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

Faithful Foundations

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You. – (Psalm 89:14, NIV)

Your kingdom is built on truth and justice. Love and faithfulness are servants before Your throne. – (Psalm 89:14, ERV)

Your glorious throne rests on a foundation of righteousness and just verdicts. Grace and truth are the attendants who go before You. – (Psalm 89:14, TPT)

God is all about righteousness and justice, as love and faithfulness are wherever God is invited. The struggle in this is that too many place their own spin on the truth and what is right and just becomes skewed. Grace and truth accompany God, and are evident in those who earnestly seek Him. Though in our human condition we will never get it all right on our own, with Christ, we can be refined and raised up to more clearly reflect the foundation that He intended all along. May we ever pursue the Lord and His heart so that we may walk humbly, do justly, and love mercy as we were meant to do.

The kingdom of God,

Is loving and just;

Righteousness shall lead,

In truth among us.

The challenge in this,

We must choose pursue;

The Lord’s very best,

In all that we do.

Let righteousness lead,

So justice may reign;

In truth persevere,

And love shall remain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are righteous and just, and that You are loving and faithful always. Forgive us for the times that our decisions, words or actions lacked alignment with Yours. Teach us to walk humbly in pursuit of You and Your heart for all, to act justly in all things and at all times, and to love mercy in the same way that You love and extend mercy to us. Lead us to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek You to refine our hearts to more clearly reflect Yours. Amen.

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

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

Purposed To Love

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – (Luke 6:37, NIV)

“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you. Don’t condemn others, and you will not be condemned. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” – (Luke 6:37, ERV)

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang.” – (Luke 6:37, MSG)

If Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but rather to save it, how much more ought we do our best to follow His example? We are told in the book of Luke how to follow Jesus’ example. What we give, is the very thing that we will be given in return. We celebrate Easter to remember that rather than being judged, Christ took our place and withstood the punishment we all deserve. He died, so we might live. Incredibly, in His power, He rose again and ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father. In His goodness, Jesus loves, listens and moves on our behalf. There is nothing we have done to deserve His love, yet He loves anyway. It is our call to love in the same way. We cannot judge, condemn and harbor unforgiveness and simultaneously love. May we ever seek the Lord to learn how to love best, and turn to Him every time that we struggle with our opinions of others. To see people through Christ’s lens, is to see and understand the beauty in every being. God created because He loved, He sent His Son, because He loved, and Jesus took the punishment that we all deserved, again, because He loved.

Don’t judge nor condemn,

Or hold onto hurts;

Such things block the way,

From seeing true worth.

For how we choose give,

Will be given back;

Let love be our choice,

Give where there is lack.

Because of Jesus,

We each have been shown;

What God’s love looks like,

He has made it known.

Each word of kindness,

Every good deed;

All love we have felt,

God meeting our need.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to save the world, not to condemn it. Thank You Jesus, for demonstrating what love ought to be. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our hearts to entertain judgement, condemnation and unforgiveness. Teach us to love and embrace ALL people, recognizing the incredible creations that You have made. Every person on the planet was formed and planned with purpose. Show us how to better walk in love, so that all may experience Your goodness, kindness and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek to grow in love and allow You to move and change our view of others to mirror Your own. Amen.

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

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through Him. – John 3:17

He Suffered for Our Sake

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. – (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)

But He was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of His pain. – (Isaiah 53:5, ERV)

But He was hurt because of us; He suffered so. Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed Him. He endured the breaking that made us whole. The injuries He suffered became our healing. – (Isaiah 53:5, VOICE)

As I continue to fix my heart and mind on the significance of Easter, my study this morning landed me in Isaiah 53. Isaiah was written long before the birth of Jesus, so it is a prophetic foretelling of what was yet to come. Jesus was indeed pierced for our transgressions, taking on the guilt and punishment that was deserved, so that we might know healing, wholeness and peace. His suffering on Friday brought us to the freedom that arrived on Sunday with an empty tomb. The very One who bore the weight of the world, overcame death in order to bring us new life. It is mind-blowing to think of anyone taking the punishment we deserve for our wrongdoing, and even more baffling to consider He who took ALL for EVERYONE. I know as a parent, I would gladly take pain in the place of my children. However, I am flawed and I fail; Jesus, who knew no sin, had done no wrong, endured the guilt and suffering for all that we have ever done, are doing, and will ever do, so that we have the opportunity and freedom to decide to follow after God and be in a right relationship with Him. Jesus made the way for all. In God’s eyes, every sin is a sin, and we all fall short. I cannot imagine what life would be like if we did not have the Savior to seek in our shortcomings, suffering and struggle. May we ever give glory to God, who sent His Only Son, and all praise to Jesus, who bore all on our behalf so that we would know God’s goodness and love.

Love chose be broken,

For once and for all;

Suffering Savior,

Love tore down the wall.

The wall between us,

Kept apart by sin;

His love brought new life,

Our only way in.

Into His goodness,

Overwhelmed by grace;

Hope that’s eternal,

O Ancient of Days.

Let us give glory,

Where glory is due;

All thanks for new life,

Through that empty tomb.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to be restored in relationship with You. Jesus, thank You for bearing the weight of my sin upon Yourself so that I might know abundant life in You. Forgive us for allowing this holy week to come and go without pondering and pursuing a deeper understanding of all that You did to bring us into Your kingdom. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to love those around us intentionally and with Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the magnitude of Your sacrifice and suffering that brought us new life in You. Amen.

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

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9

Time Leads to Hope

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. – (1 Timothy 4:10, NIV)

We hope in the living God, the Savior of all people. In particular, He is the Savior of all those who believe in Him. This is why we work and struggle. – (1 Timothy 4:10, ERV)

This is what we work so hard for! This is why we are constantly struggling: because we have an assured hope fixed upon a living God who is the Savior of all humankind – especially all of us who believe. – (1 Timothy 4:10, VOICE)

To invest in any relationship, it takes effort. We must be intentional to invest time and energy to maintain what has been established. It is no different with God. Deepening our understanding and growing in His grace only takes place when we consistently spend time with Him. As we do, our hope is firmly secured in the Savior. God is for all people, yet He does not force His way in. We all have a free will and are given the choice as to whether we receive all that He offers or not. This is not an easy road, but it is one that is well worth the while. God is faithful, no matter what comes our way, and He is present to help, hold and see us through all things. I am so grateful for who God is and how He loves, as it is in the ever-increasing knowledge of Him that my hope is securely held. May we ever be intentional to invest our love and lives in the living God, for He is our hope forever.

Let us seek the Lord,

Our true living hope;

The more we invest,

The more we feel known.

Creator of all,

Is waiting for us;

To spend time with Him,

Our Savior, Jesus.

Always worth the while,

The time we invest;

His love overwhelms,

Our peace and our rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You invite us to be in relationship with You. Thank You that You meet us as we seek You. Thank You for Your goodness and grace that carries us through every challenge that comes our way. Forgive us for not investing as we should in the most important relationship of all. Show us how to be intentional with our time, so that we may grow in Your goodness and grace as we deepen our walk with You. Teach us to love those around us as You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to invest our hearts and lives into our relationship with You. Amen.

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

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

Freedom to Forgive

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

Forgiveness is a strange thing, as we have been forgiven much, yet at times, we struggle to forgive the most minor of offenses. Not one of us is perfect, and we all fall short. This is the space that we must remember when we are hurt or offended by another. In the same way that God pours out His abundant forgiveness and grace, we too, ought to do the same. The crazy thing about unforgiveness is that it hurts the holder of the offense, not the offender. Often, the one who has hurt or offended is not even aware that they have done harm. It is our responsibility to either let it go, or speak with the offender in love and let them know that their words or actions have done harm. That being said, we must do so with forgiveness already in place, regardless of the reception of our communication. Most times, awareness brings repentance and mends are made quickly. However, if the offender stands behind their word or deed, we are still called to forgive. We are not meant to subject ourselves to a vicious cycle of harm, but rather we are not to cling to that which we cannot change. God forgives us each time that we ask, yet He lets us know that if we hold unforgiveness, He will respond to our requests in the same way. I don’t know about you, but I am fully aware of my shortcomings and desperately need His forgiveness and grace. If I need forgiveness and grace, so too, do all those whom I encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to forgive and give grace, even when we would rather hold onto the offense. Freedom to love well is birthed in us as we choose to walk in forgiveness.

O Lord, help us choose,

Forgive and give grace;

As You’ve done for us,

Throughout all our days.

Soften our hearts, Lord,

So love might come first;

Teach us to let go,

To bless not to curse.

May love lead the way,

In all that we do;

Teach us to forgive,

And choose love like You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not limit the number of times that You forgive us when we fail and fall short. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do likewise to all those around us as we depend on You. Forgive us for holding onto offenses. Please teach us to release all into Your hands so that we may give goodness and grace in place of our anger, hurt or frustration. Show us how to love like You, at all times and in all circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize the power held in Your loving kindness for us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to forgive as You do. Amen.

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

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – Matthew 6:12

Seeking Solitude for Strength

When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. – (Matthew 14:13a, NIV)

When Jesus heard what happened to John, He left in a boat. He went alone to a place where no one lived. – (Matthew 14:13a, ERV)

When Jesus got the news, He slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by Himself. – (Matthew 14:13a, MSG)

This passage in Matthew 14 is an account of when John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) was beheaded by Herod and Jesus had just received news of it. Jesus, in His grief, sought some solitary space to grieve. However, soon after His retreat, crowds of people caught wind of His whereabouts and followed Him. Though Jesus was likely attempting to process and pray, when He saw the large crowd of people in need, “…He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (vs. 14)

Jesus was the Son of God, yet on earth, He was also fully man. The grief, suffering, sorrow, and struggles that we all experience, He experienced too. Much like us, He desired room to grieve and pray. That being said, in His perfect love, Jesus recognized the needs in front of Him and set aside His own desires, in order to help. How do we navigate spaces of suffering, sorrow, and struggle like Jesus? He sought the Father, and then He saw the need before Him. Only Jesus is able to provide what we need to do both – to navigate our own trials and simultaneously reach out to those around us who are in need. We cannot allow the challenges of life to keep us from loving people the way we were created to love. Incredibly, when we do choose to look and reach out, the weight of our own burdens become lighter. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love and compassion, so that we may walk out our purpose, even when the road is rough.

Lord, teach us to pray,

To ever seek You;

Please lead us in love,

Grant us hope anew.

When challenges come,

For they always do;

Give us compassion,

To keep loving true.

It is by Your strength,

That we are made new;

Equipped to answer,

How we’re called by You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example that Jesus set before us to remind us that even in our darkness, we are called and equipped to be Your light. Forgive us for staying in our space of withdrawal when struggles come, rather than turning to You, then continuing to look forward. Teach us to trust You completely, for You bring comfort and compassion to the weariest of souls, and empower us to love all the more. Lead us to love those around us in ways that soothe the struggles and calm the chaos. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to pick us up, dust us off, and keep moving forward into all that You have created us for. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Grow Us in Grace

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. – (2 Corinthians 5:17, TPT)

For the last few years, I have taken time to seek God and ask Him for a word for the coming year. Last year, the word that was placed on my heart was “new”. Though the “new” that we all experienced was nothing like any of us might have imagined, there certainly was a recurring category of “new”. We entered a new season as the world shut down and life as we knew it changed. In the midst of it all, much new had to be learned. For me, a brand new way of doing my job accompanied the new season of the twins graduating from high school, and the addition of two new fur babies to our family. Though there has been struggle with the new, God’s grace was all the more. It seems that we each have the opportunity to become new as we navigate the challenges that come our way. Each obstacle provides room for us to seek the Lord and pursue the new He is growing in us as we are faithful to continue looking forward to all that lies before us. This process of becoming “new”, has brought me to the word that God has given me for 2021. The word that kept crashing around in my heart and mind is “grace”. In order to continue to move forward in all that I have been called, His grace will be required. There needs to be an ongoing growth in grace – both in the giving and receiving of “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.(dictionary.com definition of grace) I don’t know about you, but I will absolutely welcome the freely given favor and love of God, and know that I am called to do the same for those around me. Grace is a gift; not something that needs to be earned. May we actively seek to both give and receive the grace of God, so that we may ever grow in grace and love, according to God’s good and perfect will.

May we grow in grace,

As He makes us new;

Receive all He gives,

So we might give too.

To grow in goodness,

We need know His ways;

Make willing our hearts,

To trust God always.

Though sometimes the new,

Is not what we dreamed;

His grace is enough,

To make all redeemed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You make all things new and You grow us in Your lavish grace. Forgive us for our resistance to the new and our stubbornness that neglects to give and receive the grace You intended. Teach us how to grow in grace so that we may love as You call us to love. Lead us to love others in ways that are full of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the grace that You are growing in us to navigate this new year. Amen.

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

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

Strength in the Waiting

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – (Psalm 27:14, NIV) 

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 27:14, ERV)

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting – for He will never disappoint you! – (Psalm 27:14, TPT)

As usual, a verse from my daily reading stands out in the timeliness of the message presented. While there have been so many jokes and memes about the neverending year that is 2020, I find I can relate to the sentiment of this being a very long season. We just passed the seven-month mark of the closure of traditional schooling and society functioning as we had always known before. While I understand the necessity to protect our most fragile population, I also see, first hand, the detrimental effect that isolation is having on our young people. Untimely deaths have impacted numerous communities, including our own, and the rate of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed. Lack of contact and community for our teens and young adults is taking a horrendous toll. For me, I have had to be intentional to get outside and exercise, find ways to connect with my own family and community, and seek strength anew every morning. Getting out of the house, even if it is only for a drive, walk or run, makes a world of difference for my heart and mind. I can only imagine the angst and frustration this causes young people, as few have the option or luxury of simply getting in the car and going just to find a change of scenery. Add to that the lack of interaction with their peers, and it is no wonder we are seeing such struggle. I know I have taken a bit of a detour as I am attempting to process the application of this verse. Perhaps it is a reminder to lift up those around us, and to encourage strength and hope in the waiting, and dependence on He who is our help and hope. May we seek the Lord each new day, and extend the strength and hope that He grants us in the waiting, to all those around us.

O Lord, I’m seeking,

Your hope and Your strength;

Comfort to pass on,

Your grace through great lengths.

Lead us in goodness,

May we each take heart;

Trusting Your kindness,

As strength You impart.

Help us be patient,

In You, as we wait;

Remind us again,

That You’re never late.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us in the waiting, and that You are our hope and our strength.  Thank You that we can be brave and take heart in You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as the waiting seems so long. Teach us to trust You more, as You do great things in us as we wait and trust in You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, especially those who are feeling stuck or isolated. Grant them hope and strength in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in the waiting and reach out to love well, all those around us. Amen.

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

Lord, I wait for You; You will answer, Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15

All Through Him

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. – (Philippians 4:13, NIV) 

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. – (Philippians 4:13, ERV) 

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. – (Philippians 4:13, VOICE) 

Well, today was clear evidence of exactly what this verse conveys. Despite feeling as if I were drowning in a sea of screen switching and multitasking, my first day of remote teaching was completed, albeit, rough and raw with countless flaws. Seeing and interacting with my new groups of sixth graders, made the struggle worthwhile. They answered questions, followed along, and even asked for my help to navigate to their next class or activity. His strength was present throughout, as I persevered in spite of the snags, and I have fresh resolve to try again tomorrow, trusting that I can only improve from here. So, for today, I can be content in our current circumstance and trust that He will continue to give me the strength I need for each new day. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He supplies all that we need to do what we are called to do. 

PowerPoints, attendance, 

And “chatting” with all; 

The margin for flaws, 

Is truly not small. 

Yet, in the crazy, 

His strength is enough; 

To keep pressing on, 

Even when it’s tough. 

So, dig deep, listen, 

Trust we can do all; 

Not in our own strength, 

In His, who holds all. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can do all things in Your strength, as You call us to do. Thank You that our capacity to do difficult things is not dependent on our ability, but rather on Yours. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters in the face of adversity. Teach us to trust You and draw strength from You. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they too, may discover how much can be accomplished in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, knowing that we can accomplish more than we could hope or imagine, when we place our lives in Your hands. Amen. 

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

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5