The Blessing of Rain

He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. – (Psalm 147:8, NIV)

He fills the sky with clouds. He sends rain to the earth. He makes the grass grow on the mountains. – (Psalm 147:8, ERV)

He fills the sky with clouds, sending showers to water the earth so that grass springs up on the mountain fields and the earth produces food for man. – (Psalm 147:8, TPT)

 

We have been blessed with beautiful weather the last two weeks, which considering our “stay at home” status, has been extra beneficial. There is something about having sunrays streaming in through windows, and the light shining through the burly branches of the evergreen trees in our backyard, that lifts my countenance and bring me joy, simply at the sight of sunshine. This morning, I was almost surprised to see drizzle, darkness and damp, blanketing the scene out back through my kitchen window. At first, I felt my heart sink a little, as I inwardly groaned at the limitations it could cause for our day. After I made a bit of breakfast and sat down with my coffee, I thought it best to turn to the word and remind myself of the reason for rain. The first verse that captured my attention to remind me again of the beauty of rain, was the above-mentioned verse from Psalm 147. Rain is supplied to us to water the earth. It helps grass and crops grow, and where we live, keeps everything beautiful and green. Because rain is abundant in the Northwest, we seldom have to think about watering grass or plants outdoors, as rain takes care of it for us. After the simple reminder, I looked again and noticed how much greener the trees and the grass appear, when freshly covered in rain. Another great thing about rain this morning is that it will wash away the build-up of pollen everywhere. Atop of cars, roads, decks, trees, stoops, and basically anything outdoors, there has been a thick coating of yellow-green dust that clings to everything. One good round of rain clears the pollen and refreshes the air, so that allergy sufferers may breathe more freely, once again. For a bit of humor, my husband just woke and walked upstairs, looked out into the backyard, and said, “Oh man, rain. Really?” I giggled to myself, as I think we had similar hopes of outdoor activities for the day. God is good, and so is the rain. We will take the watering of the earth, the clearing of the pollen, and appreciate all the sunshine that we have had so many days in a row. May we find the good in whatever comes, for God is faithful to provide in every season.

 

When clouds fill the sky,wp-15872244864286637822912657625399.jpg

And the rains do come;

Know they have purpose,

There’s good to be done.

As rain waters earth,

Grass and the crops grow;

Providing for us,

God’s faithfulness shown.

Lord help us recall,

The blessing of rain;

As Your love’s outpoured,

We all stand to gain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You send Your rain to water the earth and wash away what does not need to remain. Thank You that You do the same for our hearts as we call on You and seek Your guidance in all things. Forgive us for our frustration with things that are much bigger than ourselves, as You have purpose in all things. Teach us to trust You and rely on You to order our days, as You lead us and love us through every sort of weather. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage each, so that they come to understand how showered in love they are by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give Your praise for the rain that waters the earth, and thank You for the sunshine that follows. Amen.

 

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

 

I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. – Leviticus 26:4

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

 

 

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23