The Giver of Good Gifts

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. – (James 1:17, HCSB)

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. – (James 1:17, ERV)

Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. – (James 1:17, VOICE)

God is ALWAYS good. Everything good comes from Him. Though life and circumstances are not always what we might hope for, God is who and what remains good. He does not change and we can trust in His unending faithfulness. I love that James is referring to God as the Father of lights. He is our light in the darkness, and He illuminates good in spaces where it is seemingly absent. May we turn to God, the Father of lights, to see all of the good and perfect gifts that He has for all who trust in Him. 

The Lord is so good,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

The Father of lights;

Our Light in darkness,

In whom we delight.

Each good gift given,

That we have received;

From God, our Father,

Who knows all our needs.

Help us Lord Jesus,

Ever be aware;

Of Your sweet presence,

And how much You care.

In our dark spaces,

You bring us Your light;

Love, grace and laughter,

Our hope and delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Father of lights, and that in You, there are no shadows. Thank You that every good gift comes from You. Forgive us for the times that we are blind to Your light or unable to recognize the good gifts that You are providing. Teach us to trust in You and be ever aware of Your nearness and love. Show us how to love one another and share the good gifts that You provide to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You, the Father of lights, and the giver of every good gift. Amen.

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

So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, how much more so does your Father in heaven, who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children! – Matthew 7:11

Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

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

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

Quick to Listen

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

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

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Listen in Love

`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)

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

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

Can you imagine if we all actually followed this charge? Misunderstandings would be quickly cleared up, and kindness would reign. When we choose to truly listen to understand rather than to respond, and take our time to respond carefully in love, anger dissipates. A heart that is quick to willingly listen in love has the opportunity to slow down and think before speaking.  As we do this, anger does not flair up but rather only rises in spaces that are calling for our attention to change or remove. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intentionally and to respond slowly with His wisdom.

Brothers and sisters,

Let’s all do our part;

To listen in love,

And speak from the heart.

Be slow to anger,

Choose listen, be wise;

Allow the Lord’s love,

Let kindness arise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to listen first and be slow to speak. I imagine that is part of the reason that we have two ears and only one mouth. Thank You that You grant us the patience, wisdom and love to listen first and speak next after truly hearing one another. Forgive us for the times that we have given rise to anger and have spoken without listening.

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

God, hear my prayer; listen to the words of my mouth. – Psalm 54:2

To Become His Poetry

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – (James 1:22, NIV)

Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves. – (James 1:22, ERV)

Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let His Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life! – (James 1:22, TPT)

This verse makes me think of “in one ear and out the other”, as hearing does not equate to doing or making adjustments. Anyone can hear instruction, advice and direction, but only those who follow it truly have listened with intention. The One who created us, also has a plan and a purpose for our lives. It is up to us to seek Him, listen, and then do what He says. I so appreciate The Passions Translation, as the idea of allowing God’s word to “become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life” is a powerful and beautiful notion. In Ephesians 2:10, (same translation) we are reminded again that “We have become His poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us…” It is up to us to not just hear His Word and His instructions, but it requires faith in action to move forward accordingly. I don’t know about you, but I long to live out the poetry that God has intended to spring forth from my life. May we ever seek the Lord to both listen and obey all that He is asking of us, for His every word is meant to lead us to live out a life of love.

The Word of the Lord,

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Is righteous and true;

By His loving grace,

Shows us what to do.

He leads us in love,

To choose do the same;

To walk in His grace,

And honor His Name.

Lord, teach us to love,

To listen and learn;

Put faith in action,

In wisdom, discern.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not simply give us instructions and bid us luck, but rather You teach, equip, empower and lead us through all that we are called to do. Forgive us for the times that we “heard” Your Word, but did nothing to act upon it. Teach us to live a life of love and grace in all things and at all times. Show us how to love like You, so that all whom we meet encounter Your loving kindness through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your Word and seek You to show us how to live it out. Amen.

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

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Everything Good

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – (James 1:17, NIV)

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. – (James 1:17, ERV)

Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, Who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change. – (James 1:17, TPT)

Yesterday was a wonderful reminder of this very truth. God gives us good gifts. I was blessed with time to run in the morning with my long-time running bestie to start my day after walking the pups, then was able to spend much of the day with one of my dearest friends, who is for all practical purposes, family. Though we seldom find time to get together, each time we do, we pick up where we left off. Like the goodness of God, the goodness of friendship does not change. Additionally, time with my family during a family dinner out, was yet another gift from above. Our typically quiet evening meal was disrupted, and laughter and stories exchanged. For me, that in and of itself was a gift, as dining with four big guys is usually focused on consuming what is in front of them, not on conversation with those around them. Friends and family from near and far took time out of their day to send greetings and kind wishes as I celebrated a milestone birthday. I am so grateful for the good and perfect gifts that God has granted. He knows our heart and how to bless us best. May we ever seek the Lord and trust in Him, for He is good and His love never fails.

The Lord is so good,

His love never fails;

No matter what comes,

His love will prevail.

Goodness and mercy,

Throughout all our days;

His faithful blessings,

Show goodness and grace.

Each day is a gift,

Treasure to embrace;

Surrounded by love,

And washed by His grace.

All thanks be to God,

His love never ends;

Each time that we seek,

Sweet answers He sends.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the giver of every good and perfect gift. Thank You for placing people in our lives that show us Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for taking anything for granted, for everything good comes from You and is deserving of our gratitude. Teach us to trust in Your goodness, always. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love us perfectly. Amen.

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

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Two Ears and Only One Mouth

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

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

As always, this is a timely reminder. Yesterday, my husband received the video footage that was submitted to animal control by kind citizens who had caught horrendous footage of the abuse of our dog by the trainers in whom we had entrusted him. My initial reaction to the entire situation was both anger and sorrow. I was enraged at the betrayal of our trust by the trainers, and absolutely gutted knowing what my poor puppy had endured. God was very specific with me in how I ought to respond to the whole situation, and by placing all of my focus on the care of Thor, I was able to release the anger and love on my pup. The news that my husband had the video in his possession brought my initial reaction back to the surface. Knowing that I was not called to allow my anger to get the best of me, I had to work through it all over again. Sometimes, what we listen to is not beneficial. However, remembering to be slow to speak will always serve us well. Once words have left our lips, we cannot take them back. I know that there is righteous anger, yet it is still not something that I am meant to hold. Feeling and acting are two very different things. What we feel cannot dictate what we do. There are times that we simply must trust that justice will be served and place our attention on caring well for the wounded. Even now, as Thor sits beside me as I try to write, his continuous reaching out with his paws reminds me to focus on loving and caring well for him. May we ever seek the Lord to help us to listen first, be slow to speak, and to keep our anger in check. He is faithful to help us walk in His way and do His will as we earnestly seek Him.

Lord, help us to lead,

With listening ears;

A heart set to love,

As we choose to hear.

Then help us to tame,

Our tongues in replies;

Grant wisdom with words,

As grace You supply.

And as for anger,

Let’s give it to You;

As we choose to seek,

We’re shown what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and You know all things. Thank You for giving us two ears and only one mouth. Help us to use them accordingly. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen, speak without weighing our words, and allow anger to flow instead of placing all in Your hands. Teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and to slow our roll when anger rises. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes all feel valued and heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to truly listen, slow to speak, and slow to allow anger find a foothold. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

Strength in the Struggle

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete. You will have everything you need. – (James 1:4, ICB)

None of us enjoy trials or struggles, yet we all must go through them. When we are invested in our relationship with Christ, He uses each challenge that comes our way to strengthen and grow us to be more like Him. He does not cause the struggle, but allows it so that we may grow in maturity in our relationship with Him. As our patiences grows, His heart more clearly shows. It is on the other side of struggles and challenges that we can look back and see how far we have come. In the verses that precede verse four, we are called to consider such situations with joy, not because they are happy and fun, but rather because of what trials produce within us. Faith grows and perseverance manifests as we depend on God through each challenge. Not only does God show us who He is, but He demonstrates how He can work both in and through us to navigate the storms. May we ever lean into the Lord as we encounter every trial that life throws our way. For as we trust in Him, His strength, patience and perseverance are made evident through us.

In all that we do,

Let’s look to the Lord;

He is the anchor,

And where love’s outpoured.

It is through our trust,

That love and grace grow;

We’re made more like Him,

And patience is shown.

So, rise up in faith,

Turn in trust to Him;

Ever He’s faithful,

As we let love in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the joy in our trials is not the trial itself, (for they are never terribly fun) but rather joy comes in knowing the work that You are doing in and through us as we press on in faith. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and lead us through every storm, as You grow us to become a clearer reflection of You. Forgive us Lord, for the desire for things to always be easy. Teach us to trust the process, as the challenges are the spaces where the most growth occurs. Show us how to love those around us through all things, for often You make Your love and support tangible through others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in our trials, and praise You for the patience and perseverance that are grown in us through Your faithfulness as we press on. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

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

Let Us Listen First

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 the intersections, dear friends; Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

This requires an ongoing decision to be intentional to listen, and truly seek to understand. If we merely listen to respond rather than comprehend what is being spoken, anger has room to rise up, instead of compassion and kindness. Yes, there are times that what is being spoken is not beneficial for anyone. Even then, how we respond makes all the difference. Righteous anger allows us to appropriately respond in love and in truth. The ego, on the other hand, causes responses that only further fan the flames. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen well, so that when we choose to speak, our words are full of life and love and grace.

Lord, help us to seek,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To listen and learn;

Use our ears and heart,

For gracious return.

Let not our voices,

Respond without thought;

Help us understand,

And love as we ought.

For if truth be told,

Wisdom can be found;

In hearts that listen,

As Your grace abounds.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to lead with listening to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken without truly hearing, or allowed anger to rise and taint our words or actions. Teach us how to rely on You to show us how to listen to understand, speak in love, and allow anger to help us bring change through Your goodness and grace. Lead us in Your love with all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You to grow us more like You. 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