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

 

 

Recognize What is Good

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, NIV)

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – (Micah 6:8, ERV)

But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously. – (Micah 6:8, MSG)

 

There is no better time than now, to recognize what goodness is, and walk it out. The things that God asks of us are the very same things that He grants to us in abundance. He is just and merciful and full of love, compassionate and kind. We are charged to humbly walk with God and do as He asks, so that we too, might be equipped to extend the same to all whom we encounter. Incredibly, these things are contagious. Random acts of kindness have a domino effect, as the recipient of one small act is often compelled to do something kind for someone else, and so on. In this space of “staying at home”, we may think we have little opportunity to do good and have any sort of impact, however, our kids, our families, our neighbors, and even the checker at the grocery store when we need to restock supplies, will remember how we made them feel during this season. If we are compassionate and loyal in love, choosing fairness and kindness in all that we say and do, it will have a positive and lasting impact on those around us. It does make a difference, as even in our Zoom meetings, knowing my 6th grade team and I all love Jesus, there is a positivity, kindness and compassion toward one another and genuine concern for our students, that binds us together in common purpose. We are all willing to trust one another and try new things, as we each know the intention of the others is good. May we recognize the opportunity that we each have in this season to do as the Lord has shown us; for He will clearly show us what is good, what loyalty in love looks like, how to extend kindness, how to grant mercy, and how to walk humbly with Him.

 

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The Lord clearly shows;

What we are to do,

And which doors to close.

He shows us mercy,

So we’ll do the same;

To love, give kindness,

It honors His Name.

As we walk with Him,

And humbly pray;

He leads and guides us,

He shows us the way.

His plan’s always good,

Full of love and grace;

We’re meant for the same,

As we walk His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us what is good and what You require of us. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not also willing to give us and equip us to do. Thank You that You first loved us and made the way for us to do as You ask of us. Forgive us for the times that we have not represented You well, or have done nothing when we were meant to reach out. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have Your eyes to see the opportunities to operate justly, love mercy, give kindness, love with loyalty, and ever walk humbly with You. Show us specific and tangible ways to demonstrate Your goodness and love everywhere we go, with everyone whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek to love others like You do. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Equipped to Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ERV)

All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. – (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, TPT)

 

It really is true, that God, in His great love, comforts us in all of our troubles. The amazing thing that I so often discover, is the very things that I have known God’s comfort in, He uses me to offer comfort to those around me in a space similar to that which He brought me through. His comfort, kindness and compassion granted to us, expands our heart and capacity to do the same for those around us. Experience creates a sort of knowing that only one who has walked through a similar space can truly understand what another is going through. Our ability to be compassionate and extend the sort of comfort needed are heightened, when we know the road a person is walking. God is good and He is kind, He knows what we need in the midst of our struggles; He brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. One of the ways that God does this is when He allows us to walk beside another who needs comfort in a space that we, ourselves, have been. There is peace and joy as we give what was given, and watch another press on and get through the difficulty. May we ever give God our praise for being our Comforter and for equipping us to comfort those around us.

 

All praise unto God,Equipped to Comfort

Who comforts us all;

He lifts head and heart,

Each time that we fall.

Because of His grace,

Comfort we receive;

We too can offer,

Love to those in need.

The very same grace,

The comfort we knew;

Is what we can give,

To help others through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all comfort and that the comfort You give to us, You raise up in us to give to those around us. Thank You that the struggles and trials we walk through can always be used for good if we trust in You. Forgive us for our fears and resentment when we are in scary spaces. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may know Your wisdom as to how to navigate, and know Your strength to persevere. Show us how to love those around us in ways that comfort and encourage in ways that bless the recipients best. 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, and trust You to help us go forth and do the same. Amen.

 

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

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

Lean Not On Your Own

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what He wants, and He will help you go the right way. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, ERV)

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely; never depend upon your own ideas and inventions. Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish, and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, VOICE)

 

Trusting God is far easier in some areas than in others. For me, it seems that when I have zero power to control the situation, I have no choice but to trust in Him. However, when I think that I can somehow maneuver and place myself in the best possible position to navigate a given situation, it does not necessarily go well. My ways are not His ways, and my plans are not God’s plans. No matter how well-intended my ideas are, God’s way is always better. Incredibly, God is gentle and kind, and He never forces His way in. He will wait, ever so patiently, for us to come to Him for His help. Currently, I find myself in a space where there seems to be no way, yet the direction appears a long-awaited answer to prayer. In this space, I have no choice but to trust and seek Him for answers and direction, every step of the way. Though I know not if what I see is what He is calling me to, I know His plans for me are good, and I will trust Him for all that lies ahead. May we ever place our trust in the Lord rather than our own understanding, for it is He who directs our steps and makes our way secure.

 

Choose trust in the Lord, Set Aside Distractions

In all things, always;

He hears each request,

To show us the way.

Decide not to lean,

On what our eyes see;

But rather seek God,

For what’s yet to be.

The Lord makes a way,

Where we never could;

And His way is best,

God’s plans, always good.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You, rather than our own understanding. Thank You that when we acknowledge You and depend on You, You prepare the way and make our paths straight. Thank You that Your ways are higher than ours, and You already know the outcome of what we desire. Forgive us for attempting to maneuver on our own, rather than seeking and depending on You. Teach us how to trust and rely on You in all thing and at all times to navigate our days according to Your perfect plan. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be encouraged and strengthened to seek You in all things too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

Persevere in Love

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, NIV)

Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, ERV)

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:6-7, TPT)

 

The last few weeks at school have been particularly rough. My resolve to hope and persevere have been wavering. Yesterday the enormity of the weight, somehow hit me like a ton of bricks. I found myself in a funk that I could not escape. God, in His kindness, continues to surround me with amazing friends and colleagues. Throughout the day, I had kind and encouraging interactions that propelled me to press on. I do not know what the solution is going to be to my current dilemma, but God does. He is love. He does not delight in the wrong that is going on. Because He is my safe shelter, I need never stop believing the best for others. Though this season is difficult to walk through, it is not the time to give up and lose hope. Love always hopes and always perseveres. It may require action and interventions, but it does not mean to lose heart. My trust is in God, not people; for humans are fallible, whereas He is not. Additionally, He has provided a husband and home that are the safe shelter I imagine He intended. No matter how my day has gone, I can speak freely without judgment and know that I will be loved and cared for well. May we seek the Lord, who is love, so that we may rejoice with the truth, believe the best for others, never lose hope and never give up.

 

True love celebrates,

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“Home” – photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Truth and honesty;

It always protects,

With ferocity.

Love chooses to trust,

Hope and persevere;

Seeks God and His strength,

Knows that He is near.

Love does not give up,

But keeps pressing on;

For God’s love endures,

Hope to depend on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are Love. Thank You that You show us again and again what love really means. Thank You that You delight in the truth, You always protect, You are our reason to trust, the One in whom we hope, and our strength to persevere. Forgive us for our frustration and our lack of faith when it feels like love fails. Teach us to trust You more, as You are working and moving far beyond what we can see. Show us how to love those around us with a love like Yours. Grant us the strength to never lose hope, and to always persevere. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to persevere in love. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

The Power of Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs against it. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, ERV)

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, TPT)

 

Love is a powerful force, created by God, to bring people together. Not only are we commanded to love, but His word unpacks for us, how to love like Him. To say that love is patient, means that love needs to contain the capacity for endurance. It is not to have an on/off switch based on circumstance, but rather love endures through all things, at all times. Love is kind, is an expectation that love will choose to be considerate, helpful, gentle and from a tendency toward tenderness. A love that does not envy, is one that rejoices in the successes and blessings of others, rather than wishing they were their own. True love does not need to place their own accomplishments on parade, nor promote self, for their heart, their love and their kindness speak for their character. This one is one that I witness far too often in middle school, and it is one of my greatest frustrations, as love does not dishonor, belittle nor disrespect others. To be easily angered is to have a short fuse, and God, in His grace, will replace the short wick with a long one, if we depend on Him. Lastly, love not keeping record of wrongs, is a curious call. Of course, we are not to hold grudges, and we must forgive, for unforgiveness is toxic to the holder, not the offender. However, it is impossible in our own strength to not be at least a bit influenced by the treatment we have received in the past from others. To love the way in which God calls us to love, we need Him, every moment of every day. We are broken and flawed; He is holy and perfect and pure. If we rely on Him, we can learn to love as we are meant to love. May we ever seek the Lord and His heart for others, so that we love as He first loved us.

 

Lord, help us to love, Diligent for All of Our Days

Be patient and kind;

Never to envy,

Keep others in mind.

Lead us to honor,

Each other in love;

Respect and forgive,

Love as You first loved.

Help us to let go,

Of wrongs of the past;

Forgive, move forward,

With Your love that lasts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and instruct us to love. Thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to love the way that we are called to love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love, as our words, thoughts or actions countered the very things You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we walk in love according to Your instructions. Show us how to love patiently and with kindness, and keep envy, pride and anger far from us. Help us to meet those around us with the love that is needed most, even when their words or actions make us want to run the other direction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love the way that You are calling us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. – Psalm 103:8

Hope in Unfailing Love

May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. – (Psalm 33:22, NIV)

Yes, Lord, let Your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in You alone. – (Psalm 33:22, TLB)

Let Your love and steadfast kindness overshadow us continually, for we trust and wait upon You! – (Psalm 33:22, TPT)

 

It has been a painfully long week. Students have been struggling to choose well in a few of my classes, and yesterday seemed to be the crux that led to two ugly scenarios. The first resulted in a pair of students being removed from my classroom, despite multiple opportunities to make a change and choose well, followed by a horrendous fight that involved a student from another classroom who was let into my room during the final few minutes of the day. It was a shocking and horrible end to an otherwise reasonable day, and I was grateful for gymnastics practice after school with a great group of girls, that was to follow a quick debrief with my colleague in the classroom next door. Despite the events that left me questioning my sanity and career choice, I was aware of God’s unfailing love for me, as He always has a way of making it tangible. My fellow coaches, who are dear friends, were fabulous, kind and compassionate. Another friend and colleague who helps intervene with situations such as the two that took place during my day, intentionally made way to the gym to check-in with me and debrief. After practice, just prior to returning to my classroom to complete the paperwork for the fight, I received a text message from another friend on staff who had been in the office when the kids involved were brought in, and she was making sure that I was okay. Steadfast kindness is my reminder to continue to hope and trust in Him. Though I know not what the future holds, I trust that He has good plans, and that His kindness and love will not continue to keep me in such spaces of distress. He is good, and because He loves me well, I will continue to choose to love.

 

God’s unfailing love, Hope in Unfailing Love

The hope for our days;

Shows reasons to trust,

Faithfulness always.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s always near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

Choose wait on the Lord,

Place all hope in Him;

Kind, faithful, steadfast,

True love always wins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, faithful, kind and Your steadfast love never ends. Thank You that as we come to You and place our trust in You, You hear us and are present with us. Thank You that though bad things happen, You never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for our frustration with the brokenness of this world. Teach us to trust You and keep moving forward in love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend what is needed most to hurting hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love forever, and give You praise for Your presence that You make tangible. Amen.

 

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

 

Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. – Psalm 6:4

 

 

Heart Change

Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. – (Joel 2:13, NLT)

Tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive. – (Joel 2:13, CEB)

Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here’s why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath and puts up with a lot. This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. – (Joel 2:13, MSG)

 

When we stray from the path that God has placed before us, He wants a heart change that leads us back to where we were meant to go. God is patient and kind, merciful and loving; ready to forgive and redirect our steps when we go astray. Our part is to be tender to His leading, so that our hearts may be changed to more clearly reflect His own. This applies in every area of our lives, as God wants our whole heart, not just a portion. May we seek the Lord with tender hearts, ready to give Him room to move so that we more clearly reflect His heart to the world.

 

God of compassion, Hold My Heart

We bring hearts to You;

Forgive each trespass,

Cleanse and make us new.

In love and kindness,

Lead us in Your way;

Help us extend grace,

And love much the same.

Grant us a clean heart,

That’s ready to serve;

To love as You love,

Mercy undeserved.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not want external displays of remorse, but rather You desire hearts that turn to You, ready to repent and allow You room to cleanse and renew. Forgive us for thinking that we have to do or be enough to earn our way back to grace when we have gone astray. Teach us to come to You with repentant hearts so that we may receive Your forgiveness and experience a true heart change. Show us how to love those around us a way that extends the very same goodness and grace to spaces of need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the forgiveness that You so readily offer when we come to You with a repentant heart. Amen.

 

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

 

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8

Peace With All People

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, NIV)

Do the best you can to live in peace with everyone. – (Romans 12:18, ERV)

Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. – (Romans 12:18, TLB)

 

Peace is a most pleasant space to dwell. As we release the right to retaliate in our own moments of hurt or frustration and give it to God, peace enters in. God calls us to react in the opposite spirit of those who come against us, as so often a simple extension of kindness in a person’s moment of ugly, can diffuse the heat that is driving the acting out, and bring change. The evidence of transformation is the peace that becomes present in the process. If we love as we are called to love, peace is one of the clear indicators that His Spirit is producing fruit in and through our lives. Peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self-control, all are grown and shown as we seek to love according to God’s call. May we do our best to live at peace with everyone, depending on Christ to equip us to love as He loves.

Mom is doing well. When we spoke last evening, much of our conversation was reminiscing about my boys, as they are now six days away from their eighteenth birthday. It was sweet to remember the series of events leading up to their arrival, and the weeks that followed. What amazed me, was that Mom wasn’t really word searching at all. She just spoke with joy and pride, as she remembered her grandsons. Mom is one of the people in my life who has modeled how to be at peace with everyone, in as much as it is possible. Wherever she goes, she is kind and people want to be near her. God’s goodness and grace shine from the inside out, and His light in her draws people in.

 

Let the peace of Christ,

Peace Through Understanding

Come and fill our hearts;

So we may go forth,

And know where to start.

As we come know peace,

We too can learn share;

A love that gives grace,

For He hears our prayers.

Wherever we can,

May we offer peace;

God’s love extended,

Gives unrest release.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live at peace with everyone. Thank You that You do not stop there, but rather You give us specific directives to bless and rejoice, give and to love, and to not repay evil nor take revenge. Forgive us for the times that we have worried more about being right that doing right. Teach us to listen to Your leading in all things and at all times. Show us how to live at peace with everyone around us through living out a life of loving like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to show us how to live at peace with those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11