Look to the Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, ERV)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, MSG)

This passage is from when God called Samuel to go and anoint the one who was to succeed Saul as king. To the ordinary observer, David’s older brothers seemed to be far more appropriate candidates. However, God saw so much more. In David, God saw a man after His own heart. David had the heart of a warrior and a worshiper – both of which God used while David grew and learned the faithfulness of God as he faced a giant with a sling and a stone, and later led a nation as he sang and danced praising God for His faithfulness. Incredibly, what this shows us is that we never know who God is raising up for great things. Our task is to love and encourage all, and to look past appearances and instead see the heart. I know in relationships, the people I am most drawn to have beautiful hearts. The more I get to know them, the more I see who they are radiating through, and recognize what draws others in. As a teacher, this is critical. We never know who the next leaders, doctors, pastors, educators, community advocates, parents and more are in the ones seated in our classrooms. Each has been created with a purpose, and it is our job to help strengthen the heart so that they can see their own potential and pursue all that God has for them. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see, so that we may encourage those around us in the strengths that they have been given, and glorify God for His goodness.

Look not at the face,

But rather the heart;

The true character,

Where seeing must start.

For we never know,

All that God has planned;

Purpose He has placed,

In women and men.

A mere shepherd boy,

Was anointed king;

Despite appearance,

Beyond what was seen.

God looks at our hearts,

The strengths found within;

His plan and purpose,

Waiting to begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see beyond what others see. Thank You that You look to the heart to lead us into all that You have for us. Forgive us for selling others short based on what we see. Teach us to look through Your lens so that we see the potential and promise in everyone we meet. Lead us to love those around us in ways that encourage and strengthen each in the gifts and talents You have placed in them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and trust in You to lead them to walk out their purpose. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to help us see others as You do. Amen.

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

The One who chose you will do that for you. You can trust Him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Be Light

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. – (Matthew 5:16, ERV)

You are that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illuminate creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it. – (Matthew 5:16, VOICE)

What we do and say matters. When we choose to do all things in love, we are living out the light the Christ has placed within us. As we live and love well, the heart of Jesus is made known and His love is clearly shown. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in His love so that His heart may be made evident through all that we say and do.

The light within us,

Has been made to shine;

So all that we do,

Points to the Divine.

Every good deed,

Should point back to God;

So others may see,

His love goes beyond.

Beyond what we know,

Abundance exceeds;

Imagination,

In Him we are free.

So, choose shine His light,

With each word and deed;

Make His goodness known,

For His love sets free.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring Your light into the world. Thank You that as we follow after You and depend on You, You provide opportunities for us to do things that make Your love evident. Forgive us for the things we have said and done that have hidden Your light where it was meant to shine. Show us how to live out Your love in all that we say and do. Teach us to love those around us with Your radiant light. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be Your light wherever we go. Amen.

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

You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. – Matthew 5:14

Keep Moving Forward

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB)

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, VOICE)

I appreciate that the three different translations remind us that we have examples of great faith that have gone before us, those that walk beside us, and others that are all around us to encourage us to press on in living the life to which we have been called. Additionally, the reality that our race is one that requires endurance, is an indicator that it is a long and varied course. It is not about speed nearly as much as it is about forward momentum in the direction to which we have been called. Like with running, we do not want to carry extra weight or have things stick to us that impair our movement. Istead, it is ideal to run with nothing to weigh us down. Sin is anything that diverts our feet from the course we are called to run, or distracts us and pulls our attention in a different direction. To run our race with endurance, to live out our days in the direction to which we are called, we must be in tune with He who maps our course. The more we spend time with God and read His word, the more clearly we understand the race plan and how to avoid the things that lead us off the course He has prepared for us or that which will trip up our footing and make us falter from the path. May we ever seek the One who equips us with the strength and endurance required to run our own race, and listen to His leading so that we may encourage those around us to keep moving forward too.

Keep moving forward,

No matter how slow;

It’s not about speed,

But how you choose roll.

One step at a time,

Honoring the One;

Father, Son, Spirit,

The Most Holy One.

Each move done in love,

Is what we need bring;

Sweet perseverance,

Will honor our King.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

The race we’re to run;

Help us keep moving,

‘Til each day is done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to run with perseverance and set aside all that would get in our way, but You surround us with those who know how to run well and encourage us as they set an example. Forgive us for the times that we have given up or have allowed our hearts to be led away from the path that You set before us. Show us how to stay the course and keep moving, even when things are difficult and we cannot see the next water station or place to pause and rest. Lead us to love and encourage those around us as they navigate their own race. Grant us Your wisdom, grace, generosity and kindness to share with all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at the examples that have gone before us, those You have placed beside us, and ultimately, to You to lead us well. Amen.

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

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14

Pleasing Words and Thoughts

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, HCSB)

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the One who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval, O Eternal, my Rock, O Eternal, my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, VOICE)

Our words and thoughts are influenced by what we take in, and by those with whom we spend our time. The most important influencer that we ought to seek at the start of our day is God. He is faithful to meet us as we seek Him, and will rescue us from our own thoughts that wander. His Spirit shows us what is good, and when we set our minds and hearts on these things, the words of our mouth are a reflection of such. May we ever seek the Lord to direct the musings of our heart and the words to which we give a voice.

O Lord, help my words,

To clearly show You;

All spoken in love,

That show Your heart true.

Father, keep my thoughts,

On that which is good;

Grant wisdom and grace,

To do as I should.

Let love lead in all,

I think, do and say;

Show me what You’d do,

Please come light my way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to lead and guide us in what is good, so that our thoughts and words may be a reflection of who You are and how You love. Forgive us for every word and thought that has not been led by Your love. Teach us to trust and depend on You to show us what is good and pleasing unto You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your heart is made known through all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You to direct our thoughts to things of You and seek You to grant us Your words of love. Amen.

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

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Simple to Love

This is what I command you: Love one another. – (John 15:17, HCSB)

This is My command: Love each other. – (John 15:17, ERV)

But remember the root command: Love one another. – (John 15:17, MSG)

Each year, the more I experience life, the more I recognize how critical it is for us to prioritize following God’s greatest commands: to love God and love one another. If what we do and say is fueled by His love, we are making a positive impact on the world, no matter how small. It is amazing how this lens changes our approach in what we say and do. In fact, it truly changes our perspective on everything. One example that is a part of my everyday routine is to take our dogs on long walks. Each morning I anticipate how God might use me (and them) to love others well. Incredibly, there is some sort of interaction or exchange with others along our route every time we go out. Sometimes, it is simply a warm smile and friendly hello, yet other times it is a sweet stop to chat with another and extend kindness. On our route, as we near home, there is an older gentleman in a wheelchair. What began as simply smiling and waving, has turned into a stop each time Michael is outside, so that we can check in and he can give pets to the pups. Michael is forty years and ten days my senior, and sits outside working on Suduko puzzles and gladly greets us with a warm smile and gratitude. It amazes me how God can take something so ordinary that we already do, and use it as an opportunity to show His love to those we encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us as we go, and may His love be made evident through our every word and deed. 

We are commanded,

To love each other;

As mothers, fathers,

Sisters and brothers.

Wherever we go,

Whatever we do;

Our God is able,

To show His love true.

It is quite simple,

To choose to give love;

A smile and kind word,

Show hope from above.

May we make the choice,

To love each other;

In the little things,

It’s worth the bother.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love each other. Thank You that love looks different to everyone. Thank You that You can use a smile, a kind word, a friendly wave – all to be expressions of the goodness of Your love. Forgive us for the missed opportunities to love when we have been in a hurry, distracted, or “not in the mood.” Show us how to love in the little things, for it is the little things that lead to the enormity of how good and loving You are. Lead us to love those around us in ways that speak directly to the heart so that the recipient will feel and know how good You truly are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You as we choose to love each other well. Amen.

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

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Nourishing Word

But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – (Matthew 4:4, HCSB)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

The thing about the word of God is that we must consume it regularly to have it securely planted in our hearts. I cannot count the number of times that His words have come to mind exactly when I needed them most. Yes, it is the whispers of the Holy Spirit that bring His words to light, yet it is my responsibility to be in the word so that there are promises and reminders available. Additionally, it is our filter to recognize what is and is not okay for us. He illuminates His words in our hearts and minds when we are facing decisions, difficulties and more. Yes, we need food, water, shelter and clothing to live, but we need His word to live life abundant in Him. The word of God is full of instruction, insight, praise, exhortation, correction, redirection and the incredible evidence of His everlasting love, goodness and grace for all who seek Him. I have always been exposed to the word of God, as I was raised in a household that valued attending church and being a part of said community. However, exposure is not what truly provides lasting nourishment for the soul. It has been well over a decade since I began making time in His word a part of my daily practice faithfully. I have had seasons where I would invest in a particular study, but this has now become part of my lifestyle. This blog is actually a way to remain accountable to continue to do so. Each post that is published comes from what God is showing me as I read and study His word. Some days I invest in long passages, whereas other days, I focus on the verse of the day. No matter which I do, God is faithful to show me how what I am reading applies to my life, a situation that is before me, or a reminder for me or someone that I care about. In all things, God is good and His word is essential to navigate this crazy, wonderful life. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for He is faithful to reveal to us more and more as we invest in Him.

The word of the Lord,

Nourishes the soul;

It grants instruction,

Direction, and more.

For God is faithful,

As we choose seek Him;

He shows us what’s good,

And love enters in.

The Lord’s word delights,

Those who choose to seek;

Revelations come,

Give strength when we’re weak.

When we’re discouraged,

His word lifts our head;

Hope made tangible,

Through what can be read.

So, seek the Savior,

Spend time in His word;

For here life is found,

Love and hope are heard.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your word. Thank You that it is nourishment for the heart, mind and soul as we seek You. Thank You that there is so much more life made known when we consume Your word. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to invest in knowing You more through Your word, or have hurried through what we were meant to chew. Teach us how to be intentional in our time in Your word, and reveal more and more of who You are and how You love as we do. Show us how to love those around us well, as You lead and guide us in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we nourish our souls with the wonder of Your word. Amen.

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

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

The Helper

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5:5, HCSB)

And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit He gave us. – (Romans 5:5, ERV)

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. – (Romans 5:5, VOICE)

Yesterday, our pastor began a new series titled, “The Helper”, with the purpose of unpacking who the Holy Spirit is. Too often the Holy Spirit is viewed as the manifestation of gifts that He gives rather than as the One who gives so much more. As he spoke, the thing that came clearly to mind for me is that the Holy Spirit is God made tangible to us. The concept of three-in-one is challenging to grasp. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three separate parts that are each fully God. This in and of itself requires faith, as it is above what our thoughts can fully grasp. However, when we look at the roles that each person of the Trinity plays in the world and in our lives, it is a bit more graspable. That still small voice, the check in our spirit, the gut-feeling – these are all tangible examples of how the Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us in the ways we are meant to go. The songs that rise in our hearts, the flood of warmth, the feeling of knowing that we are completely loved – are also ways that the Holy Spirit makes God’s nearness known. Hope is made evident as we come to recognize the Holy Spirit moving in and through us. Honestly, I don’t think I am adequately sharing, but am hopeful that the simple explanation of who the Holy Spirit is provides a desire to know Him more. May we ever seek the Lord to reveal more and more of who He is and how He loves so that we might go and love likewise.

The Lord, our Helper,

The Spirit of God;

Is ever-present,

And love is the bond.

Three persons are One,

Though it’s hard to see;

How it’s possible,

Holy Trinity.

God is our Father,

Creator of all;

His Son, Lord Jesus,

Redemption for all.

The Holy Spirit,

Our Helper and Guide;

God made tangible,

In our hearts resides.

Fear not the unknown,

Higher are His ways;

Instead seek to learn,

Throughout all our days.

For God is faithful,

Ever He is near;

To help, lead and guide,

As love removes fear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are three in One. Thank You that You are our Creator, Redeemer, and ever-present Helper. Forgive us for our misunderstanding or fear of what we cannot fully grasp. Teach us to ever seek You to reveal more and more of who You are and how You love as we intentionally pursue You. Show us who You are through all that You have made; help us to grasp the greatness of Your love as we spend time in Your Word, and teach us to recognize the goodness and presence of You through Your Holy Spirit whom You have given to us. Lead us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we intentionally seek You for new understanding and insight as to who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

And the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love, with You I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:22

Pleasing Words and Thoughts

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, HCSB)

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the One who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval, O Eternal, my Rock, O Eternal, my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, VOICE)

Our thoughts and words matter to God. The musings of the heart are directly linked to what we take in. For me, this means that in order to keep my thoughts from wandering down a road I need not travel, I have to be cautious about what I consume. If I set my heart on God to begin each day, I am in a better position to choose my words and direct my thoughts wisely. However, if I listen to or watch something violent or full of angst, even if my words do not reflect what I have taken in, my thoughts struggle to turn away from the unpleasant. I know some folks have a filter that simply sifts out such stuff, but as a very visual individual, it is too difficult to not keep reliving what I do not want to relive. Everyone is different, but it is important to know how we can best keep our words and thoughts turned toward God, so that what we say, think and do is a reflection of His love. May we ever seek the Lord to help set our hearts on Him so that our words and the musings of our hearts will be pleasing to God.

O Lord, let Your love,

Lead my thoughts and words;

So goodness is stored,

And grace is what’s heard.

Keep my heart upheld,

In Your loving light;

By grace filter out,

All that is not right.

Show me through Your lens,

That which needs to go;

Flood me with Your thoughts,

So Your love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You show us what it is to meditate on Your love and share it with others through all that we do and say. Forgive us for every word and thought that has not been pleasing to You. Teach us how to clear our minds of that which does not build up, and to set our sights on You and Your love. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help keep our words and thoughts on that which is pleasing to You. Amen.

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

May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. – Psalm 104:34

Answer Gently

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 a timely reminder as the end of the school year draws ever nearer, and exhaustion is at an all-time high. Patience wanes when weariness is prevalent, and it is important to remember what matters. I have both seen and experienced the truth of this proverb, as I have both calmed and been calmed when a gentle response has been given in a moment of anger. Similarly, I have been both the provider and the recipient of a rough answer, and such is never well-received. If we are truly choosing love, our response to people must align. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to respond gently in love, so that anger dissipates and kindness reigns.

Tender the answer,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

That turns away wrath;

Kindness defuses,

As good we enact.

Gentle responses,

Lead us to calm down;

Extending God’s love,

To those all around.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To gently respond;

Take a breath, listen,

In love, correspond.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your faithfulness as we choose to respond gently to tempers inflamed. Thank You that the fruit of the Spirit are the things that keep relationships intact and communication open. Thank You that You call us to be gentle and kind, for each time we have received these things in a moment of anger or frustration, the fury melted away and calm came forth. Forgive us for the times that we return anger with anger. Teach us to slow down, take a deep breath, and listen to Your leading – for Your response in loving, patient and kind, and brings peace in the midst of frustration or fury. Show us how to love one another in all situations and circumstances so that we would answer each other gently and in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us always answer gently and with love so that Your heart may be clearly seen. 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… – Galatians 5:22-23a

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