Clear the Temple

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer’, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.” – (Matthew 21:12-13, NIV)

Jesus went into the Temple area. He threw out all those who were selling and buying things there. He turned the tables that belonged to those who were exchanging different kinds of money. And He turned over benches of those who were selling doves. Jesus said to them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer’. But you are changing it into a ‘hiding place for thieves.” – (Matthew 21:12-13, ERV)

 

My focus this week is to take a deeper look at the series of events that took place leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus left Bethany, cursed a fig tree, cleansed the temple, healed and taught in the temple (as God intended), left the city, and returned back to Bethany where He stayed the night. The portion of scripture that stood out to me, was the passage where Jesus, in His righteousness, cleared out of the temple, that which did not belong. He did not just clear out what did not belong, but went on and loved, touched, taught and healed, according to what did belong in His Temple. Jesus did not simply say how things needed to be, but rather He modeled it through every aspect of His life. The way that Jesus cleansed the temple demonstrated His authority and His passion for His Father’s house, and the way that He restored the space to what it was intended through His loving people well, reminds us of the kindness of God. May we take time this week to clear the temple of our hearts and rid ourselves of anything that does not belong, and allow the Lord to restore us with His loving kindness and grace that reaches out and loves as He so passionately loves each of us.

 

Within all our hearts, Restore to Me the Joy

There’s things to be cleared;

Misguided beliefs,

Irrational fears.

We have a Savior,

In love, who comes near;

He’ll wash away waste,

Make our value clear.

As we know our worth,

We love differently;

No longer hindered,

Able to be free.

Free to love greatly,

As God first loved us;

Love with abandon,

Just like our Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the difficult road because of Your great love for us. Thank You that You cleared the temple of what did not belong, and replaced it with what did. Forgive us for allowing anything into the temple of our hearts that does not belong. Show us how to clear the chaos and crud that does not align with Your design, and teach us to seek You to fill our hearts with things of You. Lead us to love those around us in the same way that You love – lavishly, tangibly, and without qualifications. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we clear the temple within, and praise You for the incredible sacrifice You made on our behalf. Amen

 

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

 

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. – Mark 11:15-16

Triumphant Entry

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, NIV)

On the way to Jerusalem, many people spread their coats on the road for Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind Him. They all shouted, “Praise to the Son of David!” ‘Welcome! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Praise to God in heaven!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, ERV)

Then an exceptionally large crowd gathered and carpeted the road before Him with their cloaks and prayer shawls. Others cut down branches from trees to spread in His path. Jesus road in the center of the procession – crowds going before Him and crowds coming behind Him, and they all shouted, “Bring the victory, Lord, Son of David! He comes with the blessings of being sent from the Lord Yahweh! We celebrate with praises to God in the highest!” – (Matthew 21:8-9, TPT)

 

This portion of the road to Easter story, never ceases to amaze me. It is difficult to wrap my mind around a huge crowd throwing their coats and palm branches on the road before Jesus, so that He would cross before them on a space that recognized and acknowledged His significance as they shouted out the truth of who He was, only to have a mob mentality less than a week later, to have Him crucified. Further in the passage, the crowd follows Jesus to the temple and He continues to teach and heal and love as He had always done. Imagine His perspective as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. He knew what was coming, yet He chose to enter into town. In our broken humanity, we likely would have questioned the crowd or looked upon them with a lesser love, knowing where the week was going. However, Jesus, in His perfect love, likely took in every face and chose love all the more. He could have turned and ridden right back out of town, and no one would have questioned Him. Jesus entered with purpose, on purpose, and did not deter from He knew He had to do. Love for all of humanity drove Him; love for each one of us, individually, kept Him there. May we turn our hearts and minds to Christ, the risen King, as we enter into this most sacred and surreal Easter week. He is good, and His love endures for all time.

 

Triumphant entry, Palm Sunday

The crowds shouted praise;

All glory to God,

Through sayings they raised.

They made a clear path,

For Christ to ride in;

Such honor granted,

Holy week begins.

Imagine seeing,

The One they foretold;

Passing before you,

A sight to behold.

Help us to take pause,

Reflect and recall;

The great magnitude,

Your entry for all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You sent Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored back to life with You. Thank You that in this season of so much unsettled and unknown, You have settled and You know. Thank You for Your love that entered in, despite the horrendous weight that You were chosen to bear on our behalf. Forgive us for not taking time to pause and reflect on the holiness of this season. Teach us to have a greater grasp of what You have done for us so that we might know love and life abundant in You. Show us how to love others with the same tenacity that You have as You choose to love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we reflect, remember and rejoice in the incredible sacrifice that You made so that we would have abundant life in You. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – Psalm 68:19

Kind, Loving and Forgiving

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)

 

Typically, I am quite even tempered, as I seldom get overly upset or worked up about things; usually, I choose to take a deep breath, and keep pressing forward. However, like anyone, I do have my breaking point. When I reach a space where no matter how hard I work, and how much I try, I still feel grossly inadequate, it is then that I begin to withdraw, and the sarcasm spews out as an ugly coping mechanism. Thankfully, my Viking is kind and compassionate to me. He sees me wherever I am, and grants grace and extends love, with some humor, in a way that helps pull me out of my place of frustration and back into a space of depending on God’s abundant grace. Somehow, I am blessed with tremendous friends that do the same as well. In this season of adjusting and adapting to staying at home and working remotely, we all need to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. It is easy to extend these things to others, but much more difficult to offer the same to ourselves. God, in His outrageous grace, sent His Son for us, so that we might truly know and understand the depth of His forgiveness and love. My hope is that as we set our sights toward Easter, we might look to the cross and recognize that the forgiveness and redemption extended to all is a gift that we are meant to embrace, and then extend to those around us. May we each look for ways to be loving and kind to one another; graciously forgiving each other in love, just as we have been loved and forgiven by God.

 

Kindness, compassion,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Extended in grace;

The Lord’s forgiveness,

New, every day.

We all are chosen,

To love the same way;

Give love and forgive,

God’s grace on display.

As we extend love,

God’s love and light’s shown;

Forgiveness and grace,

In kindness, made known.

So, keep reaching out,

Choose love and forgive;

In kindness grant grace,

Where hope truly lives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and compassionate toward us, forgiving us in love. Thank You that You call us and empower us to do the same. Thank You for the people whom You have placed in our lives who show us these things in tangible ways. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked compassion, kindness or forgiveness toward those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend the very things that You have so lavishly granted to us, to those around us. Show us how to best love those around us with kindness and compassion. Point out the places where we need to walk in forgiveness with one another. Grant us Your grace and strength to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be kind and compassionate, and forgive one another as You have forgiven us. Amen.

 

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

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

To Do Good and To Share

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

And don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with others, because sacrifices like these are very pleasing to God. – (Hebrews 13:16, ERV)

Let’s not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. – (Hebrews 13:16, VOICE)

 

It is amazing to see how an order to “Stay at Home” has produced incredible opportunities for people to utilize their time and talents to do good and share with others. One of the things that I have been most impressed with that my school district is doing, is they are mobilizing and making “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches available to all students in our district. The service will continue during our scheduled spring break, despite it technically being a time that our amazing nutrition service team ought to have a reprieve. In addition to the breakfast and lunch program, local businesses and churches, including my own church, have partnered with the district to identify families that may need additional meal/grocery support in this season, and are providing extra supplies to assist. The stories of neighbors helping and caring for one another bless my heart each time I hear them, and the army of seamstresses that are heeding the call for protective masks and sewing for hours on end are doing the very good and sharing with others as we have been called to do. Doing good can be acts that are great or small – each will make a difference. Our time, talent and resources are what we have to offer. Sometimes, doing good is reaching out and checking on whomever comes to mind. It is never an accident. May we seek the Lord and ask of Him how we can do good and best share what we have with others. He is faithful and will show us where to best utilize our time, resources and talents to bless and encourage those around us.

 

Seek the Lord our God,wp-15859180799861846871613245770390.png

And choose ask of Him;

What shall I do next,

Where do I begin?

Show me how to use,

Time, talents, supplies;

To bless and to serve,

Lord, help me be wise.

For each choice to give,

Is honoring You;

Overflow of thanks,

As Your love shines through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do good and to share what we have with those around us. Thank You that You bless us with more than just “things”, but You grant us time and talents too. Thank You that all of us have something to offer. Thank You for the countless examples of those who are rising up and doing good, selflessly, in this season. Forgive us for forgetting that we were indeed uniquely and intentionally designed with purpose to do good for Your glory. Show us how to best honor You in all that we say and do. Teach us how to love those around us in the ways that You have designed us to love and serve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good and serve others with our time, talent and resources. 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 must love one another – John 13:34

Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

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

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Be Glad, Lovely Sky

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. – (Isaiah 49:13, NIV)

Heavens and earth, be happy! Mountains, shout with joy! The Lord comforts His people. He is good to His poor people. – (Isaiah 49:13, ERV)

Oh joy! Be glad – sky! Take joy – earth! Burst into song – mountains! For the Eternal, moved to compassion, has comforted and consoled His people. – (Isaiah 49:13, VOICE)

 

Though we may not feel it in the midst of our struggles, God is moving with compassion and supplying His comfort. Perhaps that is the “why” to rejoice, for when we do, it further comforts us, despite our circumstances. Additionally, even if we do not choose to rejoice and be glad, “…the very rocks would start to shout!” (Luke 19:40, VOICE) The truth of who God is will be made known, with or without us. We are in a unique position to demonstrate joy, despite our circumstances; rejoice in the truth that we know, and hold fast to the hope of all that is yet to come. It does not mean that we will be “Miss Susie Sunshine” all the time, but what it does mean is that there is an underlying joy and hope, deep-rooted within us, that shines forth somehow, even on the most difficult of days. May we set our sights on He who is good to His people and has compassion and comfort for those in need. Let us take joy in the truth that we know and be glad in ways that spread goodness to those around us.

 

Be glad, lovely sky, wp-15856580783495833011096505555461.jpg

Take joy, all the earth;

For God sees us each,

With infinite worth.

In His holy love,

Comfort He does bring;

Full of compassion,

Our reason to sing.

So, sing out with praise,

All the earth rejoice;

Lift praise to the Lord,

One heart and one voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all of heaven and earth has reason to rejoice and be glad, as You bring comfort and compassion to the afflicted and those in need. Thank You that You hear every prayer and see every need. Forgive us for our lack of praise in spaces of struggle. Show us how to rejoice and hold hope in tangible ways that spread joy to those around us. Help us to love all those whom we have contact with in ways that encourage and strengthen them with joy and hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with grateful hearts, full of hope, as You are our Comforter, full of compassion in every season of our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40

Take Heart

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 31:24, ERV)

Be strong and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

 

Whenever I am in a space of struggle, difficulty or challenge, there is something about the Psalms that offers comfort. David, the author of many of them, penned perfectly, both the struggle in difficulties and the encouragement to overcome. It leads me to wonder if Paul, who wrote many of the letters that became the New Testament from a prison cell, found comfort too, in the songs and sonnets and scores of words recorded in the Psalms. For many of us, the staying in place feels a bit torturous, as it is in no way natural nor normal. However, when I consider the time spent by Paul under house arrest and in Roman prison, I need to count my blessings and take heart. In strength and courage, Paul encouraged entire congregations of new believers, despite his circumstances. We are no different. Whatever we are tasked to do in this season, may we be strong and take heart, and place our hope in He who is our help. God is good, and He is faithful to answer when we call on Him to be our help and our hope.

 

Be strong in the Lord, Take Heart

Take courage, be brave;

The Lord will be near,

When asked to come stay.

As we place our hope,

In the Lord above;

He grants what we need,

To go forth in love.

Fear not in trials,

For God’s ever near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find strength and courage in You as we seek You to be our help and our hope. Thank You that You are ever-present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn and grow through every trial. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may encourage and strengthen one another in spaces where resolve is running low. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find strength and courage as we look to You to be our help and hope forever. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Focus on Forever

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV)

So we think about what we cannot see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we cannot see will last forever. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, ERV)

Because we don’t focus our attention on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but the unseen realm is eternal. – (2 Corinthians 4:18, TPT)

 

At times, even with the very best intentions, our focus gets lost on what we see directly in front of us, rather than trusting in what we know to be true, that we cannot yet see. Yesterday, though my morning began well, and my eyes were fixed on God as I began my day, it became a slippery slope as I found myself caught in the monotony of staying home, with all my guys caught up in their own things. Two were out in the shop working on a vehicle, and the other two were downstairs enjoying an online game with old friends. Discouragingly, that left me to far too much solitude, and I was about to lose it. After two weeks of staying home, with the exception of morning running and a rare trip to the store for needed groceries, I was ready to jump in my vehicle and just drive away. I didn’t care where, just somewhere; anywhere. Desperately, I needed a change of scenery, and really, I think my heart needed to be outdoors, where I am far more aware of the unseen. Thankfully, my best friend called, and we wandered to the water. We found a path that had few people, so social distancing was not difficult, and just walked. Breathing in the salty air, with a slight breeze and a gentle drizzle of rain sporadically falling, the weight of feeling stuck fell away, and I was free to move and breathe and be. For some of the walk we spoke and caught up with one another, yet, there was a sweet comfort in silence as well. Time, space, and being outdoors, granted fresh perspective, that there is so much more than right now. God is good, and He places eternity in our hearts. It is up to us to seek Him so that we might know Him, ever growing in our understanding that He has prepared a place for us that is beyond what our minds could begin to conceive. May we turn to the Lord in our struggles with what we are seeing now, and trust Him in faith; for what is unseen is an incredible forever that we cannot even begin to fathom.

 

It is not about,wp-15854930675978120052737617085496.jpg

Just what our eyes see;

But also unseen,

All eternity.

Our circumstances,

In the here and now;

Are temporary,

And will end somehow.

But the things unseen,

God and all His good;

Do not know an end,

Through all times, withstood.

So, choose trust in God,

And what is unseen;

For trials right now,

Will no longer be.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and loving and eternal. Thank You that the struggles and trials that we face in the here and now are temporary. Thank You that the things we see are temporary, and even the best of them are but a glimpse compared to the good that we cannot see yet. Forgive us for losing perspective. Teach us to hold fast to eternity in our hearts, especially when what we see right now is overwhelming. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they may find hope in despair and peace in times of turmoil. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to fix our hearts and minds on that which we cannot see that lasts forever. Amen.

 

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

 

But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3:13

 

 

Refuge, Strength and Help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, NIV)

God is our protection and source of strength. He is always ready to help us in times of trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, ERV)

God, You’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need You. – (Psalm 46:1, TPT)

 

I try not to catch too much of the news, as more than one update per day does nothing but cause anxiety in anyone. Yes, it is wise to be aware and recognize the reality of the situation and risk that we all are living in, but bombarding ourselves with a constant barrage of numbers and images only instills fear. If we are staying at home as ordered, we ought to be okay. God is our protection and source of strength; ready to help us in times like these. If peace is lacking; He is peace. If all seems chaotic and out of control; Christ brings calm and order. When our strength is sapped, His is steadfast. It is a matter of choice as to where we turn in times of trial. As we turn to God, we find safety, strength and help; whereas when we rely on our own devices, we end up fearful, stressed out and anxious about everything. May we turn to God, who is our refuge, strength and help, as He brings peace in the places within us that need it most.

For me, what seemed like a random impulse purchase on Amazon, actually turned out to likely be some listening to the still small voice within. I struggle staying put, especially when I feel like I have to stay seated and stuck in one area for any length of time. After the addition of a long string of color-changing LED lights around the perimeter of the room where I need to spend my days during the week for work, it suddenly is a calmer, more welcome space, that I find easier to be in. More of a refuge and less of a space that I’m stuck. God cares about the little things, and it is amazing what a tremendous difference the little things make in the overall scheme of an entire day. God is good, and He provides as we abide; may we ever choose seek Him for refuge, help and strength.

 

God is my refuge, wp-15854082280268137732906669162830.jpg

In whom I abide;

He is my safe space,

Where true peace resides.

The Lord is my strength,

And help as I seek;

Ever He’s faithful,

Provider of peace.

When there is chaos,

His love brings the calm;

Unending mercy,

Our true healing balm.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can seek You and You answer. Thank You that You are our refuge, strength and help whenever we call on Your Name. Thank You that You are forever faithful. Forgive us for our anxiousness when chaos and uncertainty surround us. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the anchor in our storms and the peace when there is chaos within. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer refuge, strength and help so that they too, may find comfort and peace in these times of such uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our refuge, strength and help in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8