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,

dsc062124653222902877319183.jpg

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

 

 

Orchestrated Overcoming

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

It is beyond my understanding how God takes the most difficult or heart-breaking of seasons, events, or circumstances, and uses them to launch us into something far greater than we would have ever thought possible. Not one hurt nor heartache is overlooked, and He leads us through to so much more than we would have envisioned for ourselves. When we choose God and listen to His leading, we find His grace, comfort and love through the trials, and discover the hardest of roads lead to the most beautiful of destinations. It is easy to lose sight of hope in the midst of despair, yet as we cling to Christ, love lights the way through the darkness, and His hand leads and guides us to something new. His new is light, life and love. Dreams are imagined and beauty comes from the ashes we thought would never end. May we ever hold fast to hope in God, as He uses all things for our good as we trust in Him.

 

All things in our lives,

Smiling fields

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Can be used for good;

When given to God,

His love, understood.

Beauty from ashes,

His hope from despair;

God shows us the good,

As His love repairs.

What once overwhelmed,

Darkness that has passed;

Seasons of struggle,

Lead to hope that lasts.

So, let us choose trust,

Find hope in His Name;

For there’s so much more,

Love changes the game.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for good, as we trust in You. Thank You that You alone, can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You for the incredible outcomes of so many spaces we thought would be the end of us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts during seasons of difficulty. Teach us to trust You more, as we look to You to be our hope and help as we navigate to the new that awaits us on the other side. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends help in the now and hope for all that is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust and rely on You, even when we see no possible way for good to come from what we are walking through. Amen.

 

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

 

…”to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” – Isaiah 61:3

When We Pray

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – (Jeremiah 29:12, NIV)

Then you will call My Name. You will come to Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – (Jeremiah 29:12, ERV)

At that time, you will call out for Me, and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. – (Jeremiah 29:12, VOICE)

 

When we pray and call upon the Lord, He listens to all that we lift before Him. There is no prayer nor praise that is too great or too small for God. The promise is that every time we call upon the Lord, He will hear our prayers. For me, this is incredibly reassuring. God is faithful, and no matter what I bring before Him, I know that I am heard and loved by Him. It does not mean that every prayer will be met with the answer that I desire, however, every answer is for my ultimate good. May we ever call on the Lord and pray to Him, for He hears and listens to our every word.

 

Call out to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

He hears all we pray;

Faithful to listen,

To all that we say.

It does matter not,

How great or how small;

He listens to us,

Each time that we call.

Blessed assurance,

Faithful to His word;

Each prayer that we pray,

By our God is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to hear and listen to our every prayer. Thank You that we can call on You in all things and at all times, and trust that You hear our every heart cry. Forgive us for not presenting our requests before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will bring ALL before You each day. Show us how to love those around us in a way demonstrates Your heart as we truly listen and hear all that is on the hearts of people placed upon our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call upon You and trust that You listen and hear our every word. Amen.

 

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

 

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

Beauty in Belonging

Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. – (Psalm 100:3, NIV)

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him. We are His people, the sheep He takes care of. – (Psalm 100:3, ERV)

And realize what this really means – we have the privilege of worshiping the Lord our God. For He is our Creator and we belong to Him. We are the people of His pleasure. – (Psalm 100:3, TPT)

 

There is an incredible bond between sheep and their shepherd. They know the voice of the one who protects, gathers and feeds them. And a shepherd will face fierce predators to protect his/her sheep. It makes sense that a comparison would be made that is similar, between God and His people. He knows us each by name, individually, and protects us, gathers us in, and fuels us with His love, strength and truth. The Lord will not allow us to wander too far from others, as He will keep calling us unto Himself until we hear and respond. May we take time to recognize and respond to the voice of He who calls us unto Himself, and give thanks for the beauty in belonging to Him.

 

The Lord’s my shepherd, Masterd by Our Maker No Longer Slaves to Sin

In Him, things are good;

Trusted protection,

Through love understood.

No matter what comes,

In Him I’ll abide;

Greater than all foe,

For He’s on our side.

Nothing against us,

Will win, overcome;

His love, much larger,

’til each day is done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are God. Thank You that You love us, protect and provide for us, just as a shepherd does for his/her sheep. Thank You that as we know You, we learn to hear Your voice, as You lead us the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored or chosen not to listen to Your leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your every word, trusting that all that You say is for good. Show us how to love, provide for and protect those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they witness the evidence of Your hand in our lives. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You lovingly lead, protect and provide for us. Amen.

 

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

 

For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. – Psalm 95:7

 

 

Lord, Grant Me Patience

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2, NIV)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, ERV)

With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. – (Ephesians 4:2, TPT)

 

Daily, we are granted the opportunity to set the standard contained in this verse into practice. Our charge to be humble, patient, gentle, accepting and loving toward those around us, is meant to be carried out in every component of our lives. For me, it means being intentional in choosing my words carefully, and extending grace and gentleness, even when I would rather unleash my momentary thoughts aloud. It can be especially trying when those around us choose poorly, again and again. Our charge is to patiently persist, whether it is in gentle correction, redirection, or simply taking time to listen to the one in front of us who may be challenging our desire to be kind. Between teaching middle schoolers, raising teens, sharing space with my Viking, and navigating way out in the community, there are plenty of moments where I am afforded a turn to put these things into practice. When I am purposeful to put these things into practice, I am able to walk away from situations and circumstances that were trying with the comfort of knowing that I chose well. However, when my patience is pushed to the point where there is not a nerve left and I respond in a less-than-loving way, I end up feeling awful and discover need to make amends, even when my response was seemingly justified. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and equip us, so that we may walk in tender humility and quiet patience, containing the capacity to demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward those around us, particularly those who try our endurance.

 

Lord, grant me patience, willful obedience

Where patience runs thin;

Help me to choose love,

Again and again.

Show me Your great strength,

So I will be kind;

Humble and gentle,

With Your love in mind.

Help me see others,

As You want me to;

Ever choosing love,

To guide my way through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You don’t already do. Thank You that You are willing to strengthen and equip us to walk in humility, extending patience and gentleness through Your love. Forgive us for the times that our response to those around us has lacked patience, gentleness, humility or love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives mercy and grace, just as we have been given by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to help us walk in humility, extending patience, gentleness and acceptance in love. 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

Protection and Peace

But whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. – (Proverbs 1:33, NIV) 

But those who listen to Me will live in safety and comfort. They will have nothing to fear. – (Proverbs 1:33, ERV) 

But those who listen to Me now will live under divine protection; they can rest knowing they are out of harm’s way. – (Proverbs 1:33, VOICE) 

 

God calls us to be in constant communion with Him. As we pray and seek the Lord for direction in all things – great and small, He answers and guides us in the ways that we are meant to go. When we listen, He keeps us safe and we need not fear. Years ago, when I was flying home from Hong Kong, one of the engines on our plane caught fire. The flames were visible to passengers through the windows, and many on our aircraft were terrified. I had just spent six months traveling all over Asia, serving in schools, churches and communities in response to His leading, and I had to believe that He was not finished with me yet. Silently, I prayed for peace and protection, and somehow, by His divine grace, was not afraid. Our plane emergency landed safely and smoothly in Taiwan, and my biggest concern was continuing my journey home. After several hours of waiting, I was able to catch another flight for the remainder of my trip. He was faithful to keep me safe, and I listened as He led me securely home. Though I am not forever fearless when I find myself in potentially harrowing situations, I am frequently reminded of His faithfulness in countless scenarios prior, and discover that if I slow down and listen, God quiets my heart and brings me His peace. May we ever seek the Lord and His leading, for He is the One to lead us and guide us and keep us safe. 

 

The God of all peace, protection and peace

Is forever near; 

Ready to lead us, 

He’s faithful to hear. 

The more we know Him, 

Trust is realized; 

Loving and gracious, 

God will be our guide. 

Let us ever seek, 

We will surely find; 

The Lord’s protection, 

All fear set aside. 

For there is no room, 

For fear in our heart; 

When we pursue God, 

His peace He’ll impart. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to provide Your peace and protection as we seek You and listen to You. Forgive us for the times that we allow our circumstances to lead us, rather than our trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, as we recall Your previous provision that kept us safe in Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers peace and assurance in spaces of fear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and at all times, knowing that You are faithful to protect us and keep us safe. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 118:6

Intentional Encounter

Then he said: “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.” – (Acts 22:14-15, NIV) 

“Ananias told me, ‘The God of our fathers chose you long ago to know His plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear words from Him. You will be His witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard.’ – (Acts 22:14-15, ERV) 

Then he said, “You have been chosen by the God of our ancestors to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the voice of God. You will tell the story of what you have seen and heard to the whole world.” – (Acts 22:14-15, VOICE) 

 

Though we were not zealots, seeking to persecute those who faithfully followed Jesus, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Each of us who calls Jesus our Lord, had some sort of encounter with the living God, that turned our heart toward Him, and caused us to turn away from the life we knew before Him. Our journey with God is our story. What He has done for us is our testimony that cannot be disputed. Just as Paul was called to witness to all, so too, are we charged to be ambassadors of God to those who do not yet know Him. Our life and our love ought to bear witness to the Beloved. May we ever seek the Lord and His goodness and grace, so that our lives make His heart known to all those whom we encounter.  

 

For we are chosen, The Hope of the World

To boldly proclaim; 

Our own grace story, 

That blesses His Name. 

Each who know Jesus, 

Are charged with a call; 

To love as we’re loved, 

For His grace saves all. 

May we choose extend, 

All that we’ve been given; 

So others may know, 

This love, we live in. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the loving way in which You have called each of us out of the darkness of our sin and shame, and how You have shown us such grace through Your Name. Forgive us for not sharing our own story of Your grace and love with those around us. Teach us to trust You more and to listen to Your leading, so that Your love may be made known everywhere we go. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for our own encounter, and share with others, the loving kindness that You have freely given to us. Amen.

 

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

 

When I called, You answered me; You greatly emboldened me. – Psalm 138:3

To Trust the Prince of Peace

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, NIV) 

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God, and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” – (Luke 1:30-33, ERV) 

 

Always, I am in awe as I reread the unfolding of the Christmas Story, and how it all began. Mary, a young and innocent bride-to-be, was visited by an angel of God. More than that, she was told that she would conceive and give birth to a son that would one day rule forever. There are multiple points that would leave any of us with eyes wide open and our jaw hanging toward the floor. First, she was visited by and had an actual conversation with a messenger of God! Since the angel led with “Do not be afraid,” I can only venture to imagine that the extraordinary sight found in the presence of God’s messenger was a bit overwhelming. Add to that, the message that was being delivered. She was then admonished for being highly favored with God. A bit later in the story, we recognize her bewilderment in being chosen and recognized by the Lord. Additionally, to be told that one would conceive and bear a child, let alone one that would rule forever, when there had been no participation in the process, would be beyond perplexing. Even so, Mary was willing, knowing in full, the potential ostracization, or far worse, that could result from this unknown walk of obedience. As we know, God protected her, and Jesus was born, even in the most unassuming of circumstances. Her strength and willingness to do whatever she was called to do, are likely the very character traits that led to her finding such favor with God. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, with willing hearts, ready to do whatever He asks. 

 

An angel appeared, Better is One Day

Imagine the sight; 

Such curious news, 

To be Mary’s plight. 

To conceive and birth, 

A forever king; 

Her choice to obey, 

True self offering. 

God’s favor is found, 

Where hearts are willing; 

To trust and serve Him, 

Always, in all things. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us such incredible examples of people who are willing to walk where You call, even when it does not make sense at all. Thank You that as we take steps of willing obedience, we discover Your goodness, grace and faithfulness as well. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to do what You have asked, or have attempted to make our own way. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and the Prince of Peace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your goodness and faithfulness, and grants courage to seek You for strength. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and obey all that You ask of us each day. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

Numbered Days and Wise Ways

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV) 

Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. – (Psalm 90:12, CEB) 

Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, VOICE) 

 

When I think of numbering my days, it leads to a place of valuing each new day as it comes. It is an intentional act of the will to choose to be in the moment and appreciate the time that we are given. The older I get, the more I try to be intentional with my time. Last evening, though I wanted to join the ladies at church for the Sisterhood Christmas, I knew I needed a quiet evening with my husband and time to check in with my children, after a long week, and prior to my escape for a girls’ weekend with my best friend. A heart of wisdom is a gift that God grows within us over time, as we seek and invest time with Him. There is no “arrival”, but the more in tune we become with the Lord, the quicker we are to hear His voice and know His heart when navigating things that require wisdom and insight. May we value each day, savor each moment as it comes, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom through the loving grace of God. 

 

Lord, help us to know, Numbered Days and Wise Ways

How to count our days; 

To treasure each gift, 

That You send our way. 

Each day we draw breath, 

Is a gift from You; 

Lord, grant us wisdom, 

To love as You do. 

Grant us new insight, 

To walk in Your ways; 

So that we value, 

Each blessed new day. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of this life that You have given. Thank You that as we seek You and ask You, You show us how to number our days and treasure the gift that we are granted in You. Thank You that You grow within us Your wisdom and grace, as we pursue a life lived with You. Forgive us for taking the time that we have been given for granted, or for neglecting the wisdom that You are set to establish within us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading and ever grow in Your wisdom and grace. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses each with value and grace, so that they too, may recognize the treasure of each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the gift of each of our days, and ever seek You to grow in wisdom. Amen.

 

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

 

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. – Psalm 37:30