United Together

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

Oh how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people come together as one! – (Psalm 133:1, ERV)

How truly wonderful and delightful it is to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! – (Psalm 133:1, TPT)

There is nothing quite so sweet as when a group of people lives, works, and goes about their days in unity. Unity does not mean that all see eye-to-eye on all things, but rather that there is mutual respect and appreciation, as all are aiming for a similar goal. If we love, respect and prefer one another, unity naturally follows. God was intentional in how we were each designed. We each have strengths and purposes that contribute to the whole when we exist in community. May we ever pursue peace as we navigate each new day with the intent to love well, so that we may walk in unity with those whom God has placed around us.

United in peace,

Surrounded in love;

God grant us the grace,

To walk well with love.

For we were designed,

To live side by side;

Shoulder to shoulder,

With God as our guide.

He shows us the way,

To live and love best;

Care for each other,

Give grace and find rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us for community. Thank You that You show us how to live and love in a way that brings unity. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought to see others through Your eyes. Teach us to turn to You first, so that we may gain perspective and capacity to listen and love. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may feel included and valued in the community. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to live and love in a way that unites and brings peace. Amen.

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

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3

Blessings of Grace

Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – (John 1:16, NIV)

Yes, the Word was full of grace and truth, and from Him we all received one blessing after another. – (John 1:16, ERV)

And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace! – (John 1:16, TPT)

Grace is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. (dictionary.com) Though we do not deserve it, God freely gives. In the same way that we are given such lavish grace, we are called to do likewise. The more we understand the grace upon grace that we have been given, the more we desire to give the same to those around us. Puppy training is an ongoing saga in our household. We have one extraordinarily intelligent and mischievous pup, and one that is super sweet, yet reactive to other dogs. Much grace is required to remain sane, as we work to train our fur babies to behave and peacefully coexist. When I take pause and think of the lavish grace that God has given and continues to give to me, I find that I am better equipped to be gracious to others. This holds true with the pups and with other humans, as each new day requires much grace. Though there is only One who perfected such grace, we can improve every day as we seek Him. May we ever look to the Lord, our incredible giver of grace, so that we too, may extend grace upon grace to those around us.

It’s freely given,

God’s great gift of grace;

Undeserved favor,

And welcome embrace.

Just as we receive,

We also should give;

Extending goodness,

Each day that we live.

Love that’s undeserved,

Is valued the most;

Beautiful blessings,

From heaven’s own Host.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

To love and give grace;

Embrace all others,

And walk in Your ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that You give to us all. Thank You that as we receive, we are equipped to give the same. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked grace in how we have interacted with others. Teach us to love and be full of grace with everyone we encounter. Show us how to love lavishly and without expectations of anything in return. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the grace that You lovingly give, and extend the same to all those around us. Amen.

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

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 1:2

Unwavering Love

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. – (Psalm 116:5, NIV)

The Lord is good and merciful; our God is so kind. – (Psalm 116:5, ERV)

He was so kind, so gracious to me. Because of His passion toward me, He made everything right and He restored me. – (Psalm 116:5, TPT)

Kids and dogs have a way of reminding me of God’s graciousness and compassion for us. In the same way that we love those in our care, despite how much they might frustrate us sometimes, our love for them does not waiver; I imagine how much more God loves us. If we, in our broken humanity can love and give grace, mercy and compassion to others, how much more does God do those things for us? God’s mercy is unending and His kindness is ever ready to be extended to us. He knows our hearts and what blesses us, and He takes joy in providing that which encourages and helps us know the abundance of His love for us. I am reminded of this each morning as I walk my dogs, watching the pure delight on their faces to get out and explore. Though their craziness and early morning wake-ups prior to the alarm frustrate me at times, their joy in getting outside, and the adoring snuggles they give, end up blessing me and reminding me of how much I love them. God’s kindness, grace and passion for us is even more. May we ever remember the Lord’s goodness and kindness in every blessing, for He restores us and loves us perfectly.

Abundant in grace,

The Lord is so kind;

His love is outpoured,

And goodness combined.

He blesses with peace,

Overwhelms with love;

Heals up hurting hearts,

Our Father above.

Remember His love,

And look for His grace;

In all things, always,

He’s present each place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your overwhelming goodness and grace that we do not deserve. Thank You that You bless us and have compassion on us, even when we are a mess. Forgive us for forgetting just how good You are. Teach us to trust You and ever seek after You. Show us how to love those around us as You do, with compassion, kindness and mercy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to lead us in Your amazing love. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

To Clothe Ourselves Well

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves  with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle and patient. – (Colossians 3:12, ERV)

You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. – (Colossians 3:12, TPT)

Now is an especially important time to clothe ourselves well. As the heat rises, people’s patience runs out and frustration and anger rises. If we are clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, we will be extending the same grace and mercy that God gives to us, to those around us. I don’t know about you, but whenever I am the recipient of compassion or kindness when my day is a bit off, my whole demeanor changes. I am reminded of the goodness of God and the beauty of all whom He has made. It restores a spring in my step and points my heart back to where true joy comes from. May we ever remember that we are chosen and loved by God, so we are to go out and love likewise.

May kindness rise up,

As in love we bask;

For God’s love equips,

To do as He asks.

We’re called to mercy,

Kindness, gentleness;

Have patience for all,

Through love is expressed.

May we let love lead,

As God loves us all;

Give as we’re given,

And answer His call.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are loved and chosen by You to be called Your own. Thank You that as we embrace our status as Your children, whom You dearly love, we discover that we are equipped to love and give grace to all those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld kindness, run out of patience, or lacked compassion in spaces You called us to love. Teach us to depend on You to equip us to love as You love. Show us how to be patient, kind, gentle and gracious to all whom we encounter, so that they may gain glimpses of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You to show us how to love like You. Amen.

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

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. – Galatians 3:26

Done to Others is Done Unto You

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

“Then the King will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for my people here, you also did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, ERV)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these, My little ones, My true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, TPT)

This ought to be our motivation. Whenever we love others, we are also demonstrating our love for God. Every single time we love, help, encourage, lift up, show kindness, give grace – God sees it as if we were doing these very things unto Him. What this shows us is how deeply God loves all of His creation. Our closest comparison is how we feel when others extend kindness, grace, generosity, encouragement, and more to one whom we love deeply. I know for me, when someone does these things for one of my children, I am blessed as well. My heart swells with gratitude, simply knowing that another sees and values my child like I do. Imagine the depth of what God feels in comparison. God who loved so deeply that He sent His Son to reestablish a right relationship with us, recognizes every act of kindness and extension of love as words and deeds given directly to Him. For me, that both defines and dictates how I ought to treat everyone I meet. Do I have it down to a science? Of course not. I fall short and fail daily, yet can always seek to do and be better. God, in His loving kindness, hears our petitions presented before Him, and honors our desire to love well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead and equip us to love as He loves us.

Whatever we do,

In word, thought or deed;

We do unto God,

Let’s follow His lead.

The God of all grace,

Does all things in love;

May we love like Him,

Give good from above.

For each time we choose,

To help each other;

We live with purpose,

Sisters and brothers.

The times that we fail,

Neglect or ignore;

It too is to God,

Things that He abhors.

Lord, help us rise up,

Love well, each other;

Choose extend Your love,

One to another.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You love us. Thank You that as we do, You recognize our love extended to those around us as love for You. Forgive us for the times that we have been unloving or callous or have neglected to reach out where we knew You called us to love. Teach us to trust and follow Your lead as we aspire to love like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exhibit the width, depth and breadth of Your everlasting love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we reach out to love like You. Amen.

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

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12

Freedom to Forgive

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

Forgiveness is a strange thing, as we have been forgiven much, yet at times, we struggle to forgive the most minor of offenses. Not one of us is perfect, and we all fall short. This is the space that we must remember when we are hurt or offended by another. In the same way that God pours out His abundant forgiveness and grace, we too, ought to do the same. The crazy thing about unforgiveness is that it hurts the holder of the offense, not the offender. Often, the one who has hurt or offended is not even aware that they have done harm. It is our responsibility to either let it go, or speak with the offender in love and let them know that their words or actions have done harm. That being said, we must do so with forgiveness already in place, regardless of the reception of our communication. Most times, awareness brings repentance and mends are made quickly. However, if the offender stands behind their word or deed, we are still called to forgive. We are not meant to subject ourselves to a vicious cycle of harm, but rather we are not to cling to that which we cannot change. God forgives us each time that we ask, yet He lets us know that if we hold unforgiveness, He will respond to our requests in the same way. I don’t know about you, but I am fully aware of my shortcomings and desperately need His forgiveness and grace. If I need forgiveness and grace, so too, do all those whom I encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to forgive and give grace, even when we would rather hold onto the offense. Freedom to love well is birthed in us as we choose to walk in forgiveness.

O Lord, help us choose,

Forgive and give grace;

As You’ve done for us,

Throughout all our days.

Soften our hearts, Lord,

So love might come first;

Teach us to let go,

To bless not to curse.

May love lead the way,

In all that we do;

Teach us to forgive,

And choose love like You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not limit the number of times that You forgive us when we fail and fall short. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do likewise to all those around us as we depend on You. Forgive us for holding onto offenses. Please teach us to release all into Your hands so that we may give goodness and grace in place of our anger, hurt or frustration. Show us how to love like You, at all times and in all circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize the power held in Your loving kindness for us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to forgive as You do. Amen.

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

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – Matthew 6:12

Release the Offense

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, NIV)

“Even if they do something wrong to you seven times in one day, but they say they are sorry each time, you should forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, ERV)

“No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” – (Luke 17:4, TPT)

Jesus set the standard as to how we are meant to interact with our sisters and brothers around us. We are called to forgive every time that someone recognizes their wrongs and apologizes. The reality is that we all fall short and need forgiveness and grace. For me, I know that I have far more grace for my children and spouse than I do for folks out and about. When one of my kids forgets to do what has been asked of them, and then apologizes, it becomes as if it has never happened; yet if someone cuts me off on the road and then waves an apology, it takes a moment to slow down and actually forgive, instead of being annoyed. Our intentional decision to forgive is not meant to be submission to abuse, rather it is for us to release the offense and move on so that we do not carry the weight of unforgiveness.There are enough burdens among us; grudges are far too weighty to hold. May we seek the Lord to grant us the grace to forgive, in the same way that He continually forgives us.

Count not offenses,

But rather, give grace;

Love one another,

Throughout each new day.

When there’s a sorry,

Let go, choose release;

Hold not the offense,

May our grace increase.

Lord, help us to love,

As You choose love us;

Let our response be,

Just like Yours, Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love and forgive. Forgive us for not being quick to forgive when we ought to. Show us how to give the very same grace and forgiveness that we have been given by You. Lead us in love for all those around us so that each may know the overwhelming, never ending, power of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love and forgiveness for all. Amen.

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

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

The Light of Love

Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing to make them stumble. – (1 John 2:10, NIV)

Those who love their brothers and sisters live in the light, and there is nothing in them that will make them do wrong. – (1 John 2:10, ERV)

Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. – (1 John 2:10, VOICE)

I think God gave us dogs to show us what it is to love each other. Dogs love their people, and are quick to demonstrate their love and affection. They do not judge others by appearances, but rather seem to sense the heart and what it needs, and simply love. Loyal and protective, tender and sweet, pups remind us that we can be loving, discerning, and kind, yet protect in strength when necessary. Imagine what the world would be like if we all loved similarly. People would greet each other with joy, and seek to befriend everyone throughout each day. Of course there are times when we must use wisdom and keep at safe distance, yet we can choose to love through lifting one another up, rather than allowing frustrations or fears to cause us to act or speak in a way that does not demonstrate love. Each time that we choose love, we are encouraging others to do the same. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to love others and live in His light, so that no word or deed would lead others in a direction they are not meant to go.

Lord, teach us to love,

Sisters and brothers;

Be kind and give strength,

Give grace to others.

Show us what to do,

So Your love is shown;

Keep darkness from us,

And make Your heart known.

May all that we do,

And all that we say;

Lead others to love,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You love each of us. Thank You that You show us what it is to love through those who have gone before us, and those who surround us. Forgive us for the times that our words or actions have displayed anything other than Your love and grace. Teach us how to love our sisters and brothers as You call us to love. Show us how to be light and life and love in such a way, that hearts are turned to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we pursue a life of loving You and loving those around us. Amen.

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

It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You loved them. – Psalm 44:3

The Weight of Grief in the Garden

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, NIV)
When He finished praying, He went to His followers. He found them asleep, worn out from their grieving.  – (Luke 22:45, ERV)
When Jesus finished praying, He got up and went to His disciples and found them all asleep, for they were exhausted and overwhelmed with sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, TPT)
I am not sure why I have not ever noticed the phrasing of Luke’s account of what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but why the disciples fell asleep, becomes far more relate-able somehow. The disciples had every reason to be grieving, for they had shared their final meal with Jesus, heard His last words of wisdom, sung their last hymn together, and then heard that one among them would betray Him and another would deny Him… That is some serious heaviness to hold. How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of space? There  are times that the grief is too great, and even as we try to pray, exhaustion takes over, and sleep finds a welcomed win. The disciples, though Jesus had told them what would take place, could likely not wrap their hearts and minds around it all. They were in the throes of the suffering and sorrow-filled part, and could not yet see the glorious hope that would come after the horror Jesus was about to endure. Incredibly, Jesus continued to pray. When Judas and his entourage of Sanhedrin and soldiers arrived to have Jesus arrested, Jesus continued to love as He healed the ear that an over-zealous disciple cut off in His defense. He went willingly, without argument nor needed force, for love led Him to the cross at Calgary.
I paused writing to go run, and ended up having a great discussion about the potential disparity between the four accounts of the disciples’ time in the garden. My running bestie is a nurse, so she reminded me that Luke was a doctor. Between us, we recognized that the other accounts were recorded by fishermen, who likely felt bad for falling asleep, and simply recorded that alone. Luke, however, from a physician’s standpoint, was the most likely to recognize the toll that grief and sorrow take on the body, and reported the occurrence accordingly. Like me, she had not ever noticed the difference in the accounts of what took place, but together, we discussed how it indeed made sense. Many of us find ourselves in a similar space of grief or sorrow. There is loss that we are uncertain how to process, and that weighs heavily, no matter how much we pray. Perhaps this forced slow down season is meant for more than just protecting ourselves from the further spread of a pandemic; maybe, just maybe, this is a season where we are to allow our bodies to sleep when we can fight it no longer, rest up, reflect on what truly matters, and rise up renewed and refreshed, as Jesus carried it all for us and rose again. May we give ourselves grace in our moments of sorrow, grief and exhaustion, and look to the Lord who is the One who strengthens, renews and grants us what we need to rise up restored, once again.
In grief’s heaviness,

The Weight of Grief

Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

We’re burdened and worn;
Exhausted and spent,
In sorrow, forlorn.
Our bodies in need,
Of overdue rest;
Sometimes a shut down,
When sleep is the best.
God knows all our needs,
He loves us with grace;
Refreshes, renews,
And brings brighter days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace, even in humanity’s most exhausted spaces. Thank You that You love us back to life again, even when our weariness from loss steals our resolve to rise and fight. Forgive us for thinking that we can somehow power through things without giving room for grief. Teach us to lean into You to show us how to properly process, rest and rise again in all that You are calling us to do. Lead us to love others well, so that their burdens may be lessened and their sorrow’s shortened. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our heaviness and seek You for rest and refreshment as You restore and renew us in You. Amen.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:28

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In Worrisome Space

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. – (1 Peter 5:7, TLB)

 

We are in a time that is full of uncertainty and unknowns. It is seemingly impossible to avoid “what if” scenarios, as a state of emergency has been declared by our governor, and the World Health Organization has deemed Covid-19 a pandemic. The weight and worry that I bear looks different than those who are living with compromised immune systems or are in households with young children or elderly, as their concerns are much more immediate and life-threatening. For others, it is more a matter of day-to-day living and the wonder as to how it will all work out. As an educator, there is much uncertainty as to when our schools will be closed, and for how long. In this space, my only real choice is to give all of my worries and uncertainties to God. He sees and knows, and He cares about all that concerns us. I know not why such a crazy crisis is taking place, yet I know it is an opportunity for people to rise up and love others well. Our charge is to love as we are loved. May we give all of our worries to God, because He cares for us, and depend on Him to lead and guide us as we navigate this rocky road of uncertainty.

 

In worrisome space, In Worrisome Space

Give all unto God;

The Lord cares for us,

Despite all our flaws.

He sees and He knows,

Our each anxious thought;

He’s present to help,

Each time He is sought.

Even when all things,

Impossible seem;

The Lord has a way,

To give grace, redeem.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and cast all of our worries and cares upon You. Thank You that Your hands can hold them, and Your shoulders have already bore every burden we ever will bear. Thank You that You provide grace, goodness and love as we come to You. Forgive us for carrying weight and holding anxiety and concerns that we are not meant to hold in fear. Teach us to trust You and listen to wisdom, so that we would navigate in grace and love. Show us how to love well, all those around us, in tangible and meaningful ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our cares and concerns and trust You to lead us in wisdom and strength in the face of all of the unknown. Above all, help us to choose love in all that we say and do, every step of the way. Amen.

 

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

 

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22