Unity in Jesus

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head… For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore. – (Psalm 133:1-3, NIV)

Oh, how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people all come together as one! It is like the sweet-smelling oil that is poured over the high priest’s head… It is there that the Lord has promised His blessing of eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, ERV)

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down the head… Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life. – (Psalm 133:1-3, MSG)

God calls us to live in community with unity. His intent and purpose are for us to get along and work together as one body. When we do, it is like a fragrant anointing, as those around us can see and experience the goodness of God. His blessings are bestowed upon us as we do, for in such space we are continually reminded of His goodness now, and the glorious hope of all that is yet to come. Yesterday, amid mourning and heartache with a beautiful young couple from our church, we witnessed this in a very real and tangible way. Many gathered to celebrate the short life of their baby, who died a few days before his due date in the womb. Despite devastating heartache, there was joy in celebrating together the hope of being reunited one day in heaven. Though the precious boy never was able to experience life with his family, he will never know heartache, sickness, or pain, for he is already in the arms of Jesus where there is perfect peace. The love and support of their family and community was overwhelmingly evident. Together, we gathered as one to celebrate the life and grieve the loss of the precious baby boy. Incredibly, the blessings and joy were more evident than the sorrow. Only in Jesus, is such hope possible. My heart was blessed, despite the tears, in witnessing and supporting the beauty that is found in a community that comes together as one. (For more of Luca’s story, click here) May we ever seek the Lord and His purposes for us, as we rely on Him to help us be in communities that are united, not divided in His perfect love.

Oh, how wonderful,

Is community;

That stands side-by-side,

In true unity.

United purpose,

Love is what is seen;

Brothers and sisters,

Choosing live in peace.

This is the calling,

God give to us all;

Love one another,

Help up those who fall.

When the trials come,

To stand side-by-side;

Love well and support,

With arms open wide.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be united in community. Thank You that You lead us and equip us to love one another and to encourage and support each other as sisters and brothers. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed differences to divide us rather than unite us, for each of us have strengths and gifts to share that make our community stronger. Show us how to see You in all those whom we encounter. Lead us to love and be in community as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love one another, together as one. Amen.

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

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

Forgiven by Jesus

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)

So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free. It made you free from the law that brings sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, ERV)

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. – (Romans 8:1-2, MSG)

All of us, by our very nature, are prone to sin. Consequently, we all deserve death as a consequence for our poor decisions. Thankfully, in order to have such a sentence, there must be a judge. In Christ Jesus, we are no longer judged guilty. Every sin has been wiped away as Jesus already bore the consequence on the cross. His Holy Spirit breathes life into the spaces that should have been dead and supplies what we need to walk in His way and do His will. Through Jesus, we no longer have hundreds of laws to remember and follow closely, but rather, His new command is to love God and love one another. If we truly do these things, we are choosing life in Him and making His love known. May we ever embrace the goodness and grace that Jesus gives so that we may walk in His way and do His will throughout all our days.

No longer condemned,

In Christ we are free;

To live and choose love,

As it’s meant to be.

The guilt that we bear,

In Him is removed;

Forgiven in love,

That’s constantly proved.

No more under laws,

That lead us to death;

Set free from the weight,

Through life-giving breath.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no more condemnation when we come into a relationship with You. Thank You that You give us light and life, help and hope, as Your presence provides peace and promise to all who receive You as Lord of our lives. Forgive us for every word and deed that has not demonstrated love for You or for Your created. Teach us to turn to You to lead us in Your love in all things. Show us how to live free from the weight of our sin and to walk boldly in Your perfect love. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and grace evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live and love boldly as You set us free to do. Amen.

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

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Jesus Is The Creator

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, HCSB)

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, NKJV)

In the past God spoke to our people through the prophets. He spoke to them many times and in many different ways. And now in these last days, God has spoken to us again through His Son. He made the whole world through His Son. And He has chosen His Son to have all things. – (Hebrews 1:1-2, ERV)

God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, communicates with His creation. Before Jesus, God spoke to His people through prophets, angels, and more. When Jesus came to us, He lived among us and taught the truth using His own voice. Incredibly, even after His death, resurrection, and ascension, He still communicates with us by His Spirit. Because He is heir of all things, Jesus cares for and covers all of creation. He was there in the beginning, walked among us, and is seated on His throne in heaven. Part of His care comes through the gift of community. We are His image bearers and were created to shine His light to all those around us. Our charge is to love one another as He loves us. If we view every person we meet as His created, we begin to see His image in those around us, which inspires us to love more deeply and completely. May we ever seek the Lord, Creator of all, to show us His fingerprints on those around us and to lead us to be bearers of His perfect love as we shine His light through how we live.

Jesus, Creator,

The great heir of all;

Lead us and guide us,

Our Maker of all.

Show us Your glory,

Through all You have made;

Lead us in Your love,

Throughout all our days.

Help us to see You,

In everyone;

Show us how to love,

Like You, Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You spoke to our ancestors long ago, You spoke to those before us through Jesus, and You still speak to us today, by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You Jesus, that You are both heir and Creator. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought to see You in others. Grant us Your eyes to see those around us, so that we too, might see the glory of Your goodness in all. Lead us to love and shine Your light before all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live as Your image bearers, and look to You to show us the beauty in all whom You have made. 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

To Love All

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. – (Matthew 5:44-45, NIV)

But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. – (Matthew 5:44-45, ERV)

But I tell you this: love your enemies. Pray for those who torment you and persecute you – in so doing, you become children of your Father in heaven. He, after all, loves each of us – good and evil, kind and cruel. He causes the sun to rise and shine on evil and good alike. He causes the rain to water the fields of the righteous and the fields of the sinner. – (Matthew 5:44-45, VOICE)

Though few of us have experienced persecution like the early church, we all have experienced unkindness, irritation, and attitudes that we do not appreciate. As a middle school teacher, I am reminded daily of the need to pray for my students. The unkindness they display to others is usually a response to unkindness that they have received. At that age, one typically gives what they get. If I can show kindness, goodness and grace, perhaps a seed of the same will be planted in them. It requires God’s grace to extend the same to those who are all over the place when they are meant to be engaged. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, and depend on Him to show us how to love all those whom we encounter in the same way that He loves us all.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

How to choose love all;

Extend Your goodness,

Let love be installed.

Grant us Your patience,

And Your kindness too;

Despite what we get,

Let us reflect You.

Please grant us the grace,

To love as You do;

Be gracious and kind,

So good is shown true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love as You love. Thank You that there are no exceptions to whom we should give kindness and grace. Thank You that You love us all, no matter who we are, where we have been, or what we have done. Forgive us for our lack of patience and grace. Grant us wisdom as to how we are meant to love those around us. Lead us in Your love so that all feel valued and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and grace for us all and seek You to love likewise. Amen.

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

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

Living Love

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, NIV)

That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, ERV)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love! – (1 John 4:11-12, MSG)

God’s love is made evident as we choose to love one another. His love is perfect and complete. The more we seek Him to lead us in love, the better we reflect His heart to the world and show those around us who He is. Though none of us are perfect in love, we are all loved perfectly by God. As we embrace His goodness and grace, we are better equipped to love others well. May we ever seek the Lord and receive His perfect love, and then go and love those around us in the same way.

God’s love is made clear,

As we choose to love;

It chases off fear,

All grace from above.

His love is perfect,

He loves perfectly;

With loving kindness,

He sets our hearts free.

Set free from the things,

That keep us from love;

And shows us the way,

That we each are loved.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is perfect and Your heart for us is to reflect Your love to the world. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen nor reflected Your love to those around us. Teach us to embrace the goodness and grace that You lavishly give so that we too, may love as You intended us to love. Show us new ways to love those around us well, so that Your heart would be made evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love each other with Your love that lives in us. Amen.

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

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

How Love is Made Known

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, HCSB)

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. – (1 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. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, VOICE)

God provides us the ultimate example of what love is and is not. We are commanded to love God and love people, and He both shows and tells us what it is to love. Patience and kindness should lead us in how we love. Jealousy, pride, unkindness, selfishness and a short temper do not help us show love. In our broken humanity, we all struggle with loving as God does in all things. All it takes is being stuck in Seattle traffic during rush hour to be reminded that we are ALL a work in progress. We have the opportunity to extend love everywhere we go and through everything we do. Imagine what the world would look like if we all sought the Lord to lead us in His love in all that we said and did? Each time that we extend patience and kindness, we are igniting a spark that can spread. For me, when I have been granted patience or kindness when I know I did not deserve it, it caused me to take pause and work to do the same in similar situations. May we ever seek the Lord in His goodness and grace to lead us in His incredible love in all things.

Lord, help us to love,

In all that we do;

Let each word and deed,

Reflect Your heart true.

Grant us Your patience,

And Your kindness too;

Lead us to love well,

As You call us to.

Help us be gracious,

Wherever we go;

May Your heart shine through,

So love is made known.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love. Thank You that You show us what love is and is not, so that we know what You are calling us to do. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked patience or kindness, the times that we have been jealous or rude or proud. Teach us to trust and follow You so that we might extend Your heart to the world through our love. Show us how to be patient and kind in each circumstance we encounter. Help us to love as You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love in all that we say and do in every circumstance. Amen.

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

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” – John 13:34

Simple to Love

This is what I command you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, HCSB)

This is My command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, ERV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

Each year, the more I experience life, the more I recognize how critical it is for us to prioritize following God’s greatest commands: to love God and love one another. If what we do and say is fueled by His love, we are making a positive impact on the world, no matter how small. It is amazing how this lens changes our approach in what we say and do. In fact, it truly changes our perspective on everything. One example that is a part of my everyday routine is to take our dogs on long walks. Each morning I anticipate how God might use me (and them) to love others well. Incredibly, there is some sort of interaction or exchange with others along our route every time we go out. Sometimes, it is simply a warm smile and friendly hello, yet other times it is a sweet stop to chat with another and extend kindness. On our route, as we near home, there is an older gentleman in a wheelchair. What began as simply smiling and waving, has turned into a stop each time Michael is outside, so that we can check in and he can give pets to the pups. Michael is forty years and ten days my senior, and sits outside working on Suduko puzzles and gladly greets us with a warm smile and gratitude. It amazes me how God can take something so ordinary that we already do, and use it as an opportunity to show His love to those we encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us as we go, and may His love be made evident through our every word and deed. 

We are commanded,

To love each other;

As mothers, fathers,

Sisters and brothers.

Wherever we go,

Whatever we do;

Our God is able,

To show His love true.

It is quite simple,

To choose to give love;

A smile and kind word,

Show hope from above.

May we make the choice,

To love each other;

In the little things,

It’s worth the bother.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love each other. Thank You that love looks different to everyone. Thank You that You can use a smile, a kind word, a friendly wave – all to be expressions of the goodness of Your love. Forgive us for the missed opportunities to love when we have been in a hurry, distracted, or “not in the mood.” Show us how to love in the little things, for it is the little things that lead to the enormity of how good and loving You are. Lead us to love those around us in ways that speak directly to the heart so that the recipient will feel and know how good You truly are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You as we choose to love each other well. Amen.

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

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

In Freedom Choose Love

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

God has given each of us a free will. His intention has always been for us to be free to choose. The love of God draws us unto Him, yet we always have a choice as to whether to accept or reject it. When we follow our own path with little care or concern for others, we are gratifying the flesh and not choosing love. However, when we seek the Lord to lead us in His love, we are opting to walk in His way and using our freedom to love as Jesus loved. Incredibly, as we select a life that follows after Him, we become free from the weight of being stuck in our own selfishness, and discover the joy that awaits as we choose to walk the path that He prepares for us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us, as we freely choose to love and serve one another as we are called to do.

Brothers and sisters,

We all have been called;

In freedom to choose,

To love one and all.

For as we choose love,

Selfishness will fade;

True freedom and joy,

Are found in His ways.

So, let us look up,

Select the Lord’s best;

Love one another,

As grace is expressed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us each with a free will. Thank You that with our freedom, we can choose to follow after You and select a life of loving as You first loved us. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to stay stuck in our sinful patterns instead of choosing to follow after You. Teach us to freely choose to love and serve one another, for in doing so, we come to know the joy that is found in opting to utilize our freedom for good. Show us how to love and serve those around us in ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve with the freedom that we are granted in You. Amen.

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

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

Love Made Perfect

This is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, ERV)

So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another. No one has ever seen God with human eyes; but if we love one another, God truly lives in us. Consequently God’s love has accomplished its mission among us. – (1 John 4:11-12, VOICE)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us – perfect love! – (1 John 4:11-12, MSG)

The more we love one another, the better those around us come to understand the love of God. Perfect love is God’s love being made visible through our decision to love. Love is a choice, and each time we choose to love, we are choosing to show the world what God intended all along. However, if we talk about God or His love but do not show it through our interactions, then we are just making noise and are keeping the love of God hidden. If fact, it does more damage if we do not choose to show love, for to some, we might be the only example of who God is in their lives. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that those around us may come to understand God’s goodness and grace as His love is demonstrated through all that we say and do.

The love of the Lord,

Is beyond compare;

It is by His grace,

That we all can share.

Share of His goodness,

And love others well;

Ever choose to love,

As in Him we dwell.

For when we know love,

We give it away;

It never runs out,

It’s made new each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that because You first loved us, we too, are called to love one another. Thank You that this is not something we have to do on our own, but rather You equip and empower us to love as You love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love as You call us to love. Teach us to trust You to lead us and fill us, so that we may ever be Your hands, heart and voice to those around us. Show us how to love each person we encounter as You would. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love. Amen.

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

This is my command. Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

Answer Gently

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG)

A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder as the end of the school year draws ever nearer, and exhaustion is at an all-time high. Patience wanes when weariness is prevalent, and it is important to remember what matters. I have both seen and experienced the truth of this proverb, as I have both calmed and been calmed when a gentle response has been given in a moment of anger. Similarly, I have been both the provider and the recipient of a rough answer, and such is never well-received. If we are truly choosing love, our response to people must align. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to respond gently in love, so that anger dissipates and kindness reigns.

Tender the answer,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

That turns away wrath;

Kindness defuses,

As good we enact.

Gentle responses,

Lead us to calm down;

Extending God’s love,

To those all around.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To gently respond;

Take a breath, listen,

In love, correspond.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your faithfulness as we choose to respond gently to tempers inflamed. Thank You that the fruit of the Spirit are the things that keep relationships intact and communication open. Thank You that You call us to be gentle and kind, for each time we have received these things in a moment of anger or frustration, the fury melted away and calm came forth. Forgive us for the times that we return anger with anger. Teach us to slow down, take a deep breath, and listen to Your leading – for Your response in loving, patient and kind, and brings peace in the midst of frustration or fury. Show us how to love one another in all situations and circumstances so that we would answer each other gently and in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us always answer gently and with love so that Your heart may be clearly seen. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control… – Galatians 5:22-23a