Perfect Love

“If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when His children ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, TPT)

“Even you who are bad know how to give good things to your children. So surely your heavenly Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to the people who ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, ERV)

Look, all of you are flawed in so many ways, yet in spite of all your faults, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to all who ask! – (Luke 11:13, VOICE)

This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, despite our flaws, failures and shortcomings. Whether a parent to children or fur babies, we all know how to give good gifts to those in our care, despite being broken and sinful. How much more does God, who is perfect in all His ways, know how to give us all that He has to offer when we seek Him? The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us. If God is for us, who can be against us? God’s Spirit within us will lead us, guide us, protect us and help us as we earnestly seek Him. May we always remember the depth and power of our Heavenly Father’s love, so that we may ever seek Him.

Despite all our flaws,

The Lord’s ever near;

Ready to help us,

Making His way clear.

Just as a parent,

Knows how to love well;

Our perfect Father,

Will in us, come dwell.

It is in nearness,

That we’re led and known;

Grace overflowing,

As His love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the ultimate gift as we ask. Thank You that Your presence is the greatest provider ever known. Thank You that by Your Spirit, You lead us, guide us, bless and protect us, as we place our heart in Your hands. Forgive us for forgetting how exceedingly powerful Your love is, and lead us to love likewise. Show us how to give good gifts to all, so that each who crosses our path may witness glimpses of You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us with Your Spirit, so that Your path will be made clear in all that we say and do. 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

Judge Not

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – (Matthew 7:1-2, NIV)

“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. If you judge others, you will be judged the same way you judge them. God will treat you the same way you treat others.” – (Matthew 7:1-2, ERV)

Jesus: If you judge other people, then you will find that you, too, are being judged. Indeed, you will be judged by the very standards to which you hold other people. – (Matthew 7:1-2, VOICE)

Now, more than ever, this is a relevant reminder. There is so much judging and finger-pointing going on over the various issues currently in existence, that it seems no solution is possible. However, that is not the truth. When we listen to learn, rather than to judge, there is opportunity for both sides to recognize how much more they have in common than they differ. Every human has a story and a history that has shaped their beliefs. Until we understand who a person is and what has shaped them, we cannot possibly comprehend the reason for the decisions they make. If we instead focus on seeking to do what is right, and truly listen to others, we will feel less inclined to judge and more inspired to love. We are all a work in progress. Imagine how much more progress all of us would make if we no longer worried about being judged and instead were able to focus on choosing to love… May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love, not judgement, and then follow all that He asks of us.

 

Let’s choose not to judge,

What’s not fully known;

Instead, let’s seek love,

As the Lord has shown.

No one is perfect,

Without fault or sin;

So none are equipped,

To judge what’s within.

Rather let us love,

Choose listen and learn;

Identify strengths,

What’s given’s returned.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us. Thank You that Jesus did not come into the world to judge us, but rather to save us. Forgive us for every time that we have made a judgement about another, rather than sought to understand. Teach us to listen in love. Show us how to love when we struggle with the words, actions or decisions of others. Remind us again that You love us all, despite our shortcomings. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to love and extend grace, not judgement. Amen.

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

God sent His Son into the world. He did not send Him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through Him. – John 3:17

He Suffered for Our Sake

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. – (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

But He was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of His pain. – (Isaiah 53:5, ERV)

But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries He suffered became our healing. – (Isaiah 53:5, VOICE)

As I continue to fix my heart and mind on the significance of Easter, my study this morning landed me in Isaiah 53. Isaiah was written long before the birth of Jesus, so it is a prophetic foretelling of what was yet to come. Jesus was indeed pierced for our transgressions, taking on the guilt and punishment that was deserved, so that we might know healing, wholeness and peace. His suffering on Friday brought us to the freedom that arrived on Sunday with an empty tomb. The very One who bore the weight of the world, overcame death in order to bring us new life. It is mind-blowing to think of anyone taking the punishment we deserve for our wrongdoing, and even more baffling to consider He who took ALL for EVERYONE. I know as a parent, I would gladly take pain in the place of my children. However, I am flawed and I fail; Jesus, who knew no sin, had done no wrong, endured the guilt and suffering for all that we have ever done, are doing, and will ever do, so that we have the opportunity and freedom to decide to follow after God and be in a right relationship with Him. Jesus made the way for all. In God’s eyes, every sin is a sin, and we all fall short. I cannot imagine what life would be like if we did not have the Savior to seek in our shortcomings, suffering and struggle. May we ever give glory to God, who sent His Only Son, and all praise to Jesus, who bore all on our behalf so that we would know God’s goodness and love.

Love chose be broken,

For once and for all;

Suffering Savior,

Love tore down the wall.

The wall between us,

Kept apart by sin;

His love brought new life,

Our only way in.

Into His goodness,

Overwhelmed by grace;

Hope that’s eternal,

O Ancient of Days.

Let us give glory,

Where glory is due;

All thanks for new life,

Through that empty tomb.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored in relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for bearing the weight of my sin upon Yourself so that I might know abundant life in You. Forgive us for allowing this holy week to come and go without pondering and pursuing a deeper understanding of all that You did to bring us into Your kingdom. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to love those around us intentionally and with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the magnitude of Your sacrifice and suffering that brought us new life in You. Amen.

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

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9

The Blessing of Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, NIV)

But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, ERV)

But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, TPT)

Confessing our sins is meant to be freeing and cleansing. Too often, we get caught up in presenting our laundry list of requests before God, and perhaps praising Him for who He is, but neglect the part of pausing to reflect on places where our thoughts, words or deeds were not pleasing to the Lord. This is not meant to be a space of shame, but rather of recognition of our wrongs and an active, intentional awareness of how we can do and be better, not in our own strength, but with the forgiveness and freedom that our Heavenly Father brings as we ask.  Incredibly, as we ask, He answers. God is faithful to forgive each time we ask, but it is our responsibility to request that He show us where we have fallen short. We all do, as we are all a work in progress. I am so thankful that though there is a long way to go, I am closer than I was before. May we ever come before Christ and confess our sins, for it is in this space that we are set free from the shame and guilt, and turned back to the One who leads us in the ways that He intended.     

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will show us our sin so that we may confess and be cleansed. Thank You that You receive us, cleanse us, and point us on the path that follows after You. Please forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented Your heart well. Teach us to keep short accounts with You so that we may do and be better. Show us how to love with mercy and grace, granting glimpses of Your heart to all who come our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confess our sin before You and follow Your leading to love as we were created to do. Amen.

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

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24

Grace Exemplified

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my source of strength. He is mine forever! – (Psalm 73:26, ERV)

Lord, so many times I fail; I fall into disgrace. But when I trust in You, I have a strong and glorious presence protecting and anointing me. Forever You’re all I need! – (Psalm 73:26, TPT)

This beautifully describes the plight of people. Failure is a reality in our broken humanity. However, Asaph reminds us that despite our failings and shortcomings, God will be our Source of strength to protect and empower us all the days of our lives. As we choose to trust in the Lord, His presence becomes the strength of our heart and leads us to move forward as we are called. We cannot control exhaustion or illness, but we can seek Him to strengthen and heal us. When we fail and fall short, God is present to pick us up, dust us off, and take our hand to lead us back in the direction we were always meant to go. May we ever pursue the Lord and allow Him to be our strength, for He is what we need to navigate each day best.

The Lord knows I fail,

Grow weak and fall short;

Yet as I place trust,

He gives strength, support.

In love, He lifts up,

My head, hand and heart;

Forgives and restores,

Again grants fresh start.

Forever He’ll be,

Our Source and Supply;

The strength to rise up,

Grace exemplified.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we fail and fall short, You are ever near to forgive and strengthen us to get back up and try again. Thank You that Your loving kindness lasts forever. Forgive us for our failings, falters, and foolishness. Teach us to lean into You to lead and guide us in the ways that we ought to go. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength and support to keep moving forward in the direction they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our source and our strength no matter what state we find ourselves in. Amen.

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

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

No Fear in Love

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, NIV)

Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. – (1 John 4:18, VOICE)

There is not room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. – (1 John 4:18, MSG)

If love is as God intended, there is no room for fear in love. Love created by God is patient, kind, protective, trustworthy, hopeful, and ongoing. As His love grows in us and through us, we discover there is no room for envy, boasting, pride, selfishness, short tempers, grudges or evil of any kind. Each of the attributes of His love combat and cover over the shortcomings that reside in us all. The ongoing pursuit of God’s love for us and through us, removes fear and draws us closer to understanding a fully formed love. May we ever seek the Lord and His lavish love, so that we may go forth and love others in the same way that we are loved by God.

Fear’s an ugly space,

Our hearts should not dwell;

Jesus, our Savior,

Has overcome hell.

It wasn’t by force,

Nor weapons of war;

But rather His love,

That rose, said, “no more”.

His love is perfect,

It drives out all fear;

His goodness shows us,

How God’s love is near.

Lord, please show us how,

To love without fear;

To give as You give,

So true love’s made clear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible love. Thank You that Your perfect love drives out fear. Thank You that You call us to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not demonstrated love as You intended. Please teach us to love in a way that drives out fear and makes Your goodness and grace abundantly clear. Show us how to love all those around us the way that You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us what love truly is so that we can go forth and love like You. Amen.

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

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – Psalm 119:76

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

How Love Abounds

My beloved is mine and I am his… – (Song of Songs 2:16a, NIV) 

My love is mine, and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, VOICE) 

Song of Songs captures the blessings beheld in love as God intended. Over the last four years, I have come to understand such love in a very tangible way, especially over the last two years, as today my Viking and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Genuine love establishes a bond that requires the dedication and devotion of both partners, so that no matter what comes, it can be faced together. For me, God provided the man that I never knew I needed. He loves fiercely, gently and with a devotion that I have never questioned. We have had to navigate some serious challenges over the last two years, between the loss of his father, my mom’s stroke, and various other familial health concerns. Additionally, we have shared great joys. Our three children have all now graduated from high school and are on their way to navigating adulthood well. One is working full-time, and the other two are preparing for their first year of college in the fall. There have been births, deaths, weddings and milestones that we have celebrated and grieved together. Even in this crazy season of COVID-19, we have found comfort, security and safety in Christ and one another. There is no one that I would rather navigate this life with, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with such love. May we all seek the Lord as our provider of love the way He intended, and give Him praise all of our days, as we discover together, how great His love truly is. 

To fully embrace, 

All that God’s love is; 

We must choose to trust, 

And know we are His. 

As we come to know, 

His kindness and grace; 

Our hearts are opened, 

To God’s loving ways. 

Such blessings are found, 

The more that we know; 

His heart is for us, 

To bless and to grow. 

O what a treasure, 

To have and to hold; 

The one He’s given, 

Such love does unfold. 

Today I give thanks, 

For the love I’ve found; 

As I’m fiercely loved, 

And goodness abounds. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for first loving us and for designing us to love and be loved. Thank You for the incredible blessing of a husband that loves me completely, despite all of my flaws and shortcomings. Forgive me for the times that I have failed to love as You intended. Show me how to love completely, each and every day that I draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as Your love is made known through willing hearts. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as You created us to love. Amen. 

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

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:16

Not Done Yet

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV) 

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV) 

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the He who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put His finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! – (Philippians 1:6, TPT) 

Today, as I begin my 49th trip around the sun, I am extraordinarily grateful that God is not finished with me yet. He is faithful to continue to refine and grow us until the day that we meet Him face-to-face. Being well aware of my flaws and shortcomings, I am reassured that He is not finished with me yet. Though I can see the good that He has done in me, I know that God has not completed all that needs to be done. This is true for all of us who seek and trust in Him. God will refine us so that we may live out our days how He designed us to live. There is much comfort in His promises, for He is faithful to do what He says He will do. The Lord’s care for us is physical, emotional, spiritual and tangible. He refines us body, heart, soul and mind. Additionally, this brings great comfort, as my mom is still in process of healing from a stroke, a bit more than a year ago. He has brought her far, but I know He is not finished with her yet. She is light and life, joy and peace to all whom she meets, and I trust that He will continue to strengthen and empower her to do all that He has created her to do. May we ever be confident in the promises of God, for we are a work-in-progress that He is refining to more clearly reflect His light to the world. 

For I am convinced, 

That God is not done; 

Working, refining, 

All that He’s begun. 

As His created, 

God’s own work of art; 

He’s always faithful, 

To complete each start. 

His love is perfect, 

Always it endures; 

Challenges, changes, 

All who choose come near. 

Let our hearts respond, 

With love and with praise; 

Trusting He’s faithful, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not finished with us yet. Thank You that You love us as we are, yet love us so much that You do not leave us that way. Thank You that we are a work in progress until we meet You face-to-face. Forgive us for getting in the way of all that You want to do in and through us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would embrace every bit of grace showered upon us to make us more like You. Show us how to love those around us in the way that You have designed us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the work You have done, are doing, and will continue, all the days of our lives. Amen. 

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

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does – Psalm 33:4

Searched, Known, and Lovingly Shown

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. – (Psalm 139:1, NIV) 

Lord, You have tested me, so You know all about me. – (Psalm 139:1, ERV) 

O Eternal One, You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am. – (Psalm 139:1, VOICE) 

This is simultaneously comforting and terrifying. Terrifying, because we each are aware of our own faults, failures and flaws, and dread the thought of that part of us being known. However, to have the very One who made us and loves us, know us better than we know ourselves, brings comfort. In spite of our shortcomings, He loves. Additionally, being intimately known, reminds us that He knows our greatest need, and is ready and willing to refine and grow our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect His. My hope in this is that God is not finished with me yet. He knows me and loves me as I am, yet loves me enough to not have me stay stagnant. God wants for us all to grow and be refined, allowing His heart to be shown to the world. May we embrace the grace that God freely offers, and seek Him earnestly to grow and change us to be better reflections of His goodness and grace. 

O great God of love, 

You see all our parts; 

The thoughts in our minds, 

Things hidden in hearts. 

Despite what You see, 

You love anyway; 

Eager to help us, 

Live and love Your way. 

Let goodness and grace, 

Be what comes from me; 

Refine mind and heart, 

So Your love is seen. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know every part of us – body, heart, mind and soul, yet You love us relentlessly. Forgive us for our misguided thinking or lack of understanding that get in the way of You working in and through our lives. Teach us to pursue Your heart for the world, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love to all. Show us how to love all those around us best, and rid our hearts of anything that gets in the way of loving like You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You search us and know us, and lead us to love like You. Amen. 

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

I obey Your precepts and Your statutes, for all my ways are known to You. – Psalm 119:168