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

Called His Own

Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. – (Psalm 100:3, NIV)

Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him. We are His people, the sheep He takes care of. – (Psalm 100:3, ERV)

Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the True God. He is the One who made us; we have not made ourselves; we are His people, like sheep grazing in His fields. – (Psalm 100:3, VOICE)

 

As I continue along with the reading plan for the twenty-one days of fasting and prayer that my church is participating in, today’s scripture is Psalm 100. It is a relatively short psalm, yet the gist of the passage is about praising God for who He is. Verse three stood out to me as a great reminder to remember that it is He who made us, and we are His. A shepherd not only watches his/her sheep, but they fend off predators, care for the sick or wounded, know each by name, feed them, and will search tirelessly for one of them if they wander off. God, who created us and knows us far more intimately than by name, goes exceedingly above and beyond the care of a shepherd. He loves us with an everlasting love, as He gave His only Son so that we would have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. The Lord hears our every prayer, petition and praise, and moves on our behalf, even when we are unaware. May we know that the Lord is God, who made us and calls us His own, and ever give Him praise as His people.

 

The Lord is our God, Our Help and Defense

Most worthy of praise;

May we give Him thanks,

For all of our days.

He hears each request,

And knows us by name;

He loves and He heals,

Each of us, He’ll claim.

The Lord is so good,

And His love, endures;

Forever, always,

In Him, hope’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are God who made us and calls us Your own. Thank You that we are Your people whom You watch over and care for. Forgive us for forgetting how intimately You know and love each one of us, and how much each detail matters. Teach us to trust and praise You more, as You are our Source and Strength, and worthy of all trust and praise forever. Show us how to love those around us as You call us to love. 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 us as Your own forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You. – Psalm 84:12

Statements of Praise

 

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. – (Psalm 107:8, NIV)

Thank the Lord for His faithful love and for the amazing things He does for people. – (Psalm 107:8, ERV)

So lift your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all His miracles of mercy for those He loves. – (Psalm 107:8, TPT)

 

Any time that there is repetition in scripture, I recognize the need to take notice. In this particular Psalm, the same sentence is repeated four times by David, as he tells of a long list of God’s faithfulness to those who belonged to Him. I imagine many of us, particularly in this season, could create our own list of ways that God has shown His unfailing love and mercy, and follow each remembrance with a statement of praise. For me, in spite of much heaviness that has found our household this year, there has been in equal measure, God’s faithful provision, joy, peace, comfort, and abundant blessing. Perhaps it is why I so often find myself settling in the Psalms, as David understood the highest heights and the deepest depths, yet sought the Lord and praised Him through it all. He was human and fell short, yet searched for God, and was receptive to the Lord’s correcting and redirecting as he continued to move forward and give thanks. May we ever give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His miracles of mercy that He pours out upon those whom He calls His own.

 

When life knocks us down,Statements of Praise

Takes wind from our sails;

The Lord’s love and grace,

Comes near, never fails.

In seasons of loss,

Struggle and heartache;

The Lord’s love remains,

And miracles take.

Where blessings abound,

And grace is made known;

Again, it’s God’s love,

And His power shown.

Rise up and give thanks,

For love that won’t end;

For wonderful deeds,

That move God’s love in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and for the wonderful things that You do for those who follow You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and move mightily on our behalf. Thank You that Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Forgive us for allowing discouragement or sorrow to cause us to question Your love or care for us. Teach us to trust You through every high and low, as You remain present through all things at all times. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may make Your unfailing love and marvelous kindness tangible in spaces where it is difficult to access. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your unfailing love and Your miraculous deeds, done on our behalf. Amen.

 

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

 

Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious name. – 1 Chronicles 29:13

The Power of Praise and Worship

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

Let the teaching of Christ live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – (Colossians 3:16, ERV)

Remember what Christ taught, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, TLB)

 

On Sunday, a friend of mine, who happens to be our worship pastor, appropriately spoke about the power of praise and worship. She gave several examples in scripture where it specifically calls us to praise and worship. Next, she defined praise as the expression of admiration, thanks, appreciation and approval for all that God has done. Worship, she explained was an attitude of the heart that should be reserved for God alone; the surrendering of every part of our lives to God’s control. As I went about my day yesterday, I mulled over the words she had spoken. I was intentional in my music selection as I went about my day, both driving and when I slowed down to work on a seated task. The three main benefits found in worship and praise are: 1) It realigns our focus on God. 2) It increases our awareness of God’s presence. 3) It pushes back darkness.

For me, I found all three to be true, as I had discovered myself frustrated and in a less than stellar space having spent the morning cleaning, only to happen upon sugar ants in my kitchen cupboards. After having cleaned out and throwing away many things, I left to spend time in our new home. While seated on the couch writing thank you notes, I selected some of my favorite praise and worship music to listen to. In the process of writing out notes of gratitude and hearing lyrics that gave God glory, my irritation was erased and I found thankfulness overflowing from my heart. The simple act of writing out thanks with music that set my heart right, realigned my focus on the blessings that God has granted, made me aware of His love for me, and pushed back the darkness that had attempted make way through my frustration. God is good and He is faithful to meet us and set our hearts right as we seek Him. May we ever offer our praise to He alone who is worthy, allowing our every breath and heartbeat to worship our Maker.

 

Let all that we know, The Power of Praise and Worship

Of Christ come and dwell;

In our hearts and minds,

As our lives shall tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Sing of His great grace;

With thanks, choose worship,

Both now and always.

For songs sung to God,

With hearts fixed on Him;

Chase away darkness,

And let His light in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of praise and worship. Thank You that we are called to do both. Thank You that as we do, our hearts are realigned and we become more aware of You. Thank You that worship and praise push back darkness and allow Your light to fill us again. Forgive us for allowing the chaos and challenges to avert our focus from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise with a song in our hearts, reminding us of the goodness of Your love and Your power within us as we praise You. Show us how to love those around us as we walk out our days as an offering of praise and worship unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise with hearts set to worship You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

 

 

How to Love

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. – (John 15:12, NLT)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, NIV)

So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, TPT)

 

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” in my Bible app to find out how frequently the word appears in scripture. Six-hundred and eighty-six results were found for a quick, one-word search in the book that God has given us as a guide to follow for living according to His will. Though I am not completely certain, I imagine that it is one of the more often occurring words found in scripture, as it was deemed the greatest command by Jesus, Himself – to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. If we love each other the same way that we are loved by God, that is an even clearer picture of how we are meant to extend grace and choose love, even when it is difficult to do. Loving deeply is a choice, rather than a feeling, and it is about the person, not the words or deeds that they do or do not display. Personally, I am eternally grateful for this, as I have been blessed with family and friends who have shown me love like this. Even at my worst, they choose to love, which in turn, challenges my heart to rise up and choose likewise, bringing forth the same for others. We are ever a work in progress and will fall short and fail to love as we are loved by God. However, He is good, and His grace covers our short-comings as we choose to walk in humility with one another. May we set our sights on loving one another deeply, just as we are loved by God, according to His command.

 

Commanded to love, Enter With Thanksgiving

As loved by the Lord;

Deeply with all grace,

His goodness outpoured.

We are called to choose,

To love others well;

For as we extend,

Lacking space dispels.

Let us offer love,

As we’ve been given;

For goodness does spread,

When love’s our mission.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us so completely and without prerequisites. Forgive us for the times that we have placed limits or conditions on love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love each other in the same way that You have loved us. Show us how to love those around us according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us love each other as You love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

The Will of the Word

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ERV)

Every Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CEB)

 

Instruction manuals make navigation through uncharted territory manageable. Whether it is a map to aid in finding a destination, directions as to how to construct something new, or simply a set of expectations and guidelines in a place of employment, each serves a purpose to provide necessary information to navigate successfully. The Bible has the same purpose for our everyday lives. There are so many things that we stumble upon that may at first appear uncertain, yet when we seek the Lord and read His word, we soon discover that there is a direction that we are meant to go with all things. Despite having been written so many generations ago, the lessons we can glean from Scriptures are timeless. May we ever turn to the Lord in trust, and invest time in His word so that we will know how we are meant to live well.

 

May we turn in trust, The Word of God

To God and His word;

To know what is right,

To test what is heard.

For Holy Scriptures,

Are useful indeed;

To teach and to train,

To His will, we heed.

Let us keep seeking,

What God has to say;

So we may do well,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word. Thank You that we can turn to You and read Your Word to know how to live according to Your will. Thank You that all Scripture is given by You to help us live well. Forgive us for neglecting to invest time in Your word, or for ignoring the truth that we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hear all that You say and walk in Your way, as we are equipped to do good work. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your Word, and allow You to train us and equip us to do good things according to Your perfect will. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Known and Loved

I look at the heavens You made with Your hands. I see the moon and the stars You created. And I wonder, “Why are people so important to You? Why do You even think about them? Why do You care about them? Why do You care so much about humans? Why do You even notice them?” – (Psalm 8:3-4, ERV)

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? – (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

 

God, the Creator of the entire Universe, cares for us, individually. That is an astounding and overwhelming thought. Our mere mortal minds can hardly fathom such care and concern from One so great. Fortunately, there are examples throughout scripture that make this love a bit more conceivable. His great love rescues, is good, is merciful, is unfailing, works all things together for good, is gracious, surpasses all understanding, and endures forever. He is our Father and we are His children. Just as we love our own children fiercely, so too does the Father love each of us. We are flawed and sinful, and yet we still love our children with our whole heart. Imagine the depth and breadth of the Father’s love, as He is perfect, and who He is, is love. May we go forth this day seeking to soak in a bit more of the lavish love of the Lord. As we continue to gain greater glimpses of who He is and how He loves, may we go forth and love likewise.

 

Oh what love is this,Delivering Dreams

That considers me?

The very same God,

Who called all to be.

When I see the moon,

The stars in the sky;

I gaze up in awe,

He love me, but why?

God loves His children,

All created ones;

His heart is for us,

May Thy will be done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You, the Creator of all things, love each of us, individually. Thank You that not one of us goes unnoticed nor unloved. Forgive us for not recognizing the depth and breadth of Your care for each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to the truth of Your word, and trust You to lead us and guide us all of our days in Your love. Show us how to love those around us, so that they may come to know their significance to You and the world around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of Your lavish love, and receive all that You give so that we may give likewise. Amen.

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

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

Love Remains Present

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – (Romans 12:15, NLT)

When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too. – (Romans 12:15, ERV)

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. – (Romans 12:15, MSG)

 

Part of loving well is walking alongside those around us, no matter what state they are in. If a person is happy and has reason to celebrate, we ought to join them in expressing joy. When we encounter the sorrowful, it is not our job to fix them, but rather to sit beside them in the midst of their pain and be present. Remarkably, when happiness is shared, it miraculously feels multiplied; yet when sadness and sorrow is shared by someone who comes and sits in the space alongside the suffering, the weight of the ache is lessened somehow. God intended us to be in community. So much of scripture directs us as to how to be in relationship with one another, and to function as a body of believers. Two are better than one… A three-strand cord is not easily broken… There are countless references reminding us that we are not meant to do this life alone. May we place our trust in He who walks beside us in joy and pain, and go forth with intent to do the same.

 

Choose to celebrateThe Benefit of Broken Barriers

Those with happiness;

Share space of sadness,

With ones in a mess.

For God walks beside,

And ever stays near;

Present in weeping,

And likewise in cheer.

We have been chosen,

As community;

To love as Christ loves,

For His love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to be happy with those who are happy, and to weep with those who weep, but You sent Your Son to show us what it looks like to love like that. Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to love without limits, despite what You were going through and the things that surrounded You. Forgive us for making excuses as to why we just cannot get involved when things seem to messy or emotional. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remain present with those whom You have placed in our lives, no matter what comes their way. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are happy with those who are happy, and share tears with those who are down. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

What Love Is and Is Not

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, NLT)

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-6, CEB)

 

As various forms of media flood our minds with images of what love might look like, it is good to go back to the place where we find the truth. God is the author and creator of love, as He loved so much that He sent His Son to make the way for us to be restored back to right relationship with Him. God Himself, is love. Paul unpacks for us, one of the most well-known and utilized chapters in scripture, as he wrote to the church in Corinth to help them understand what love is meant to be. His description set the standard for how we are meant to love well, and helps us examine our own hearts as we look to give and receive love. There is a vast difference between love and lust. Love looks outward, not in. Love is a choice to be patient, kind and giving without expectation of anything in return. Additionally, Paul unpacks for us, the things that love is not. If we want to truly love others, we must let go of jealousy, arrogance, rudeness, irritation, complaints, complacency, and the desire to look out for ourselves first. Jesus made it known to us that our charge as His children is to love God and love people. When we are at a loss as to how we are meant to love, His word shows us the way. May we choose to love others as we are loved by God, and let His light be evident in our every word and deed.

 

The great love of God,Tether Our Hearts

Is patient and kind;

Not jealous or rude,

Keeps others in mind.

Love will not demand,

To have its own way;

It sets pride aside,

Will help, not delay.

No records of wrong,

Nor irritation;

Instead seeks justice,

Truth as it’s station.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to love You and love people, but You unpack for us in Your Word, what is required. Thank You that we are not expected to love as You love on our own, but rather You strengthen and equip us by Your Spirit. Forgive us for allowing the world to dictate to our hearts and minds what love ought to be, and help us to view love through Your lens; always. Show us how to be patient and kind, even when it is difficult. Lead us to love others, seeking their good, rather than our own benefit. May many come to know You as their Savior and true Source of lasting love. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to love as we are loved. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15