Hope to the Valleys

Shepherd“The Lord is my shepherd, i lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. he guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” {Psalm 23 NIV}

His goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. There is no sometimes clause, no sometimes I will be good to you sometimes I won’t. This is the comfort of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He loves, he cares and he will never leave. The Shepherd is the stronger one, he is the one who keeps safe those belonging to him.

He is not far off, and he shows me where to tread, it is not a surprise to him because he is guiding. He has purposed my steps and my life, and will use everything for good. There is no story outside of his care. No road walked that he has not traveled alongside, no path worn that he has not carried me through. He is the Shepherd that is walking me onward, leading me to rest, all the way home.

In this beautiful shepherd song he does not only promise the green pastures, beautiful ground rich with the image of peace and goodness. He does this incredible thing of making what is dark, and has every reason to cause fear, safe – because he is there. He promises not to leave, to stay and bring comfort and security even in the valley moments.

Wherever I go, his goodness and love pursue me. He blesses my days, even the days of challenge, perhaps on those days even more. For on those days I see him most clearly, I see that in those stories he is strong enough to be the one who holds, bringing light in the darkness, and in so doing brings hope.

The Chief Shepherd is the one who comes low to walk with his people. He does not stay far off, he journeys with his people, for he loves them. This is the story of a Shepherd King who brings hope to the valleys.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x 

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 21 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

This Treasure of Grace

Flower Gift“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of god – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” {Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV}

We are not saved by them, but we are made for them. Our hearts long to do good work. To work in line with the purposes created within us that stir us to good action. That which calls us to stand on behalf of the homeless, the oppressed, the refugee, the broken. The calling to love and bring blessing to others, to give kindness and mercy to those who may even have hurt us, to give generously. To walk beside friends and family cheering them on as they run their race, to encourage and build others up so that they can be all they were made to be. To bring peace and joy to those we meet and are yet to meet, to offer shelter and exuberant hospitality.

All from a  gift. Given because the one who made us is good. This gift of Jesus that was completely His doing and not my own. This treasure of grace that says, you can be friends with the one whom your soul longs for, there is nothing that can be done to earn it, to him this faith, this relationship is a gift and it is completely from him. And yet this beautiful salvation gift, not only saves me for life forever with him, but is the very thing that stands my heart, my mind and my courage to attention. Help and grace are needed. He calls this beautiful action, as we see others in need, stirring our hearts as he is stirred. Positioning his people to be his bearers of grace.

As we live close to the one who is good, we are made strong to live a life that brings honor to him.  As we draw close to Him, knowing more of Him and every great thing He has done, good works become an outpouring in our life in the strength of the Spirit.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x 

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 20 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

In Faith

Faith is Confidence“Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” {Hebrews 11:1 NIV}

Faith in the end is an act of confident courage. A bold decision to BELIEVE and TRUST. Faith is this wonderful life altering position; it is a humble act that says I don’t have all the answers, there are some things I cannot see, but I know enough and I am stepping out with all I have. I am all in. 

From the first act of Faith that says this Jesus who has met me right where I am, in faith I will follow Him. I will trust Him that He is all He says he is, Lord, King, Savior, Friend, God. In Faith I give all that I have to Follow the one who gave all that he had for me. In Faith I believe what I cannot see. In Faith I believe that all I hope for, every promise is sure and I can trust His Faithfulness.

In Faith I believe that he made me on purpose, that He loves me and as I walk with Him I trust there are greater days ahead. In faith I believe that He did not save me to leave me, I believe that he has a calling for me to live like Him in this world, and as part of His church I have a uniquely crafted place where I can serve, bringing life and love to a people and world that God so loves. In faith I believe that as I live out my God given calling He will work and make the offering fruitful.

In Faith I believe that He is for me, that He loves me and that He has my life for eternity in His safe hands. In Faith I Believe that Jesus is my greatest treasure, even though I have not seen Him, In Faith I am confident that one day  I will see him face to face.

In Faith I believe that there is so much more than what I can see.

Love, Grace and Faith for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

  This is Day 18 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

My Soul’s Anchor

We Have This Hope

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19a NIV

Held firm and secure unswayed by the storm, established and purposed, forever secure in Jesus. He is the anchor of our eternity, the anchor of our relationship with the God of Heaven. This incredible promise of faithfulness to keep us forever safe in Him.  In His strength and forever promise keeping he holds on and holds firm, he will not let go, the one who calms storms, cannot be shaken, and as he stands firm, he holds us firm, every weakness made strong in Him. Our life anchored to the Forever Saving One is eternally unshakable.

“but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through Him; because He always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 6:24-25 NIV

He is the anchor because He lives forever, and he lives to intercede for us. This simply blows my mind. He loves to, He lives to intercede for me. He has made a way for me to be forever friends with God. This is what gives deep soul rest, deep security, deep strength.

Because whatever comes my way, whatever trial, whatever storm, whatever hardship, whatever loss, whatever is broken, lost or hurt, one thing will always remain. I am forever Loved by the Saving King of Kings and HE does not change. He Holds on to me, when I cannot hold on to Him, He Saves when I cannot save myself, He gives life even in the face of death, he is hope, when it seems lost. My soul is anchored in these truths. In the truth that Jesus really lived, really died and really lives again, forever to make a way to God for any who believe, ‘no mater what we have done or what we have become’ He always makes a way, because He is The Way.

No one lives unaffected by storms, myself included, things come that we never expected, did not want, and at times feel we cannot handle. The thing that anchors my soul in these moments is Jesus, who forever has saved me, and forever loves me and this can not change because of who he is, not because of who I am, when it all depends on Him, that hope is strong.

This day whatever comes, one thing is true, He is Good and he deeply Loves you.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

 This is Day 16 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Church

Church“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” {Acts 2:42 NIV}

I will never forget the first time I read this passage. I was sitting up the back of a bible college lecture and for the first time, this beautiful vision of the church and all she is and could be, came pouring over my thoughts.

Imagine a church like the stunning picture in Acts 2. Where those around her are not lacking, not hungry, not in need because she cares for them. Her heat beats as the Father’s does, because she is filled with His Spirit.

Imagine a church that found the Word of God such a joy and so deeply challenging they longed to learn from Him constantly, daringly committed to remember Jesus and all he gave to build her.

Imagine a church so passionately committed to each other they met with joy and grace each day. Filled with genuine love and delight to see each other to share their friendship and their homes.

Imagine those around her found love, grace and the Spirit’s power within her, so that in the strength of God she made a marked difference in the world around her. Not only would she make a difference but people would stream in to meet and know the Jesus who had made her so beautiful. A place of hope, truth and mercy.

Imagine a church God builds, a church he so deeply loves, that he calls to deliver his goodness and gave his Son to build. Imagine a church that believed this with all her heart and offered Him all her praise.  I love His church, I love the vision of the church God gave to us and I love that he loves His church even though she fails.

Love, Grace and Sweet Fellowship for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 14 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Song of Heaven

music“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:1-4

Our church is going through a vision series at the moment, and this is the passage of the week. We studied it in small group tonight, friends together sinking deep into the scriptures to know God more. These are the things that struck me as we read.

I want to seek his face always. This personal God who can be personally known. How profound that the bible tells us to seek after him, to look for him. Not just the truths about him, not just the doctrine, although these things are beautiful and good, but his face. That intimate knowing of God himself. Look for him, look for his strength, be ready for him and what he will do. Be ready for him to show up, to speak, to whisper, so that we can know him. Not just know about him, but really know him. Friends with the one who summons thunder.

A mandate to know him and to tell of him. And how can I not tell of him? Because to know him is to know how he has carried me. To seek his face is to see where he has been and what he has done, in every moment. Each story wrapped safe in Jesus, the one who saves, where we most beautifully see the face of God.

A precious girl friend once said to me, ‘when we sing praise to God, we are caught up in the song of heaven, we join with the angels forever singing’. I had never thought of it like that before. To Sing Praise is to join in the anthem of the story, to lift up the one who saves, to adore with all he has made, that he is good all the time. From this place of worship we declare his fame, seek his face and strengthen our hearts and the hearts of the gathered company on earth and in heaven.

I am so encouraged by this calling, so comforted that my God is not far off but wants to be known. My prayer is that I will forever seek him and forever find more of him.

Love, Grace and more of Jesus for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 13 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Heaven’s King

Heaven{Reflections on my reading of Luke 24 NIV}

Only a light as bright as the Son, could have pierced the darkness that the Savior of the World had left in his death. The three days when hope had died, and the earth had suffocated under the pain of his loss. His friends with their hearts sunk within them. The whole city moved in the aftermath of a terrible day.  

Yet he appeared to them almost like at the beginning of the book. Almost as if the beginning and end of the book of Luke are a beautiful framing to an incredible story.

The angels announce to the women, that the King of heaven is not dead but alive. Just as the angels told Mary of her pregnancy and heralded His birth to the Shepherds. The entrance of Jesus comes totally unexpected and somewhat unnoticed. Jesus, the son of Heaven born in a manger, then walks the Emmaus road unrecognized for who he was, even by his friends. The unlikely shepherds herald His birth and declare his praise. The disciples anointed to declare him as Heaven’s living King run to Jerusalem to worship.

The heart’s cry to worship at the feet of Heaven’s Son who trampled the sting of death. From despair to hope. From death to life. The framing of the gospel of Luke, Heaven’s King come to earth, the dwelling of God with his people brings, healing, restoration, hope, wellness, peace, and life to any who would believe. Believing this King, knowing and being known by the Him, drives every believer to worship.

Victory over that oldest of enemies, death, stirs the soul to sing, to declare it’s weakness in the presence of a Mighty God. I have never noticed that the book ends in worship. Before the acts of the Apostles in Luke’s next book, the disciples, pause to worship, continuously at the temple, praising God. That is where their mission started, in adoration of the one who they served.

My prayer is that I will be found here.

To first know Him, and to let that knowing lead to adoration, and then that adoration to lead to praise, before I go anywhere else.

Love, Grace and Worship for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 11 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Never To Leave You

Mountain“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will  not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. {Psalm 121 NIV} 

This Psalm is one of those quiet whispers of God that roar courage into my soul. He is the God of the journey. The one who says I walk with you.

Who in the heat of day, promises to walk alongside, bringing shade, a resting place of comfort and peace. In the night sleeping, when afraid and uncertain the strong one who does not sleep, holds guard. Through the valleys and the high places he doesn’t let my foot slip, he guides my path holding steady. Every moment held safe.

In the valley as I look to the heights of the mountain I see the Saving One who rushes to my side. This is the nature, of the Kingly Warrior who carries salvation, to watch over, hold steady, bring rest and build strength on the journey that leads home.

He Did Not Save You To Leave You

He did not save you to leave you, in his saving he comes close and walks with you all the way home. You can be sure that as your eyes lift from the valley and see the one who comes armed with salvation, this saving act, this help from Salvation’s Hill, brings life altering transformation.

Every chapter, every story, every valley moment redeemed in the grace of his story, calling us out of our fear and into the courage of his great adventure. Made safe in the King. And from his fullness,  he makes us able to walk with others through the journey.  In the valley moments, declaring that there is one who brings help. Not unafraid, but unashamed.

Like every person my story is marked with valley moments, the kind that rattle your soul and cause you to question your place and purpose. Parts of the journey where you walk a little slower, and need to break for rest. There are moments where I find myself on the heights, punching above my weight and wondering how I got there. Each season is marked with his grace and care, each moment has found me safe in salvation’s story. Because the one in charge of the story, the maker of heaven and earth has kept me safe, even in the night.

Love, Grace and Peace for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 9 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Two Men

man fenceJesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” {NIV Luke 19:1-10}

This man of wealth runs ahead of Jesus, just to get near him. Life filled with possessions anxious to see the one people were flocking too, he climbs a tree. 

Just before this story Jesus walks by a man sitting in the dust on the roadside. A blind man begging hears Jesus and calls for him. ‘Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me!’ {Luke 18:35-43}

Two men, side by side in the story. Both desperate to see Jesus, one rich and up a tree, the other poor and sitting in the dust. Jesus stops for both of them. This Jesus they were looking for, declares that he came to ‘seek and save the lost’ {Luke 19:9}

These men, lost from Him, forgotten by his people, but precious to Him. These men who should have been cared for. One sits in the dust as the people walk by him, silencing his pleas. The other at the invitation of Jesus stirs the unholy mutter of disapproval.

But the writer mentions the name ‘Son of David’, and all the whispers of the old promises begin to fill and bring depth to the story.

“I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See I have made him a witness to the peoples,  a ruler and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God the Holy one of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near”

{Isaiah 55:3-5 NIV} 

The man in the dust calls to this ‘Son of David’ while he is near, Zacchaeus runs to him, and Jesus the ‘Holy one’ bestows on them splendor. He restores the sight of the blind man and he eats with the ‘sinner’. Calling back the people, scouring the earth for those lost and helping them find their way back to him.

Two men, none with so much that he cannot save, none with so little that he cannot love. Still the same today. Always an invitation to know him and be welcomed in, those with much and those with little. 

Love, Grace and More of Jesus for your day

Rachel x 

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 6 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Mercy

Man Forest

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God I thank you that I am not like those other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said. ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 {NIV} 

From when I was a little girl, this story has gripped me. I remember sitting in the back of a kids room in the church where I grew up reading about these two men. I felt drawn to this man who whispered ‘mercy’ in such contrast to the one who proclaimed ‘Righteous’.

My heart stirred deep for the man in the story who must have summoned all his courage to enter into the temple’s court to pray. To stand alongside one who would declare himself worthy when he himself felt the ache of unworthiness. To be real in a world of smoke and mirrors. To know that what he brought could cause more shame, greater loss and humiliation before the gatekeepers of his time.

What stirs me is that he came, not counting his worthiness, not displaying his medals of morality, but drawn to the one for whom his soul thirsted. He would rather be laid bare and begging than distant and empty. It’s the story of one who will simply come because he hears the call of the one whom he longs for. But somewhere deep in his heart, he knows he has nothing to bring other than himself, and when he measures himself in relation to the one with whom he speaks he finds himself wanting.

He calls to God in the anguish of all he lacks and begs for mercy. His chest heaving with the weight of shame and guilt. Eyes low with hope unspoken. Humble.

In a great story we could hope that God will give him a way back, we hope that somehow this man doesn’t need to stay halted in this broken state. We hope for restoration, our souls are hard wired to look for it in every story, a turn that says what is broken can be made new. We look for a thread in a story that will give the smallest glint of faith a chance, bringing color to the whole story even in the dark chapters. We hope that the one who breathed life into this man and commanded his breath would know the way back, know how to help him.

This hope hard wired into us does not disappoint, for the one who tells the story, points to grace. The storyteller breathes a story that finds its meaning in him. Jesus, the beautiful saving one describes a man whose life has brought his face low to the ground, dependent on mercy. He knows the stories of the heart and declares to every one  that calls to God for mercy they will find it because those that are brought low will be exalted. His compassion spills over as we see Jesus the storyteller take the place of every person who is brought low in shame and guilt, needing his mercy.

When he declares that all who are brought low will be exalted, he stands with sinners, his feet on the dust of the earth, chapters before he walked himself to the lowest place, the most humble place, the saving place. For all who are low, he made himself lower that we might be exalted with him.

For all our shame there is a Savior, for all our guilt there is a redeemer, for all our need a God who comes to us and loves us.

Love, Grace and Hope for your Day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 5 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x