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.

 

When we seek and ask, wp-15851392426449182429092488658083.jpg

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

Our Oasis

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” – (Matthew 11:28, TPT)

 

And there is a resounding “yes”, followed by a heavy sigh and a bit of coughing. Weary indeed… The heavy burdens I continually attempt to lay down, yet somehow, I seem to find new weights that have managed to be slung on my shoulders. Each morning, I rise with intention, to seek the Lord and give all to Him. He promises to give rest and refreshment, and an oasis sounds blissful about now. This is where trust must enter in.  At times, the provision is the supplication of what we need for the day to make it through. There are other times, when we find ourselves smack dab in the center of an oasis, after what has felt like an eternity in the desert. God knows what we need and when we need it most. He provides and sustains, refreshes and grants rest. Today, I am trusting Him for what I need to navigate this day, and looking forward to some much-needed rest, that is yet to come. May we ever seek the Lord when we are weary and heavy burdened, for He will walk beside us and grant us rest.

 

Jesus tells us, “Come”,Our Oasis

Bring burdens to Me;

Lay heaviness down,

Set all at His feet.

For He is our Source,

Strength, hope, life and light;

Who grants us the rest,

To stay in the fight.

His hands can hold us,

When our strength is gone;

He’s our oasis,

His love makes us strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. Thank You that You call us to bring our burdens to You; for You are willing and able to carry the load that we were never meant to bear. Thank You that You provide rest and refreshment when we are weary and worn. Forgive us for growing weary in our resolve to keep seeking Your help when all is heavy. Teach us how to lay down the burdens that we are not even aware we are shouldering. Show us how to come alongside those around us, to love, encourage and lift up, so that they may know Your refreshment. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You and lay our burdens before You, seeking You for real rest. Amen.

 

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

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

Love Fulfills the Law

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, NIV)

The law says, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder anyone, you must not steal, you must not want what belongs to someone else.” All these commands and all other commands are really only one rule: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, ERV)

For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” and every other commandment can be summed up in these words: “Love and value others the same way you love and value yourself.” Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires. – (Romans 13:9-10, TPT)

 

This really sums up so much. Our charge, our call, our purpose, above all else, is to LOVE. If we truly love as God intended, we are obeying and honoring God, and showing the world what love really means. The “Golden Rule” is similarly based on this sort of love. To do unto others as we want done unto us, is the same as loving our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t that what everyone ultimately desires? To love and be loved in return? It is no surprise that the longing within us aligns with the intent and purpose for which we were created. It is the most difficult to love when the recipient of our choice to love does not do the same in return. However, we are called to love anyway. Often, the repeated extension of kindness breaks down the barriers that are blocking another from receiving or giving love. Once they begin to see, know and understand that it is genuine, they become more willing to receive and return what is given. May we ever choose to love others as we desire to be loved; for this is what we are called and commanded to do.

 

Choose love each other, Ambassadors of Love

As we’d like love back;

For this is our charge,

To do as God asks.

All those whom we meet,

Are neighbors indeed;

Ready for kindness,

Love’s a human need.

Each time that we choose,

To give love away;

We’re following God,

For love is His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank You that You do not just command it, but You have shown us again and again what it is to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You would want us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend kindness, mercy and grace, even in the face of adversity and ugliness. Show us how to love all of those You have placed around us in ways that make Your heart tangible to them, individually. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others as You call us to love. 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

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

Steadfast Solitude

At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. – (Luke 4:42a, NIV)

The next day Jesus went to a place to be alone. – (Luke 4:42a, ERV)

Early the next morning Jesus went out to an isolated place. – (Luke 4:42a, NLT)

 

The fourth chapter of Luke begins with Jesus being led through the wilderness on His own, where He was tempted by the devil after forty days of fasting. Each time Jesus is tempted, He refutes the temptation with the truth of God’s word. The next portion of chapter four speaks of the various synagogues where Jesus spoke and taught and healed. By the time we reach verse forty-two, it only makes sense that Jesus would get away to pray and recharge, as people were constantly seeking to be in His presence. If Jesus, who is God in flesh, prioritized making time and finding space to be alone and pray, shouldn’t we? As an educator, coach, mom and a wife, I love hard, yet often feel spent by the end of the day. For me, creating space early each morning to rise, refresh and reset with my Redeemer, makes all of the difference. My day begins new, as I am recharged and reminded of what matters most before I actually encounter other humans. I know early mornings are not for everyone, but time and space to reset with God, ought to be. He is always available and willing to meet us where we are, and leads us to become more of who He has created us to become. His love fills us and His light shines through us, if only we choose to find time and space to be in His presence. May we be intentional to find solitude with God, so that we may reset and be refreshed, ever becoming more of who He has created us to be, so that we might love Him and love people well.

 

A time to reset, Hope in Discouragement

In the Lord’s presence;

Sets our hearts and minds,

With grace and reverence.

To be at our best,

We need solitude;

Time alone with God,

Align attitudes.

May we choose find time,

And create a space;

Be in God’s presence,

So we show His grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus showed us that it ought to be a priority to seek time alone with You. Thank You that as we do, You meet us where we are and change us from the inside out. Thank You that Your heart for us is full of love and grace, and You fill us so that we may extend the same to those around us as we see Your face. Forgive us for not being intentional to seek time with You. Help us to discover the value of intentional solitude in Your presence. Show us how to love those around us in ways that clearly demonstrate Your goodness and grace, tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You anew this morning, and praise You for Your faithfulness to meet us each time we seek. Amen.

 

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

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29

Be Willing

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. – (Matthew 3:15, NIV)

Jesus answered, “Let it be this way for now. We should do whatever God says is right.” Then John agreed. – (Matthew 3:15, ERV)

But Jesus said, “Please do it, for I must do all that is right.” So then John baptized Him. – (Matthew 3:15, TLB)

 

This verse is part of the story of when Jesus went to the Jordan River, where John the Baptist was baptizing people, in order to be baptized. At first, John tried to dissuade Him, for he felt the roles should be reversed. John understood who Jesus was, and did not feel worthy to fulfill such a significant role in the life of the Savior. However, Jesus let John know that it was an act of obedience to God. With that in mind, John’s mind quickly changed and he somberly moved forward in fulfilling that which was being asked of him. Because John was willing, he also was witness to heaven opening and the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus, with a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” One act of willing obedience, despite it not making sense, led to a tremendous blessing that few were privileged to see. God still works the same way with us. Often, He calls us to things that seem strange or beyond our capacity, yet when we rise up and move forward in faith, we discover more of who He is and how much He loves. May we ever choose to do all that is right, according to what God asks of us; even when it does not make sense or is far beyond our capacity to complete on our own. God is faithful, and He does not lead us anywhere that He will not also meet us and see us through.

 

Be willing to walk,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Into the brand new;

Despite how it seems,

God will see us through.

For He will not call,

Us where He won’t lead;

He supplies us strength,

And grace to succeed.

For in Christ there’s more,

Than our hearts can dream;

We have to choose trust,

In Him we’re redeemed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us into new things that are beyond what we think we can do. Thank You that in You, we are granted the strength, wisdom, grace and help we need to keep moving forward in all that is asked of us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as we look at what we can see, rather than who You are. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how love, encourage and support those around us in the same way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading and move forward into the new that You call us to. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. – Psalm 106:3

The New is Here

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, ERV)

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun! – (2 Corinthians 5:17, VOICE)

 

Today is the beginning of a new day, a new month, a new year, and a new decade! Seldom do we have similar spaces of new. Incredibly, when we are in Christ, we are made new every morning as we depend on Him. The more we choose to lean in and listen to His leading, the more He shapes us into who we were created to become. God is ever making us new. Daily, we have new opportunities to allow Him to write the pages of our story. He takes the ashes of the past and turns them into something new and beautiful and helpful to those around us; if we are willing. Our age, occupation, marital status, and the like, matter not when it comes to what Christ can do to bring the new. He grants fresh starts, new life, more hope, extra strength and increased tenacity to traverse into the new to which He calls us into. May we find the courage to let go of the past and press forward in faith, allowing God to make all things new – both within us and through us.

Yesterday provided a glimpse into the new that God can do for Mom. For the first time since her stroke, Mom was able to actually shop for clothes and things that she might enjoy. It may seem insignificant, but for her, it was a joy and a sort of return to something that felt normal. We went to Fred Meyer and determined to give the motorized carts a try. There were many giggles and was much joy as mom figured out how to drive the scooter and navigate her way through the store. It may have been a bit of a comedy act as I rolled clothing racks around to make way for Mama Andretti, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and she found a few items that she will very much enjoy wearing. The cane is now her only aid used for walking, and she is one motivated lady! God is doing a new thing in her, as her strength and resolve continue to leave me in awe. I cannot wait to see what God does in the coming year for Mom, as she continues to gain strength and mobility, ever working toward reclaiming her independence.

 

May the things of old, Taking Courage in Trials

Be given to God;

For He will make new,

In love, He responds.

The Lord brings beauty,

From ashes, despair;

Brings hope where there’s none,

He’s always aware.

Watch in the waiting,

Trust and you will see;

God making all new,

Possibilities.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we come to You and trust in You, You are ever making us new. Thank You that You are always moving on our behalf, bringing forth the new for us to walk forward. Thank You that Your presence is unending and Your love never fails. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Teach us to trust in the new that You are doing both in us and for us; for You are always good. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we can contribute to the new that You intend in their lives too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for the new that You are bringing forth in the coming year. Amen.

 

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

 

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