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

Tenderness Tapers Tempers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG)

A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, VOICE)

This is always a good reminder, as opportunities to gently reply are abundant, particularly when we want to respond in hurt or anger. No truer words have been penned, as when we respond in anger or with harsh or sarcastic words, it only inflames the situation. However, when we pause, take a deep breath, and respond with kindness and gentleness, there is a softening in the exchange that could have gone terribly wrong. We never know what has led to an interaction that begins poorly, yet we can control how we reply. Each time that I have caught myself and checked my heart to answer as I am called to do, I see tangible evidence of God’s love working on my behalf, as tension lessens and calm comes. It seems that one of the most difficult spaces to respond gently is on the road. There is something in many of us that rises up when other drivers make foolish maneuvers. Years ago, I had a great friend who would yell out, “Bless you, in Jesus’ Name! Or Jesus loves you!” whenever another driver would cut him off or jeopardize his safety. It may seem silly, but every time, it has the power to transform the mindset of anger and frustration, and causes a pause that allows for the brain to catch up to the heart to adjust enough to recognize that we all make mistakes and grace goes a long way. This mindset really is transformative in all situations and circumstances. Though it may not be opportune to always yell out a blessing, it is always useful and beneficial to pause and seek to see others through God’s lens. As we do, grace is abundant and good is given. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to respond gently, and to grant a heart check when we are determined to do otherwise.

A tender reply,

Brings grace where it’s not;

Defuses the fire,

When tempers are hot.

An unkind response,

Only provokes rage;

Yet true gentleness,

Shows others the way.

The way to give love,

Despite what we feel;

God’s kindness breathes life,

Makes His goodness real.

Lord, help us rise up,

Seek to always love;

To respond like You,

Our Father above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to respond gently, despite what we are given. Thank You that gentleness brings a calm where rage was rising. Forgive us for the times that we have responded in anger rather than with grace. Teach us to rely on You to show us how to respond with tenderness. Show us how to love those around us, even when love is far from what we desire to extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the gentleness and grace that You have waiting no matter the condition in which they come to You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to respond to others with tenderness and grace, extending Your love and kindness to the seemingly least deserving. Amen.

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

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. – Proverbs 10:12

Called to Compassion

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. – (Romans 12:15, TPT)

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. – (Romans 12:15, VOICE)

We are called to be compassionate and to have empathy for one another. This is natural with those with whom we are closest, but it requires an intentional decision to love enough to invest in the hearts of others. When we do, we understand and care about what transpires in the lives of those around us. A love that is true is one that celebrates with others when good comes their way, and mourns alongside them when losses are experienced. Such love not only asks how others are doing, but is prepared to receive honest answers through active and intentional listening. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in compassion and empathy for those around us, so that we may truly love as we are called to love by God.

To love as God loves,

Requires intent;

To seek understand,

Purposeful time spent.

Called to compassion,

To walk alongside;

Love for the hurting,

With arms open wide.

And when there’s reason,

To rise and rejoice;

Shoulder to shoulder,

In praise, lift each voice.

Through ev’ry season,

Choose to truly love;

For that’s how others,

Know they are thought of.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to compassion and empathy for those around us. Thank You that You showed us through Your Son, what such love looks like. Jesus rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and wept with those in mourning. Forgive us for the times that we either ignored an opportunity to love well, or sought to help without truly responding in love. Show us how to celebrate with those who celebrate and to mourn with those who are grieving. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart for those around us so that we may love like You. 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

Two Ears and Only One Mouth

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

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

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

As always, this is a timely reminder. Yesterday, my husband received the video footage that was submitted to animal control by kind citizens who had caught horrendous footage of the abuse of our dog by the trainers in whom we had entrusted him. My initial reaction to the entire situation was both anger and sorrow. I was enraged at the betrayal of our trust by the trainers, and absolutely gutted knowing what my poor puppy had endured. God was very specific with me in how I ought to respond to the whole situation, and by placing all of my focus on the care of Thor, I was able to release the anger and love on my pup. The news that my husband had the video in his possession brought my initial reaction back to the surface. Knowing that I was not called to allow my anger to get the best of me, I had to work through it all over again. Sometimes, what we listen to is not beneficial. However, remembering to be slow to speak will always serve us well. Once words have left our lips, we cannot take them back. I know that there is righteous anger, yet it is still not something that I am meant to hold. Feeling and acting are two very different things. What we feel cannot dictate what we do. There are times that we simply must trust that justice will be served and place our attention on caring well for the wounded. Even now, as Thor sits beside me as I try to write, his continuous reaching out with his paws reminds me to focus on loving and caring well for him. May we ever seek the Lord to help us to listen first, be slow to speak, and to keep our anger in check. He is faithful to help us walk in His way and do His will as we earnestly seek Him.

Lord, help us to lead,

With listening ears;

A heart set to love,

As we choose to hear.

Then help us to tame,

Our tongues in replies;

Grant wisdom with words,

As grace You supply.

And as for anger,

Let’s give it to You;

As we choose to seek,

We’re shown what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and You know all things. Thank You for giving us two ears and only one mouth. Help us to use them accordingly. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen, speak without weighing our words, and allow anger to flow instead of placing all in Your hands. Teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and to slow our roll when anger rises. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes all feel valued and heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to truly listen, slow to speak, and slow to allow anger find a foothold. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

Strength for the Weary

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

For whatever reason, I have not slept well for the last few nights. Last night, I woke from a disturbing dream and felt very unsettled. Typically when that occurs, I try to clear my mind and go back to sleep. This time, all I could do was pray. Pray for protection, for peace, and for a covering over my family and friends. I know that God is always with me, and that I need not be afraid or anxious. It is He who strengthens and upholds us, and is faithful to be found each time we choose to seek Him. Yesterday, despite exhaustion, I was granted the strength and energy to accomplish all that was needed. Today, I will trust Him for the same. May we ever seek our Savior to help, strengthen and support us, for in Him, we have no reason to fear.

Choose not to worry,

And be not afraid;

The Lord is present,

He will make a way.

Faithful forever,

God grants what we need;

He knows and He sees,

Gives strength to succeed.

Hope for the weary,

Strength when ours is gone;

Peace in His presence,

So we may press on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength when we are weary and burdened. Thank You that we need not fear. Thank You that You see and know our needs. Thank You that as we seek You, You meet us and lead us in Your strength. Forgive us for staying stuck, even in the moment, as You are always available for us to seek You. Teach us to turn to You in trust, for You are faithful to be with us and to meet our needs. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength, help and support where it is needed. Show us how to love well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set fears at Your feet and rely on You to be present to help in all things. Amen.

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

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. – 1 Chronicles 16:27

Called to Be Kind

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

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

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

We are called to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to each other, in the same way that God is unto us. Our decision to extend grace and goodness to those around us speaks the heart of God without words. Kindness and compassion are more easily extended when we recognize both how much has been given to us by God, and the incredible weight that is removed when we are fully aware of the forgiveness and grace that we are afforded by and through God. I know that I need all of these things every single day. Each morning, I set my heart on the Lord and seek Him, yet throughout the day, challenges and obstacles come that require dependence on God to navigate with kindness and compassion, and the strength to choose to forgive. There is a constant battle between human nature and the divine. God is gracious and full of love, and will supply all that we need to walk in His way if we choose to depend on Him. May we ever seek our Savior, who forgives and loves us beyond what we can comprehend, and allow Him to lead us and guide us in His everlasting love.

Let kindness and grace,

Help us choose forgive;

To love as God loves,

Each day that we live.

For it is by grace,

That the Lord does save;

Imagine the world,

If we gave the same.

We’ve been created,

To love like the Lord;

So His heart is seen,

As good is outpoured.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You flood our hearts with Your goodness and grace, and You forgive us each time that we ask. Thank You that Your love changes our hearts and empowers us to love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have reacted rather than sought to respond like You. Teach us to slow down, breathe deep, and allow Your love to flow through us to all. Show us how to extend forgiveness, kindness and compassion to all, so that Your love may be evident through our actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and depend on You to soften our hearts and lead us in Your love. Amen.

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

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

Praise for Provision

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV)

I will sing praises to You, my source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV)

I will lift my voice to sing Your praise, O my Strength – for You came to my defense. O God, You have shown me Your loving mercy. – (Psalm 59:17, VOICE)

I so appreciate the way that David expressed his praise and gratitude to God. Despite hardships and challenges, he knew that God was his safety and strength, and that the Lord’s loving kindness would carry him through whatever came his way. Whenever I need comfort or encouragement, I find myself returning to the Psalms. Each time, I am again reminded of the faithfulness of God to provide strength, safety and love, and my heart is filled with reasons to sing His praise. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for it is through intentional time that we are again reminded of the goodness of God and our purpose for giving Him praise.

I lift up my voice,

To sing praise to You;

For You are my strength,

Where all thanks is due.

You are my safe space,

When challenges come;

In love You provide,

With each rising sun.

Ever You are near,

Always You provide;

Your loving presence,

Safe space to abide.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our source of strength and safety. Thank You that You are our defender and provider of loving kindness, in all things and at all times. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with the things we cannot control. Teach us to turn in trust to You, for You are greater than anything that stands before us. Show us how to love in ways that build up and strengthen those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You lovingly provide all that we need. Amen.

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

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

The Power of Words

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, NIV)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, MSG)

Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits. – (Proverbs 16:24, TPT)

The power held in the words we speak is incredible. When we speak with kindness and grace, souls can be soothed and health improved. As my son continues on his road to healing, it is amazing to hear the strength returning to his voice. Family and dear friends have been in communication with him, and I can hear in his voice the benefit of kind encouraging words spoken or sent to him. For me, I have experienced tremendous kindness and grace from those around me, and I am certain it is one of the ways that God supplies His strength. May we ever speak gracious, kind and life-giving words to those around us, for there is power present when we speak sweet words of life.

Each word that we speak,

Can be used for good;

For grace and kindness,

Blessings understood.

Sweetness to the soul,

Goodness for the health;

A gift of kind words,

Give love that is felt.

May we mind our words,

Deliver them well;

The good that they bring,

Space of peace to dwell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift and power present in the words we speak. Thank You that when we communicate with goodness and grace, You bless the hearer beyond what we realize. Forgive us for the times that we have not used our words well. Teach us to ever communicate in ways that extend Your goodness and kindness. Show us how to love those around us with encouraging, life-giving words. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak life to all. Amen.

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

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

To Be Acutely Aware

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

Even in the midst of the hard and the horrible, God remains good. He surrounds us with His goodness and provides His peace when it ought not be found. Yesterday, I found myself in the midst of a horrible mom moment. My son was not doing well, and it was clear that an ER run was going to be needed. Unfortunately, due to the nature of his symptoms, no one was permitted to be with him. Having to drop off my heart outside my body and place him in the hands of someone else’s care, was gut wrenching. It matters not that he is a young man; he is still my child. We waited in the parking lot for hours. At first, we were hearing nothing. I had my phone and noticed that he was active on social media, so I tried messaging him that way. Incredibly, it worked, and we discovered a way to communicate. After x-rays and a laundry list of tests, they determined that he was to be admitted. My heart sank, and I had no choice but to trust. From discussing the treatment plan to learning to be an adult and advocate for himself, God has been showing me His goodness. When my heart did not know what to pray, He still heard me. Though it is still extraordinarily difficult to not be with my son, I see evidence of God’s goodness surrounding him and all around me, and trust that my boy is exactly where he needs to be. May we ever seek the Lord and trust in His goodness, for He holds us up in His hands.

The Lord, He is good,

We need taste and see;

He surrounds with love,

And grants us His peace.

The Lord makes a way,

When we cannot see;

What way is the best,

He meets all our needs.

Today I choose trust,

I will taste and see;

Goodness in action,

And know the Lord’s peace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good. Thank You that we simply need to open our eyes and hearts to all that is around us to be acutely aware of Your love. Thank You that as we seek You to be our help and hope, You hold us up in Your hands. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears, for You love our children even more than we do. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and love visible and tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and run to You to be our shelter and perfect peace. Amen.

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

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

The Rightness of Rain

He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. – (Psalm 147:8, NIV)

He fills the sky with clouds. He sends rain to the earth. He makes the grass grow on the mountains. – (Psalm 147:8, ERV)

He fills the sky with clouds, sending showers to water the earth so that the grass springs up on the mountain fields and the earth produces food for man. – (Psalm 147:8, TPT)

This morning, as I peered out into the darkness and let my pup out to take care of business, I was shocked to see the ground saturated from rain, after the last few weeks of sunshine. For a moment, my heart sank a bit, as I had a minute of mourning at the passing of such sweet sunny days. Once I caught the delightful aroma of the cleansing rain, I was reminded that the change is actually a good thing, as the rain waters the earth, and it also cleanses the pollen from the air. Though I prefer the sunshine, the rain too, serves a positive purpose and is good. God gives us both, for each has a benefit to behold. New growth is necessary and good, and the sun grants light and energy to foster the growing that takes place when water has been supplied. Each new season is the same for us. We may grow fond of the season we find ourselves in, yet change is good as it challenges us to keep growing. May we seek the Lord and give Him thanks for each new season as it comes, and praise God for how He provides all that we need to be nourished and to continue to grow.

As the rains fall down,

And waters the earth;

All things are prepared,

For growth and new birth.

Cleansing refreshment,

His blessings supplied;

The changing seasons,

As grace is applied.

So, let the rains come,

Praise God for the new;

Water for our souls,

As His love shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful rain that waters the earth and causes new to grow. Thank You for the blessings beheld in each new season. Forgive us for our frustration with change, for change is exactly what is used to grow us more like You. Teach us to lean into You and give You thanks for all things new, for You are present and good to lead us through. Show us how to love those around us like a refreshing rain, so that all may be nourished to grow. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the cleansing rain that falls to refresh and bring new growth. Amen.

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

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake. – Psalm 23:3