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

Freely Forgive

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – (Matthew 6:14-15, NIV)

Yes, if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, then your Father in heaven will also forgive your wrongs. But if you don’t forgive others, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrongs you do. – (Matthew 6:14-15, ERV)

In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. – (Matthew 6:14-15, MSG)

If we love God and love people, we will walk in God’s way and do His will. God’s will is that we forgive others just as He has forgiven us. Once we realize the magnitude of His mercy and grace, we ought to be compelled to extend the same to others. Our grudges create a divide between us and God. Not because He cannot get past them, but rather because we are unable. Forgiveness means that we willfully choose to let go of the anger and frustration brought on by the words or actions of another, and hand them over to God. This is an active and ongoing process that we must choose. As we do, God grants us the grace to release the grudge that we want to hold so that it no longer has a hold on us. To forgive does not mean we forget, but rather that we no longer hold the hurt and allow God to heal. Often, we must choose to forgive repeatedly for the same action, as the offense arouses anger each time it is recalled. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to continue to forgive others, so that we too, may continue to be forgiven.

We are commanded,

To choose to forgive;

As we’re forgiven,

A grace we must give.

For holding grudges,

Creates a divide;

Gets in the Lord’s way,

Of purpose inside.

Lord, help us let go,

Of hurts and offense;

Lead us in Your love,

And be our defense.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to forgive as You forgive us. Thank You that as we do, the weight is lifted, and we are able to walk as You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have been slow to forgive. Teach us to keep short accounts and to place all in Your capable hands. Show us how to love and forgive those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to help us forgive every offense. Amen.

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

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37

Purposeful Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. Thant’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

When we truly seek the Lord to lead us in His perfect peace, we are equipped and empowered to bring His peace wherever we go. People recognize there is a difference when we operate from a position as a peacemaker, rather than as one who seek only to be right or to be heard. Peacemakers prioritize people. Their mode of operation is loving kindness and grace. Above all else, when we extend God’s peace to those around us, He calls us His own sons and daughters. Our place is in His family, and our hearts begin to more closely resemble His own as we follow after Him. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His peace in all things, and may we recognize and receive who we are as His beloved children.

Cooperation,

And purposeful peace;

Are brought together,

As grace is released.

The Lord equips us,

To in love, bring peace;

Living with purpose,

His good does increase.

The more we choose love,

As it’s meant to be;

The more peace will spread,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip and empower us to pass on Your perfect peace to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos to get in the way of showing love and grace as You intended. Teach us to depend on You to provide wisdom, strength, and peace in all things. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and those around us, and by Your grace, extend Your purposeful peace wherever we go. Amen.

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

For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. – Ephesians 2:14

To Pursue the Purposed Path

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”, so that none of you may be hardened to sin’s deceitfulness. – (Hebrews 3:13, NIV)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

Encourage each other every day – for as long as we can still say “today” – so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. – (Hebrews 3:13, VOICE)

Encouragement is not only to build each other up, but it is useful to keep us moving in the right direction, according to God’s good and perfect will. Sin that so easily entangles us, is easier to avoid when there is accountability and encouragement. When we walk beside people who are moving with similar purpose and intent, we can encourage each other to continue on the path to which we have been called. This is one of the reasons that God calls us to be in community. None of us are meant to navigate this life alone. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to encourage one another, and to point one another to pursue the path that He has placed before us according to His will and not our own.

Choose to encourage,

Each other each day;

In community,

In God’s will we’ll stay.

To keep far from sin,

Do not isolate;

Beside, together,

Choose to congregate.

With mutual love,

Respect and purpose;

Let us press forward,

As God has called us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called and created us to be in a community that walks together and encourages each other so that we may walk in Your way and do Your will. Forgive us for the times that we have isolated or have neglected to give or receive the encouragement You intended. Teach us to trust in Your leading and to invest in the communities to which we have been called. Show us how to love and encourage those around us as You intended, so that we may avoid the sin that so easily entangles us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us and guide us so that we may encourage and walk alongside those whom You have placed on our path with purpose on purpose. Amen.

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

Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. – Psalm 34:14

The Purpose is Love

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, NIV)

My purpose in telling you to do this is to promote love – the kind of love shown by those who are pure, who do what they know is right, and whose faith in God is real. – (1 Timothy 1:5, ERV)

Our teaching about this journey is intended to bring us to a single destination – a place where self-giving love reigns from a pure heart, a clean conscience, and  genuine faith. – (1 Timothy 1:5, VOICE)

Our call, command and purpose is to love. This is not merely some romantic love or infatuation, rather God’s love is sincere, from a pure heart and a genuine faith, that ever seeks to lift up, do right, and encourage the best in others. I imagine we all can think of people who have shown us love like this. Those individuals are God’s gifts to us. Each models what it means to love as God intended, and their loving kindness has been and continues to be an encouragement to do the same. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love, purify our hearts, cleanse our conscience, and grow in a genuine faith.

The purpose is love,

In all that we do;

Our ultimate goal,

To learn to love true.

For God has shown us,

What it is to love;

Without conditions,

He gives from above.

Love overwhelming,

With goodness and grace;

It meets us always,

As we seek God’s face.

May we learn to love,

With hearts that are true;

That choose give freely,

As we’re called to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love, not out of our own selfish desires or ambitions, but rather from a pure heart, clean conscience, and genuine faith. Thank You that this is not dependent on our own reserves, but rather is endlessly supplied as we seek You. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love. Teach us how to love in every situation and circumstance. Show us how to love each person we encounter in a way that demonstrates Your goodness to them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and grow us in Your love, and as a result, give love to all as You have designed us to do. Amen.

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

I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction lives within me. – Psalm 40:8

Love Beyond What is Seen

For we walk by faith, not by sight. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, HCSB)

We live by what we believe will happen, not by what we can see. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, ERV)

The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. – (2 Corinthians 5:7, VOICE)

When we know God and trust in Him, we need not fear what we see with our eyes, but rather hold fast to the truth of all that He has promised. What we see is only a small part of the big picture; we only know in part what God knows in whole. He knows the outcome before things begin, and He holds us in the hollow of His hands. In Him, we can trust that He will lead us, guide us, and stay beside us, through every step of every day. So often, things have looked bleak or hopeless or impossible through my own eyes, yet with Christ, the bleak became beautiful; the hopeless, full of hope; the impossible was indeed possible and my perspective was persuaded to see beyond what my eyes could take in. Walking in faith is not blind, but rather it is seeing through His eyes rather than our own. May we ever walk in faith, trusting beyond what we cannot see, for God sees and knows all and has our very best in mind.

O Lord help us walk,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

By faith and not sight;

For we’ve but a glimpse,

Of all You make right.

Seasons of heartache,

And mountains we climb;

All with a purpose,

Holy and divine.

Each new obstacle,

You grant us the strength;

To keep on moving,

Through height, depth and length.

As our view changes,

And we have moved past;

You show us purpose,

Your love beyond our ask.

So, trust in the Lord,

Not in what we see;

For God’s always good,

In love He will lead.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith helps us to trust beyond what we can see, for we only see in part what You see in whole. Forgive us for our lack of faith when what we see seems far beyond what we are capable of navigating. Teach us to recognize that You can do far more than we could ever hope or imagine. Show us how to walk by faith and live out Your love for all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust beyond what we can see, for You are good and far greater than anything that comes before us. Amen.

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

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. – Ephesians 2:8

Tangible Love for the Common Good

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices. – (Hebrews 13:16, HCSB)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship – a different kind of “sacrifice” – that take place in the kitchen and workplace and on the streets. – (Hebrews 13:16, MSG)

God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He supplies us with all that we need. Our purpose is to love God and love people. To truly love requires actions, not mere words. His love and care for us is made evident when we see, feel and understand how He cares for the smallest details in our lives. A thoughtful gesture, a kind word, a helping hand – all provide evidence of God’s goodness made tangible. So many times God uses people to demonstrate the abundance of His goodness and love for us. I cannot even count the times that I have been blessed, encouraged or built up through the loving kindness of others in exactly the way that I needed. God’s hand and heart were evident, and His love for me, overwhelming. Each one of us has the opportunity to demonstrate His love every day. When we choose to be led by His love, we see spaces that need light and life and love and are able to reach out and do something tangible for another. May we seek the Lord in prayer and listen to His leading, so that we may be His ambassadors of love throughout each new day.

Let us not neglect,

To love and do good;

To choose be aware,

How love’s understood.

For it is not words,

That show love alone;

But rather actions,

That make His love known.

Encouraging words,

A tangible touch;

A need that is met,

Truly means so much.

Lord, show us the needs,

Where we can reach out;

So we might love well,

Show what love’s about.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give abundantly in love. Forgive us for the times that we have taken anything for granted and have neglected to work for the common good. Teach us to look for opportunities to bless and give and love well. Show us how to love each person that we encounter, whether it is through meeting a need, giving a helping hand, or extending words of encouragement that are intentional and specific. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to offer worship unto You through the things we do in love. Amen.

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

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