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

Our Strength and Song

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation… – (Exodus 15:2, HCSB)

The Lord is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise to Him… – (Exodus 15:2, ERV)

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory… – (Exodus 15:2, NLT)

This is a portion of the song that the Israelites sang when God saved them in the desert by parting the Red Sea and then closing it again on the Egyptians who had enslaved them. The same God who saved the Israelites back then, can do more than we hope or imagine in the here and now. He saves and strengthens us, and He is our reason to sing songs of praise. Whether it is the need for strength to get through the day, or a victory in a long fought battle, God hears, sees, and meets us where we are when we call on Him. May we ever seek the Lord who saves us, and rely on Him to give us strength and praise Him with our songs.

The Lord is my strength,

My reason to sing;

Hope and salvation,

Source of ev’rything.

Our great saving grace,

All love and all peace;

Gifts from the Father,

Let our songs increase.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our reason to sing. Thank You that You save us and grant us hope and joy in You. Forgive us for making You too small, or thinking our need is insignificant. Teach us to ask and trust in You with all things. Show us how to embrace all that You give. Lead us to love those around us in ways that offer hope and strength and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and praise You forever. Amen. 

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. – Psalm 118:14

Pray for ALL

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone. – (1 Timothy 2:1, HCSB)

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. – (1 Timothy 2:1, ERV)

So, first and foremost, I urge God’s people to pray. They should make their requests, petitions, and thanksgivings on behalf of all humanity. – (1 Timothy 2:1, VOICE)

We are called to pray, present requests, and give thanks for everyone, and do so on their behalf. It is easy to pray for those who love us and are kind to us, yet we are called to pray for ALL people. This includes those who are unkind to us, those who slow us down; for those who frustrate or aggravate us, and for those who care little for anyone other than themselves. To pray for these requires an intentional and purposeful decision to love as God loves us. An old friend of mine, years ago, modeled this in a very practical way while we were driving somewhere. Every time someone would cut in front of us or do something foolish or frustrating, he would speak out blessing and truth, such as, “Jesus loves you!” or “May God bless you and protect you!”, even when it came out as a shout. It seemed silly at the time, yet all these years later, it still serves as a reminder for me to bless and pray for others, even those who anger us the most. Part of the process of praying for others is as much a request for us to see them as God does, as it is a choice to act in love when love is not at all what we feel. May we ever lift up and pray for all those around us, without exception.

Lord, please remind us,

To choose pray for ALL;

The bent and broken,

For this is our call.

Show us Your own heart,

For humanity;

The love that held You,

Up upon that tree.

For You have so loved,

That You gave us all;

Now our champion,

On whom we can call.

Quicken our hearts, Lord,

To love and to pray;

For ev’ry person,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us what it really is to love and pray for all. On the cross, Jesus prayed for those who hung Him there. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of love for those who need love the most. Show us how to pray for and bless everyone whom we encounter. Change hearts and lives to reflect Your love to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray for and bless others as You have modeled for and equipped us to do. Amen.

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

Father, I pray that all who believe in Me can be one. You are in Me and I am in You. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that You sent Me. – John 17:21

Generously and Faithfully

“They don’t need to go away,” Jesus told them. “You give them something to eat.” “But we only have five loaves and two fish here,” they said to Him. “Bring them here to Me,” He said. – (Matthew 14:16-18, HCSB)

Jesus said, “The people don’t need to go away. You give them some food to eat.” The followers answered, “But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish.” Jesus said, “Bring the bread and fish to Me.” – (Matthew 14:16-18, ERV)

Jesus: They don’t need to go back to the villages in order to eat supper. Give them something to eat here.

Disciples: But we don’t have enough food. We only have five rounds of flatbread and two fish.

Jesus: Bring the bread and fish to Me. 

So the disciples brought Him the five rounds of flatbread and the two fish. – (Matthew 14:16-18, VOICE)

This passage is an excellent reminder of how God can supply all that we need and more when we trust Him with what we do have, especially when we seek to be generous. Though I have not personally witnessed five loaves and two fish feeding thousands, I have seen God do immeasurably more than I could have hoped or imagined when I placed what I had to offer in His hands. He takes what we have and makes it enough. This is true with our time, talent and resources. We are called to love and give, and as we do, God supplies for both the giver and the recipient. May we ever seek the Lord to be our supply, for He is generous and kind, and faithful to meet us as we stand in faith.

In Christ there’s enough,

Our Source and Supply;

He takes what we bring,

And then multiplies.

The Lord is the One,

Who sees ev’ry need;

Then takes what’s offered,

And makes it exceed.

Exceed what is seen,

Go beyond what’s known;

The Multiplier,

Of each seed that’s sown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us how You can take the little that we have to offer and use it to bless many. Thank You that You see every offering and hear every prayer. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, for You are always enough. Teach us to trust You with all so that we might give generously and live faithfully. Show us how to love in tangible ways so that those around us might come to know the goodness of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all that we have and all that we are into Your hands, for in You, there is enough. Amen.

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

God gave us this command: If we love God, we must also love each other as brothers and sisters. – 1 John 4:21

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

Love Answers With Action

Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. – (1 John 3:18, HCSB)

My children, our love should not be only word and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. – (1 John 3:18, TPT)

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE)

Love is a funny thing. We can say it all we want, but until we see and experience it for ourselves, it is merely a theory that holds little value. God designed us intentionally. Our hearts are created to give and receive love. People have varying ideas as to what love is, for in our broken human condition, the word often becomes skewed and hollow rather than something to embrace, give and receive. Most of us really begin to understand what real love is when it is shown through the actions of others who have no expectation of anything in return. Amazingly, the more we know and experience love, the more we are filled up and ready to love others in the same way. With God, we grow in our understanding of the magnitude of His love for us; a love that gave all so that we might have life in abundance. If we desire to truly love as Christ loves us, we must make love and grace a way of life. God spells out for us what love is and is not. 

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it is not boastful, it is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

May we ever look to the Lord to lead us to love, not with mere words, but with our every decision, action, and lifestyle.

O Lord let our love,

Be far more than words;

May our actions speak,

Beyond what is heard.

Lead us and guide us,

To love as You do;

Let our very lives,

Give praise unto You.

As we choose love well,

With actions and deeds;

May Your love be clear,

The answer to needs.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called and created us to love. Thank You that You not only call us to love, but You show us how and You equip us to do so. Forgive us for the times that our words have been hollow or our actions have not been a reflection of the love that You give to us. Teach us to love others as You first loved us. Show us how to live a life of love that makes Your love evident through our every action and deed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to lead us to love well with our lives. Amen.

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

Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way – love. – 1 Corinthians 12:31

The Scent of Promise

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV)

Our offering to God is to be the perfume of Christ that goes out to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, ERV)

In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued, we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, VOICE)

I love that God created us with powerful senses, and that with them, we have memories that can be recalled quickly with a whiff of a familiar smell. For example, I cannot inhale the scent of fresh fruit or baking pies without thinking fondly of my grandparents. For me, there are certain scents that immediately turn my heart to Him, as they draw me into a space of sensing His nearness. As a runner and a lover of being outdoors, every spring, (and sometimes again in the summer) I anticipate the sweet scent of English Laurels in bloom all around our area. It is a smell that immediately brings praise to my heart, for there is something about it that causes me to associate the scent with the aroma of Christ. Incredibly, it is our charge to carry His sweet scent of life wherever we go. To some, it will be received and appreciated, whereas by others, it will be shunned and rejected. Our charge is to keep choosing to love and extend kindness, for that is the sweet smell of our loving Father. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us well, so that we might be the sweet scent of Christ that offers light and life and hope in spaces where they are absent.

The sweet scent of Christ,

Is hope, love and peace;

It’s promised goodness,

That will never cease.

On our darkest days,

Still He’s ever near;

The scent of promise,

That drives away fear.

Lord, help us receive,

So that we may give;

Your sweet, pleasing scent,

Hope each day we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of our senses and how You use them to help us be more aware of You. Thank You that scents can be associated with good things, and that we too, can offer the pleasing scent of Your Son to the world. Forgive us for the times that our words and actions were not a sweet scent. Teach us to bring goodness and kindness to all that we say and do, so that Your sweet scent may ring true. Show us how to love those around us best, so that they may see Your heart through our words and actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the sweet scent of Christ that is all around us, and seek You to help us to operate from the overflow of Your abundant goodness and grace. Amen.

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

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – Romans 15:7

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

Perfect Love

“If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when His children ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, TPT)

“Even you who are bad know how to give good things to your children. So surely your heavenly Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to the people who ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, ERV)

Look, all of you are flawed in so many ways, yet in spite of all your faults, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to all who ask! – (Luke 11:13, VOICE)

This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, despite our flaws, failures and shortcomings. Whether a parent to children or fur babies, we all know how to give good gifts to those in our care, despite being broken and sinful. How much more does God, who is perfect in all His ways, know how to give us all that He has to offer when we seek Him? The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us. If God is for us, who can be against us? God’s Spirit within us will lead us, guide us, protect us and help us as we earnestly seek Him. May we always remember the depth and power of our Heavenly Father’s love, so that we may ever seek Him.

Despite all our flaws,

The Lord’s ever near;

Ready to help us,

Making His way clear.

Just as a parent,

Knows how to love well;

Our perfect Father,

Will in us, come dwell.

It is in nearness,

That we’re led and known;

Grace overflowing,

As His love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the ultimate gift as we ask. Thank You that Your presence is the greatest provider ever known. Thank You that by Your Spirit, You lead us, guide us, bless and protect us, as we place our heart in Your hands. Forgive us for forgetting how exceedingly powerful Your love is, and lead us to love likewise. Show us how to give good gifts to all, so that each who crosses our path may witness glimpses of You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us with Your Spirit, so that Your path will be made clear in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14

Good Words and Hard Work

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. – (Proverbs 12:14, NIV)

People get good things for the words they say, and they are rewarded for the work they do. – (Proverbs 12:14, ERV)

Well-spoken words bring satisfaction; well-done work has its own reward. – (Proverbs 12:14, MSG)

Yesterday was one of those days that words spoken brought life, and the reward of hard work was evident. Students were engaged in conversations with enthusiasm for our end-of-the-year project, and my gymnasts had a fantastic practice. New skills were achieved and fears were overcome. As I was preparing for a meet up to run, my Viking sent me a text that he wanted to do a date night. By the time we had gone to dinner, run into and visited with friends, returned home and walked the dogs, my heart was overflowing with the good things spoken and the reward of hard work that had filled my day. Even on the days that things don’t flow as smoothly, or the work seems to be in vain, I can speak good things and remember that there are days that simply knowing the hard work is being done brings its own reward. God is good, and He encourages us to speak blessings and work hard, for through each we witness Him moving in us, through us and for us. May we ever seek the Lord to fuel our hearts with His words, and strengthen us to do the work that we have been called to do.

Our words and actions,

Have power to give;

Goodness and blessings,

As each day we live.

May we speak kindness,

Let our words bring life;

For encouragement,

Ends internal strife.

Teach us to invest,

To work unto You;

Give our very best,

In all that we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of people You place around us who speak life and bring good things, and for the reward that is felt as we work as if unto You. Forgive us for the times that we have not spoken life to those around us, or have not worked with our heart invested in what we are doing. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and our encouragement, for You speak life and love and strength to those who seek You. Show us how to speak good into those around us, and to work in a way that encourages others to invest as well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we use our lips to speak life and our hearts to fully invest in all that we do. Amen.

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

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