Extend Love

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, HCSB)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE)

Life cannot just be about ourselves. When we are inwardly focused, we become miserable, and end up spreading our misery to others. However, when we take our eyes off of the mirror and begin looking out the window, we see those around us and recognize ways that we have been designed to reach out and to love. This is true in our household, neighborhood, communities, and beyond. When we care about the lives of those around us, our love seems to multiply and joy is discovered in the little things. A simple example of this being applied at home is the way that time yesterday was spent. If I had my way (my own selfish agenda), the day would have been spent taking off and exploring and being outdoors. That being said, my husband had just returned from being out of town all week, and there were things around the house that desperately needed to be done. His military background creates a need in him to have order. My artist brain does not mind a bit of clutter, as long as things are cleanish. The decision to spend several hours cleaning and organizing and purging, was an act of love that spoke clearly to my husband’s “acts of service” love tank. Incredibly, as I saw the appreciation on his face and the peace that settled in his countenance, I was blessed as well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to look for ways to love and care for those around us. 

When we take the time,

To pause, look around;

Places to reach out,

Are easily found.

An arm to extend,

Encouraging words;

Help we can offer,

Make the Lord’s love heard.

Instead of just self,

Look out for others;

Find God’s way to love,

And bless each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be “otherly”. Thank You that You showed us what it is to look like through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do the good that we were designed to do because we were too busy worrying about ourselves. Teach us to look around and to love one another as You intended. Show us how to love in practical and tangible ways, for it is in the simple and everyday acts of love that we can clearly see Your heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love to be extended to those around us in the same way that You so lavishly give unto us. Amen.

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

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24

One Body With Many Parts

Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. – (Romans 12:4-5, HCSB)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

I so appreciate this illustration of how we are each a valuable part of the body of Christ, and we each have different strengths, gifts and abilities that contribute to the body as a whole. Because I am so visual, it is an easy analogy to grasp. For example, think about the toes. Often, especially in the Pacific Northwest, they are covered and unseen. However, the toes help support the feet, and the feet hold up the whole body. Though people are seldom aware of their toes, if one is injured, the whole body becomes incredibly alert to what is transpiring with the toe. It is similar in the body of Christ. There are people who are seen and play a role that is obvious in the function of the whole body, and there are others that play roles behind the scenes that contribute to the function of the body too. Though primarily unseen, it is obvious when they are missing or are not doing well. Each of us has gifts and talents to contribute, and no two people are exactly alike. We need each other to be our best and to extend what we have to offer. It is similar in marriage and friendships, and so often, opposites attract. I think much of the attraction is the desire to be with another who has different strengths than we do, and one who appreciates our strengths that are not shared by the other. For example, my husband and most of my closest friends are extroverts, whereas I am an introvert. They bring out the social in me, and I can contribute calm for them. Only a God of love would create us each uniquely, and place in us the desire and need to create community with one another. May we ever look to the Lord to lead us in the role and purpose for which we have been created, and may we see through His lens, how each member plays a role that is good and necessary for the whole body.

We each are a part,

The body of Christ;

With strengths and talents,

In purpose we rise.

Together stronger,

Than if on our own;

We need each other,

To make God’s love known.

For some are the hands,

That reach out and serve;

And others the voice,

That people observe.

Each person a part,

That the body needs;

With strengths and talents,

Each one is unique.

May we each embrace,

Our gifts and our roles;

Contribute in love,

So God is extolled.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we each have been divinely designed to be a part of a community. Thank You that we all have different strengths and roles to extend to help the body become stronger. Forgive us for the times that we compare our parts to another, or somehow devalue the parts that are unseen. Teach us to recognize and value the unique role and purpose that each part plays, and to celebrate the beauty that You have made in bringing us together. Show us how to love those around us for who they are and how they are uniquely designed. May our love honor the strengths and talents of those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the part that we were designed to do, and to celebrate and appreciate the other parts around us that make the body complete. Amen.

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

So we should stop judging each other. Let’s decide not to do anything that will cause a problem for a brother or sister or hurt their faith. – Romans 14:13

Encourage Each Other

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, HCSB)

So encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ERV)

So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, VOICE)

This makes all of the difference. When we surround ourselves with a community that invests in each other, we are mutually encouraged and built up. As this transpires, our faith grows stronger as we realize why God calls us to be in community. It is amazing how God grows our circle as we are willing to be available. Yesterday, as one of my dearest friend’s and I were running, we realized that we have been running together for more than eight years. Running together is not just getting out and moving, but it is and has always been a place to connect, converse, and talk about life and how to navigate well. Each time we meet to run, it is an opportunity to share life together and encourage one another. The benefits go beyond the physical gains in fitness, for our hearts, minds and spirits are uplifted by spending time together. The same can be said about time with my husband as we tackled the yard as a team. Neither of us expects the other to magically do things, rather we join together and tag team to get things done. Before bed, I was able to join a three-way call with my sister and mom, and again, connecting with each other is life-giving. Even early this morning, I found myself in a quick text exchange with my bestie, as we both expressed our excitement for the chance to get together this evening. Soon, I will be heading to church where there are more people whom God has placed in my life to be in relationship with. Though a simple and somewhat uneventful weekend, I am reminded again of the value of community. May we ever make the time to connect with those whom God has blessed us with, and encourage one another.

We all have been called,

To community;

To bless, encourage,

Invest faithfully.

It does not take much,

To reach out and care;

And as we do so,

Life is what we share.

So, choose to reach out,

Encourage, build up;

For as we do so,

It fills up our cup.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that You surround us with people who encourage us and we are able to encourage. Forgive us for the times that we have isolated ourselves when we were meant to reach out. Teach us to trust You to lead us to those whom we are meant to encourage and build up. Show us how to love those around us well, just as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our lives in community with each other and encourage and build each other up. Amen.

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

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus. – Romans 15:5

Community Brings Comfort

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them. – (Matthew 18:20, HCSB)

Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – (Matthew 18:20, VOICE)

This is one of the reasons we are meant to be in community. When we join together with one another, God is present among us. It does not mean that He won’t be with us on our own, but there is a powerful awareness of His presence when we gather with others. There is something tangible about the nearness of God when there are at least one or two others with You. I imagine that is the reason that we gather for weddings, funerals, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays and the like – all are occasions to join with others in celebration, grief, expectation or gratitude. Tomorrow will be just such an occasion, as a friend, classmate, teammate and fellow coach has to lay her husband to rest. My hope and prayer is that God is tangibly present to comfort, provide, grant wisdom and His perfect peace. He is always good, even when our circumstances are not, so we can trust that He will move in the hearts of all who join together in remembrance. 

O Lord, we invite,

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Your presence come in;

Your hands to hold us,

As Your love floods in.

May peace be present,

In the midst of loss;

Your hope tangible,

As love comes across.

Across the heartache,

And what should have been;

In the loneliness,

May Your peace come in.

Lord, be ever near,

Your heart truly known;

May comfort surround,

And hope in You grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to gather in Your Name, for when we do, You promise to be present. Thank You that You are already preparing the way for tomorrow, as You know every need that will arrive. Forgive us for isolating when we are meant to allow others in. Show us how to reach out and be present with others so that they may experience Your love, comfort and peace, even when it does not make sense. Lead us in Your love to lift others up and be Your hands, feet, heart and voice made tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for knowing our needs and surrounding us with community in every season. Amen.

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

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – Psalm 94:19

In All Things, Pray

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, HCSB)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder, as it seems to be a season of tough news about people I love and care about. Yesterday afternoon, I found out that my nephew is in the hospital and dying of renal failure. I haven’t seen him in years, but when he was a little boy, he spent quite a bit of time with our family. Learning this heartbreaking news, I had to pause and pray; for I do not know what else to do. He is my boys’ cousin, their dad’s nephew, and their aunt’s first born. Sometimes, praying is really all we can do. Though I know not every need, I am able to pray for healing, health, hope and wholeness. I can pray for peace and strength and provision for the family. Prayer does not require eloquent words or religious utterances, it is simply talking to God with your heart, mind, and if it helps, your voice. He hears every word, thought and request. Incredibly, He provides what we need to get through each next moment, hour, day and beyond. His peace brings calm in the chaos and the ability to breathe when it feels as if we cannot. May we ever reach out to the Lord who hears our prayers, and seek Him for strength and peace in spaces where we have none.

O Lord, I draw near,

Seeking You for peace;

When I can’t fathom,

How You’ll bring release.

Somehow Your peace comes,

And fills up my heart;

Your love settles in,

Hope for a fresh start.

Be it a minute,

Or for a new day;

Your love and Your peace,

Always make a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than all of the trials and sorrows we face. Thank You that You flood us with Your love, surround us with Your care, and fill us with Your peace, even when peace does not make sense. Forgive us for worrying about having the words to pray, for You hear each cry of our heart as we reach out to You. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those whom You have placed in our lives, and to pray without ceasing for Your love to be made evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our worries to You as we call on Your Name and pray to You about all things, trusting that You hold us in the hollow of Your mighty hands. Amen.

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

The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

Love Grows Faith

We must always thank God for you, brothers. This is right, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, HCSB)

We thank God for you always. And that’s what we should do, because you give us good reason to be thankful: Your faith is growing more and more. And the love that every one of you has for each other is growing. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, we cannot help but thank God for you, which is only appropriate because your faith is growing and expanding and because the love demonstrated by each and every one of you is overflowing for one another. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, VOICE)

My faith expands in spaces where I see people loving each other well. Despite the challenges and difficulties that this long season has brought, I am in awe of how God places people together. At school, I see the weariness in the faces of my colleagues that mirrors my own, yet I both witness and experience a group of people that looks out for each other and purposefully checks in and encourages one another. This mutual care is the same sort of love that grows faith within, for it reminds us of God’s goodness all around us. May we ever be intentional to love and care for those whom God has placed around us, and give Him thanks for the countless reasons He has given us to be thankful.

For loving kindness,

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For goodness and grace;

All thanks to the Lord,

For His faithful ways.

People have been placed,

Intentionally;

To love and be loved,

With care, graciously.

Lord help us rise up,

Choose love and care well;

These are the choices,

That of God’s love tells.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the people that You have placed in our lives that love well. Thank You that the kindness and care of others grows our faith as You make Your heart known. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to reach out where You were nudging us to, and for the times that we have failed to recognize the good all around us. Teach us to see others through Your lens of love and with Your capacity to care well. Show us how to love one another in ways that grow our faith in You and Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love like You and give You thanks in all things. Amen.

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

For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth. – Psalm 26:3

Help Shoulder the Weight

Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, HCSB)

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, ERV)

Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. – (Galatians 6:2, TPT)

Right now, I know a couple of people who are in the throes of tremendous loss; one just lost her son, and the other’s best friend lost her grandson. The weight of grief is far too great a burden to bear alone. It comes in waves and threatens to pull us under. However, when family and friends and community surround the grieving, they provide a hand to help hold heads above water, and give buoyancy in the sinking spaces. What I have observed in both instances, is an incredible outpouring of love, prayers and practical, tangible help in the places where it is needed most. When we reach out, we are extending a hand that helps lighten the load. Nothing we do can lessen the loss, yet the reaching out, the outpouring of what is needed, reminds the burden bearer that they are not alone. Our hands, hearts and voices can be tangible evidence of God’s love when it is extremely difficult to see. Though we cannot take the pain away, we can do something to share the burden, thus fulfilling God’s law to love. May we ever seek the Lord to grant us wisdom and grace so that we are empowered to walk beside the burdened and help carry the load.

When life’s troubles come,

As they always do;

May we walk beside,

Help see people through.

For we are each called,

To above all, love;

Care for each other,

As God does above.

Each time we reach out,

In practical ways;

We show the Lord’s love,

And extend His grace.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To help carry loads;

Through helping, giving,

At life’s tough crossroads.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to help carry one another’s burdens. Thank You for the countless times that You have surrounded me with a community that walked beside me and lessened the load when it was too great for me to bear alone. Forgive us for the times that we see a need and neglect to reach out. Teach us to turn to You to guide and equip us to do what we can, whenever and wherever we can, to love as You love. Show us practical ways to come alongside those who are carrying weight that is far too heavy to bear alone. Lead us in Your love so that Your help, hands and heart may be made known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we navigate our days with open hands and hearts, ready to reach out as You would. Amen.

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

Each one helps the other, and says to another, “Take courage!” – Isaiah 41:6

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

Created for Good

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, NIV)

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things He had already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV)

We have become His poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! – (Ephesians 2:10, TPT)

God is so good and gracious to us. His plans are so much better than our plans, and when we walk them out, we discover the depth and breadth of His love for us and for those around us. Good works do not have to be grandiose gestures or actions, but are found in simple everyday decisions. Each time we choose to love, to do what is best for another, we are doing the good work that God is calling us all to do. Sometimes, the good works are found in the things that we do, and sometimes it is the decision to forgive and let go of things we cannot control or change. The amazing thing is that God works all things out for good when we submit them to Him. His grace is enough, and His love never ends. Because of His great love and good works for us, we can reach out and follow in His footsteps to love well. No, we will not always get it right, and our frustrations and emotions will get the best of us, however, each time we choose to listen and move forward in the good to which we are called, He will use it for His glory. May we ever praise God for all the good that He has given us, and rely on Him to lead us in the good works that He has prepared for us each new day.

We’re each born a verse,

Our life, the poem;

That shows God’s goodness,

As His love’s made known.

Every good work,

Each time we choose love;

The Lord brings goodness,

Our help from above.

Before we were born,

Purpose was in mind;

To do His good works,

To love and be kind.

As each new day comes,

Lord, help us to choose;

To do the good things,

That show Your love’s true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are Your handiwork, created to do good works. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to bring the good that You intended. Show us how to rely on You to lead us in love, so that we may choose to do the good that You planned in advance for us to do. Teach us to love those around us in tangible ways, so that You can clearly see the evidence of Your great love for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your face to lead us in Your ways, so that we may do the good works that You created us to do. Amen.

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

And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. – Ephesians 2:22

United By Love

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – (Romans 15:5, NIV)

Now may God, the Source of great endurance and comfort, grant you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Romans 15:5, TPT)

I pray that our God, who calls you and gives you perseverance and encouragement, will join all of you together to share one mind according to Jesus the Anointed. – (Romans 15:5, VOICE)

To have the same attitude of mind toward others that Christ has for us, is to love and accept all. In our acceptance, we are called to give comfort and encouragement, which lead to unity among us. When we are encouraged and united, we have a greater capacity to persevere. Extending such love toward one another is not always natural, however, when we rely on Christ, rather than ourselves, it more easily flows from the heart. The more we invest in time with the Lord, the more we grow like Him in our capacity to love. May we ever seek the Lord in His goodness, so that we may extend the same to all those around us.

As we persevere,

In seeking the Lord;

His strength grows in us,

And love is outpoured.

It is in that love,

That we can reach out;

Encourage, unite,

Follow the Lord’s route.

His path leads to peace,

For love makes a way;

To rise together,

Let us not delay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give endurance and encouragement and the same heart toward others as You have for us. Thank You that Your love can unite us. Forgive us for the times that we have not lived and loved as You intended. Teach us to seek You to strengthen and fill us so that we may love others in the same way that You love us. Show us how to love each person that crosses our path in a way that extends encouragement and resolve and leads to unity within our communities. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14