Strength and Protection

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

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

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

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

The power of truth,

God’s strength unto us;

Protection each day,

Faithful, God with us.

Place over each heart,

Your armor and grace;

Our help and our strength,

Throughout all our days.

Please help us to rise,

In truth, make us strong;

Lead and protect us,

In You, carry on.

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

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

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

Amazing Adoption

When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. – (Galatians 4:4-5, HCSB)

But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law. God did this so that He could buy the freedom of those who were under the law. God’s purpose was to make us His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, ERV)

But when the time of fulfillment had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law. Yet all of this was so that He would redeem and set free those held hostage to the law so that we would receive our freedom and a full legal adoption as His children. – (Galatians 4:4-5, TPT)

God sent His Son to us in the same way that each of us arrived. Jesus was born of a woman, grew up as a human, and was subject to the same sort of trials and triumphs that we all have as a part of the human experience. However, Jesus did so without sin. He was subject to temptation as we are, yet He navigated all in accordance to the Father. Because He did, He was able to be the perfect and pure sacrifice for all so that we could come before the Father and be accepted and embraced as His own. Adoption is a beautiful grafting of a person not born into a family as one of their own. Once adopted, the law sees that individual as an equal member of the family into which they have been adopted. Beautifully, I have two dear friends who were adopted as infants, and were raised in wonderful, loving homes. Incredibly, they have also been fully accepted and embraced into their biological family as well as adults. It is through these tangible examples that my heart is best able to grasp the beauty and love that is held in the process of adoption. I am overwhelmed in knowing that the God of the entire universe calls me His own. To be the daughter of the ultimate Father is a blessing that goes beyond my understanding. Though I have done nothing to earn such a blessing, that is not how adoption works. We are received and loved for who we are, however and whenever we come to Him. May we take time to ponder the powerful love that would come from heaven to earth to make the way for each of us to become daughters and sons of the living God.

When heaven came down,

Through God’s only Son;

He showed us the way,

That battles are won.

He grew as a man,

Tempted in all ways;

Yet was without sin,

For all of His days.

He made plain the path,

Through love’s sacrifice;

For our adoption,

Into paradise.

Thank You Lord Jesus,

For making the way;

So we might be heirs,

To hope each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son in such a way that He would understand all of our trials and triumphs as He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice so that we might be called Your own. Thank You that as we come to You and receive all that You offer, we are adopted as Your children. Forgive us for not receiving all that You offer and for the times that we have not represented Your family well. Teach us and grow us so that we may more clearly reflect Your likeness to the world. Lead us to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the privilege of being called Your sons and daughters that receive an inheritance into Your kingdom forever. Amen.

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

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. – 2 Corinthians 6:18

Guided By Love

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, ERV)

So don’t hide your light! Let it shine brightly before others, so that your commendable works will shine as light upon them, and then they will give praise to your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, TPT)

This aligns with one of my favorite quotes: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi) Our charge is not to simply speak of our faith, but rather it is to live it out. If people see Christ in us through how we live and care for others, they will ask questions and provide opportunities for us to use words. However, if there is nothing that separates us from anyone else then anything we say will fall on deaf ears. This does not mean that we have to be perfect, or that we have to fear our human flaws, but rather it frees us to walk in God’s grace and choose to love big. When all that we do is guided and steeped in love, His light shines through us and is made known. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in His love so that we may shine brightly before all.

O Lord help Your light,

Shine brightly through us;

As we grow and learn,

To love like Jesus.

Let all that we do,

Be guided by love;

So others may know,

It’s from You, above.

Thank You for Your grace,

For the times we fail;

Love that leads us on,

So Your love prevails.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your son to show us what it is to lead a life of love. Thank You that as we invest in our relationship with You, You increase our capacity to love well and live out a life in You. Forgive us for our faults and failures, the words and actions that have been lacking Your love. Show us how to love all people in all circumstances, and to live a life according to Your loving plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our hearts and lives into knowing more of You so that we may be a reflection of Your love. Amen.

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

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Intentional In Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – (John 13:34-35, NIV)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” – (John 13:34-35, ERV)

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” – (John 13:34-35, MSG)

It seems only appropriate that the verse of the day has to do with love on Valentine’s Day. In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called “Friendship Day”. I love that idea, as the love we have for those around us does not have to be romantic love. Friends, family, acquaintances and beloved ones are all among those with whom our love is meant to be shared. To love as we are loved by God is to lift up, encourage, bless, honor and strengthen those around us without any expectation of return. We are meant to choose to love out of the overflow that we have freely been given. May we be intentional in our obedience to God’s commands to love so that all may see Him through us.

Let’s love each other,

As the Lord loves us;

Freely outpouring,

As done by Jesus.

When we choose to love,

With grace, each other;

God’s love’s clearly shown,

One to another.

May we celebrate,

All that we’re given;

Generously give,

Each day we live in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your generous and overwhelming love. Thank You that You call and command us to love those around us. Thank You that as we do, people see You and the goodness of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love as we should. Teach us to seek You and receive all that You offer so that we may love like You. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional to love well. Amen.

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

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. – Psalm 13:5

May Love Grow

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NIV) 

We pray that the Lord will make your love grow. We pray that He will give you more and more love for each other and all people. We pray that you will love everyone in the same way we love you. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, ERV) 

And may the Lord increase your love until it overflows toward one another for all people, just as our love overflows toward you. – (1 Thessalonians 3:12, TPT) 

Paul wrote to the church of Thessalonica to encourage them in their faith and love in the face of persecution. Though we are not facing the same scenario that early church endured, we do have much need in our society for faith and love. Civil unrest and people easily angered, do not make for a loving environment. It is our charge to love one another, in the same way that God loves each of us. His love is relentless, unconditional, and unchanging; ours ought to be as well. Too often, we have conditions or requirements that deem others must somehow be worthy of our love, rather than simply loving because they are His created. We must do and be better, and it begins with those who know and understand the power of God’s love for us. May we ever seek the Lord to make our love increase and overflow for those directly around us, and for all people everywhere. 

We are called to love, 

Care for each other; 

Mothers and fathers, 

Sisters and brothers. 

The whole human race, 

Is our family; 

Whom we’re meant to love, 

Ever faithfully. 

We need the Lord’s love, 

To flood heart and mind; 

So we may learn well, 

To love and be kind. 

Show us Lord Jesus, 

What we need to know; 

To love as You love, 

So Your goodness shows. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us first. Thank You that You call us to love not only those directly around us, but all people, everywhere. Forgive us for the times that we have not been loving, or have somehow withheld the good that was meant to be given. Teach us to turn to You to lead us in our every interaction. Show us how to love like You at all times, with all people. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love more deeply and completely, all people. Amen. 

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

May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. – Psalm 33:22

Showing 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 is not unfair. How can He forget your hard work for Him, or forget the way you used to show your love for Him – and still do – by helping His children? – (Hebrews 6:10, TLB)

 

Everything points back to loving God and loving people. If we are loving people with the love that God has planted within us, we are loving Him as well. Love is an ongoing choice to care for others – body, heart, mind and soul. It is an intentional decision to see and meet needs, in the same way that God sees our needs and provides for us in love. Each time that we choose to love others, we are loving God’s creation. To love the created, we must also love the Creator. God sees and He knows each time that we choose to love. We are saved by grace, but it is certainly good and right to live according to His plan of love. May we rise up and put our faith in action, as we intentionally choose to love as God loves each of us.

 

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To love as we’re loved;

Love God and people,

With strength from above.

Love not just with words,

But with all we do;

Actions speak clearest,

To show love is true.

God will remember,

Our each act of grace;

In love and kindness,

How we run life’s race.

It is not a sprint,

We must persevere;

Each day choose to love,

And know He is near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love in the same way that You love each of us. Thank You that You see and know each time we willfully choose to love others in the same way that You call us to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to love as we ought to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love You and others according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways. 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, and seek You to empower us to do the same. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

To Be Clothed 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)

 

The times that I feel like I am the very best version of myself, are those in which I am led by the mercy that God has overwhelmingly shown me, again and again, so that I might interact with others with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Some of these attributes seem to be more abundant than others, and I clearly have “hot buttons” that when pushed, deplete my seeming supply to love as I am called to love. Constant bickering (when my boys were younger), or a teething puppy that struggles with impulse control to nip, are a few of the things if on repeat all day long, wear me down and deplete my capacity to feel merciful. Thankfully, much in the same way that patience and perseverance carried my boys and me through their younger years when they fought often, I know the same is true with this short-lived stage in puppyhood. The Passions Translation version drives it home well for me, as it is an ongoing reminder of how to operate in the struggle: “Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all.” It is a reminder that there is always a root reason for the unwanted behaviors, and through patience, compassion and kindness, a solution may be discovered and better way be made. Incredibly, sometimes, it is merely consistent kindness that transforms the heart of one who needed it most. May we embrace the blessing we behold in knowing that we have been shown mercy unending and love beyond what our hearts can hold, and go forth choosing to be merciful; ever extending compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to all those with whom we interact.

 

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We need to love too;

Extend great mercy,

Compassion, exude.

With humility,

May we choose be kind;

Gentle and patient,

With others in mind.

May those whom we meet,

Through our love come know;

What God’s love is like,

Through mercy we show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with kindness and compassion, mercy and patience beyond measure. Thank You that because of Your love, we can love others. Forgive us for the places where we are lacking compassion, humility, patience, kindness, gentleness or mercy. Teach us how to love more like You. Show us the places and space where there is a greater need for mercy, compassion, humility, patience, kindness and gentleness, and help us to love in a way that represents Your heart tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love and mercy, and rely on You to help us love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

The Way to Love Well

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Kindness and compassion, love and forgiveness, must be how we allow God to lead us in His grace, if we are to love as He loves us. Mother’s Day, or any other day that is intended to celebrate an individual – be it a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or the like – is a perfect opportunity for these attributes to be extended, especially when what is hoped for is not realized. For example, my incredible husband is a total acts of service guy, his love language is to go above and beyond to do the little things that keep our home running smoothly, and does so without any sort of “honey do” list. In fact, he does things long before I even consider the need for them to be done, and if an issue arises, he fixes it barely after the concern has left my mouth. I, on the other hand, am all about quality time. My heart’s desire is to spend time with the people I love, doing fun things together. Being outdoors, playing games, hiking, walking, biking, going to the beach – you name it – anything together where all those present are engaged, and my heart is filled. As you can imagine, the two methods of expressing love do not always align. Saturday, I did have quality time with the family, and quality time with my love. Sunday, however, turned into a list of things that needed to be accomplished, and it felt as if Mother’s Day was all but forgotten. Now, encouraging words are a close second, and my boys did make a point to speak sweet and encouraging words of their appreciation to me as their mom. They were apologetic about not having a gift, and my genuine reply was about them being my greatest gift, and the two of them continuing to work hard and finish the school year strong would be the best gift they could give.  After a weird lull in the late afternoon, Mark and I spoke about hopes versus reality, and there was kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness extended on both sides by His grace. The evening was concluded with quality time, playing our favorite board game, as love and laughter filled the room, and my heart. We are still learning how to love one another best, and I am certain that it is a lifelong process. Thankfully, we are committed to learning and growing together, and depend on God to guide us in the process. Grace after grace after grace… May we all be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other in the same way that Christ forgives each of us, as we learn to love as we are loved by God.

 

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Forgiveness and grace;

The way to love well,

As we run our race.

In the same way God,

Loves and He forgives;

We’re called do likewise,

To bless as we live.

Extend forgiveness,

Lavishly give grace;

Love as we are loved,

Wherever we’re placed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving through the example of Your Son. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend to others what you so freely give to us. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love those around us well. Amen.

 

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

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Great Comfort in Knowing

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us – nothing in the whole created world – will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, ERV)

For I have every confidence that nothing – not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing – can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:38-39, VOICE)

 

There is great comfort in knowing that there is nothing that surrounds us, comes against us, nor that we could go through, that can separate us from the love of God. His love is eternal and knows no limits. Whether we are having a wonderful day or a day that we would rather have remained in bed, God’s love for us is constant, consistent, and secure. Being loved when we are least lovable, demonstrates the true depth of love granted to us. It is not earned nor somehow rewarded, but rather freely given as the Creator loves His created. May we receive and recognize the remarkable love of our Redeemer, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way.

 

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Make Your love so clear;

No matter what comes,

Show me that You’re near.

There’s no height nor depth,

That can keep away;

The goodness You give,

When to You, we pray.

Go before us Lord,

With Your love and light;

Be near and guide us,

To choose what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is nothing that can separate us from Your love. Thank You that as we receive the love You offer, You equip us to go forth and love others in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have either not received what You freely give, or have withheld what we were meant to extend to those around us. Show us how to love one another well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your limitless love, and seek You to love others in the same way. Amen.

 

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

 

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. – Titus 3:4-5a

So Loved

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NIV)

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

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

God so loved that He gave. He gave all so that we might come to know His love that leads to life everlasting with Him. The very same God who loves us to life, calls us to love each other. His example demonstrates what love truly is. Love gives the best of oneself to others, so that they too, may know and understand the vast depth and breadth of the love that God lavishes upon all who trust in Him. Incredibly, God did not so love the saints, or those who were somehow sinless, (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) but He so loved the world – all of us, all people, for all time – that He gave. There were no qualifiers nor prerequisites, God simply loved His created. In the same way, we are called to love those around us. Not just our friends and family, but all – for all are His created. May we receive and embrace the overwhelming and powerful love that God gives to us, and in turn, go forth and love those around us, so that all may experience the power of His love, personally.

 

Despite how things seem, Measured By Our Maker

One thing shall remain;

The love of the Lord,

Is always the same.

His love chose to give,

Not some, but gave all;

So we might have life,

And answer His call.

God’s love grants us grace,

Brings new life and light;

Hope from the despair,

Beauty and delight.

So, seek first the Lord,

Receive all He gives;

Then go forth, love well,

It is how love lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son to bring us the opportunity to have everlasting life with You. Thank You that when we accept what You offer, we gain grace and forgiveness and love overflowing to go forth and love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love, despite the incredible, unending love that You have for us. Teach us to love those around us as we are loved by You. Show us practical and tangible ways to be Your hands, heart and voice in love to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible love You have for us, and rely on You to help us love others well. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1