The Process of Perfect Love

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, HCSB)

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 changes our hearts and transforms our minds so that we too, might love as He loves. As humans, we are subject to sin and falling short, so the process of being transformed is one that requires an entire lifetime. That being said, it is a process that is well worth the while. When we allow God’s love to reconstruct our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect His own, we have the opportunity to show God’s love to all those around us. In this space of loving as God loves us, we can become His representatives of what love ought to be. The challenge is that when we do not choose to act in love, we are responding as the world does, and discrediting the heart of God for others. I say that not to bring shame, but rather to encourage each of us to seek to love God and love people (His creation) as He loves us. We all fall short, but what we do with our shortcomings makes all the difference. Are we quick to apologize and make amends, or do we ignore and let things go that can create a divide? The more I seek the Lord, the more I see opportunities all around me to show evidence of His love. Love is patient and kind, it rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. It does not envy, is not boastful or conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love never ends and has set before us the way to love well. (see 1 Corinthians 13) May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that those around us might experience for themselves the goodness of God.

The love of the Lord,

Is greatest of all;

For it lifts us up,

Each time that we fall.

It brushes us off,

And fills us again;

Overwhelms with good,

As each day begins.

Press in, keep seeking,

For God’s always found;

Perfect love won’t fail,

Hope in Him is sound.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You fill and equip us to love like You as we seek You and depend on You. Forgive us for our shortcomings and failures when we did not choose love. Lead us in Your kindness so that we may love as You love each of us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your perfect love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love those around us as You intended. 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

Love is the Message

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. – (1 John 3:11, NIV)

This is the teaching you have heard from the beginning: We must love each other. – (1 John 3:11, ERV)

The central truth – the one you have heard since the beginning of your faith – is that we must love one another. – (1 John 3:11, VOICE)

To love is the foundation of our faith, for without love, there would be no hope for all that God has in store for both now and eternity. It is God’s perfect love that demonstrates to us what love is and how to give it away. When those around us do things that frustrate or irritate us, love chooses to assume positive intent, rather than allow anger to begin. To love one another is to do unto others what we would want done to us. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His perfect love, so that we might love one another well.

Love is the message,

Photo by Ravi Kant on Pexels.com

For it’s always been;

A call to choose love,

As each day begins.

No matter what comes,

The call is the same;

Love one another,

To honor God’s Name.

Let loving kindness,

Be what leads the way;

Give as God gives us,

Love that’s new each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your message is clear, and that You only ask of us that which You do and are willing to equip us to do as well. Thank You that not only do You show us love, but You are love. Forgive us for responding to anyone without love. Teach us how to love those around us best, as You know what each heart needs. Lead us in Your love throughout each new day, and may Your love be what others recognize in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love as You call and command us to do. Amen.

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

Nothing is more precious that Your loving kindness. All people can find protection close to You. – Psalm 36:7

Humbly Choose Love

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)

By Friday, weariness begins to creep in for many of us. This reminder is timely, as being tired often reduces resilience for the things that challenge our patience. When I think of the kindness and gentleness of God, I am humbled at His patience with me. Knowing that I am the recipient of His patience and acceptance with unconditional love compels me to seek to do the same. It is a never-ending work in progress, for the ugly of our own humanity is at odds with the kindness and goodness of God within. As we are intentional to seek the Lord to fill us and lead us, our gentleness and patience grow for those around us. The Lord’s lens of love transforms how we view others, and in turn, how we interact. May we ever pursue the Lord and His perfect love so that we may be gentle, patient and accept one another in love.

Humbly may we seek,

The love of the Lord;

That’s poured out to us,

By Him we adore.

As love leads the way,

We learn to be kind;

Gentle and patient,

His goodness in mind.

Help us be patient,

With great gentleness;

Good unto others,

Grace, love and kindness.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are gentle, patient and kind, ever loving us with goodness and grace. Thank You that You call us to do the same, as You lovingly equip us with all that we need to love like You. Forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not demonstrated humility, gentleness, patience or love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead us well. Show us how to love those around us as You do, especially those who challenge our patience. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live a life of love. Amen.

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

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

No Fear in Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, NIV)

Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE)

There is not room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. – (1 John 4:18, MSG)

If love is as God intended, there is no room for fear in love. Love created by God is patient, kind, protective, trustworthy, hopeful, and ongoing. As His love grows in us and through us, we discover there is no room for envy, boasting, pride, selfishness, short tempers, grudges or evil of any kind. Each of the attributes of His love combat and cover over the shortcomings that reside in us all. The ongoing pursuit of God’s love for us and through us, removes fear and draws us closer to understanding a fully formed love. May we ever seek the Lord and His lavish love, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way that we are loved by God.

Fear’s an ugly space,

Our hearts should not dwell;

Jesus, our Savior,

Has overcome hell.

It wasn’t by force,

Nor weapons of war;

But rather His love,

That rose, said, “no more”.

His love is perfect,

It drives out all fear;

His goodness shows us,

How God’s love is near.

Lord, please show us how,

To love without fear;

To give as You give,

So true love’s made clear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible love. Thank You that Your perfect love drives out fear. Thank You that You call us to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not demonstrated love as You intended. Please teach us to love in a way that drives out fear and makes Your goodness and grace abundantly clear. Show us how to love all those around us the way that You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us what love truly is so that we can go forth and love like You. Amen.

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

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – Psalm 119:76

Always Love

It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, ERV)

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, TPT)

 

God is love. This perfect sort of love comes from Him alone. We are flawed and frail and fallen; He is good, gracious and merciful. When we seek the Lord first, He deposits these things within us, and grants us the capacity to protect, trust, hope, and persevere in love. In our broken humanity, we will never be flawless in our delivery. However, God is. When we choose to love God and love people as we are called and designed to do, we become better equipped to protect, trust, hope and persevere, as His love leads us in every area of our life that we grant Him access. The more we give God room, the more we become aware of the hope, security, and overcoming, lasting love that is found in Christ. May we ever seek the Lord with our whole heart, so that we too, may love in a way that creates a safe place of shelter, that never stops believing the best for others, never takes failure as defeat, and never gives up.

 

Our space of shelter, Life by Love Defined

When weary and worn;

He grants strength to move,

In Christ, hope’s reborn.

The One we can trust,

Protection in love;

He never gives up,

Our Help from above.

Even through the times,

When we can’t shake fear;

His presence surrounds,

To rise, persevere.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we begin to understand the power of love. Thank You that Your love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Thank You that the more we walk with You, the better we are able to love as You love us. Forgive us for the times that we have been lacking in our love. Continue to teach us how to love like You. Show us practical and tangible ways to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we always trust and hope in You, as You protect us and provide for us, all that we need through Your overwhelming and unending love. 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

Six Trials and Three Denials to Good Friday

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” – (Luke 23:47, NIV)

The army officer there saw what happened. He praised God, saying, “I know this man was a good man!” – (Luke 23:47, ERV)

When the Roman captain overseeing the crucifixion witnessed all that took place, he was awestruck and glorified God. Acknowledging what they had done, he said, “I have no doubt; we just killed the righteous one.” – (Luke 23:47, TPT)

 

Good Friday. There is seemingly much irony in the name, as nothing that Jesus endured that day was good at all. Six trials, three denials, multiple beatings, abuse, mocking, disregarding, false accusations, a crown of thorns, and hanging on a cross, bearing the sin and shame of the world, all before noon that day. And yet, the things that transpired during the six hours that Friday, as Jesus hung in agony on the cross, transformed the heart and mind of a Roman army officer, whom likely was eager to crucify Jesus, when the whole scene on the hill began. He watched as Jesus forgave the criminals accused on either side of Him; he heard as Jesus told his mother that His dear friend would be her son (to care for her and help provide, as was customary and necessary back then); the officer witnessed Jesus turning down a drink that would have taken the edge off of the pain, and he heard Jesus cry out and commit His spirit into the Lord’s hands. As the darkness surrounded the scene from noon to three, I imagine the magnitude of the man, Jesus, before him, began to really resonate clearly in the heart of the Roman captain. When Jesus took His final breath, other signs and wonders transpired too. That centurion’s heart was forever changed, as he recognized a fraction of the reality of what had just taken place, and that they had indeed crucified the righteous one. In all reality, we ought to have the same sort of life-changing aha moments at the foot of the cross, as we recognize that Jesus hung in our place to extend us His grace so that we might live. All of us, without Jesus, deserve death. We all are sinners in need of mercy and grace. Jesus came, lived and loved, died and rose again, so that we could indeed refer to that horrific, painful, agonizing Friday, as good. May we take time today to kneel at the foot of the cross and give thanks. For God is so good and full of grace that He loved us with His very life.

 

Lord, help us to see, Six Trials and Three Denials

The truth through fresh eyes;

The weight sacrificed,

Saves us from demise.

The burdens You bore,

Were meant to be ours;

Your love held You there,

Enduring the scars.

There are not the words,

To ever suffice;

To praise and give thanks,

For Your sacrifice.

Today I will choose,

To kneel at the cross;

Give all unto You,

Without You, I’m lost.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to bear the weight for us all. Thank You Jesus, for living in perfect love. Thank You for showing us what it means to endure all things in love, and why that wretched, awful, agonizing Friday was actually good. Forgive us for our lack of attention to the significance of what You did for us. Teach us to look back and recognize all that You endured on our behalf in love. Show us how to embrace the grace that You have freely given, so that we might go forth and love others as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for the amazing good that came from that Friday so many years ago. Amen.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely He was the Son of God!” – Matthew 27:54

Protect Well Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life. – (Proverbs 4:23, ERV)

So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life. – (Proverbs 4:23, TPT)

 

The condition of our hearts is of utmost importance, for from them flows everything we think, say and do. As time is intentionally invested with God, He refines our hearts to more clearly reflect His own. The more care we place into guarding our hearts from taking in what does not belong, the better the condition of our inmost being, and consequently, the more life-giving our words and deeds become. May we ever guard our hearts so that light, life and love are the things that flow out of our lives.

 

Protect well your heart, Protect Well Your Heart

Give care to each thought;

For from deep within,

Our affections are sought.

If we take in good,

Seek after the Lord;

The same flows from us,

All grace He affords.

Pursue with intent,

God and His great grace;

Allow Him to reign,

As love shapes our ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we come to You and seek You to guard our hearts, You protect and refine us to better reflect Your love to the world. Thank You that in You, there is an overflow to give away. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed anything other than Your truth to have a voice in our lives. Teach us to trust You more so that we would be protected and directed by the light of Your perfect love. Show us how to make room for what You are doing in us to overflow through love to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we guard our hearts and seek Your guidance in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10

Forgive in Love and Let Go

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT)

Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. – (Proverbs 17:9, ERV)

Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships. – (Proverbs 17:9, TPT)

 

Love and friendship thrive when we walk in forgiveness, but fail when we hold grudges and choose not to move on. Not one of us are perfect, and we all are in need of grace. God, in His goodness and perfect love, grants us grace and forgiveness as we ask, and remembers our sins no more. He does not remind us of our failures or past mistakes, but rather extends encouragement and builds us up. We too, are called to do the same. Faults and mistakes are not the same as intentional harm. Though we are always called to forgive, we must be wise as we move forward in love. Sometimes love has to part ways and take a different path to stay safe; body, heart, mind and soul. Most often, our relationships prosper as we forgive faults and failures, moving forward in love as we are called to do. We all fall short and desperately need grace. What a treasure when we have love and friendship that forgive faults and love us where we are, as we are. May we choose to forgive in love, letting go of the past and moving forward, allowing each new day to be a fresh start.

 

To love is a choice, Confidence in Christ

It chooses forgive;

Looks past others faults,

Loves well and lets live.

Love does not hold on,

To mistakes gone by;

Instead looks forward,

Brings grace into life.

The strongest of bonds,

Are formed by His grace;

Forgiving in love,

Completely embraced.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You forgive our faults and failures and do not remind us of them over and over again. Thank You that when You forgive, it is finished. Thank You that You show us what it means to do the same for those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked forgiveness, or have brought things back up that needed to be left in the past. Teach us how to forgive and move forward, releasing what was into Your hands. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, come to know and understand Your forgiveness and grace in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to forgive in love and let go. Amen.

 

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

 

It (love) does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:5

 

True Love Forgives

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

 

Forgiveness is an essential element of loving well. Jesus does not look at us and determine at some point that we have reached our quota of sin, and He suddenly will no longer forgive; therefore, we are called to do the same for those around us. That being said, we must use wisdom as we navigate. If someone is intentionally causing harm, we are capable of forgiving without remaining in a position to continue to be in harm’s way. Forgiveness is far more easily carried out with some, than with others. To forgive is to let go of our anger, cease resentment, and give up all claim on rights to retaliate or recover what has been lost. It is to extend pardon and release the burden, whether the offender has asked to be forgiven or not. “…Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) If we want to truly live and love as God has called us, we must forgive in the same way that He forgives each of us. May we be encouraged and empowered by the goodness and grace of God to go forth and forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven.

 

If we truly love, The Favor of Forgiveness

By grace, we’ll forgive;

Release each other,

With true pardon, give.

For no one’s perfect,

All in need of grace;

To rise, get better,

And walk in God’s way.

Lead us Lord Jesus,

Grant strength to forgive;

Choose love lavishly,

As His grace we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved and forgave us, before we were even repentant. Thank You that it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Thank You that You call us to extend the same forgiveness to those around us that You so lavishly extend to us. Forgive us for the times that we struggle to forgive, or have to do so over and over again. Show us how to place all in Your hands. Teach us how to navigate offenses according to Your perfect love. Lead us to love and forgive 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 seek Your strength to forgive others, whether they ask or not, and move forward in love, just as You love us. Amen.

 

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

 

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Measured By Our Maker

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, NIV)

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is His punishment that makes a person fear. So His love is not made perfect in the one who has fear. – (1 John 4:18, ERV)

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. – (1 John 4:18, MSG)

 

I’m not sure why my heart held onto this particular verse this morning as I read through today’s passages, but for whatever reason, it did. Perhaps it is to remind my own heart that above all, I am loved perfectly by God. I am not particularly fearful, yet when I feel overloaded by life, there are things that make me feel anxious, which is really a form of fear. In my case, it is one of “not enough”.  As an educator, mom, wife, daughter, sister, coach, friend, and more, it is easy to place pressure on myself to “measure up” to a certain standard, as there are goals I desire to accomplish, hopes I hold, and dreams that I am pursuing. That being said, I have to remember that we are all on a journey and life is a process. God, in His perfect love, walks beside us, strengthens us, encourages us, and equips us for each next step. The only standard we need worry about “measuring up” to, is His. Just like a loving parent, the Lord asks for obedience, and our best; not perfection. There is no fear in a child who knows that they have done their best to do as their parent has asked of them; it is no different with God. We are loved perfectly because we are His. We are enough because He created us in His image. We need not fear, because His love is for us, and He is far greater than anything that could ever come against us. May we ever rest in God’s perfect love as we press on in all that He has called us to be and do, for in all things, His strength and grace will see us through.

 

No need be afraid, Measured By Our Maker

When doubt dares come near;

For God’s perfect love,

Casts away all fear.

There’s no punishment,

In faithful pursuit;

Instead there is grace,

That none can dispute.

In all things, always,

Seek God and His love;

He’s love perfected,

Strength to rise above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in love. Thank You that Your love drives fear away, and grants us the strength and resolve to press on and rise up into all that You are calling us to become. Forgive us for our fear, worry and anxiousness about measuring up to the world’s standards, rather than giving our best unto You. Teach us to give all to You in everything we do, so that our trust is in You alone. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace, strength, resolve and encouragement where they are needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your perfect love and fix our eyes on how You view us, rather than any other standard set in our sight line. 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