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

 

 

Willing Hearts and Hands

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, NIV)

So remember that the Lord your God is the only God, and you can trust Him! He keeps His agreement. He shows His love and kindness to all people who love Him and obey His commands. He continues to show His love and kindness through a thousand generations. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, ERV)

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands. – (Deuteronomy 7:9, NLT)

 

God is love. He is faithful to show His unfailing love to all who choose to love Him and seek to keep His commands. If we are loving God and loving people, we are actively and intentionally obeying all that He asks. Our decision to do so does not mean that we will have a life free from trial or pain, but it does mean that we will have the faithful love of the eternal God for now and in all of life that is yet to come. May we ever remember that the Lord is our God whom we can trust, as He keeps His word and shows love and kindness to all who love and obey Him.

 

The Lord is our God,

img_2019-03-28_04-47-58351761552074302753.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

In whom we can trust;

His promise to love,

Forever for us.

All who choose to love,

And obey as asked;

Know unfailing love,

That will always last.

So, keep His commands,

For they’re about love;

Love God and people,

His grace is enough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love. Thank You that You show love and kindness to all who seek You and obey what You ask. Thank You that Your presence is promised for all time. Forgive us for the times that we are less than loving or do not recognize Your nearness. Please remind our hearts of Your nearness and fill us with Your love for those around us. Show us how to love You and those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love and obey Your leading with willing hearts and hands. Amen.

 

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

 

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

Love Each Other

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, NIV)

That is how much God loved us, dear friends! So we also must love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, ERV)

Delightfully loved ones, if He loved us with such tremendous love, then “loving one another” should be our way of life! No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes His permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in Him, and His love is brought to its full expression in us. – (1 John 4:11-12, TPT)

 

Because we are loved, we too, are called to love one another. Though no one has seen God face-to-face, each time we are met with His love through others, we catch glimpses of His heart for us. God calls us to love one another so that His love may be made known to those around us. When we choose to love, we are allowing God’s love to be made complete in us and through us, exactly as He intended. May we love others as we are loved by God, and allow His love to be brought to its full expression in us.

As for Mom, I know she is feeling His love for her as well. The other day when I called, she was surrounded by some of her dearest friends, who were over for a visit. June, her bestie, sent a text to my sister and me, and it included the photo I am including. The sheer joy on Mom’s face makes the love that she is receiving, evident. Yes, there will be adjusting to a new space and new schedule, but the beauty of being back in her own community far outweighs any challenge presented by the new.

 

We all are well loved, wp-15821165148995020299889094046902.jpg

By the Lord on high;

Just as He loves us,

We too, must supply.

Supply well His grace,

As we choose to love;

Let Him work through us,

In Him, there’s enough.

Enough to reach out,

And love anyway;

To help, extend hope,

Show His heart each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You supply us with all that we need to love as You love us. Thank You that You call and equip us to love like You. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be led in all things and at all times by Your unfailing love. Show us how to love those around us in every situation and circumstance, according to Your perfect plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love that You have to offer so that we can go forth and love like You. 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, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

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

 

 

Thankful for Blessings

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)

 

Whenever the verse of the day comes from the Psalms, I seldom read just the one in which the verse is found. The raw and real that reads like poetry, speak clearly to my heart. As I somehow found myself in Psalm 107, after having begun in 97, I discovered that the words written in verse eight, are repeated three more times in the same Psalm. Any time there is repetition in scripture, it is a clear indicator to pay attention and take note. I appreciate how each of the various translations unpack a slightly different aspect of the truth of God and why we ought to give Him thanks. Unfailing love, wonderful deeds for mankind, faithful love, amazing things for people, marvelous kindness, and miracles of mercy for those He loves, are the specific reasons to give thanks to the Lord, all found in one verse that is repeated three times in a single chapter. Personally, it would take little time to fill an entire page with examples of God’s faithful love and the amazing things that He does for people. I have been both the recipient and an observer, and am equally blessed in knowing the powerful love that fuels such wonderful deeds for humankind. May we ever give thanks to God, for He is faithful and loving and His willingness to extend His marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy to those He loves, never ends.

Yesterday marked the one-week countdown for Mom, before she moves into her next leg of her healing journey. There has been much prayer, preparation and discussion to reach this step of her path, so all encouragement is wonderful and welcome. As with anything new, there are concerns and hesitation; primarily due to change. The struggle comes when those on the outside begin to question decisions that were made with confident faith in Christ, and the determination and resolve begin to waver. For Mom and the immediate family, loving support and encouragement will be the most helpful as the new comes into fruition. Thank you in advance, for all who have been and continue to pray, for we anticipate amazing things in the coming weeks and months! God’s marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy have been present every step of the way so far, and we look forward with faith, to all of the blessings He has in store for Mom that are yet to come.

 

May we choose give thanks, Pleased with Good Plans

To You, Lord above;

For wonderful deeds,

You’ve done in Your love.

For kindness and grace,

We give You thanks too;

With all that we are,

We lift praise to You.

For great miracles,

That make Your heart known;

Thankfulness we bring,

For blessings You’ve shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful love that extends kindness and mercy, goodness and grace, for all of our days. Thank You that Your love for us is greater than our hearts can even begin to comprehend. Forgive us for doubting Your care, concern or nearness when times are trying. Teach us to trust that You are present and moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see what You are doing. Show us how to love those around us through every season and struggle that we walk through. Let Your kindness be evident in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithful love and incredible blessings, as You move in our lives and on our behalf. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

With Justice and Kindness

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

 

Good begets good, and you reap what you sow. This particular verse in Proverbs reminds us of the importance of doing what is right. The challenge is that the reward of goodness, honor and respect are not always evident when we pursue the path marked by a righteousness and love that is ever seeking to do good and be faithful in all things. We live in a broken world, surrounded by people who are hurting. Often, even when goodness, faithfulness and kindness are extended, hurting people hurt the people that they need the most. We need to love anyway. It does not mean that we need to be a doormat or allow things that should not be so to continue, but it does mean that our charge is to keep pursuing justice and treat others with kindness, each day that we draw breath. May we ever be a people who pursue righteousness and do good, so that all may come to know the goodness and love that God freely gives.

 

Justice and mercy, What Gift Shall I Give

Are love’s true pursuit;

Extending kindness,

Godly attribute.

For as we love well,

We make God’s grace known;

The same is returned,

This is how good’s grown.

God will empower,

Our hearts to choose love;

As to Him we turn,

And trust God above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue justice and kindness, You faithfully honor our seeking. Thank You that even when we cannot see or understand the impact of choosing to extend good to others, You use it for Your glory. Forgive us for our frustration with those who are hurting and behave poorly toward us or others. Please grant us wisdom and insight as to how to navigate best in love. Show us how to love all those around us well, especially those in need of kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue to live justly and extend kindness, everywhere we go. Amen.

 

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

 

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you. – Hosea 10:12

Faithfully and Unfailingly Forever

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love. – (Psalm 33:4-5, NIV)

The Lord’s word is true, and He is faithful in everything He does. He loves goodness and justice. The Lord’s faithful love fills the earth. – (Psalm 33:4-5, ERV)

For the word of the Eternal is perfect and true; His actions are always faithful and right. He loves virtue and equity; the Eternal’s love fills the whole earth. – (Psalm 33:4-5, VOICE)

 

No matter what goes on around us, the truth of who God is, remains. God’s word is right and true, as it reveals the heart of God to us, and helps direct our steps in the ways that we are meant to go. Faithfulness is synonymous with God, as He will never leave us nor forsake us. He loves goodness and justice, and empowers those who seek Him to live accordingly. The Father’s love is everywhere, if we only slow down and open our eyes to see. May we ever be people who pursue the heart of God, so that we may display His goodness, faithfulness and love through our every word and deed.

 

The word of the Lord,The Lens of Love

Is perfect and true;

He’s always faithful,

As His love shines through.

Throughout the whole earth,

God’s love is made known;

As goodness and grace,

Are lovingly shown.

May we ever choose,

Invest in His word;

Invite God to move,

So His heart is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are truth and You are love. Thank You that You love righteous and justice, and that You are faithful in all that You do. Thank You that the evidence of Your unfailing love is everywhere. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked any of these things that You are always willing to give, if only we choose to seek You. Teach us to trust and turn to You in all things and at all times, so that no matter what lies before us, love will direct our steps. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in the truth of who You are and how You love faithfully and unfailingly, forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. – Psalm 90:14

Generous and Active Love

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all those who call to You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

 

On mornings like this, it is so good to open up my reading for the day and be reminded of who God is and how generously and actively He loves. Love, as God intended, is not a feeling, but it is alive and active. Love forgives, extends goodness, is loyal and generous to all. I am amazed at how quickly He reminds me of His love when I find myself in a space in need of grace. This week has been extraordinarily long, as it is the final week of the semester. Add to that the last meet of the regular season for high school gymnastics and preparations required for the start of middle school season, as well as the ongoing post-season for high school, and I have felt a bit flooded. Kids in classes have been extra stirred up, and the pressure to make certain final submissions of projects are completed, only added to the angst. After practice yesterday afternoon, followed by a run in the pouring rain, I was so grateful to be showered in goodness and grace with a brief dinner escape with my love. The opportunity to connect and catch up after the crazy that the week contained, reminded me of God’s goodness and mercy for me. He provides what we need, when we need it most, and He holds our hearts in His hands, if we are willing to grant Him permission. Each time we call on Him for help, it is an affirmation of our trust in Christ. He hears and knows, and is ready to meet us with His love that is alive and active, ever moving on our behalf. May we call on Christ in faith, trusting in His goodness and grace; for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

The Lord is so good, Generous and Active Love

Abounding in love;

A heart set to give,

All who seek above.

He’s mercy and grace,

Ready to forgive;

Those who call on Him,

Know love as they live.

Faithful forever,

God’s goodness abounds;

Seek Him to find Him,

Where new life is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You show us what love means through Your example. Thank You that as we call on You, we come to know Your goodness, forgiveness, help and love that floods our hearts and lives as we seek You. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust when we grow weary or are at our wits end. Teach us to call out to You, for You are faithful forever. Show us how to love those around us with the same generosity and grace that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and recognize the abounding love that surrounds us as we seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

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

Choose Praise

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … for the Mighty One has done great things for me – Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46,47 & 49, NIV)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy. – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, ERV)

Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, VOICE)

 

I observe in awe and wonder, the heart of Mary, as she focused on the gift and the honor for which she had been chosen, rather than the stigma and challenges that would come with what was being asked of her. She trusted God, and praised Him. In this season, and always, I desire to have a heart like hers. God has done incredibly great things for me, and I know with all that I am, that He indeed, is holy. When challenges come, I desire for my focus to be on glorifying God for who He is, so that I may rejoice in Him, rather than my circumstances. As we walk into the wearying last week before break, may we look to the Lord and celebrate all that He has done. May praise be present within me, as I know the true joy in who He is and how He loves so well.

 

I choose praise the Lord,

With all of my heart;

Celebrate His grace,

And strength He imparts.

So many great things,

The Lord does in love;

Worthy of our praise,

All gifts from above.

He’s mighty to save,

And faithful to show;

The mercy we need,

As His blessings flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have unending reasons to glorify You and rejoice in Your Mighty Name. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You love us with an unfailing love. Forgive us for doubting the depths of Your love and care when life takes difficult turns. Teach us to trust You more, as You know the outcome and walk beside us each step of life’s journey. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we extend grace and strength and hope to those who are lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise, our Savior, who does great things for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34