Lead with Listening

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)

 

Listening is an art form that can prevent misunderstanding and bring people closer together. Too often we speak to respond, rather than listen to understand and reply only if necessary. Anger flares and brash words are spoken when we communicate to make our own point, opinion or agenda heard, without taking pause to listen to others around us. I find that the majority of the time, my anger ignites when I jump to conclusions or explain a scenario in my own mind, rather than seeking to listen to whomever did, whatever it was, that incited my frustration to the point of anger. Each time I slow down, take a deep breath, and remind myself to listen with the intent to understand, I discover that there is a reason for the words or actions that transpired. By hearing the heart behind the person, anger or frustration fade, and compassion and kindness begin to rise. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and willingness to listen first, so that our response is a reflection of His heart, rather than a rash reaction that is not necessary to bring resolution.

 

Let us each choose first,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To listen in love;

Seek to understand,

With grace from above.

If we’re slow to speak,

There’s less to regret;

Peace has a true chance,

God’s love, our asset.

Allow not anger,

To rise and release;

Instead, choose listen,

Discernment brings peace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be people who seek listen to understand, speak with intention and grace, and to keep anger in check to prevent words or deeds that cannot be taken back. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our ego or agenda to cause us to assume ill intent in anger, rather than listening with intention to understand all that is involved in what has transpired before us. Teach us to listen first, seeking to understand, so that if and when we respond, it may be done with love and grace. Show us how to love well through listening to those who need to be heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the God who always hears our heart, regardless of what our words or deeds seem to indicate. Be glorified O God, through our decision to listen first and speak with godly intent, only when we understand, keeping anger in check and love abundant. 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

To Bear Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. – (Galatians 5:22-23, MSG)

 

Social media has been a valuable tool for me to stay connected with friends all over the world. I delight in sharing bits of life with those who are too far away to see in person. Sadly, there are those who use it to lash out in anger at anyone who does not share the same opinion on current “hot topics”. When words are exchanged in anger, without seeking the Spirit to be in the center, greater divisions grow between those who formerly considered one another friends. My hope is to be a purveyor of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, rather than a wrecking ball. May we ever seek the Lord and the fruit that His Spirit within us produces, instead of allowing said fruit to drop off and rot away.

 

God is our compass, To Bear Good Fruit

His love points the way;

To love as He loves,

Let Him in to stay.

Through Him we bear fruit,

That blesses with peace;

Choose give love away,

With reckless release.

Freely and boldly,

Give peace, love and joy;

Patience and kindness,

Gentleness employ.

Let’s choose self-control,

Not seek to be right;

There’s not a winner,

When we aren’t polite.

Let’s seek to listen,

Choose peace and be kind;

More is accomplished,

When hearts are aligned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grow in us that which is meant to be shared with others. Thank You that the fruit You plant is good. Forgive us for allowing that which has been planted within us to rot and waste away rather than be used to nourish the people whom You place all around us. Teach us how to operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us so that Your fruit may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love in a way that bears Your fruit. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

 

 

Growth to the Seeking

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith, add goodness; to your goodness, add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, ERV)

 

The blessings we behold grant us the capacity to bless others. We are given some specific ways that we can continue to grow and be more effective in loving others well. To do this best, we must make effort to further expand our capacity to grow in faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. As we allow God to change us from the inside out, we are better able to love Him and those around us, which are the very things that we are commanded to do. Growth can be uncomfortable, as our greatest measure of increase most often comes in seasons of struggle. We must understand that we cannot do all things in our own strength and need faith in our Heavenly Father to deepen our dependence on Him. Goodness expands exponentially as we recognize the reality where goodness is lacking. Knowledge comes through actively seeking answers, rather than complacently standing by, hoping for wisdom to whack us on the noggin. There is no comprehension of need for self-control without the understanding how detrimental a lack thereof becomes. Patience grows in opportunities to wait, not in instant gratification. Devotion to God is desperately needed to find patience when we want answers or results right now. Kindness is an extension of our love for God and others made visible. May we seek and depend on the Lord to continue to grow us in all of these things that strengthen our love for God and for all people.

 

To love people well,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We need ever seek;

The Lord and His love,

As we act and speak.

To love the right way,

We must keep growing;

Let faith and goodness,

Abundant, flowing.

Seek understanding,

Control and His grace;

So what our lives bring,

Reflect His embrace.

Patience, devotion,

And kindness to all;

Equipped, empowered,

To answer Love’s call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to love You and love people, but You unpack for us, the ways in which we can grow and expand to do so according to Your good and perfect will. Forgive us for not leaning into You to equip and strengthen us to love as You love. Teach us to trust You more, recognizing that our greatest growth comes through struggles. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may recognize Your heart for them as we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grow us more like You each day. Amen.

 

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

 

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

Sharing Hope

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have. – (1 Peter 3:15, ERV)

But give reverent honor in your hearts to the Anointed One and treat Him as the holy Master of your lives. And if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be read to explain your faith with gentleness and respect. – (1 Peter 3:15, TPT)

 

To revere is to view with respect and awe. How often do we truly look at Christ through the proper lens? God is love, hope, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness and self-control for all who call on His Name. The hope we hold is not due in part to anything that we have done, but rather as a result of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He died so that we might live. Few would willingly lay down their life for another, (and typically only for someone whom they dearly love) yet Christ died for us, while we were still sinners. Jesus loved us, even when we knew nothing of His love to return. It is the unconditional love of Christ that grants us hope, not only for today, but for all of eternity. Our story, our own experiences of discovering the hope that is found in Christ, is the most gentle and respectful way to share what we have found with those around us who ask. May we ever maintain a posture of reverence for the Lord, and be ready to tell of His faithfulness and the hope that is ever held in Him.

 

With honor and awe, Sharing Hope

Let’s look to the Lord;

Our hope Provider,

The One we adore.

The hope that we hold,

Dwells deep from within;

As we’ve discovered,

Love time and again.

It is by God’s love,

We come to know grace;

That grants us all hope,

Eternal embrace.

Let’s ever recall,

How we came to know;

Hope that’s forever,

So His grace we show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all hope is found forever in You. Thank You that You ask us to partner with You to share what we know with those who are seeking. Forgive us for not maintaining a proper perspective of You, or for neglecting to share the hope we know with those around us. Be glorified O God, as we remember with awe and reverence, the hope that You placed within us. Amen.

 

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

 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

An Empowered Life Through Love

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. – (1 Corinthians 4:20, NIV)

God’s kingdom is not seen in talk but in power. – (1 Corinthians 4:20, ERV)

God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life. – (1 Corinthians 4:20, MSG)

 

Our actions have a far greater and longer lasting impact than anything that we say. The charge that we have been given is to love God and love people, according to His good and perfect will. When we choose to live out our faith through all that we do, we are able to make the Lord’s love evident. However, if all that we do is say what we believe, but do not put it into action, the impact is non-existent. In the same way, if we tell those we love that we love them, but do not demonstrate our love through the things that we do, the words have no meaning nor lasting impact. On the other hand, those who serve and honor, uphold and provide, show again and again the power of God in their lives, even if the words are seldom spoken. A favorite quote of mine that aligns well with this verse, is: “Preach the gospel always. When necessary, use words.” – (St. Francis AssissiMay our actions provide the powerful proof of God’s love in our lives as we reach out to love, honor and serve those around us.

 

May the love of God,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Be made evident;

Through all that we do,

Kindness, heaven sent.

His love’s best made known,

Through things that we do;

Each act done in love,

Grants God’s light shine through.

So, let us choose show,

God’s love in our lives;

As we act in love,

Helping others thrive.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love that is not merely spoken to us, but rather it is made evident through actions. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that our actions have not aligned with Your will, or our words were empty and without action. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be people empowered by Your love to go forth and do the same. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize Your heart in the things that we do. Be glorified O God, as we go forth and give feet to our faith through loving actions. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Choose Walk In Love

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – (John 13:34, NIV)

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I have loved you. – (John 13:34, ERV)

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same way. – (John 13:34, VOICE)

 

We are called and commanded to love one another. In the same way that Jesus loved everyone around Him, we are called to do the same. Valentine’s Day is a holiday that those in love, love, and those who are not, often loathe it. To me, today is a great reminder to love others well. Spouse, children, friends, family, strangers – no matter who it is, we are called to choose love and do so well. Though we may struggle with some, we still have the obligation to choose to act/speak in love. Jesus, even as He was hanging on the cross, He loved. He asked for His killers to be forgiven, and made sure His friends would take care of His mother. Everything about His life was an act of love. May we think of God’s perfect love as we go about our day, and choose to love those we encounter in the same way.

 

We all have been called,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To choose walk in love;

Our words and our deeds,

Like the Lord’s above.

To choose to invest,

In those who surround;

To love as we’re loved,

So grace may abound.

Embrace everyone,

With words and with deeds;

Let His love be shown,

As His kindness leads.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible love for us all. Thank You that You call and command us to love others as we are loved by You. Thank You that this is something that You strengthen and equip us to do as we depend on You to lead. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love, despite the love that You lavish on us. Teach us to trust and depend on You to show us how to love best when love is difficult to find. Lead us to love those around us in ways that point people to the True Source of love forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love others best. Amen.

 

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

 

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:18

Walking in Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – (2 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. – (2 Corinthians 13:4-5, ERV)

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent – it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs. – (2 Corinthians 13:4-5, VOICE)

 

Love is a choice that we have to make, day in and day out. It is not dependent on feelings or actions done for or against us, but rather a decision to love others as we are loved by God. He is patient and kind with us. God is not easily angered by our short-comings, and He does not keep a record of our wrongs. When we ask for forgiveness, it is done. If we are to act in the same way, we must have an “otherly” outlook. Choosing to be patient and kind, even when we aren’t feeling it, is being intentional to love. We are not meant to envy others, but rather to celebrate their blessings beside them. Everything good that comes our way is a blessing bestowed upon us, not something to boast about. If we keep score when others hurt us, we are not walking in forgiveness. Yes, we must be wise and not remain in circumstances where there is intentional repeated offense against us, but neither are we to keep stewing on hurts. Our charge is to love and forgive, in the same way we are loved and forgiven by Christ. May we ever look to the Lord to lift us up, so that we may choose to love others in the same way that we are loved by Him.

 

Keep not a record,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Of others offense;

Instead choose to love,

When love makes no sense.

For the love of God,

Is patient and kind;

We are not worthy,

Of His love defined.

Love’s not dependent,

On what we choose do;

A beautiful gift,

Where He makes us new.

Called to do likewise,

To love anyway;

Forgive grievances,

Choose love each new day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are a work in progress. Thank You that You love us through our highs and lows, good and bad, and You teach us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we have been rude or proud, impatient or unkind, or held onto an offense against us that You intended for us to release. Show us how to walk in love, in all things and at all times. Grant us wisdom to know when to stay and when to walk away. Teach us to trust You more, as You are love defined. Lead us to love those around us with kindness, faithfulness and forgiveness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to love others in the same way that You so faithfully love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

A Priestly Blessing

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace. – (Numbers 6:24-26, NLT)

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord smile down on you and show you His kindness. May the Lord answer your prayers and give you peace. – (Numbers 6:24-26, ERV)

God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper. – (Numbers 6:24-26, MSG)

 

This is the priestly blessing that God told Moses to use to bless the people of Israel. I love the word choice, as it paints such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. To be blessed and protected are two things that I pray for my family, daily. To feel the Lord’s pleasure and experience His kindness are incredible additions to the blessing. The very idea of God smiling down on us is so encouraging. Additionally, it is a reminder that He hears our prayers and provides us His peace. May we seek the Lord and pray this blessing for all those around us.

 

May the Lord’s blessings, 02091908168948984113211604272.jpg

Be poured upon you;

May His protection,

Refresh and renew.

May His love be clear,

For You’re His treasure;

Know He smiles at you,

As you bring pleasure.

May you know He hears,

Each prayer that you pray;

He’s offering peace,

As we choose His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of the blessings that You pour upon us – Your presence, protection, pleasure, and peace. Thank You that You hear our every prayer. Forgive us for forgetting how blessed we are to know You. Teach us to trust You more, so, that we would recognize Your blessings and beautiful peace that are so lavishly given. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your blessings being provided in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your blessings and extend them to others. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Blessed are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who show mercy to others. Mercy will be given to them. – (Matthew 5:7, ERV)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourselves cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

As a teacher, extending mercy is a necessary part of my job. Often, the extension of a listening ear after an offense, provides opportunity to redirect with kindness and compassion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction that may feel warranted. Last semester, I had a few challenging classes. One class in particular, was especially trying most days. Each day, I chose to start fresh, and hoped for better than the day prior. I wish I could say it all ended up “roses”, but until the final day, it was a struggle that required His strength. This week has marked the beginning of a new semester and new groups of students. My new classes have a very different feel than the last, and I am encouraged as I enjoy the new. That being said, two of my most difficult students last semester, have made a point to come say hello on the way to their final class of the day each day this week. They come to my door, where I greet students as they arrive, look longingly into my classroom, and tell me that they miss my class. I am fairly certain that the blessing in hearing from these cherubs, comes as a result of them knowing that I cared, despite their struggle to behave. God is merciful to us. We have been given grace and forgiveness that we do not deserve. As we are called to do likewise, may we fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Blessings come in curious ways when we choose to extend mercy.

 

Great blessings belong, Shackles No More

To the merciful;

For we’ve been given,

God’s grace, plentiful.

Favor unfounded,

No punishment due;

May we too extend,

Mercy that makes new.

New to discover,

The right way to go;

Blessings uncovered,

As forgiveness grows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of mercy that Your pour out to us, as You forgive and teach us the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy where we should. Give us Your eyes to see and Your heart to understand, so that we will be merciful as You are to us. Show us how to love those around us through mishaps and shortcomings, and teach us what mercy ought to look like in the circumstances we encounter each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to extend mercy in the same way that You so generously grant mercy to us. Amen.

 

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

Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me. – Psalm 40:11

Seek to Do Good and Love

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

 

The human condition becomes quite ugly when individual agendas are pursued, rather than righteousness and love. If we cannot look past ourselves to extend the same love that we have so freely been given, peace is lacking, and satisfaction never arrives. I cannot help but cringe in today’s political climate. With both sides in seeming pursuit of personal agendas, rather than what is truly right, there is no love extended, and it becomes an episode of adults behaving badly. What if each party set aside their differences and looked for solutions that are founded in love, kindness and justice? Integrity would remain intact, and representatives would be respected, regardless of party affiliation. Currently, all I know to do is pray – for both sides. On a personal level, if I am working hard to do good and be faithful to love, I know peace in my pursuit of right living. May we each pursue righteousness and love, personally, and pray for such for those who have been chosen to lead our nation.

 

We each have been called, Ambassadors of Love

To live right and love;

Choose good for others,

As God does for us.

For as we choose well,

A true life is shown;

Honor and respect,

As grace is made known.

Imagine a place,

Where righteousness reigned;

Love motive for all,

Peace could be maintained.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You reward righteousness and love with life, goodness and honor. Thank You that this is not something that we are expected to do on our own, but rather as we seek You and pursue a life of loving You and loving people, goodness and love are extended according to what is right. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to withhold good or do anything out of selfish ambition rather than love. Teach us to seek You and follow Your leading, so that love and righteousness will be our mode of operation. Show us how to give good and love well for the good of those around us, and not just ourselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to do good and love well. Amen.

 

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

 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8