love,

The challenging ones;

May goodness and grace,

Point hearts to the Son.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to love as You intended. Forgive us for every time that we lose sight of what You are calling us to, and we allow our emotions or frustrations to dictate how we respond to one another. Lead us to seek and depend on You for strength, help and hope as we navigate each new day. Show us how to love as You are calling us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love you and depend on You to show us how to love best. Amen.

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

But when we obey God’s teachings, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in Him. – 1 John 2:5

To Carry and Sustain Us

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – (Isaiah 46:4, NIV)

And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. – (Isaiah 46:4, ERV)

Even as you grow old and your hair turns gray, I’ll keep carrying you! I am your Maker and your Caregiver. I will carry you and be your Savior. – (Isaiah 46:4, TPT)

I don’t think of myself as old, yet white hairs keep peeking through. In this current season, I know my own need to be sustained, and at times, carried. Understanding that God will sustain me, even so, provides hope and endurance when weariness sets in. We have not yet had a full five-day week of school, and already it feels as if we have been back for months. Perhaps it is the masks and extra safety measures, or just the extra energy and excitement of the kids to be back around their friends, but either way, it is exhausting. God is good, and I know that He holds me in His hands. Today, I will continue to trust and rely on Him, and give thanks that we have reached Friday. May we ever hold fast to the promises of God, and trust that He will continue to carry and sustain us through every season as it comes.

God’s promises true,

With each passing year;

His strength and His help,

Remain ever near.

When moving forward,

Is too hard to do;

His love lifts us up,

And carries us through.

Lord, help us recall,

And trust in Your word;

You help forever,

As love’s seen and heard.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You promise to be present to help, strengthen and sustain us throughout our whole life. Thank You that You are good, even when we are weary. Forgive us for our frustrations with what is beyond our control. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and supply, and to carry us when we feel like we cannot continue. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they are strengthened to keep moving forward. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are our strength in all things and at all times. Be glorified O God, as we cling to Your promises of care in our weariness, and praise You for carrying us in our exhaustion. Amen.

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

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20

Dependable in Distress

When I am in distress, I call to You, because You answer me. – (Psalm 86:7, NIV)

I am praying to You in my time of trouble. I know You will answer me. – (Psalm 86:7, ERV)

When times of trouble come, I will call to You because I know You will respond to me. – (Psalm 86:7, VOICE)

I am amazed at the power held in our senses. So often, a particular scent takes me back to childhood memories of people or places that made a lasting impression. After yesterday, I am certain that it works the same for animals. The pups had been adjusting back to being home fairly well, but yesterday, after a package containing the rest of our babies’ items from board and train arrived and was opened, Thor began acting out. I quickly took their belongings down to the laundry room to wash in HOT, but aggressive and out of the ordinary behaviors continued. It was as if Thor was instantly taken back and placed in fight or flight mode. The afternoon was exhausting, and I was so grateful for my husband’s help upon his return home from work. A considerable amount of my time had been spent seated on the floor beside Thor, as he refused to enter his crate.(He normally does so very willingly.) Anguish and anger played ping pong in my heart, as I again and again had to release rage and remorse, and redirect my focus to loving my pup well. After quiet prayers were lifted for peace to return, I had a restless night’s sleep. This morning, as I began our normal routine, Thor seemed more His sweet self, and was terrific company after he ate his breakfast. When it was time to get back in his crate, he did so willingly and easily. God responds when we seek Him and He cares about what matters to us. On my part, the patience and prayers will continue, for I know the Lord will respond. May we ever seek the Savior in our distress, for He responds as we call on Him.

God has created,

Wonderfully made;

All of creation,

He loves and will aid.

The Lord hears our cries,

In love, He responds;

He heals what is hurting,

Restores broken bonds.

God sees and He hears,

Each prayer lifted up;

In love He refills,

The emptiest cup.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can call on You in our times of distress and You hear and respond to our heart’s cry. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us, walk beside us, and lovingly restore brokenness. Forgive us for holding onto hurts, and show us how to continually place all in Your hands. Teach us to love in ways that restore and offer hope where hurts have a hold of hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You in our distress and trust You to respond. Amen.

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

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3

Lead Us In Your Love

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

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

With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward those who may try your patience. – (Ephesian 4:2, TPT)

This verse is a reminder for us all. After so many months of being away from what we have always known as “normal”, patience, gentleness, humility and love are things that only occur when we make an intentional choice to extend them. It can be especially trying when part of the family has upheld some normalcy, as their jobs require their in-person attendance, whereas the twins and I have remained working and going to school from home. As one who has a wanderlust heart and a passion for adventure, this season of always being at home has been exhausting. It takes everything in me to be patient, gentle and loving, as my frustration often gets the better of me. Without God’s grace and loving kindness, none of these traits would ever be evident. I need His grace to fill me anew each day, and even so, there are days that I am depleted and do not demonstrate the love, gentleness and patience that I ought to. Again this morning, I must humbly seek the Lord, and ask for a fresh filling of goodness and grace so that I might see and interact with others as He intended.

Lord, come and fill us,

Renew us again;

Teach us to love well,

Lord, yes and amen.

Show us Your goodness,

Equip us with grace;

Patience and kindness,

Throughout all our days.

Lead us in Your love,

May we humbly give;

Love just as You do,

With grace and forgive.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grow us in patience, humility and love as we earnestly seek You. Thank You that You demonstrate Your patience, grace and love for us each new day. Forgive us for being harsh or unkind toward those around us. Teach us to turn to You to lead and equip us to love like You. Show us how to be humble, patient, loving and accepting of all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to transform our heart into one that loves like Yours. 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, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Immersed in Grace

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. – (Philippians 2:14-15, NIV) 

Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. – (Philippians 2:14-15, MSG) 

Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe. – (Philippians 2:14-15, TPT) 

It seems that this is particularly timely, as there is much grumbling and arguing going on everywhere. With the limitations set in place as we crawl forward in stages of reopening, there is complaining and arguing on both sides. The crazy thing is that everyone is ultimately desiring the same thing; as life in a lockdown of sorts, has grown exhausting. We cannot please all people, all of the time. However, we can live cheerfully, without complaining, to keep division at bay. I don’t know about you, but I would certainly prefer to be thought of as a light or a breath of fresh air, rather than one who bickers and causes division. Yes, there is a time and a place to take a stand, yet there are small, simple things that we can all do to be without blame and bring light and life to those around us. Wear the mask, give people grace, check in on loved ones and the lonely, and be kind and generous in all things. Each of us has the power within us to live as light, as we intentionally seek and follow what God asks of us. In all things, if we are prioritizing loving God and loving people, we cannot help but be cheerful and kind, shining His light before all those around us. No, none of us will get it right all the time, but we can choose to not complain or argue over things that eternally, will not matter. May we ever seek the Lord and His grace, so that we can live as light and grace before all, without grumbling or arguing. 

Choose not to grumble, 

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Argue or complain; 

Instead, love purely, 

Lift high, Jesus’ Name. 

Let words and actions, 

Be immersed in grace; 

Choose love like Jesus, 

Throughout all our days. 

For as we choose love, 

Give grace and refrain; 

We reflect God’s light, 

And honor His Name. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You remind us what it is to love like You. Forgive us for our complaining or arguing over things that have no eternal value. Show us how to be light and a breath of fresh air to all, despite the turmoil and ugliness that transpires all around us. Show us how to love as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to walk blamelessly and lovingly. Amen. 

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

And this brings praise to God because of His wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely. He gave us that grace in Christ, the One He loves. – Ephesians 1:6

Renewed Resolve

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. – (Isaiah 40:31, NIV) 

But those who trust in the Lord will become strong again. They will be like eagles that grow new feathers. They will run and not get weak. They will walk and not get tired. – (Isaiah 40:31, ERV) 

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. – (Isaiah 40:31, MSG) 

We are in the midst of a long and heavy season. Staying home, not spending time with those we love outside of our immediate family, seeking to learn and grow, and trying to determine what is and is not safe and wise, all of these things and more, are exhausting. Thankfully, as we navigate each day as it arrives, we have a Savior who will renew our strength and resolve, and empower us to keep moving forward in faith. Our hope is not in any particular people, but rather it is in Christ alone. He is the One who leads us, loves us and shapes us to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, for He is willing and able to renew our strength and grant us all that we need to keep moving in the direction to which we are called. 

Choose wait on the Lord, 

For He is our strength; 

Ever making new, 

His path we’re to take. 

God’s power and grace, 

Are granted to us; 

As we seek the face, 

of the Lord Jesus. 

So, spread wide our wings, 

And take to the air; 

His grace is enough, 

to love anywhere. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You renew and strengthen us for all that You are calling us into, so that we may keep moving forward. Thank You for Your love and grace that fill where we are lacking. Forgive us for not turning to You for strength in our weariness. Teach us to hope in You. Show us how to love others as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You. Amen. 

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

The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

To Travel With Grace

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – (Luke 2:4-5, NIV)

So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) – (Luke 2:4-5, ERV)

Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. – (Luke 2:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was our travel day from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks to modern inventions, our travel time, including the drive to the airport, parking, taking the shuttle, making our way through security, waiting out our flight delay, and actually arriving to our destination, took a grand total of seven actual hours, but nine with the time change. It is pretty incredible, however, that we were able to travel some 1,350 miles in one day. For Mary and Joseph, their 90-mile trek was all on foot, and perhaps donkey. There were no Quickie Marts or hotels to utilize to recharge and rest along the way, nor was there GPS or any other modern convenience that makes travel far simpler today. Additionally, Mary was very pregnant. I consider how exhausting travel can be with all of the conveniences we have now; but imagine having to travel back then, on foot and donkey, mere days prior to giving birth? As I ponder their trip and think of young Mary, I am in awe of her faithfulness and trust in God. Her role in Jesus’ story is not one for the faint of heart. She was present for each joy and heartache, and watched in awe and wonder as our Savior grew, and ultimately sacrificed all so that we might have life everlasting in Him. Perhaps as the season marches on, and we begin to feel the weariness of travel and preparations and our own set of expectations, may we take pause and reflect on the reason for the season, and give thanks to God for the perseverance and faithful obedience modeled for us as Jesus made His human entry into the world. Let us not stop there, for He did not remain a tiny baby in a manger, but He grew into a man, took all our sin upon Himself on the cross, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ever loving us and moving on our behalf.

 

To travel with grace, To Travel With Grace

Both far and quite near;

Takes a choice of trust,

Setting aside fear.

Fear of the unknown,

What will or won’t be;

God’s always faithful,

His love won’t retreat.

He walks beside us,

Ahead, makes a way;

Guides and protects us,

Our hope to display.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your traveling mercies, as You go before us, walk beside us, and remain with us, each step of our journey. Forgive us for the times that we doubt Your nearness, as things seem more challenging than they ought to be. Thank You that You use every challenge to grow us stronger in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring every fear and doubt to You from the start. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may know the power of Your presence as we press forward along the path to which we are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and rely on You for all. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

Do Not Grow Tired of Doing Good

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, NIV) 

We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, ERV) 

And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. – (Galatians 6:9, TLB) 

 

There is a reason that we are charged to not become weary or grow tired of doing what is good and right – because at times, it is exhausting. Sometimes, it requires every ounce of resolve within us, to continue on and do what we know is right, especially when those around us are not. Often, it is a matter of one or two, sticking to what they know is right and true, in order for others to follow. Before long, there is a blessing in knowing the right choice has been made, and that perseverance has been empowered by God. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength, so that we do not grow tired of doing what is right. 

As for mom, she is blessed in her persistence with therapies. Though weary by late afternoon when I call, mom is pleased with the new exercises and challenges that the therapists are presenting for her, as she knows that this is the way to positive progress forward. May she persist in the good work she is doing, and see the harvest of blessings in the season to come. 

 

O Lord, help us stay, Weighing the Why

Persistent in good; 

Choosing to live well, 

And do as we should. 

The “should” not set forth, 

By mere human heart; 

But ordained by God, 

To set us apart. 

Apart for His hands, 

To love and to serve; 

To do good, be blessed, 

Such love undeserved. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love like You. While we were yet sinners, You loved us to life. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do good. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will not grow weary in doing good. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses, encourages and builds up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek You to be our strength to persist so we may continue to do good according to You will. Amen. 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. – Psalm 37:5-6