Represent in Love

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, NIV)

Just be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, ERV)

Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. – (Philippians 1:27a, MSG)

This is and has been a charge that has felt seemingly absent over the last year and a half on social media. People who love God and love people, have been blasting one another over various “hot topics”, rather than listening to understand in love. The challenge in this is that we all have opinions that rise up, yet if we profess Jesus is Lord, we cannot name call and demean those around us for what they think. That is not love. Yes, we can have civilized conversations face-to-face, but yelling, name-calling, and demeaning is not beneficial to anyone. All of us have opinions and positions on the various things that are going on in the world that bring about differing views, yet what we do with those opinions is on us. If we are to profess our faith in love, our every interaction must be led in love. I too, have opinions and reactions rise up, but have learned that I cannot simply react, but rather I must listen in love and seek the Lord to lead. Most often, that means that I must scroll past the “blasting” and only discuss my thoughts when I am able to listen in love and calmly share my concerns and ideas. It is a delicate balance to continue to learn how to live in such a way that we are honoring God in all that we do and say. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in our conversations and exchanges of thoughts, ideas and opinions so that love is what is evident in all.

Love is the answer,

We’re each called to give;

In speech and actions,

Each day that we live.

No matter our thoughts,

To what’s going on;

If not led in love,

Validity’s gone.

What good is shouting,

Finger-pointing wrongs?

Instead, let’s listen,

Show that love belongs.

O Lord, we need You,

To lead us in love;

To follow Your heart,

Speak in peace and love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to conduct ourselves in a manner that ever demonstrates Your goodness and love. Thank You that You call us to represent You with our words and deeds. Forgive us for our every word, thought and deed that has not demonstrated Your goodness, love and grace. Teach us to interact with one another in love, no matter how differently we view the world. Show us how to love greatly, and to choose to love in our every action, reaction and interaction with those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love in everything that we say and do so that we may represent who You intended us to become. Amen.

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

Show me the wonders of Your great love, You who save by Your right hand those who take refuge in You from their foes. – Psalm 17:7

To Owe Only Love

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. – (Romans 13:8, NIV)

You should owe nothing to anyone, except that you will always owe love to each other. The person who loves others has done all that the law commands. – (Romans 13:8, ERV)

Don’t owe anything to anyone, except your outstanding debt to continually love one another, for the one who learns to love has fulfilled every requirement of the law. – (Romans 13:8, TPT)

God gives us guidance in His word to live well. We ought not borrow what we cannot repay, yet we need to love as if we will never run out. If we let love determine our every direction, we will be in line with the law; for love is patient and kind, forgiving and gracious, and does not do harm. When we allow love to determine our steps, we will always move in the correct direction. This applies in every aspect of our lives. From our friends and families, to our jobs, to child raising, to caring for pets, to interacting with others as we are out and about – if we allow love to lead us, we live as God intended. May we seek the Lord to give us wisdom so that we do not owe anything to anyone, except to love as He calls and equips us to love.

Choose not to borrow,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

What can’t be repaid;

Except for God’s love,

Which shows us the way.

The way to rise up,

And love each other;

To do as we’re called,

Love sisters, brothers.

For it is through love,

That we do what’s right;

Fulfilling the law,

Unto God, delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us to not owe anything to anyone except love. Thank You that Your love never runs out and that You will always provide what we need to love like You as we seek You to lead and guide us. Forgive us for the times that we have taken more than we can give back or have neglected to choose to love. Teach us to turn to You to lead us in love. Show us how to love all those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we leave no debts outstanding and always seek to choose to love. Amen.

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

Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:8a

To Clothe Ourselves Well

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves  with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle and patient. – (Colossians 3:12, ERV)

You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. – (Colossians 3:12, TPT)

Now is an especially important time to clothe ourselves well. As the heat rises, people’s patience runs out and frustration and anger rises. If we are clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, we will be extending the same grace and mercy that God gives to us, to those around us. I don’t know about you, but whenever I am the recipient of compassion or kindness when my day is a bit off, my whole demeanor changes. I am reminded of the goodness of God and the beauty of all whom He has made. It restores a spring in my step and points my heart back to where true joy comes from. May we ever remember that we are chosen and loved by God, so we are to go out and love likewise.

May kindness rise up,

As in love we bask;

For God’s love equips,

To do as He asks.

We’re called to mercy,

Kindness, gentleness;

Have patience for all,

Through love is expressed.

May we let love lead,

As God loves us all;

Give as we’re given,

And answer His call.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are loved and chosen by You to be called Your own. Thank You that as we embrace our status as Your children, whom You dearly love, we discover that we are equipped to love and give grace to all those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld kindness, run out of patience, or lacked compassion in spaces You called us to love. Teach us to depend on You to equip us to love as You love. Show us how to be patient, kind, gentle and gracious to all whom we encounter, so that they may gain glimpses of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You to show us how to love like You. Amen.

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

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. – Galatians 3:26

Praise for Provision

The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – (Exodus 15:2, NIV)

The Lord is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise to Him. He is my God, and I praise Him. He is the God of my ancestors, and I honor Him. – (Exodus 15:2, ERV)

The Eternal is my strength and my song, and He has come to save me; He is my God, and I will praise Him. He is the God of my father, and I will exalt Him. – (Exodus 15:2, VOICE)

When we know the Lord as our Savior, we become acutely aware of His strength and worthiness of all of our praise. He provides as we abide in Him, no matter what our situation or circumstances. This morning, I am reminded anew of my reasons to praise Him. Though we do not have air-conditioning in the midst of a heatwave, we have a basement that stays comfortably cool. Additionally, our current weather is not a common occurrence. In some parts of the world, this is typical, and air-conditioning is not an option. There is reason to be grateful for a normally temperate climate, and for spaces of reprieve to escape the heat. May we ever sing praise to God, for He is our strength and defense, our refuge and our salvation.

My strength and my song,

Evidence of the crazy temperatures…

Belong to the Lord;

It’s His salvation,

Through love He affords.

His mercy and grace,

Forgive and set free;

Raise head, hands and heart,

To rise up and be.

He provides the strength,

Gives place to belong;

Protects, empowers,

His love makes us strong.

Strong in conviction,

Equipped well to love;

Let’s sing unto Him,

The Lord up above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our salvation, and the reason we can sing songs of praise. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude when things are out of sorts. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, for You are always good. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing songs of praise to You, our strength and our defense that saves. Amen.

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

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. – 1 Chronicles 16:9

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

Sunrise to Sunset

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the Name of the Lord is to be praised. – (Psalm 113:3, NIV)

From sunrise-brilliance to sunset-beauty, lift up His praise from dawn to dusk! – (Psalm 113:3, TPT)

At every time and in every place – from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets – may the Name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people. – (Psalm 113:3, VOICE)

As one who typically rises before the sun, I am blessed with the daily reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God as I watch darkness become light. There is a holiness in the witnessing of the sunrise and sunset, for it is a mighty example of God’s creativity and handiwork in action. In the same way that God is faithful to cause the sun to rise and set each day, He too, is faithful to love and be near us. It is because of His great faithfulness that God deserves all of our praise. Every breath, each new day dawning, we are granted reminders of His goodness and faithfulness. May we ever recognize how great God is and give Him all of our praise.

Every new day,

At dawn’s early light;

God shows His power,

Colors to delight.

Just as He’s faithful,

With the rising sun;

His presence promised,

‘Til each day is done.

Wherever we are,

From east to the west;

God will be with us,

As He loves us best.

So, rise up and praise,

The God of all grace;

Give thanks to the Lord,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful forever and worthy of all of our praise. Thank You that You are with us from sunrise to sunset, and that You will be with us wherever we go. Forgive us for faltering faith. Teach us to recognize You goodness and grace that is all around us, so that we forever praise You as we should. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and presence abundantly clear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You from the rising to the setting of the sun for how You love and all You have done. Amen.

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

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

Strength in the Struggle

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete. You will have everything you need. – (James 1:4, ICB)

None of us enjoy trials or struggles, yet we all must go through them. When we are invested in our relationship with Christ, He uses each challenge that comes our way to strengthen and grow us to be more like Him. He does not cause the struggle, but allows it so that we may grow in maturity in our relationship with Him. As our patiences grows, His heart more clearly shows. It is on the other side of struggles and challenges that we can look back and see how far we have come. In the verses that precede verse four, we are called to consider such situations with joy, not because they are happy and fun, but rather because of what trials produce within us. Faith grows and perseverance manifests as we depend on God through each challenge. Not only does God show us who He is, but He demonstrates how He can work both in and through us to navigate the storms. May we ever lean into the Lord as we encounter every trial that life throws our way. For as we trust in Him, His strength, patience and perseverance are made evident through us.

In all that we do,

Let’s look to the Lord;

He is the anchor,

And where love’s outpoured.

It is through our trust,

That love and grace grow;

We’re made more like Him,

And patience is shown.

So, rise up in faith,

Turn in trust to Him;

Ever He’s faithful,

As we let love in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the joy in our trials is not the trial itself, (for they are never terribly fun) but rather joy comes in knowing the work that You are doing in and through us as we press on in faith. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and lead us through every storm, as You grow us to become a clearer reflection of You. Forgive us Lord, for the desire for things to always be easy. Teach us to trust the process, as the challenges are the spaces where the most growth occurs. Show us how to love those around us through all things, for often You make Your love and support tangible through others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in our trials, and praise You for the patience and perseverance that are grown in us through Your faithfulness as we press on. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

Extend Love

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, NIV)

God is fair, and He will remember all the work you have done. He will remember that you showed your love to Him by helping His people and that you continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, ERV)

For God, the Faithful One, is not unfair. How can He forget the beautiful work you have done for Him? He remembers the love you demonstrate as you continually serve His beloved ones for the glory of His Name. – (Hebrews 6:10, TPT)

We are called to love God and love people. God, in His great love, remembers the love, kindness and help that we extend to those around us. When we love people well, it is an extension of our love for Him. Throughout this entire pandemic, there has not been a lack of need for help. Help can be expressed in the form of reaching out to a neighbor in need, checking in on those who are isolated, and extending patience and kindness to all. We know not the story that those around us are walking in. If we choose to meet each person we encounter with kindness and grace, we are loving as we have been called to love. God sees and knows our heart and is willing to make it more like His. Our charge is to seek and depend on Him, for it is in that space of reliance that we are transformed to love, help and extend grace in the same way that He does for us. May we ever pursue the heart of God to love those around us well, for He sees and remembers a heart that is faithful to love.

The God of justice,

He sees and is pleased;

When we extend love,

Perpetuate peace.

Kindness and goodness,

With love and God’s grace;

A faithful service,

To walk in His ways.

So, rise up in love,

In all of our ways;

Let the Lord’s love lead,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who sees and knows our hearts. Thank You that You are willing to transform us to more clearly reflect You if only we walk in Your ways and do Your will. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to live and love as You intended. Teach us to see the need around us and to act on it. Show us how to love in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love, help and extend grace to all those around us. Amen.

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

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

What is Really Wanted

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, NIV)

Now, Israelites, listen! What does the Lord your God really want from you? The Lord your God wants you to respect Him and do what He says. He wants you to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, ERV)

So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in His presence in holy reverence, follow the road He sets out for you, love Him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, MSG)

Though these were things asked of Israel as they were in the desert, preparing to move toward the promised land, these are still the same things that God asks of us today. To love and respect the Lord and to serve Him, is the gist of what Jesus told us the commands of God meant. We are called to love God and love people. If we truly love, we will respect, honor, and serve with all that we are. This applies to every aspect of our lives. To love God means to love His creation as well. Everyone we see, and all those whom we encounter, are created and loved by God. As we love God wholeheartedly and seek to do His will, He grows in us the desire to love others as He loves us. May we ever pursue the Lord and His path for our lives, so that we learn to love Him and all people as He intended.

Long gone are the days,

Of Levitical law;

Instead we’re to love,

And of God, stand in awe.

For God has made us,

To give and receive love;

And walk in His ways,

Choose seek the Lord above.

For the more we seek,

We forever shall find;

The ways we’re to walk,

And the grace to be kind.

Lord, help us rise up,

To love all others well;

You are the reason,

That in love we may dwell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan and purpose for us has always been to be in a loving relationship with You and all those around us. Thank You that You show us and lead us in the love we are meant to give. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts and deeds have not aligned with loving You and loving those whom You have placed on our path. Teach us to love, honor and serve You with our whole heart, so that we may grow in love and grace to love well, all those around us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our heart, soul, and mind into loving You and all those whom we meet. Amen.

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

Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:30-31

Timeless Faithfulness

Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. – (Isaiah 25:1, NIV)

Lord, You are my God. I honor You and praise Your Name, because You did amazing things. The words You said long ago are completely true; everything happened exactly as You said it would. – (Isaiah 25:1, ERV)

Eternal One, You are my God. I will lift You up and praise Your Name. Because You have made wonderful marvelous and beautiful – the most ancient designs holding strong and sure. – (Isaiah 25:1, VOICE)

The faithfulness of God is timeless. All of creation announces His love as He has done, does, and will continue to do wonderful things. What was planned in the beginning, He faithfully fulfills. God, who in His infinite wisdom and love, created each of us with a plan and a purpose. As we follow Him, we see His kindness and grace through the outpouring of His love, as He leads us to walk out all that He has prepared for us. I know it seems like the wonderful things are far off when obstacles come our way, but if we slow down, take a deep breath, and truly take inventory, the visibility of His incredible blessings are abundantly clear. In the darkest times, His light remains, for if we open our eyes we are genuinely able to see. May we ever lift up praise to He who carries out the wonderful and beautiful in each of our lives.

Lord, I will praise You,

For all of my days;

Your tender mercies,

Lead us in Your ways.

Thank You for kindness,

When hope’s feeling gone;

You bless us and keep us,

Help us carry on.

Your word is the truth,

Faithful without end;

No matter what comes,

Love and strength You send.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God and that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You for what You promise, as You fulfill. Forgive our fears and frustrations when we cannot see the beauty that is going to come from our ashes. Teach us to trust You and praise You, even in the storms. Show us how to love those around us well, so that hope and faith rise up, no matter how things appear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love so well. Amen.

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

For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:3