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

The Greatest Love Story

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – (John 3:16, HCSB)

Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – (John 3:16, VOICE)

In this season of fixation on love, it seems only appropriate to recognize and celebrate the greatest love of all. God loved creation so much that He gave His Son to restore what had been lost, and to make the way for all who receive it, to have life everlasting with Him. We have all been hand-crafted, designed to love and be loved. The unique design placed within each of us grants us the capacity to love well. This love is not limited to romantic love, but rather it equips and empowers us to love all. From our parents, to siblings, to children, family, friends and a significant other, God gives us all that we need to love well. It is up to us to receive all that He offers so that we might truly know His love and then go and love likewise, all those whom He has placed in our lives. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, and give Him all praise for His loving ways each day that we draw breath.

The greatest love story,

That’s ever been told;

The gift of a Savior,

To have and to hold.

It is through the knowing,

Receiving of grace;

That we too can love well,

As we seek His face.

God places in our lives,

People we’re to love;

All whom He created,

Purposed from above.

So seek Him to love well,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Receive all He gives;

In Christ we’re empowered,

To love as we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your One and only Son to make the way for us to be in a loving relationship with You and equipped to love others as You do. Thank You that Your love gives us hope and help, life and love that last forever. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You intended, and for when we neglect to receive what You freely and lovingly offer. Teach us to trust in Your everlasting goodness and grace as You continually show us Your loving ways. Lead us to love all those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the incredible gift of Your love and trust You to lead us to love all those around us well. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. – Psalm 5:11

Believe in All Things

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, HCSB)

Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, ERV)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, NIV)

This can be the challenge in love. To bear all things does not mean to just attempt to deal with trials on our own, but rather it is in God’s strength that we are able to still stand when the storms sweep through. Believing all things is to trust in the truth, no matter how things appear; to hope all things is the confidence in knowing Who is ultimately in control. Lastly, to endure all things is to seek Jesus to hold us up and continue, even when circumstances feel impossible. It is Christ in us who will always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere. When Christ is within us, we delight in what is true. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love, for He is love, always.

The love of the Lord,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Is what leads us home;

No matter how far,

In life we have roamed.

For God’s love endures,

He loves through all things;

Providing us hope,

As strength He does bring.

Strength to choose rise up,

Protection and peace;

Grace to keep going,

Help and hope released.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Thank You that You always protect, we can always trust You, in You we forever have hope, and You provide what we need to persevere. Forgive us for attempting to weather the storms on our own. Teach us to trust and rely on You to provide all that we need to press on. Lead us in Your goodness and strength to do all that You set before us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to lead us in the light of Your love so that we can extend the same love that You give us to all. Amen.

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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Strength and Protection

Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest… – (Ephesians 6:14, HCSB)

So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living. – (Ephesians 6:14, ERV)

Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. – (Ephesians 6:14, TPT)

The reason I always look at the various translations of a passage is because so often, the slight variation in the phrasing helps my heart to make connections between what is being said and how it applies to my own life. This morning, the imagery of The Passions Translation hits home. In the same way that one wears a belt to lift heavy weights for protecting and strengthening the back, so too does truth girded around us, grant us the strength we need to stand strong in faith. Additionally, protective armor to cover the heart reminds me that we are not called to be hard-hearted, but rather, we are to allow God to protect our tender heart with His armor. I don’t know about you, but I could certainly use His strength each day, and His protection over my heart in this incredibly long and exhausting season. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and protect us, for His armor is stronger than anything that comes against us.

The power of truth,

God’s strength unto us;

Protection each day,

Faithful, God with us.

Place over each heart,

Your armor and grace;

Our help and our strength,

Throughout all our days.

Please help us to rise,

In truth, make us strong;

Lead and protect us,

In You, carry on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each time we seek You, You lovingly strengthen and protect us in the truth of You great love. Forgive us for forgetting the strength that is found in Your word and the faithfulness of Your protection when we seek You. Teach us to pursue more of You to be equipped and empowered to walk out each new day well. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exemplify the strength of Your word and protection in Your powerful hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to secure the belt of truth about us, and to be the armor that protects and guards our heart. Amen.

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

Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

How to Pray

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. – (Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV)

Our Father in heaven, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. – (Matthew 6:9-13, HCSB)

Today is the first day of twenty-one days of intentional prayer and fasting with my church. Each day there is a focused passage and it is only fitting that day one covers “The Lord’s Prayer”. This five-verse passage provides us with a framework of how we ought to pray. First, we ought to acknowledge who God is. Next, we are to seek His will, not our own. After that, we should ask Him for what we need. Next, we are to confess to Him and request forgiveness, as we also must forgive others in the same way. He is gracious to help as we ask. None of us are beyond the reach of temptation and ought to ask that God help us avoid or overcome all that tempts us away from His will for our lives. Being delivered from the evil one is an ongoing ask for protection – mind, body, and spirit. Lastly, we ought to again point back to who God is and remember all that He can do. May we each be intentional to begin the new year well, for our help and hope is in Christ.

O God in heaven,

Most holy are You;

Our Savior and King,

Who makes all things new.

May Your will be done,

In our hearts and lives;

Help us to honor,

Without compromise.

Be our Provider,

Throughout each new day;

For in You we find,

What’s needed each day.

For our wrongdoings,

Please love and forgive;

Help us do likewise,

Each day that we live.

Protect our choices,

From going astray;

Lead us and guide us,

To walk in Your way.

The kingdom is Yours,

Love, power and grace;

All praise forever,

For Your loving ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our every prayer. Thank You that You have provided guidance for when we are uncertain as to how to pray. Forgive us for not being intentional to seek You in all things. Teach us to entrust all things into Your strong and capable hands. Show us how to love and forgive as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow Your leading as we pray and choose to trust You more each day. Amen.

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

The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer. – Psalm 6:9

Working All For Good

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 critical to both know and trust this is true in our lives, especially in times of uncertainty or when anxiety begins to rise. I do not know what I will be walking into in the coming school year, as I will again be teaching a new grade and new curriculum. With ever-changing conditions and circumstances, on top of new material, I am again in a space of feeling like a brand new teacher, despite my previous twenty-four years in my career thus far. New can be exciting, but it also makes me anxious, as I want to know what I am doing so that I can do the best possible job of helping kids learn and grow. On my end, I am doing all that I can to prepare, and have to trust that God has me in this space for this time for a purpose. He uses things for good, so I have to trust that I have something to offer and He has something good in store for me. May we ever lean into the Lord and place our trust and confidence in Him, for He is able to bring good and beauty out of spaces of uncertainty.

In everything,

God can create good;

Sunshine after storms,

Grace not understood.

His love never ends,

And His mercy, new;

Each day as we rise,

He’ll show us what’s true.

In love, He will lead,

Show us steps to take;

Heal and build us up,

Despite our mistakes.

So, trust in the Lord,

He’ll use all for good;

As He shows us new,

Where only He could.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for the good of those who love You. Thank You that You can take circumstances and situations that seem dismal or difficult, and turn them into something amazing and beautiful. Forgive us for our fears and doubts as we enter the new and unknown. Remind us of Your presence anew each day, and show us clearly how to walk in Your way. Teach us how to love those around us well, so that they may come to understand the hope, help and peace that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and trust You to work all things out for good. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Our Quiet Retreat

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)

You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for Your Word to renew me. – (Psalm 119:114, MSG)

You’re my place of quiet retreat, and Your wraparound presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in Your Word! – (Psalm 119:114, TPT)

A place of quiet retreat is essential to start my day well. Any place that we intentionally choose to be in His presence can become a quiet retreat. At home, I am able to find a quiet retreat in the early morning on our couch in the living room. When I am away from home, the early morning hours still seem to be the best space for me to find quiet retreat and spend time in His Word. It is through time in His Word that hope is renewed and I again feel surrounded by His presence. In this crazy world, holding onto the promised hope and truth of His Word is everything. There are countless verses that remind us of His love, protection, peace, plans, and promises that grant us hope to hold. May we ever find a quiet retreat in God’s presence as we invest time in His Word, allowing the truth to settle into the spaces within us that need to be reminded again of the goodness of God.

In a quiet space,

My heart finds retreat;

Reminders of truth,

With each new heartbeat.

My refuge and shield,

Where true hope is found;

Place in Your presence,

As all grace abounds.

Your Word is the lamp,

That shows us the way;

Through our time with You,

Peace and presence stay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our quiet space of retreat and Your Word reminds us of who You are and how You love. Thank You that You surround us with Your presence and fill us with Your peace. Forgive us for allowing life to wear us down, rather than pursue spaces of Your refreshing presence. Show us how to find spaces of peace in Your presence where we can be reminded of the truth of Your Word that grants us all hope. Lead us to love those around us in ways that provide safety and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to seek spaces of quiet retreat to spend time in Your Word as You surround us with Your peace. 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

Strength for the Weary

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

For whatever reason, I have not slept well for the last few nights. Last night, I woke from a disturbing dream and felt very unsettled. Typically when that occurs, I try to clear my mind and go back to sleep. This time, all I could do was pray. Pray for protection, for peace, and for a covering over my family and friends. I know that God is always with me, and that I need not be afraid or anxious. It is He who strengthens and upholds us, and is faithful to be found each time we choose to seek Him. Yesterday, despite exhaustion, I was granted the strength and energy to accomplish all that was needed. Today, I will trust Him for the same. May we ever seek our Savior to help, strengthen and support us, for in Him, we have no reason to fear.

Choose not to worry,

And be not afraid;

The Lord is present,

He will make a way.

Faithful forever,

God grants what we need;

He knows and He sees,

Gives strength to succeed.

Hope for the weary,

Strength when ours is gone;

Peace in His presence,

So we may press on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength when we are weary and burdened. Thank You that we need not fear. Thank You that You see and know our needs. Thank You that as we seek You, You meet us and lead us in Your strength. Forgive us for staying stuck, even in the moment, as You are always available for us to seek You. Teach us to turn to You in trust, for You are faithful to be with us and to meet our needs. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength, help and support where it is needed. Show us how to love well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set fears at Your feet and rely on You to be present to help in all things. Amen.

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

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. – 1 Chronicles 16:27

Faithful Answers

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – (Luke 11:10, NIV)

Yes, whoever continues to ask will receive. Whoever continues to look will find. And whoever continues to knock will have the door opened for them. – (Luke 11:10, ERV)

All who keep asking will receive, all who keep seeking will find, and doors will open to those who keep knocking. – (Luke 11:10, VOICE)

Now happily home…

When we ask the Lord, He answers. Friday evening, we were in communication with the trainers who were caring for our dogs during their board and train program. By the end of the back and forth conversation, I could not shake the gnawing feeling that had formed in my gut. As I prayed and sought the Lord, I knew that we needed to bring our dogs home the next day as we were scheduled for a private lesson to work on what the dogs had been doing throughout their training thus far. Yesterday, after having run an errand, we returned home to take care of some projects around the house, prior to heading to our meet up location at a park. Out of the blue, I received a phone call that I would never have expected. An animal control officer contacted me to let me know that there was a case involving our pup, Thor. Shock and disbelief overwhelmed me as I listened to the officer unpack what had transpired. A kind citizen had called animal control and submitted video footage of Thor being continually mistreated and harmed for somewhere between thirty and sixty minutes. The officer let me know that the initial officer who took the case had to hand it over to him, as she could not watch the footage due to the horror it portrayed. By this time, I was shaking and could not fathom the sort of people who would do such things. Prior to leaving for the park, we messaged the trainers and asked that they please bring our dogs belongings with them. Upon arrival at the park, we restlessly watched and waited. I knew that I was not to even speak to the trainers, for God had prepared me to focus only on my dogs, and have my husband speak to them. Thankfully, the kind animal control officer arrived prior to our pups, so we were able to speak more with him about what had taken place and what would happen next. He remained with us when the trainers arrived, and I immediately went to the back door of the car and took Thor’s leash to get him out. He joyfully came to me, and could not get away from the car fast enough. Once my husband had Tali, our other precious pup, he calmly took our belongings to load in the car, and then matter-of-factly informed the trainers that they would be granting us a full refund and covering the vet bill we would incur as our next stop was to be a wellness check with our vet for both dogs, to be certain there were no lasting injuries, or, we would be seeing them in civil court. With looks of fear and horror, they simply shook their heads in the recognition that we knew what had taken place. Thankfully, both pups were uninjured, but both had lost a dramatic amount of weight. Thor was down ten pounds, and Tali, six, after nine days in their “care”. Both horrified and tremendously grateful, we brought our babies home and have been loving them ever since. Though this has been a traumatic ordeal, I can see God’s faithfulness, protection and provision, despite the evil intent of the trainers. From the good citizen who reported and submitted what they saw, to the animal control officer who went out of his way to help us and be certain that our dogs were safely returned to our care, God was with us as He provided and protected, and showed us the way to deal with this horrific situation. Both pups are happily home, and have returned to their normal sweet and mischievous ways. God is good, and He is forever faithful to answer as we ask and seek Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You hear us and answer our cries. Thank You that You open doors that we knock upon, and make Your heart and plan evident as we ask. Thank You for returning our fur babies safely. Forgive us for the fear and anger that arose as we discovered what had taken place. Continue to teach us how to trust You more, as You are always with us and working on our behalf. Show us how to love all those around us, even when we think others are undeserving of love. Please work in the hearts of the trainers so that they may come to understand Your love and kindness that heals hurts and changes hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to ask, seek and knock all of our days. Amen.

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

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

Take Joy in the Journey

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done. How great are Your works, Lord, how profound Your thoughts! – (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in! Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all You’ve done for me: what mighty miracles and Your power at work – just to name a few! Depths of purpose and layers of meaning saturate everything You do. – (Psalm 92:4-5, TPT)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. Your works are marvelous, O Eternal One! Your thoughts are unfathomable. – (Psalm 92:4-5, VOICE)

Each new day, we have a choice – we can either focus on our struggles, or we can take joy in the faithfulness of God. Some days, this is more difficult than others. This morning as I woke from a very restless night’s sleep, I found myself frustrated and grumpy. It took little time to ponder how God has provided for what my heart has needed, and I could not help but smile and find myself aware of how God works on our behalf. God’s thoughts and plans are not our own, and He can use every test as a testimony. If I pause and reflect, there have been countless times that the Lord has taken my struggles and turned them into strengths, and He has turned my trials into triumphs. In the midst of my challenges, I must remember that God is faithful and is ever working on my behalf. He does a work in my heart as well, and leads me through whatever obstacle lies before me. The Lord is loving and kind, working mightily in us, before us, and through us, even in the moments that we are oblivious to how He might move. May we ever praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness, even when we cannot see how He will work things out.

The work of Your hands,

Is faithful and true;

You help and hold us,

As You lead us through.

My heart sings for joy,

At all You have done;

Our loving Father,

The Most Holy One.

Help us to reflect,

Remember with praise;

Your presence and help,

Miraculous ways.

Lead us with Your love,

When we cannot see;

How things will work out,

May we trust in Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that Your ways are so much higher than our own. Thank You that You work on our behalf, and lead us through the deserts and valleys that are a part of our journey. Forgive us for not lifting praise when troubles come; for You are always worthy. Teach us to depend on You in faith, and to ever praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and all that You have done, trusting that You will forever remain our faithful Father. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11