Quick to Listen

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Teach Us to Love

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, accept one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2, HCSB)

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)

This is how we are called to love one another. Love is a choice that has to be made again and again. Humility and gentleness take the time to truly listen and seek to understand. Patience propels us to persevere, to accept each other with love, especially those who are more difficult to love. As a middle school teacher, I am provided plenty of opportunities each day to practice doing just this. The kids who act out the worst are typically the ones who need patient and loving acceptance the most. Some days are easier than others, and most days are exhausting. That being said, God does not call us to an easy life, but to one of purpose that is rooted and established in love. May we ever seek the Lord to equip and empower us with His love, so that we may go forth each new day in humility, quiet patience, gentleness and generous love.

Lord, teach us to love,

As You love us all;

Lavished with Your grace,

You hear all who call.

Call on Your goodness,

Seek patience and peace;

Accept each other,

Frustrations released.

Equip us to love,

The challenging ones;

May goodness and grace,

Point hearts to the Son.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to love as You intended. Forgive us for every time that we lose sight of what You are calling us to, and we allow our emotions or frustrations to dictate how we respond to one another. Lead us to seek and depend on You for strength, help and hope as we navigate each new day. Show us how to love as You are calling us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love you and depend on You to show us how to love best. Amen.

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

But when we obey God’s teachings, His love is truly working in us. This is how we know that we are living in Him. – 1 John 2:5

Hope is Reborn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

Grief is in the forefront of my mind this morning, as I received news of a friend’s great loss. I never know what to say in the space of such suffering, as I know the despair and devastation created by loss, and we each respond differently in the depths of our own pain. For me, reminders of God’s goodness and ability to comfort, along with the recognition and recall that Jesus grieved in loss as well, seem to help my heart in such spaces. The shortest, yet most powerfully significant verse that I know in such a space is, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Jesus weeping in the face of loss with His dear friends is a reminder to us that we are not meant to “keep it all together” or “be strong” when we face grief. It is good and necessary to grieve so that our hearts can heal. God takes the broken pieces of our hearts and puts them back together in such a wondrous way that beauty springs forth from our ashes. Incredibly, what I have found after a period of mourning, is that God brings along opportunities for me to offer comfort to others walking through something similar, and great hope as I can see so clearly how I was held through the pain. My hope and prayer this morning is that those in the midst of loss can find comfort and peace in the arms of the One who is able to heal us, and feel the freedom to grieve however it is needed so that release and relief may come.

When tragedy strikes,

Or great loss is known;

God be our comfort,

As Your love is shown.

Teach our hearts to grieve,

In spaces of loss;

So healing can come,

Let’s look to the cross.

For in such anguish,

You bore all our pain;

So that we might know,

That joy comes again.

For after the grave,

You breathed life anew;

Our forever hope,

That proves Your love’s true.

A time for weeping,

To grieve and to mourn;

So joy may return,

And hope is reborn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have known and experienced loss and devastation, and You too, wept. Thank You that because You have lived it, You can relate to our suffering and bring comfort and healing and hope. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when all that we can feel is loss. Teach us to turn to You in our despair, for Your arms are big enough to hold our every heaviness. Show us how to love, support, encourage and walk beside those around us in their seasons of loss. May comfort be found and Your heart made known in new and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we give You room and freedom to bring beauty from our ashes and hope from our despair. Amen.

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

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Spoken to Be

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth. – (Psalm 33:6, NIV)

The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made. The breath from His mouth created everything in the heavens. – (Psalm 33:6, ERV)

The unfathomable cosmos came into being at the word of the Eternal’s imagination, a solitary voice in endless darkness. The breath of His mouth whispered the sea of stars into existence. – (Psalm 33:6, VOICE)

The very same God who spoke creation into being, intentionally made us all. There is a plan and a purpose for each of us, and if God created all that is both seen and unseen, how vast and powerful are His plans for us? Though what we are called to do with our lives may seem insignificant, if our lives show His love to people, we are granting glimpses of God and walking out our purpose. Each time I spend time outdoors, I am reminded of the power, goodness and intention of God. Creation displays God’s majesty. New blooms opening, the sun glistening on the water, the sun setting and painting the colors of the sky – so much goodness has been created to remind us of the work of God’s hands. May we ever take time to look around us and recognize the loving intention breathed into every living thing around us, and give praise to the One who made it all.

All that our eyes see,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

And so far beyond;

The work of God’s hands,

Call hearts to respond.

Respond with all thanks,

Love and lift up praise;

Such purposeful good,

For all of our days.

May we choose to love,

As the Lord loves us;

All thanks to the One,

Who knows and loves best.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beauty in all that You have purposefully created. Thank You that we cannot even begin to fathom all that Your hands have lovingly made. Thank You that You created all of us with the same intentionality. Forgive us for not recognizing the beauty all around us, and that which is in every living creature. Teach us to love and care well for all that You have made. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your powerful, unending love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the incredible work of Your hands – both around us and in us. Amen.

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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Tenderness Tapers Tempers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

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

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

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

This is always a good reminder, as opportunities to gently reply are abundant, particularly when we want to respond in hurt or anger. No truer words have been penned, as when we respond in anger or with harsh or sarcastic words, it only inflames the situation. However, when we pause, take a deep breath, and respond with kindness and gentleness, there is a softening in the exchange that could have gone terribly wrong. We never know what has led to an interaction that begins poorly, yet we can control how we reply. Each time that I have caught myself and checked my heart to answer as I am called to do, I see tangible evidence of God’s love working on my behalf, as tension lessens and calm comes. It seems that one of the most difficult spaces to respond gently is on the road. There is something in many of us that rises up when other drivers make foolish maneuvers. Years ago, I had a great friend who would yell out, “Bless you, in Jesus’ Name! Or Jesus loves you!” whenever another driver would cut him off or jeopardize his safety. It may seem silly, but every time, it has the power to transform the mindset of anger and frustration, and causes a pause that allows for the brain to catch up to the heart to adjust enough to recognize that we all make mistakes and grace goes a long way. This mindset really is transformative in all situations and circumstances. Though it may not be opportune to always yell out a blessing, it is always useful and beneficial to pause and seek to see others through God’s lens. As we do, grace is abundant and good is given. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to respond gently, and to grant a heart check when we are determined to do otherwise.

A tender reply,

Brings grace where it’s not;

Defuses the fire,

When tempers are hot.

An unkind response,

Only provokes rage;

Yet true gentleness,

Shows others the way.

The way to give love,

Despite what we feel;

God’s kindness breathes life,

Makes His goodness real.

Lord, help us rise up,

Seek to always love;

To respond like You,

Our Father above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to respond gently, despite what we are given. Thank You that gentleness brings a calm where rage was rising. Forgive us for the times that we have responded in anger rather than with grace. Teach us to rely on You to show us how to respond with tenderness. Show us how to love those around us, even when love is far from what we desire to extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the gentleness and grace that You have waiting no matter the condition in which they come to You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to respond to others with tenderness and grace, extending Your love and kindness to the seemingly least deserving. Amen.

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

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. – Proverbs 10:12

Two Ears and Only One Mouth

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

As always, this is a timely reminder. Yesterday, my husband received the video footage that was submitted to animal control by kind citizens who had caught horrendous footage of the abuse of our dog by the trainers in whom we had entrusted him. My initial reaction to the entire situation was both anger and sorrow. I was enraged at the betrayal of our trust by the trainers, and absolutely gutted knowing what my poor puppy had endured. God was very specific with me in how I ought to respond to the whole situation, and by placing all of my focus on the care of Thor, I was able to release the anger and love on my pup. The news that my husband had the video in his possession brought my initial reaction back to the surface. Knowing that I was not called to allow my anger to get the best of me, I had to work through it all over again. Sometimes, what we listen to is not beneficial. However, remembering to be slow to speak will always serve us well. Once words have left our lips, we cannot take them back. I know that there is righteous anger, yet it is still not something that I am meant to hold. Feeling and acting are two very different things. What we feel cannot dictate what we do. There are times that we simply must trust that justice will be served and place our attention on caring well for the wounded. Even now, as Thor sits beside me as I try to write, his continuous reaching out with his paws reminds me to focus on loving and caring well for him. May we ever seek the Lord to help us to listen first, be slow to speak, and to keep our anger in check. He is faithful to help us walk in His way and do His will as we earnestly seek Him.

Lord, help us to lead,

With listening ears;

A heart set to love,

As we choose to hear.

Then help us to tame,

Our tongues in replies;

Grant wisdom with words,

As grace You supply.

And as for anger,

Let’s give it to You;

As we choose to seek,

We’re shown what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and You know all things. Thank You for giving us two ears and only one mouth. Help us to use them accordingly. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen, speak without weighing our words, and allow anger to flow instead of placing all in Your hands. Teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and to slow our roll when anger rises. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes all feel valued and heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to truly listen, slow to speak, and slow to allow anger find a foothold. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

Freedom to Forgive

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 a strange thing, as we have been forgiven much, yet at times, we struggle to forgive the most minor of offenses. Not one of us is perfect, and we all fall short. This is the space that we must remember when we are hurt or offended by another. In the same way that God pours out His abundant forgiveness and grace, we too, ought to do the same. The crazy thing about unforgiveness is that it hurts the holder of the offense, not the offender. Often, the one who has hurt or offended is not even aware that they have done harm. It is our responsibility to either let it go, or speak with the offender in love and let them know that their words or actions have done harm. That being said, we must do so with forgiveness already in place, regardless of the reception of our communication. Most times, awareness brings repentance and mends are made quickly. However, if the offender stands behind their word or deed, we are still called to forgive. We are not meant to subject ourselves to a vicious cycle of harm, but rather we are not to cling to that which we cannot change. God forgives us each time that we ask, yet He lets us know that if we hold unforgiveness, He will respond to our requests in the same way. I don’t know about you, but I am fully aware of my shortcomings and desperately need His forgiveness and grace. If I need forgiveness and grace, so too, do all those whom I encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to forgive and give grace, even when we would rather hold onto the offense. Freedom to love well is birthed in us as we choose to walk in forgiveness.

O Lord, help us choose,

Forgive and give grace;

As You’ve done for us,

Throughout all our days.

Soften our hearts, Lord,

So love might come first;

Teach us to let go,

To bless not to curse.

May love lead the way,

In all that we do;

Teach us to forgive,

And choose love like You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not limit the number of times that You forgive us when we fail and fall short. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do likewise to all those around us as we depend on You. Forgive us for holding onto offenses. Please teach us to release all into Your hands so that we may give goodness and grace in place of our anger, hurt or frustration. Show us how to love like You, at all times and in all circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize the power held in Your loving kindness for us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to forgive as You do. Amen.

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

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – Matthew 6:12

Let Us Listen First

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends; Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

This requires an ongoing decision to be intentional to listen, and truly seek to understand. If we merely listen to respond rather than comprehend what is being spoken, anger has room to rise up, instead of compassion and kindness. Yes, there are times that what is being spoken is not beneficial for anyone. Even then, how we respond makes all the difference. Righteous anger allows us to appropriately respond in love and in truth. The ego, on the other hand, causes responses that only further fan the flames. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen well, so that when we choose to speak, our words are full of life and love and grace.

Lord, help us to seek,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To listen and learn;

Use our ears and heart,

For gracious return.

Let not our voices,

Respond without thought;

Help us understand,

And love as we ought.

For if truth be told,

Wisdom can be found;

In hearts that listen,

As Your grace abounds.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to lead with listening to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken without truly hearing, or allowed anger to rise and taint our words or actions. Teach us how to rely on You to show us how to listen to understand, speak in love, and allow anger to help us bring change through Your goodness and grace. Lead us in Your love with all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You to grow us more like You. Amen.

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

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Follow the Example of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

I so appreciate the Message translation of this passage. The reality that what God mostly does is love us, is incredible and undeserved. If we spend time with Him, He teaches and shows us what it is to live a life of love. Christ’s love is selfless, not selfish. He loved without expecting anything in return. We are called to do likewise. This kind of love is not natural for the human heart, however, the more we seek and spend time with the Lord, the more we learn to love like Him. In a world where so much adversity and animosity exist, we need to love all the more. Love is a decision, not a feeling. We must choose to love one another as we are loved by God. In order to do so, we must seek the Lord, know Him, and depend on Him to equip us to do exactly what we were created to do. May we ever lean into the Lord to show us what it is to love in every situation and circumstance.

As children of God,

May we seek to love;

All people, always,

Like the Lord above.

It is a free gift,

With no strings attached;

Yet it draws us in,

In thanks, we react.

Respond with kindness,

God’s grace, love and peace;

The more we choose love,

Enmity released.

The Lord’s love gave all,

We’re called to the same;

To extend His grace,

Instead of placed blame.

Lead us in love, Lord,

Show us love Your way;

Help us be better,

Each waking new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us – completely and extravagantly, despite what we deserved. Thank You that You call us to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose love. Show us how to love like You in all things and at all times. Instruct us as You grow our hearts to more closely reflect Your own. Use us as Your ambassadors of peace as we seek to love You and people well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You and seek to be a reflection of Your radiant love. Amen.

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

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – Psalm 86:5

Making Our Days Matter

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV)

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set Your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept Your correction. – (Psalm 90:12, TPT)

A common thread among us is that I think we are all far more aware that our days are numbered. There is nothing quite like a pandemic to remind us that none of us are immune to the reaches of the affects, as I know few folks who do not at least know someone impacted by COVID19. We have the opportunity to respond to the realization that none of us are guaranteed a long life on earth, so how we spend our days matters. In order to use the time we are given well, we need God’s wisdom. He is faithful to grow us and show us more and more of His love and grace, as we choose to follow after Him. The Lord is faithful to direct and correct, if we are willing to pursue Him and respond to His promptings. I desire to live each day with intention, and am acutely aware of my need for God’s intervention to do so. May we ever recognize that we are not promised tomorrow, so that we might live each day with wisdom and grace, according to God’s good and perfect plan.

O Lord, I thank You,

For each day thus far;

As Your love and grace,

Meet us where we are.

Grant us Your wisdom,

Help us to live well;

Let each brand new day,

Be love’s show and tell.

May each day we rise,

Be seen as a gift;

Each moment a chance,

For spirits to lift.

Lord, show me Your heart,

In each circumstance;

Make me wise with love,

To live out Your plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for each of us. Thank You that You meet us as we seek You, and You grant us wisdom to navigate our days well. Forgive us for the times that we take our days for granted. Teach us how to live with intention, each new day that we draw breath. Show us how to live and love with wisdom and grace, so that all might seek Your welcome embrace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each new day, and seek You to live it out with wisdom, love and grace. Amen.

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

How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. – Psalm 104:24