Forgive and Love

All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – (Ephesians 4:31-32, HCSB)

Never be bitter, angry, or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:31-32, ERV)

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:31-32, MSG)

Being kind and compassionate takes practice and dependence on God. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what we are doing or what we need to accomplish or where we need to go, that we forget that everyone around us is doing the same, and we know not what is going on in their world. From the slow or distracted driver in front of us, to the person who has parked their cart in the center of the aisle, we are called to be kind and gentle. I have been both the giver and the recipient of both types of responses – frustration and anger, and those of gentleness and kindness. The difference a kind, gentle or loving response makes, especially on difficult days, compels me to seek God to help me do likewise. As a middle school teacher, I am provided plenty of opportunities to practice. I have not “arrived”, but I continue to seek God for strength and compassion so that I might respond as Jesus responds to us. May we ever seek the Lord and His love for one another so that all anger and frustration are kept in check, and His love leads us in all that we say and do.

Let go of anger,

All malice and rage;

Instead, choose kindness,

Lovingly engage.

As Christ has loved us,

We need love others;

Extend care and grace,

To sisters, brothers.

Each has a story,

That we do not know;

Our kindness offered,

Is how love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to release anger and ugliness and equip us to give love, kindness and gentleness as You do for us. Forgive us for our anger, frustration and impatience that comes when we focus on ourselves. Teach us to be otherly with all those around us. Give us compassion and love to extend to all. Show us how to love each person we encounter in a way that demonstrates Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and depend on You to be the people that You have called and created us to be. Amen.

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

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:13

Forgive, Listen and Grow

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, NIV) 

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV) 

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act kind. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE) 

Our nation is in a space where forgiveness is needed for all. For many of us, our own ignorance to the magnitude of the problem that still exists in this country is a grievance in and of itself. We must bear with one another in love, as we seek to listen, learn and grow. The enemy is not people who hold a particular profession, nor is it people who protest and take a stand against what is blaringly wrong. There is an enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy, as lies, ignorance and ugliness create division. That sin that has seeped in and wrapped its tendrils around unprotected hearts, has created the heinous atrocities that have transpired over time. Justice must be served, and we must walk in forgiveness with repentant hearts; for we each have played a role in perpetuating the problem, if we have not been actively pursuing better. For many of us, this is a season of awakening to a nightmare that many have been living for centuries. In order to be better, we must listen and learn. For me, this comes in the form of reading everything I can get my hands on, listening to those who have a voice of experience, have honest conversations and self-reflection, so that I may be aware and informed; willing to forgive my own ignorance, as I move forward with intention and honesty. Rather than lashing out with accusations and ugliness, how can we have hard conversations and speak truth to those in our circles who need to hear? Forgiveness does not mean ignoring nor sweeping things under the rug, but rather it is a commitment to not hold hostility in our hearts toward others, and choose to kindly come along side people and help them see the truth. Some will not listen. Love anyway. Others will be slow to see the truth. Love anyway. To choose to love is the only way that true change can occur. Jesus reached out, spoke, touched, and loved all people. There were no qualifiers to Him loving, rather He saw needs and met them. As He loved the people whom society had deemed “less than”, Jesus modeled what we are all meant to do. There are none less nor more valuable than others. We are all precious in His sight. Sadly, we are in a space where there has been such injustice against people of color, that it is necessary to draw specific attention to the wrongs so that change may transpire. We must be and do better. None of us will ever get everything right, but if our hearts are for ALL, and we are actively seeking to listen, learn and grow, we will be agents of change for the better. May we seek the Lord for forgiveness, so that we may forgive ourselves and one another as we move in love toward what God intended all along. 

The choice to forgive, 

To listen and grow; 

Is how we are called, 

So truth may be known. 

Instead of anger, 

Let’s have open hearts; 

That true repentance, 

Finds a way to start. 

As we’re forgiven, 

May we do the same; 

Love one another, 

In Jesus’s Name. 

Love with true kindness, 

Without fear to speak; 

Truth for what is right, 

God’s will, ever seek. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are called to bear with one another in love, and choose forgive. Thank You that forgiveness does not mean permission to repeat wrongs, but rather it is us not holding onto past wrongs that weigh us down and prevent us from moving forward in all that You are calling us to. Teach us to do and be better, so that all may live and love in freedom, without fear. Show us how to love those around us better. Lead us to repentance so that reconciliation may transpire. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the true healer and reconciler of all. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and grow in love for one another. Amen. 

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Love Fulfills the Law

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, NIV)

The law says, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder anyone, you must not steal, you must not want what belongs to someone else.” All these commands and all other commands are really only one rule: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, ERV)

For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” and every other commandment can be summed up in these words: “Love and value others the same way you love and value yourself.” Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires. – (Romans 13:9-10, TPT)

 

This really sums up so much. Our charge, our call, our purpose, above all else, is to LOVE. If we truly love as God intended, we are obeying and honoring God, and showing the world what love really means. The “Golden Rule” is similarly based on this sort of love. To do unto others as we want done unto us, is the same as loving our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t that what everyone ultimately desires? To love and be loved in return? It is no surprise that the longing within us aligns with the intent and purpose for which we were created. It is the most difficult to love when the recipient of our choice to love does not do the same in return. However, we are called to love anyway. Often, the repeated extension of kindness breaks down the barriers that are blocking another from receiving or giving love. Once they begin to see, know and understand that it is genuine, they become more willing to receive and return what is given. May we ever choose to love others as we desire to be loved; for this is what we are called and commanded to do.

 

Choose love each other, Ambassadors of Love

As we’d like love back;

For this is our charge,

To do as God asks.

All those whom we meet,

Are neighbors indeed;

Ready for kindness,

Love’s a human need.

Each time that we choose,

To give love away;

We’re following God,

For love is His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank You that You do not just command it, but You have shown us again and again what it is to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You would want us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend kindness, mercy and grace, even in the face of adversity and ugliness. Show us how to love all of those You have placed around us in ways that make Your heart tangible to them, individually. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others as You call us to 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

Life by Love Defined

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

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, ERV)

With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially those who may try your patience. – (Ephesians 4:2, TPT)

 

These are words to live by, yet among the most challenging. The Passions Translation is particularly profound, as the “especially those who may try your patience” portion is the reality that confronts and challenges me most. As a middle school teacher, this is not difficult to find, and daily, I am afforded countless opportunities to put this into practice. Some days are more successful than others. Thankfully, I have a calm demeanor, so even when my patience is pushed past where it belongs, the momentary lack of love that I feel is not nearly as evident as it could be. That being said, I need Jesus every minute of every day to be humble and gentle, patient and loving, especially with those who try my patience. On my own, my inner thoughts would spew out in ugliness, rather than the still small voice within, that reminds me to breathe, and that kids need kindness and grace. May we seek the Lord and His goodness, so that we may be equipped to live humbly and gently, patiently accepting one another in love.

 

For we are all called, Life by Love Defined

Be humble and kind;

Extend others grace,

Life by love defined.

We must have patience,

That’s fueled by love;

The will to proceed,

Like the Lord above.

For what is our life,

If not led by love?

Our purpose is plain,

Forever choose love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You first loved us. Thank You that You give us specific instructions as to how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked humility or kindness, patience or acceptance through love. Teach us to trust and depend on You to love as You call us to love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend patience and kindness, gentleness and acceptance. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to equip us to love as we were designed to 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

The Good in Good Friday

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us! – (2 Corinthians 5:21, TLB)

For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with Him. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, TPT)

 

This. This is the good that we celebrate on Good Friday. Jesus Christ, who had lived and served and loved without sin, willingly took all sin upon Himself and bore it on the cross, so that we would have a way to be right with God. Our sinfulness was exchanged for Christ’s righteousness. His sacrifice made the way for all who seek Him to become righteous before God. This holy exchange is the very thing that empowers God’s goodness to be evident in us. Christ’s love that made the way for us all to be restored unto God, is the good in Good Friday. May we each recognize with reverent awe, the enormity of the exchange that took place on our behalf.

 

One horrific day, The Good in Good Friday

A long time ago;

Christ went to the cross,

To make goodness known.

Upon that old cross,

Jesus bore all sin;

The wrongs of the world,

Were nailed upon Him.

The weight that He bore,

Was for you and I;

Though we were sinners,

He still chose to die.

Such a painful death,

So we could be free;

Covered with goodness,

Righteousness to see.

This is what is good,

On this dreadful day;

Death of our Savior,

Cause for Good Friday.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to take our place upon the cross. Thank You that His goodness covers all of our ugliness in Your eyes. Forgive us for not recognizing the enormity of the burden You bore on our behalf. Help us to see just how good, Good Friday is because of Your incredible love. Show us how to embrace the goodness You have given to us and empower us to love well, all those whom with we cross paths. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we become aware of the incredible exchange of our sinfulness for Your righteousness, that make Good Friday so good. Amen.

 

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

 

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Clothed From Within

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. – (1 Peter 3:4, NLT)

No, your beauty should come from inside you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God. – (1 Peter 3:4, ERV)

Let your adornment be what’s inside – the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights. – (1 Peter 3:4, VOICE)

 

I am noticing that the older I get, the more I recognize the people I view as most “beautiful” are those from whom a gentle and quiet spirit radiates the loving kindness of our Heavenly Father. The heart adorns the external and directly influences how my eyes perceive the person before me. Beauty begins on the inside. May we ever focus on that which comes from within – the spirit placed within us that is called to be gentle and still before Him, so that we may go forth and love as we are loved by Him.

 

Let our focus be, Ambassadors of Love

On beauty within;

The quiet, sweet space,

That keeps us from sin. 

The Lord God, Himself,

Delights when we’re still;

He refines in love,

By grace, shows His will.

In calm gentleness,

Let’s fix eyes on Him;

Love cleanses each heart,

And brings beauty in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see a quiet and gentle spirit as beautiful. Thank You that Your view of beauty is from the inside out. Thank You that You make beautiful things out of us as we choose to follow You. Forgive us for the ugliness of our selfishness and twisted perception of what truly matters. Teach us to trust You more as we quiet our hearts in stillness before You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them recognize the beauty that You have created within them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we aspire to be people that possess beautiful hearts, bearing gentle and quiet spirits toward all. Amen.

 

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

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5

 

 

 

 

Draw Near with True Hearts

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. – (Hebrews 10:22, NIV)

Sprinkled with the blood of Christ, our hearts have been made free from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. So, come near to God with a sincere heart, full of confidence because of our faith in Christ. – (Hebrews 10:22, ERV)

Let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. – (Hebrews 10:22, VOICE)

Christ made coming to God possible. Through His sacrifice, once and for all, we have full assurance that the price has already been paid for our sins. Because we have been washed clean from the inside out, when we draw near to God and receive what He freely offers, we can confidently enter into His presence and communicate with the nearness of a loving Father and friend. May we readily receive what Christ gives by His glorious grace, and draw near to the Lord with faith, as we are fully known.

 

One great sacrifice,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Made way for us all;

To become washed clean,

Be heard when we call.

What Christ did for us,

Is ours to receive;

By faith, to lay hold,

All hope we believe.

So, let us draw near,

With hearts that embrace;

The gift of new life,

Through God’s lavish grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son as the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Jesus, thank You for taking on all of our sin and shame, so that we could be made clean and worthy to approach the throne of God. Forgive us for taking Your sacrifice for granted, or for somehow thinking it could not possibly cover the weight of our own ugliness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the grace that You have so generously given, and never forget the ultimate price that You paid on our behalf. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might recognize Your grace and love through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the incredible gift of grace that You freely give, and continue to come close to You so that we will know how to best walk according to Your will. Amen.

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

For the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. – Hebrews 7:19

 

The Greatest Gift

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. – (Galatians 4:4-5, NIV)

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)

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into the world (born of a woman, subject to the law) to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. – (Galatians 4:4-5, VOICE)

 

God knew that humanity needed a Savior. For most, the law was a list of do and do not from a distance out of fear and reverence, rather than being rooted in relationship. The arrival of Jesus changed everything. God out there, became God is here. Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension gave way for us to be adopted into God’s family as His children. No more are we simply subjects attempting obedience out of fear, but rather we are children of the Most High, saved by grace and dearly loved. From this position of freedom, it is difficult not to desire to do what is pleasing to the very One who set us free. May we rise up and recognize the sacrifice that was given so that we could be free, and walk out our days honoring God with our words, deeds and praise.

 

God saw all our need, The Greatest Gift

And set forth a plan;

Redemption and grace,

By His loving hands.

Hands that chose to send,

His beloved Son;

To bear all the weight,

Of what we have done.

Freely He took on,

All our ugliness;

So we may be called,

His in righteousness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You saw mankind’s need for a Savior and sent Your Son to redeem us. Thank You that not only do You forgive us of all of our sin, but You adopt us as sons and daughters of Your own. Thank You that You lovingly receive all who come seeking You. Forgive us for forgetting the magnitude of Your sacrifice to be called sons and daughters. Teach us to treasure the gifts of Your mercy and grace far more than we do. Show us how to love others in a way that extends the same sort of mercy and grace to others, so that they might see glimpses of You through the good we give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for the greatest gift ever given through the sending of Your Son. Amen.

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

 

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Hope in Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God! – (Psalm 42:5, NLT)

Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I tell myself, “Wait for God’s help! You will again praise Him, your God, the One who will save you.” – (Psalm 42:5, ERV)

Why are you so down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. – (Psalm 42:5, MSG)

 

It is difficult to take in the recent events in our nation, and not feel sad and discouraged. Yet, even in the darkness of such ugliness, good has been burning bright in incredible ways. When the need for blood donations was presented to the people of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, generous hearts lined up in droves. Help is being provided in a place where it is typically lacking, as it is needed most. Additionally, there have been numerous stories of individuals placing themselves in harm’s way to help those in need in the midst of this tragic event. When I see the good that rose up in people who helped because they knew that they could not just standby and do nothing – I am encouraged and remember that God is our hope and our reason to praise. He moves hearts to act with love and compassion, and despite the darkness that is in the world, God is always good. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, as He is the One who saves and is worthy of all of our praise.

 

When I’m discouraged, Hope in Discouragement

And my heart is sad;

Help me hope again,

Lord, make my heart glad.

Glad for Your goodness,

For Your light and grace;

Praise for salvation,

Our hope in this place.

Lord, help us to see,

Where to fix our eyes;

As we look to You,

All hope’s realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the darkness that befalls us and our nation, You are always good. Thank You that You demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness through the grace and love of people. Father, please be with the first responders, the officers, the medical teams and all those impacted by what took place in Las Vegas. Your healing hands are needed more than ever. Forgive us for turning a blind eye to that which overwhelms us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ask of You what we are meant to do – be it to give, pray, or go do more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides comfort and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, especially in the places where Your light seems to be lacking. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19