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

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

Agony and Wonder

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. – (Matthew 27:50-51, NIV)

Again Jesus cried out loudly and then died. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. Also, the earth shook and rocks were broken. – (Matthew 27:50-51, ERV)

Jesus passionately cried out, took His last breath, and gave up His spirit. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth shook violently, rocks were violently split apart. – (Matthew 27:50-51, TPT)

Good Friday was a day full of agony and wonder. Jesus endured tremendous suffering in the temple courts, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and the soldiers, and went on carrying His cross to the horror on the hill. There Jesus was hung upon a cross between two criminals, mocked and rejected, yet all the while chose to remain in place for a purpose. Not only did He bear the weight of all our sin, but He cried out for God to forgive all who caused Him to endure the agony upon the cross. When He had accomplished all that was intended, He cried out to God and gave up His Spirit. Darkness had overcome the land, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, there was an earthquake, and rocks were split apart. The tearing of the veil was incredibly significant, as the split opened the curtain to the Holiest of Holies, thus removing the barrier between God and people. Christ’s death on the cross removed the sin and shame that had been cause of the need for the barrier from the beginning. Because He bore our sin and shame, our own behavior that created the divide between us and God, had been removed. In the same way that the rocks were shaken and split, our hearts ought to be stirred to split away from that which keeps us from closeness with Christ. May we be intentional to look to all that Christ endured upon the cross, and give Him praise with awe and wonder at the depth of love that would compel Him to bear all of our sin and make the way for a right relationship with God.

Willing to suffer,

He bore all our sin;

To open the way,

Let new life begin.

It was through His pain,

And all He endured;

That we’ve been made clean,

Granted hope secure.

The goodness that day,

Was promised in three;

A soon empty tomb,

Power to set free.

Let’s look to the cross,

Thank the Lord with praise;

Receive forgiveness,

True hope for all days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible love that sacrificed and endured for our sake. Jesus, thank You for suffering in our place to make the way for relationships to be restored with You. Forgive us for every portion of pain that our thoughts, words and deeds heaped upon You on the cross. Teach us to live in the freedom of forgiveness and grace that grows our hearts to love like You. Show us how to love all those around us in ways that make Your heart visible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for all that You have done, still do, and will continue to do, to make the path clear as we seek to serve and honor You. Amen.

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

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

The Blessing of Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, NIV)

But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, ERV)

But if we freely admit our sins when His light uncovers them, He will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and He will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – (1 John 1:9, TPT)

Confessing our sins is meant to be freeing and cleansing. Too often, we get caught up in presenting our laundry list of requests before God, and perhaps praising Him for who He is, but neglect the part of pausing to reflect on places where our thoughts, words or deeds were not pleasing to the Lord. This is not meant to be a space of shame, but rather of recognition of our wrongs and an active, intentional awareness of how we can do and be better, not in our own strength, but with the forgiveness and freedom that our Heavenly Father brings as we ask.  Incredibly, as we ask, He answers. God is faithful to forgive each time we ask, but it is our responsibility to request that He show us where we have fallen short. We all do, as we are all a work in progress. I am so thankful that though there is a long way to go, I am closer than I was before. May we ever come before Christ and confess our sins, for it is in this space that we are set free from the shame and guilt, and turned back to the One who leads us in the ways that He intended.     

O Lord, unto You,

We bring You our shame;

Ugly shortcomings,

Our spaces of blame.

In love, You shine light,

That removes the dark;

Turning hearts around,

Repentant trademark.

As we choose confess,

In love, we’re set free;

Propelled to better,

Intentionally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You will show us our sin so that we may confess and be cleansed. Thank You that You receive us, cleanse us, and point us on the path that follows after You. Please forgive us for every word, thought and deed that has not represented Your heart well. Teach us to keep short accounts with You so that we may do and be better. Show us how to love with mercy and grace, granting glimpses of Your heart to all who come our way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we confess our sin before You and follow Your leading to love as we were created to do. Amen.

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

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24

What is Really Wanted

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, NIV)

Now, Israelites, listen! What does the Lord your God really want from you? The Lord your God wants you to respect Him and do what He says. He wants you to love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, ERV)

So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in His presence in holy reverence, follow the road He sets out for you, love Him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you. – (Deuteronomy 10:12, MSG)

Though these were things asked of Israel as they were in the desert, preparing to move toward the promised land, these are still the same things that God asks of us today. To love and respect the Lord and to serve Him, is the gist of what Jesus told us the commands of God meant. We are called to love God and love people. If we truly love, we will respect, honor, and serve with all that we are. This applies to every aspect of our lives. To love God means to love His creation as well. Everyone we see, and all those whom we encounter, are created and loved by God. As we love God wholeheartedly and seek to do His will, He grows in us the desire to love others as He loves us. May we ever pursue the Lord and His path for our lives, so that we learn to love Him and all people as He intended.

Long gone are the days,

Of Levitical law;

Instead we’re to love,

And of God, stand in awe.

For God has made us,

To give and receive love;

And walk in His ways,

Choose seek the Lord above.

For the more we seek,

We forever shall find;

The ways we’re to walk,

And the grace to be kind.

Lord, help us rise up,

To love all others well;

You are the reason,

That in love we may dwell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan and purpose for us has always been to be in a loving relationship with You and all those around us. Thank You that You show us and lead us in the love we are meant to give. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts and deeds have not aligned with loving You and loving those whom You have placed on our path. Teach us to love, honor and serve You with our whole heart, so that we may grow in love and grace to love well, all those around us. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest our heart, soul, and mind into loving You and all those whom we meet. Amen.

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

Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:30-31

Timeless Faithfulness

Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. – (Isaiah 25:1, NIV)

Lord, You are my God. I honor You and praise Your Name, because You did amazing things. The words You said long ago are completely true; everything happened exactly as You said it would. – (Isaiah 25:1, ERV)

Eternal One, You are my God. I will lift You up and praise Your Name. Because You have made wonderful marvelous and beautiful – the most ancient designs holding strong and sure. – (Isaiah 25:1, VOICE)

The faithfulness of God is timeless. All of creation announces His love as He has done, does, and will continue to do wonderful things. What was planned in the beginning, He faithfully fulfills. God, who in His infinite wisdom and love, created each of us with a plan and a purpose. As we follow Him, we see His kindness and grace through the outpouring of His love, as He leads us to walk out all that He has prepared for us. I know it seems like the wonderful things are far off when obstacles come our way, but if we slow down, take a deep breath, and truly take inventory, the visibility of His incredible blessings are abundantly clear. In the darkest times, His light remains, for if we open our eyes we are genuinely able to see. May we ever lift up praise to He who carries out the wonderful and beautiful in each of our lives.

Lord, I will praise You,

For all of my days;

Your tender mercies,

Lead us in Your ways.

Thank You for kindness,

When hope’s feeling gone;

You bless us and keep us,

Help us carry on.

Your word is the truth,

Faithful without end;

No matter what comes,

Love and strength You send.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God and that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank You for what You promise, as You fulfill. Forgive our fears and frustrations when we cannot see the beauty that is going to come from our ashes. Teach us to trust You and praise You, even in the storms. Show us how to love those around us well, so that hope and faith rise up, no matter how things appear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love so well. Amen.

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

For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:3

Saved By Love

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

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, ERV)

God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! – (John 3:17, TPT)

If we are to love as we are loved by God, then our charge is not to condemn others, but rather to point them to He who saves. Our words, actions and very existence either reflect His love or distort it. The more we are intentional to love well, the more clearly His heart can be seen by those around us. Days like today remind me of just how deep, wide and all-encompassing God’s love truly is. In the same way that the falling snow covers everything it touches, so too does God’s love for us. If we are open to all He offers, He covers us with His unfailing love. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for His love is so great that He sent His Son to make certain we would have the opportunity to know and experience His love.

The love of the Lord,

Chose sacrifice all;

To make the way clear,

So we’d hear Love’s call.

The purpose was not,

To come and condemn;

But rather to love,

Lead hearts unto Him.

May we choose the same,

Love generously;

Let love lead the way,

Bless relentlessly.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to save us, not condemn. Thank You that You show us over and over again how deep and wide Your love is for us all. Forgive us for the times that we have condemned rather than loved like You. Show us how to love those around us as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your generous and saving grace that equips us to love like You. Amen.

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

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Cleansed From Within

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. – (Matthew 15:18, NIV)

But what comes out of your mouth reveals the core of your heart. Words can pollute, not food. – (Matthew 15:18, TPT)

But the things that come out of your mouth – your curses, your fears, your denunciations – these come from your heart, and it is the stirrings of your heart that can make you unclean. – (Matthew 15:18, VOICE)

When I read this, I am reminded of a childhood song that has the lines: “Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear. Be careful little mouth what you say.” I know there is more to the song, but it was a powerful form of instruction from a young age; for whatever we allow into our hearts, mingles in our minds, and then makes way out of our mouths. If we seek to fuel our hearts and minds with God’s goodness and truth, the things that we say will be a reflection of such. However, when we are operating in our own ugly humanity, our words mirror the heart. We need Jesus to teach us and grow us in His love so that we can love in the same way. Lord, help us to pray and rely on You to cleanse our hearts and speak words that edify those around us.

Words that are wounding,

Vector illustration hand drawn.

Those spoken in rage;

Destroy in others,

Hope that You can save.

Lord, please cleanse our hearts,

Make loving each mind;

Let every word,

Be gracious and kind.

Help our words build up,

Keep silent all else;

Lead us by Your love,

As we die to self.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us how to love like You. Thank You that You call and command us to speak and act in love. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our hearts to entertain ugliness, and given voice to things not of You held in our hearts. Cleanse our hearts and minds of all that does not edify or please You. Teach us to invest our time, our heart, mind, soul and strength into a pleasing pursuit of You. Show us how to speak to those around us in love, and silence the thoughts that do not reflect Your heart to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are mindful of what we take in and allow to exit our mouths. Amen.

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

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

Wisdom With Words

They were unable to trap Him in what He had said there in public. And astonished by His answer, they became silent. – (Luke 20:26, NIV)

The men were amazed at His wise answer. They could say nothing. They were not able to trick Jesus there in front of the people. He said nothing they could use against Him. – (Luke 20:26, ERV)

Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They were confounded by His reply and couldn’t say anything in response. – (Luke 20:26, VOICE)

As I continue to make my way through the book of Luke, and study the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, I am reminded of the wisdom of God. The Pharisees and their cronies were constantly trying to trap Jesus with their questions, ever looking for a reason to arrest Him. Each time they tried, Jesus responded in a way that left the teachers of the time baffled. Jesus knew the intent of the imposters, and would not allow them opportunity to arrest Him before it was His time. For us, this is a reminder that God has the wisdom we seek. When we trust and rely on Him, He will bring the words we need to speak at just the right time. That still small voice that whispers to our hearts when we need to hear, is ever available for all who seek Him.

Do not be afraid,

Of those with ill will;

As we seek the Lord,

His wisdom shall fill.

Fill our hearts and minds,

With words we can speak;

Direction and grace,

The goodness You teach.

Let all that we are,

Ever trust in You;

Grant us words to speak,

So Your love shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all wisdom comes from You. Thank You that we can seek You and listen for Your voice in all things and at all times. Forgive us for firing off our own words in haste, rather than seeking You first to align our hearts with Your love and grace. Teach us to seek You and listen to Your still small voice that leads and guides us in all things. Show us how to love those around us as You do, and keep us from being caught up in foolish rhetoric that leads to division. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for wisdom and the words that You would have us speak. Amen.

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

You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. – Exodus 4:15

With Every Word

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV) 

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. – (Colossians 4:6, MSG) 

Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith. – (Colossians 4:6, TPT) 

This is an ongoing existence that I am ever pursuing. I want my every word to be kind and to bring out the best in others. Grace, truth and clarity come from God. If I wish to communicate the way God intended, I must invest time and energy into know Him and His word. It does not magically happen overnight, but rather is a lifelong pursuit. My prayer is that my words would bring out the best in others, and that I would extend respect, kindness and wisdom to those with whom I interact. May the way we use our words be an extension of our faith. 

Lord, please let my words, 

Be seasoned with grace; 

May clarity come, 

As I seek Your ways. 

Let kindness and truth, 

Encouraging good; 

Be spoken in love, 

Make grace understood. 

Lead me in Your love, 

With all that I say; 

Grant me Your wisdom, 

To ever speak grace. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your words for us are wise and kind, full of grace, and You bring out the best in us; always. Forgive us for the times that our words lacked grace or kindness. Teach us to choose our words wisely, so that we may be kind and wise and full of Your love in all that we say. Show us how to love those around us with our words. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You anew each day to raise us up as ambassadors of Your goodness and grace through every word that we say. Amen. 

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

No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. – Deuteronomy 30:14