Gratitude, Prayerfulness and Joy

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, VOICE)

 

Gratitude, prayerfulness and joy, all come from a heart invested in relationship with Christ. Each of these things are not dependent on our circumstances, but rather are a result of our awareness of God in our lives. Joy is that deep-rooted hope that is held in the heart that bursts forth, even when life is hard, circumstances are maddening, or things just are not going the way that we had planned. To pray continually, is to be in ongoing communion with our Creator. In the same way that we readily have conversation with our spouse, friends, children and the like; we too, ought to be continually having conversations with Christ. When things are difficult; ask Him for help. When things are good; we ought to rejoice and praise Him for His provision and blessing. To give thanks in all circumstances is not a gratitude for what is happening, but rather for Who is walking beside us as we navigate whatever comes our way. Over the last year, I have had some incredibly difficult circumstances to navigate, yet by God’s grace, there has been joy, gratitude, and grace, as I have clung to Christ and He has carried the worst of the weight, when I could carry no more. I certainly do not have this down perfectly; for I am flawed and fallible and an ongoing work in progress, as Jesus gives me grace and grows me as I pursue His best for my life. May we be full of joy and thankfulness as we continue to prayerfully pursue our Provider.

 

With hearts full of praise,

May we choose rejoice;

No matter what comes,

With thanks, lift our voice.

For God’s always good,

Even when life’s not;

Keep seeking in prayer,

When blessed and distraught.

All thanks be to God,

Source of grace and joy;

Provider of hope,

Let praise be employed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that joy is found in hope in You. Thank You that we can pray anytime and anywhere, for You hear our heart as we direct our thoughts to You. Thank You that there is always reason to give You thanks, regardless of our circumstances. Forgive us for confusing circumstantial happiness with true and lasting joy. Teach us to pray continually, ever seeking and praising You; for You love us and lead us through all things. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may find lasting joy in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take joy in the hope we know, and praise You for who You are and how we can freely come before You in prayer. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. – Psalm 16:9

Clean the Inside of the Cup

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, NIV)

“It will be bad for you teachers of the law and you Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You wash clean the outside of your cups and dishes. But inside they are full of what you got by cheating others and pleasing yourselves. Pharisees, you are blind! First make the inside of the cup clean and good. Then the outside of the cup will also be clean.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, ERV)

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.” – (Matthew 23:25-26, MSG)

 

On the Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus began His day, departing Bethany with the disciples. As they were leaving, they passed by the fig tree He had cursed, only to discover it had completely withered. That point of passage began a day filled with teaching, as Jesus started with a lesson on faith. He further taught several parables and answered important questions as people gathered in the temple to hear. The Pharisees, up to their usual attempt at trapping Jesus in some sort of misstep for which they could arrest Him, began a barrage of questions as well. After Jesus brilliantly answered, and completely silenced the scholars with His wisdom, He began a list of woes to them for the practices that they were participating in. One that stood out to me as particularly poignant, and one to ponder personally, is that which is found in the above listed verses from Matthew 23. What does it mean to clean the outside of the cup, but neglect cleaning the inside? To me, it seems He was using the image as an illustration of the heart versus how things appear. We must attend to the motives, desires and purposes within us to be considered clean. For if we seek the Lord and allow Him room to purify our hearts and cleanse us from within, the outside reflects the beauty on the inside. It does not work in reverse. I imagine we have all met or known someone who at first, appeared quite appealing. However, once the heart was made known, the ugly insides tainted the perspective on the outside. Jesus cares about the condition of our heart. Yes, wash your hands, for at least twenty seconds please, but really, it is what flows out of us that impacts those around us, not the package that holds our hearts. My take away today is to seek the Lord and ask Him to show me what filth within me still needs cleansing. We all have spots that get missed, or manage to lie hidden out of plain sight. Jesus is gentle and kind when we choose to seek Him with the hope of being cleansed to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. Lord, cleanse us from the inside out, so that Your love may be made abundantly clear, and no good thing withheld from those in need.

 

Lord, come and show us, Clean the Inside of the Cup

Where we need be cleansed;

Point out the places,

Help us make amends.

Places we’re selfish,

Greedy or unkind;

Over-indulgent,

Show us what You find.

By Your loving grace,

Show us how to change;

Be cleansed from within,

So Your love may reign.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us the way to be cleansed from the inside out. Thank You that not only did You clean the temple, but You are willing to clean the hollows of our heart. Forgive us for the times that we have worried more about “appearances” than being cleansed on the inside. Teach us to fix our eyes and heart on You and what You ask of us. Show us how to love selflessly, without greed, gluttony or reservation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us the ways to wash ourselves within, so that we may shine bright, reflecting Your love to all whom we encounter. Amen.

 

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

 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1-2