Familial Friends

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – (Romans 12:10, NIV)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give to 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)

It is a gift to find friends that become family. This transpires when those with whom one keeps company love and honor each other with intention. To put others first, requires a determination to listen, love and care for them like family. We are beyond blessed to have friends that have become family to us. After four days of a wonderful getaway together, I am all the more grateful for our framily. (Friends who have become family) There is a mutual love and appreciation for one another that creates safe space and freedom to be oneself. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to be devoted to one another in love, and show us how to put others first in the way that He intended.

Choose be devoted,

In love and in grace;

Honor each other,

In every way.

With love, choose listen,

Let each heart be heard;

Notice the actions,

Love with more than words.

Each heart is a gift,

Sisters and brothers;

To learn, love and grow,

Purpose together.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of friends who become family. Thank You for real life examples of what it is to love and honor each other as You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do so. Teach us to view others through Your lens of love so that we may love and honor others like You. Show us how to love in such a way that those around us see Your heart and know their worth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love those You have brought into our lives as family. Amen.

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

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

Trust Over Fear

In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – (Psalm 56:4, NIV)

I trust God, so I am not afraid of what people can do to me! I praise God for His promise to me. – (Psalm 56:4, ERV)

In God – whose word I praise – in God I place my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me? – (Psalm 56:4, VOICE)

As we enjoy the blessing of a bonus long weekend, my heart cannot help but give gratitude for the brave men and women who served our country with a trust like this. This weekend, may we remember those who stood firm in the face of fear, knowing that they had a purpose to protect their friends, family and the nation they loved and paid the ultimate price. Though people can take a life on earth, they cannot deter the eternal destination of those who trust in God. Our time here is but the blink of an eye in comparison to forever. May we truly place our trust in God, and not allow fear to overwhelm us. For God has promised to be present and is preparing a place for all who trust in Him. 

May we ever choose trust,

In God, whom we praise;

For He’s always faithful,

Forever; always.

Help us not permit fear,

To stand in our way;

Please grant us Your courage,

To do as You say.

Help us to choose honor,

Those whom have served well;

Paid the ultimate price,

Before their time, fell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You showed us what it is to sacrifice for others. Thank You for the men and women who have sacrificed and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Forgive us for allowing any to be forgotten, for You love all with a love that laid down Your life in our place. Teach us to trust in You and be not afraid, for You are with us, always. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that they come to know the faithfulness found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and fend off fear, knowing You are with us always. Help us to remember and honor all who sacrificed so that we might be free. Amen.

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

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1

He Suffered for Our Sake

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. – (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

But He was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of His pain. – (Isaiah 53:5, ERV)

But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries He suffered became our healing. – (Isaiah 53:5, VOICE)

As I continue to fix my heart and mind on the significance of Easter, my study this morning landed me in Isaiah 53. Isaiah was written long before the birth of Jesus, so it is a prophetic foretelling of what was yet to come. Jesus was indeed pierced for our transgressions, taking on the guilt and punishment that was deserved, so that we might know healing, wholeness and peace. His suffering on Friday brought us to the freedom that arrived on Sunday with an empty tomb. The very One who bore the weight of the world, overcame death in order to bring us new life. It is mind-blowing to think of anyone taking the punishment we deserve for our wrongdoing, and even more baffling to consider He who took ALL for EVERYONE. I know as a parent, I would gladly take pain in the place of my children. However, I am flawed and I fail; Jesus, who knew no sin, had done no wrong, endured the guilt and suffering for all that we have ever done, are doing, and will ever do, so that we have the opportunity and freedom to decide to follow after God and be in a right relationship with Him. Jesus made the way for all. In God’s eyes, every sin is a sin, and we all fall short. I cannot imagine what life would be like if we did not have the Savior to seek in our shortcomings, suffering and struggle. May we ever give glory to God, who sent His Only Son, and all praise to Jesus, who bore all on our behalf so that we would know God’s goodness and love.

Love chose be broken,

For once and for all;

Suffering Savior,

Love tore down the wall.

The wall between us,

Kept apart by sin;

His love brought new life,

Our only way in.

Into His goodness,

Overwhelmed by grace;

Hope that’s eternal,

O Ancient of Days.

Let us give glory,

Where glory is due;

All thanks for new life,

Through that empty tomb.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored in relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for bearing the weight of my sin upon Yourself so that I might know abundant life in You. Forgive us for allowing this holy week to come and go without pondering and pursuing a deeper understanding of all that You did to bring us into Your kingdom. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to love those around us intentionally and with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the magnitude of Your sacrifice and suffering that brought us new life in You. Amen.

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

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9

The Blessing of Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, NIV)

But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, ERV)

But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, TPT)

Confessing our sins is meant to be freeing and cleansing. Too often, we get caught up in presenting our laundry list of requests before God, and perhaps praising Him for who He is, but neglect the part of pausing to reflect on places where our thoughts, words or deeds were not pleasing to the Lord. This is not meant to be a space of shame, but rather of recognition of our wrongs and an active, intentional awareness of how we can do and be better, not in our own strength, but with the forgiveness and freedom that our Heavenly Father brings as we ask.  Incredibly, as we ask, He answers. God is faithful to forgive each time we ask, but it is our responsibility to request that He show us where we have fallen short. We all do, as we are all a work in progress. I am so thankful that though there is a long way to go, I am closer than I was before. May we ever come before Christ and confess our sins, for it is in this space that we are set free from the shame and guilt, and turned back to the One who leads us in the ways that He intended.     

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will show us our sin so that we may confess and be cleansed. Thank You that You receive us, cleanse us, and point us on the path that follows after You. Please forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented Your heart well. Teach us to keep short accounts with You so that we may do and be better. Show us how to love with mercy and grace, granting glimpses of Your heart to all who come our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confess our sin before You and follow Your leading to love as we were created to do. Amen.

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

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

Let Faith Remain Strong

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. – (James 1:12, NIV)

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. – (James 1:12, MSG)

If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God! – (James 1:12, TPT)

Life is full of trials, challenges and difficulties. We can either persevere and place our faith in Christ, or we can fold under the weight the world wields our way. God is faithful as we trust in Him. Our experiences during the struggles help our hearts recognize the beautiful blessings that He has for us as we remain in Him. Not only do we have hope for eternity, but we have hope for the here and now. No matter what lies before us, Christ has promised to be with us, if only we choose to let Him in. Some of my greatest blessings have come after struggling and trusting God through my darkest days. I would not recognize the true joys I have been given, if it were not for the times where He walked beside me in the difficult and painful. We are blessed as we persevere. May we ever seek the Lord in faith, trusting that He is who He says He is, and will do what He promises He will do. 

Blessed are the ones,

Who choose persevere;

Through trials they face,

Trusting God is near.

Ever He’s present,

To give strength and peace;

We must keep trusting,

For He holds the keys.

Keys to our freedom,

The doors to all grace;

Life in abundance,

As we seek His face.

Allow His love in,

No matter what comes;

His promises stand,

‘Til our time is done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are blessed as we persevere through trials trusting in You. Thank You that You are faithful to Your promises, for You grant us help and hope every day that we draw breath. Forgive us for the times that we have lost sight of the truth of who You are and how You love. Teach us to turn in trust to You through all times. Show us how to love, support and encourage all those around us, in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You through the trials and praise You for Your presence and blessings that lie before us each new day. Amen.

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

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13

To Treasure What Matters Most

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – (Luke 12:34, NIV)

“Your heart will be where your treasure is.” – (Luke 12:34, ERV)

“Where you deposit your treasure, that is where your thoughts will turn to – and your heart will long to be there also.” – (Luke 12:34, TPT)

If we focus on loving God and loving people, our treasure will be found in doing just that. Our treasure is our time, talent and resources. When we invest what we have and who we are into that which God is calling us to, our lives become fully invested. This can be a tricky road to navigate, for when we truly look around and open our eyes and hearts, the need can become overwhelming. God does not ask us to solve the world’s woes alone. Rather, He calls us to love one person at a time, as our paths cross. If we treasure our time and remember that others are a gift from Him, we end up loving God and those around us as He intended. 

Currently, many of us are in a season of great loss; loss of loved ones, loss of security, loss of normalcy, and more. In the last two days of conferencing, I have met with a grieving family, and heard devastating news of another family’s loss, whose daughter I had in class. Additionally, a very dear family friend is in his final hours. My heart grieves for each family, and I am reminded of how fleeting life can be. As we recognize that our days are limited, we are reminded who holds each day in His hands. When all that I am begins the day seeking God, I am better equipped to remember the gift that each day holds in Him and in time with those whom He has given me. May we ever treasure what matters most, and seek to love as we are loved by God.

May our hearts treasure,

That which matters most;

God and all people,

As we keep each close.

Each near in our hearts,

Let us lift and pray;

Value each other,

And love in God’s way.

For God so loves us,

That to us, He gave;

Love, light and freedom,

Grace to walk His way.

Lord, help us to bring,

Each prayer and concern;

Teach us to love well,

As we grow and learn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our greatest treasures are found in You and those whom You place in our lives. Thank You that You show us and grow us so that we may love like You. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to hoard the treasure You intended for others. Show us how and where to invest our time, talent and resources. Help us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize where true hope is found. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to treasure what matters most. Amen.

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

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21

Doing Right Silences Foolishness

For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. – (1 Peter 2:15-16, RSV)

For it is God’s will for you to silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing what is right. As God’s loving servants, you should live in complete freedom, but never use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. – (1 Peter 2:15-16, TPT)

You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God’s servants. – (1 Peter 2:15-16, VOICE)

The old adage, “actions speak louder than words” holds true, and is affirmed in this passage. When we live right and pursue a life of following God’s will, foolishness is silenced, and love wins. As followers of Christ, we are called to freely choose to live and love like Christ. Jesus modeled what it is to love deeply, and His ongoing example is what silenced the scoffers and nay-sayers of the times. He did not repay evil for evil, but rather extended mercy and grace and made love and light visible for all who were near. We have the freedom to choose how to live. It is up to us to choose well. Our charge is to live in the light, which eliminates darkness and illuminates love. May we ever seek to serve and honor God with our every word and deed, and may foolish ignorance be silenced as love and grace are granted to all.

By doing what’s right,

And walking in grace;

Ugly ignorance,

By love is replaced.

Though we all are free,

May we wisely choose;

To serve only God,

Let Him shape our views.

It’s only through love,

And choosing to serve;

That others see Christ,

Goodness is preserved.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that living and loving freely in Your goodness and grace is what demonstrates the good that comes from seeking Your face. Forgive us for using our freedom of choice to misrepresent or be destructive with voice. Teach us to follow after You and Your heart for others in everything we do. Show us how to love those around us with all that we do as we seek after You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to do what is right and love with our every word and deed. Amen.

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

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – 1 John 3:18

Faithful to Finish

The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. – (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NIV) 

The One who calls you by name is trustworthy and will thoroughly complete His work in you. – (1 Thessalonians 5:24, TPT) 

For the God who calls you is faithful, and He can be trusted to make it so. – (1 Thessalonians 5:24, VOICE) 

God is faithful to His promises. What He calls us to, He sees us through. Often, the things that God calls us to do are far too difficult, or beyond our scope of capability. When God is with us and for us, the seemingly impossible becomes possible. He can do far more than we could ever ask or imagine when we trust in Him. A perfect example of this is the road my mom has been navigating for nearly the last year and a half. After a stroke that initially stole control of the entire right side of her body and her independence, mom is now back in her own home, able to do far more than she thought possible, only a year ago. God has faithfully provided all that is needed to make this a reality. He orchestrated the right people and circumstances for such a time as this. Mom has wonderful help each day to assist with the things that are too difficult with a stubborn right arm, and the freedom, confidence, strength and independence to do all that she is able on her own. I still believe that He is not finished either. God has even more in store for mom than she could hope or imagine. The healing she is walking in (literally and figuratively) now, is but a glimpse of all that He will still do. She has been called to things that He created her to do, and He is faithful to see her through. I eagerly watch in anticipation for all that lies ahead. May we ever trust in God to finish all He began, for He is faithful and worthy of our trust. 

For each one of us, 

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography.

Has been called by name; 

Created, chosen, 

And loved, all the same. 

To what we are called, 

God is faithful, true; 

Strengthened and equipped, 

To love and to do. 

Help us to trust You, 

Despite what we see; 

You, God, are able, 

To lift up, set free. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and for Your faithfulness forever. Thank You that what You call us to do, You see us through, as You are faithful to fulfill what You promise. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when the road ahead seems impossible. Teach us to trust You more, for You are the God who makes all things possible in You. Show us how to love, encourage, support and lift up all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be faithful to finish all that You have begun and called us to do. Amen. 

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

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. – Psalm 33:4

Quick to Listen

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV) 

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

Post this at all intersections, dear friends: lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG) 

On this Memorial Day, it is a great reminder of how to operate in love, as we remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Because they gave, we are able to express our opinions, worship as we choose, and select whatever path we choose to walk. However, if we love God, and want to love people as we are called to love, this verse is a great reminder of how to go about communicating with those around us. Listening first, rather than spewing opinions or instantly judging others, is how we are called to live. There is righteous anger, but it should be in control and utilized with wisdom and grace, not acted upon in haste or revenge. Patient pursuit of understanding is far more productive than angry exchanges of insults. Through listening, we can discover common ground, and recognize the value in one another, rather than grow angry at a seeming “sacred belief” that seems to differ. Our current political climate seems to dictate ugly banter rather than patient listening and well thought out conversations. Honestly, there are very few people with whom I will even discuss anything even remotely political, as it seems far too risky, as I value friendships far more than topical discussions. However, when something is blatantly wrong, and unjust, that is where righteous anger takes a stand and acts wisely, in a manner that seeks to bring change.  Love is patient and love is kind, and as we choose to love this way, good grows and communities flourish. May we ever seek to listen to each other; being slow to speak and slow to anger, so that peace may reign and love may abound. 

May we seek listen, 

And ever be wise; 

Slow to choose to speak, 

Grace uncompromised. 

Be slow to anger, 

And when anger reigns; 

Use it to bring change, 

Rather than disdain. 

Brothers and sisters,  

May we ever choose; 

To love at all times, 

So goodness is proved. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to lay down one’s life as a sacrifice. Thank You for all those who have laid down their lives for us to enjoy the freedom we know and love as a nation. Forgive us for the times that we have not listened in love first, and have spoken in haste or been quick to grow angry. Teach us to listen in love; being slow to speak and slow to anger. Lead us to love others as You so generously and graciously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your incredible love and seek You to love the same way. Amen. 

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

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Free to Serve in Love

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NLT) 

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 operation 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) 

Freedom is an interesting topic right now, as our nation prides itself on being “the land of the free”. Rather than answers, this can lead to questions, as many feel as if their freedom is being taken. The catch here is to what extent do we exercise our “right” to freedom? Is our intent self-indulgent, or is it to serve one another in love? In Christ, we are free no matter what our circumstances. Our freedom is in knowing that our sin is forgiven and we have a hope and a future forever in Him. With that in mind, the desires of the heart begin to shift and become more otherly; desiring to love and serve others well, rather than simply satisfy the temporary cravings of our flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be able to travel and go out, visit friends and go to church, and go and see my mom – without restrictions or reservations. However, love requires this waiting season. Yes, if I really wanted to do any of those things, I am sure there would be a way to do so, but would it be serving others in love, or simply serving my own desires, without considering the consequences for others? I need God’s wisdom to exercise the freedom He has given, so that I might express love for others in all that I do. This is a lifelong process of learning and growing in how to walk out our freedom in Christ well. There is no “arrival”, as we all have an ongoing battle with our human desires, yet we can ever become more of whom we have been designed to be, as we choose to use our freedom to sincerely love and generously serve others. May we not take our freedom in Christ for granted; instead, let us set aside our self-indulgent desires and go forth, seeking to serve one another in love. 

Brothers and sisters, 

We’re all called to be; 

Invested in Christ, 

So we might live free. 

Free in forgiveness, 

Empowered by grace; 

Called to serve others, 

Make love commonplace. 

Choose to set aside, 

Our old selfish ways; 

Love as Christ loves us, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for setting us free in Your limitless love. Thank You that by Your grace, we can freely love and serve as we have been designed to do. Forgive us for our selfishness, that keeps us from loving and serving as You have designed us to do. Teach us to exercise our freedom in You to bless others. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve freely in You. Amen. 

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

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. – Ephesians 1:16