Everyday Encouragement

But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. – (Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

Encourage each other every day – for as long as we can still say “today” – so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. – (Hebrews 13:3, VOICE)

We are called and reminded to encourage each other every day. None of us are infallible on our own, but rather we need one another to walk in His way and do His will. Our own broken humanity deceives us and can lead us astray when left to our own devices. However, when we are invested in Christ and community, we are encouraged and encourage others to walk in His way and do His will. There is power in accountability, as it keeps us honest with others and ourselves. God intentionally created us to crave community so that we would invest in each other and be capable of encouraging one another in all things. In my own life, I am so grateful for this. He has surrounded me with loving people who want to see the very best for me and from me. When I am struggling, they encourage me. When I see those around me challenged, I try to do the same. Jesus was our ultimate example, and endured every challenge and trial that comes our way. Because He has been where we are, He is able to help and uphold us through all things. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in encouraging those around us, so that not one of us would be hardened to hearing His best for us.

Today is a gift,

Meant to be lived well;

His grace is enough,

As in Him we dwell.

We’re called to reach out,

Encourage others;

Build each other up,

Sisters and brothers.

Let not the heavy,

Pull each other down;

Lift and encourage,

Let kindness be found.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and equip us to encourage one another. Thank You that You also provide people in the communities to which we belong to encourage us as well. Thank You that You desire that not one of us falls to the weight of the world. Forgive us for the times that we have rejected the reminders You have provided and the times that we have neglected to encourage others. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and supply, and to give You praise for the people that You place in our lives to give and receive encouragement. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in ways that strengthen and build them up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength and encouragement in all things and trust in You to lead us to encourage others well. Amen.

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

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

Done to Others is Done Unto You

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

“Then the King will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for my people here, you also did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, ERV)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these, My little ones, My true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, TPT)

This ought to be our motivation. Whenever we love others, we are also demonstrating our love for God. Every single time we love, help, encourage, lift up, show kindness, give grace – God sees it as if we were doing these very things unto Him. What this shows us is how deeply God loves all of His creation. Our closest comparison is how we feel when others extend kindness, grace, generosity, encouragement, and more to one whom we love deeply. I know for me, when someone does these things for one of my children, I am blessed as well. My heart swells with gratitude, simply knowing that another sees and values my child like I do. Imagine the depth of what God feels in comparison. God who loved so deeply that He sent His Son to reestablish a right relationship with us, recognizes every act of kindness and extension of love as words and deeds given directly to Him. For me, that both defines and dictates how I ought to treat everyone I meet. Do I have it down to a science? Of course not. I fall short and fail daily, yet can always seek to do and be better. God, in His loving kindness, hears our petitions presented before Him, and honors our desire to love well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead and equip us to love as He loves us.

Whatever we do,

In word, thought or deed;

We do unto God,

Let’s follow His lead.

The God of all grace,

Does all things in love;

May we love like Him,

Give good from above.

For each time we choose,

To help each other;

We live with purpose,

Sisters and brothers.

The times that we fail,

Neglect or ignore;

It too is to God,

Things that He abhors.

Lord, help us rise up,

Love well, each other;

Choose extend Your love,

One to another.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You love us. Thank You that as we do, You recognize our love extended to those around us as love for You. Forgive us for the times that we have been unloving or callous or have neglected to reach out where we knew You called us to love. Teach us to trust and follow Your lead as we aspire to love like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exhibit the width, depth and breadth of Your everlasting love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we reach out to love like You. Amen.

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

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12

Hope is Rising

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon. – (Psalm 31:24, MSG)

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

As I was doing my lesson planning yesterday, I did more research on the work of Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate who spoke at the Inauguration. Both when she shared her poem then, and while I discovered a recent poem of hers, “The Miracle of Morning”, I was in awe of her ability to tackle current events and convey hope through poetry. My sixth graders have been studying the poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling, and the opportunity to spend some time studying the works of a modern-day poet seemed a perfect pairing. For me, as I listen to and read Miss Gorman’s words, I cannot help but think her message is one of choosing to be brave and strong, and to not give up. The words call upon hope to rise within us, much like God’s word, for He is where our hope is held, and our Source of courage, strength and resolve. May we seek the Lord to find the strength and courage to see His love that is all around us, and the resolve to love as we are loved by Him.

Take heart, dear ones,

For hope is rising;

Light found in darkness,

There’s no disguising.

The chaos that is,

Will not always be;

For hope is rising,

As love is released.

A choice to honor,

Sisters and brothers;

To stand hand-in-hand,

Supporting each other.

Stand up, dear young ones,

Please take it from me;

The future is yours,

Rise up and shine, so all may see.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and You are our Source of courage, strength and resolve. Thank You that as we seek and learn to depend on You, hope rises within us. Forgive us for not being light and life in the midst of darkness. Teach us to seek You to ignite Your fire within us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread Your light that chases away the darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to raise us up as light-bearers and love givers. Amen.

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

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. – Psalm 71:5

Release the Offense

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, NIV)

“Even if they do something wrong to you seven times in one day, but they say they are sorry each time, you should forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, ERV)

“No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” – (Luke 17:4, TPT)

Jesus set the standard as to how we are meant to interact with our sisters and brothers around us. We are called to forgive every time that someone recognizes their wrongs and apologizes. The reality is that we all fall short and need forgiveness and grace. For me, I know that I have far more grace for my children and spouse than I do for folks out and about. When one of my kids forgets to do what has been asked of them, and then apologizes, it becomes as if it has never happened; yet if someone cuts me off on the road and then waves an apology, it takes a moment to slow down and actually forgive, instead of being annoyed. Our intentional decision to forgive is not meant to be submission to abuse, rather it is for us to release the offense and move on so that we do not carry the weight of unforgiveness.There are enough burdens among us; grudges are far too weighty to hold. May we seek the Lord to grant us the grace to forgive, in the same way that He continually forgives us.

Count not offenses,

But rather, give grace;

Love one another,

Throughout each new day.

When there’s a sorry,

Let go, choose release;

Hold not the offense,

May our grace increase.

Lord, help us to love,

As You choose love us;

Let our response be,

Just like Yours, Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love and forgive. Forgive us for not being quick to forgive when we ought to. Show us how to give the very same grace and forgiveness that we have been given by You. Lead us in love for all those around us so that each may know the overwhelming, never ending, power of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love and forgiveness for all. Amen.

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

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

Grow Us O God

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, ERV)

So devote yourselves to lavishly supplementing your faith with goodness, and to goodness add understanding, and to understanding add the strength of self-control, and to self-control add patient endurance, and to patient endurance add godliness, and to godliness add mercy toward your brothers and sisters, and to mercy toward others add unending love. – (1 Peter 1:5-7, TPT)

This passage reminds us that there is always room to grow. Because we have access to the word of God and the Spirit of God, His goodness, kindness and love are ever calling us to more of Him. The more of God that we know and understand, the greater our likeness in His attributes. He is faithful, good, the Source of all wisdom and understanding, patient, devoted, kind and loving to all. We too, are created to live likewise. May we ever seek the Lord to continue to grow more like Him, so that His love and accessible attributes are made evident in us.

Because we are blessed,

Let’s add what we bring;

More than just patience,

All enduring things.

Let goodness rise up,

And wisdom be found;

Grant us self-control,

Devotion that’s sound.

Grow in us kindness,

For all those we meet;

Let love ever lead,

Hands, heart and feet.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to grow in Your ways. Forgive us for neglecting to seek You to grow more like You. Teach us to turn to You and depend on You to transform our hearts and minds to clearly display Your love for all those around us. Show us how to love with patience, endurance, kindness, wisdom and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek You to grow more and more like You, so that we may love as we are called to do. Amen.

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

The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. – Psalm 34:10

The Blessing of Benevolent Love

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins. – (1 Peter 4:8, ERV)

Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. – (1 Peter 4:8, VOICE)

If we are loving deeply, steadily and unselfishly, we have no room to keep bringing up past mistakes or a laundry list of wrongs. Though there are spaces to use wisdom as far as what we are willing to subject ourselves to, typically, we simply need to get to a space of forgiving and choosing love again. When we forgive in love, our own hearts are released from the weight of whatever went wrong. Even if there are no possible reparations for a relationship, forgiveness is a way to choose love that will release one’s own heart from the heaviness. May we seek the Lord to fill our hearts to overflowing, so that we may love one another steadily and unselfishly, ever seeking to bring out the best in one another.

Lord, lead us in love,

Without selfishness;

May we love deeply,

Like You, relentless.

Grant us eyes to see,

In love, each other;

Forgive and choose love,

Sisters and brothers.

Help us forgive wrongs,

Release all to You;

Make love evident,

In all that we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another deeply; with steadiness and selflessness. Thank You that as we do, Your love covers over faults and failings. Forgive us for our selfishness that holds onto hurts. Teach us to give all to You, so that we may know Your freedom found in love. Show us how to love those around us completely, so that may know Your love without conditions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to love steadily and unselfishly. 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

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

Acutely Aware of Good

I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws. – (Psalm 119:7, NIV) 

The more I understand how fair Your laws are, the more sincerely I will praise You. – (Psalm 119:7, ERV) 

With a pure heart, I will give thanks to You when I hear about Your just and fair rulings. – (Psalm 119:7, VOICE) 

Every time I get out in nature, I become acutely aware of God’s goodness and grace. Everything He asks of us is wrapped up in love – our call is to love Him and love people. If we do that, we are following His law with an upright heart. Incredibly, He loved us first; so much so, that He created beauty all around us and in us, simply to show us His love. This weekend, my family is blessed with time to get away to the woods and enjoy time together. Yesterday afternoon, my love and I took Thor, our nearly five-month-old lab puppy for a little hike around and down to a lake. It was the first time that he has been to a lake, and I don’t think his tail stopped wagging the entire time he waded in the water. Last evening, before we retired for the night, Thor met Raven, a four-month-old female lab, and the two of them were completely smitten with one another. I guess where I am going with this, is that pups love purely. Thor loves being outdoors in His creation, and loves people and other pups with a relentless, unwavering love. Observing the world through his eyes grants me an even deeper appreciation for God and His goodness to us all. May we ever seek the Lord to understand more deeply, the overwhelming passion with which He loves us all. Let our hearts praise Him with every breath and step that we take; for He is so very good. 

May each heart give praise, 

All thanks unto You; 

For justice and love, 

As Your ways are true. 

You call us to love, 

Yourself and others; 

Relentlessly shown, 

Sisters and brothers. 

All of creation, 

Demonstrates His love; 

If we look around, 

And praise Him above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and gracious, and that which You ask of us is right and fair. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts or deeds have not reflected the love You call us to give. Teach us to love with an upright heart, and to give You praise throughout all of our days. Show us how to love You and those around us the way that You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and love forever. Amen. 

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

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

Let Go and Love

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” – (Leviticus 19:18, NIV) 

“Forget about the wrong things people do to you. Don’t try to get even. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” – (Leviticus 19:18, ERV) 

“Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.”  – (Leviticus 19:18, MSG) 

Revenge and grudges do not bring change. Love, however, does. If we truly love our neighbors as we are called to love, how can society help but change? Wrongs cannot always be righted, yet changed behavior can make the present and future far better. The more we understand one another, the better we are able to love. I imagine that the reason God says to love our neighbors as ourselves is because we know well, how we want to be treated and loved. Not one of us wants to be treated as less than, so we ought to always aim to love more. To love as God loved us means that we put others first, and seek to do good in ways that help and bless and lift our sisters and brothers up. We are all a work in progress, but we must do our part to pursue God’s best for one another. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, so that we are solution seekers rather than those who seek revenge. 

Do not seek revenge, 

Or carry a grudge; 

But instead, love well, 

Let God be the judge. 

Seek always love well, 

Sisters and brothers; 

Let’s choose to love first, 

Help one another. 

Find ways to lift up, 

Encourage others; 

Bless and do not curse, 

Goodness discovered. 

For just as God loves, 

We’re called to the same; 

Give goodness and grace, 

To honor God’s name. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us better than we could love ourselves. Thank You that You call us to the same. Forgive us for the times that we have sought revenge or held a grudge. Teach us to give our anger and frustration to You, and lean on You to lead us to love well. Show us how to bless, encourage, lift up and love well, all of those whom You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of ugliness and embrace one another in love. Amen. 

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

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself. – Romans 12:10

Wonderfully Made

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV) 

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was. – (Psalm 139:13-14, ERV) 

You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank You, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly You know me, Lord! – (Psalm 139:13-14, TPT) 

Every human on the planet has been created intentionally, and knit together beautifully. I am struggling to figure out where humanity determined that one variation or race or people group is less than or superior to another. What is worse, is that the sin that entered in and tainted the perspective of people, one to another, has been perpetuated throughout history. As a member of Christ’s body, it is my responsibility to identify the places within my own heart where bias, prejudice and the like are hidden, so that I may repent and see all people through the Lord’s lens. Additionally, I must not shy away from the ache that this has caused in my sisters and brothers around me. To be and do better, I must actively seek to listen and understand, so that genuine change may occur. If I truly believe that all people have been intentionally and beautifully made, then I must further pursue how to admonish, defend and support every person around me. Because prejudice and discrimination have taken place for centuries, it is meant to be a lifelong process of pursuing change and bringing restoration to all. It begins within our own hearts, but must continue in our neighborhoods, communities, our nation, and our world. Daily, I am gutted as the stories of people’s own experiences as people of color, are being shared. White privilege is real, as I have not had to be fearful or exercise extreme caution in how I navigated my days because of the amount of melanin in my skin. We must listen and learn. I want to be an agent of change in the world, and this must begin with me. Though I cannot control the actions and reactions of others, I can be intentional to listen and read and learn and speak up when I see anyone being treated as less than intentionally and beautifully made. May we seek the Lord for wisdom and perseverance, as we listen, learn and become a better version of who we have been called to be. 

Each human on earth, 

Purposefully made; 

Hand-crafted by Christ, 

In various shades. 

Unique in design, 

Such intricacy; 

Each one fully known, 

Beyond what is seen. 

Lord, give us all eyes, 

That we truly see; 

Equal in value, 

Planned diversity. 

Bring restoration, 

True community; 

Everyone known, 

In love, unity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that everyone has been intentionally and beautifully made. Thank You that You are a creative God, that has made us beautifully diverse and wonderfully unique. Thank You that You call us to appreciate and celebrate the unique beauty and design that You have intentionally made. Forgive us for the times that we have marginalized another person or people group through ignorance or silence. Teach us to be and do better. Help us to view all people through Your lens, and with Your heart to love. Show us how to best love every individual we meet. May we support, encourage and love one another, as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we repent and rise up to truly be the body of Christ. 

© 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