Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

Unity Through Love

Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say. That there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, HCSB)

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, ERV)

My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, VOICE)

It seems that what we are called to do is the very opposite of what popular culture is trying to instill in us. Everywhere I look, there are calls for division rather than unity. Instead of working to agree on the main things, and agreeing to disagree on lesser things, people are pitted against one another without conversation or seeking to understand. This space of agreeing with one another provides a place for unity. It must start within our households, then our churches, and then expand to communities at large. Our charge and our call is to love God and love one another. If we are earnestly seeking the Lord to lead us to do both, unity will follow. There is no room for hate and dissent if love is what leads. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love so that we might be joined together in common purpose as we love one another.

To live united,

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Is God’s own great plan;

He leads us in love,

Helps us understand.

For where we seek Him,

He will show the way;

To rise together,

United in faith.

For where there is faith,

There too should be love;

United purpose,

From the Lord above.

Turn off the tv,

And choose stop the scroll;

Seek the Lord to love,

As goodness unfolds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan for us is to be united, not divided. Thank You that it is by Your love that we can find common ground and choose to agree to love. Forgive us for the times that we have found ourselves caught up in the dissent. Please redirect our hearts to focus on love. Show us how to be united instead of divided. Lead us to love on purpose with purpose, so that we may become united with those around us. Teach us to love those around us with different views and perspectives in a way that unites us together by choosing to love first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love You and those around us in ways that bring unity.

© 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

Learn and Grow

Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how the bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, HCSB)

Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, so you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, MSG)

You can no more predict the path of the wind than you can explain how a child’s bones are formed in a mother’s womb. Even more, you will never understand the workings of the God who made all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, VOICE)

Though we cannot possibly understand how everything works or why all things transpire, we can come into a relationship with the One who does. The very same God who made all things is willing and wanting to be in relationship with us. I am in awe of all of the beauty that His hands have made, and the depth of His love that He has for all of His created. Each day is a new opportunity to learn and grow, and He is faithful to show us more and more of who He is and how He loves. As we learn, He empowers us to love likewise. May we embrace the grace that God freely gives, and seek to know Him more each day, trusting Him even when we do not understand why things happen.

Though we cannot know,

All things of the Lord;

We can know His love,

And grace He affords.

He made all of us,

With purpose and plan;

Will to discover,

The work of His hands.

Each day that we seek,

We learn and grow more;

How deeply God loves,

And good that’s in store.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we cannot possibly fathom all that Your hands have made and how all things work, we can know You and trust in Your goodness and love for all the days of our lives. Forgive us for our fears and doubts in spaces where we cannot understand the “why”. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times, for You can work all things together for good, somehow. Show us how to love those around us well, and lead us to be Your hands, heart and voice to those who might not otherwise see Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for who You are and all that Your loving hands have made. Amen.

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

Compel me to grasp the way of Your statutes so I will fix my mind on Your wonderful works. – Psalm 119:27

With Kindness and Compassion

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, HCSB)

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

Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King. – (Ephesians 4:32, VOICE)

If we were to approach every human interaction with kindness and compassion, and were quick to forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven, people would understand the heart of God. We know not the battles that others are facing. Just last week there were five major losses or concerns that weighed on me as the week unfolded. Each day, it seemed, I was met with news of a tragedy or a major medical concern among family and friends. Thankfully, my concerns were met with kindness and compassion and grace. The sort of human-interaction that was extended to me, I was in turn, able to extend to others. When we are intentional to seek God, He shows us His goodness and love, even in the midst of heaviness and heartache. This morning, as I prepare to attend a memorial for a friend’s husband, I feel equipped with kindness and compassion, ready to extend help and hope where so much has been lost. May we continually seek the Lord in all things and at all times so that we might extend the same kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness that we are given through Him.

The Lord is gracious,

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

He’s loving and kind;

Full of compassion,

In Him, we align.

He forgives our faults,

Calls us to the same;

As we extend grace,

We honor His Name.

O Lord, please lead us,

To love as You do;

Ever forgiving,

As goodness shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be kind and compassionate to one another, full of forgiveness and love. Thank You that You not only show us these things over and over again, but You equip us to go and do likewise as we trust in You. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked love, compassion, kindness or forgiveness when interacting with those around us. Teach us to seek You first to fill us and lead us in Your love. Show us how to extend kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love in tangible ways to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to lead us to love as You so completely love us all. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

Made Right and Granted Peace

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Romans 5:1, HCSB)

We have been made right with God because of our faith. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Romans 5:1, ERV)

Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. – (Romans 5:1, VOICE)

Our faith, our trust in God to be Lord of our lives, is the very thing that makes us right before Him. Because of Jesus, we can have peace with God, and are able to understand what His everlasting peace is all about as we experience it in the midst of chaos and of calm. He is good and faithful in all. May we ever seek the Lord and invest our lives in Him, for He is where true peace is found.

Because of Jesus,

We have been made right;

It’s not what we do,

But who’s our delight.

For it is by faith,

He calls us enough;

God’s own precious kids,

No matter how rough.

And more than just right,

He grants us His peace;

The kind that remains,

He meets all our needs.

No matter what comes,

His peace can be found;

As we trust in Him,

Promise proven sound.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust in You, we are made right before You and granted Your everlasting, unshakeable peace. Thank You that Your peace is not circumstantial, but is present wherever You are welcomed in. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You to be our peace in places of unrest. Teach us to turn to You in trust, so that we ever know Your peace, no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your perfect peace may be made known in the spaces it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and depend on You to be our perfect peace. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Quick to Listen

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, and slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Lead Me to Water

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right path for His name’s sake. – (Psalm 23:1-3, HCSB)

The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that He is good. – (Psalm 23:1-3, ERV)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. – (Psalm 23:1-3, MSG)

God is so good. He leads us to quiet spaces to rest and be refreshed. He renews our strength and leads us in the ways that we are meant to go. The challenge is to actually seek Him and allow Him to lead us. It is easy to get caught up in the endless cycle of busyness, and neglect to seek God to lead us in the day-to-day. When we pursue the Lord to lead us, we gain wisdom and strength to do the things that we are meant to do, and understand what we need to let go of, step away from, or wait for the right timing to do. He is good, and He knows what we need far better than we do. May we ever trust the Lord and His leading to move forward in His wisdom and strength, for with Him, we find rest and refreshment and all that we need in His goodness and love.

Lord, I will seek You,

With each brand new day;

To lead and guide me,

To walk in Your way.

Lead me to water,

To rest, be refreshed;

Empowered in love,

To do what is best.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

For Your faithfulness;

To strengthen and lead,

Remind us we’re blessed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good. Thank You that You lead us to spaces to rest and find refreshment in You. Forgive us for getting caught up in the cycle of busy, rather than seeking You for wisdom to know what we should and should not take on throughout each day. Lead us in Your wisdom and grace. Teach us to love well, all those whom we encounter throughout our day so that they too, might know the refreshment found in Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grant us wisdom and rest to be refreshed and ready to do all that You have for us. Amen.

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

For You are my rock and my fortress; You lead and guide me because of Your Name. – Psalm 31:3

Plans Purposed for Good

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, HCSB)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

No matter what we face or challenges that come our way, God will ultimately use it for good somehow. I know in my own life that this has proven true, again and again, even when it seemed that nothing good could ever come from it. Incredibly, often He takes us out of what we think we want and leads us to something far better than we could have hoped or imagined. Through the process He refines us and makes us more like Him. May we bring all before the Lord in faith, and trust that He will use all things for good because we love Him.

No matter what comes,

God can use it for good;

Beauty for ashes,

His true hope, understood.

The more we love Him,

The clearer we can see;

How all works for good,

Love moving tangibly.

So, choose to love God,

Ever trust in His plan;

Good will always come,

When we don’t understand.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can use ALL things for good for those who love You, despite what we see or are experiencing in the here and now. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for the times that we have felt that we were forgotten or left on our own when things seem to lack hope. Teach us to trust and rely on You, for Your promises never return void, and You are faithful to use even our most difficult seasons to bring good. Show us how to love those around us in ways that grant hope and encouragement. May many come into a lasting, loving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the good that You will bring from all that we walk through. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

Revelation of Love

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. – (1 John 4:9, HCSB)

This is how God showed His love to us: He sent His only Son into the world to give us life through Him. – (1 John 4:9, ERV)

Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. – (1 John 4:9, VOICE)

God sent His Son so that we might understand His love and find life everlasting in Him. If we look around, the evidence of His goodness and love are all around us. Because His Son took all of our sin and shame upon His shoulders, we can walk in the goodness of His love and grace and go forth and love likewise. Time with family and friends, puppy snuggles, warmth and love and light are all reminders of God’s love that gives all and withholds nothing. May we ever seek the Lord to remind us anew of the incredible gift of His love that knows no end.

The love of the Lord,

Is our greatest gift;

Lavish sacrifice,

Our hearts to uplift.

Willingly given,

His life for our own;

So we could know Him,

He’s where love is shown.

Look all around us,

His goodness is clear;

Evidence of love,

Is always so near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us the greatest love ever given through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Your Son. Because You gave, we can know life and love in You. Forgive us for losing sight of Your love all around us. Teach us to see Your heart for us and those around us at all times. Show us how to extend Your goodness and grace to everyone we meet. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize Your love all around us and extend the same to all. Amen.

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

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Nothing Without Love

If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, HCSB)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and may I have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ERV)

What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, VOICE)

No matter what good we do or say, it is meaningless if love is not our reason. God calls and commands us to love. All words and gestures are lost if love is not the motivation. In order to love in all things, we must be equipped and filled. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a practical application of actions without love. When we become depleted without refreshment, all that we say and do becomes out of obligation rather than motivated by love. Obligation is exhausting. In reality, we all have obligations, yet when we are filled and equipped with love, we are able to fulfill what is required with love and intention rather than frustration. May we begin each day by seeking our Savior so that we may be refreshed, renewed and made ready to love in all things.

Empty are all things,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

If love is not there;

For only with love,

Can we show we care.

May all that we say,

And all that we do;

Be done fueled by love,

So God’s heart shines through.

Help us be people,

After Your own heart;

Lead us in Your love,

As each new day starts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the most excellent way is love. Thank You that You call and equip us to love. Forgive us for the things we have said and done that were not motivated and equipped with Your love. Teach us to rely on You to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to do all things in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You each new day to lead us well so that all that we say and do is done in love. Amen.

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

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13