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

The Darkest Place

StormMy reflections on {Luke 23:44-49 NIV} 

In the darkest place people gathered to witness the Son of God breathe, until his breath was gone.

As light grieved the murder of creation’s hero, his friends, even the women, stood at a distance.

As the dwelling place of God with man was broken, Jesus worshiped, singing the Song of Israel and committing Himself to the care and strength of his Father.

{The song he whispers is found in Psalm 31:1-5 NIV}

And the first to truly see in the darkest moment of earth’s history was the one closest to him. The Centurion, this man with blood on his hands was the first to speak praise, as Jesus uttered his final words.

That day. To see the sun, creation’s first, hide at the most terrible moment, to feel the silence of his friends and to hear the confusing sound of chests being beaten. Like earth retreats from the Calvary moment.

Then to witness the first and most unexpected worship from the soldier who stood alongside him. The sound of the coming Kingdom, where all people stream to the one who gives life abundantly. This soldier a sign, standing next to the cross, that all are welcome to know Him. All are welcome to His salvation. There is none so far. None so close.

This terrible day. As the dust caught the blood of the who had fashioned it. As a tree held the weight of the Prince of Peace. As the sky refused to hold over a betrayed Savior. Jesus answered the question of “Save yourself” with a simple no. And as he died, I lived for the first time. All my failings, all the times I have been failed, dying with him. In the place where he refused to save himself, he saved me.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 10 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

And the Smallest

Beach“People were bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

{Luke 18:15-17 NIV}

They are Welcome.

Welcome to learn, Welcome to know Jesus, Welcome to his Kingdom.

They don’t have to wait to grow up, don’t have to wait till they are quiet enough, behaved enough, eaten their veggies enough, done their schoolwork enough, he is enough for them just as they are.

This same Jesus who is enough for the sick, the healthy, the rich, the poor, the sinner, the ‘saint’, the old, is enough for the smallest ones too, they are included.

This passage speaks deep to the heart for me. From my earliest memory I remember loving God. I remember wanting to know him. I remember asking to go to church. I remember sitting on a hard wooden pew, right on the edge of it and hoping to understand more about the God I so badly wanted to know. I remember not understanding what the preacher was saying, I remember hoping I would learn. I remember being sad that I didn’t understand, and how badly I wanted too.

Then one day, in another church a little while later, I remember hearing in words I could understand that Jesus loved me, just as I was. This church didn’t say I was too young to learn, but made a way for me to ask questions and know the deep things of God in childlike language with childlike faith. They truly took hold of this passage and believed as a child I was as valuable as an adult, that I too could hear the simple message:

Mountain & Valley J L M

I will be grateful forever to the minister and his family who looked after me, to the children’s minister who spoke of the God I so wanted to know in a language I understood. They will never know the depth to which their care and investment has blessed my life immeasurably, and not because I haven’t told them, because I have over and over again. But because if I had all the words there wouldn’t be enough to say,  Thank You x

Love, Grace and Welcome for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 7 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

Welcoming Meal – Imagine Eating with the King of Kings

Sheep

Based on Luke 15:1-7 these are my thoughts and wonderings as I read today

And they were all gathering to hear Jesus. The tax collectors, the sinners. The outcast, rejected and despised gathered around to listen to Jesus. Leaning in close at a meal to hear him, and I wonder what attracted them to him? What was he saying that those who did not normally feel worthy felt safe in the presence of Jesus? So safe and brought in that they felt welcome to share a meal with him and lean in to his words. What was he saying that drew a crowd? I wonder what it was like to be at that meal and feel that safe.

What a contrast that the hound of heaven would leave his court of glory, to eat in the dust with the fringe of humanity on the pages of history.

A vulnerable dinner as you draw close to the one who would speak grace and truth over you. The safest place, fully known and fully loved. No pretending, no masks, no hiding, no performance, simply fully known and fully loved.

Imagine at this vulnerable meal where you sit alongside the King of Heaven, totally unworthy in his presence and yet welcomed in like you are welcomed home. Then in the midst of this glorious welcome, those who would accuse you of not being fitting to join in the meal called it out, the whispers of your lack spoken by the gatekeepers of society. What shame that could wash over you in that moment. They have seen and they know I do not belong here, I am not enough, they have called out my lack, this lack that I have carried with me like a signpost of all my failings.

Lack of belonging, lack of grace, lack of standing, lack of dignity spoken loud in the midst of this meal before the one I had gathered to hear. This meal where for the first time it was like listening to the sound of living water running into to my soul, filling the empty spaces that my lack had always left.

Then this one who had not only eaten with me but dignified my presence with his words speaks, and the living water that I thought was filling my soul becomes a rushing river that seeps through every part of me, when he faces head on these words of shame and condemnation spoken over me. Instead he describes his journey from the throne-room of Heaven to the farthest reaches of humanity, that this hound of heaven came for me. Intent, focused, purposed.

I discover in this moment that it was not me who came to him, but he who had chased after me. This meal where I lean in to listen he came to have. Now he tells those whispering and declaring my shame that the very throne room he had left in pursuit of his so loved, stands in worship declaring the greatness of Jesus who has brought me home.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what they might have thought, or how they might have felt. I can’t help but imagine what those gathered heard as Jesus declared this holy pursuit, his gracious love and heaven’s celebration.

When I reflect on this meal, I am overwhelmed with love for the one who sat in the dust with those found by the gatekeepers to be unworthy and all I want to do is the same as him.

If my calling is to tell of the beautiful love of Jesus, then let me share with you for the first time or the millionth that relationship with Jesus brings hope, life and strength, lean in to his beautiful word as he declares to our lack that he is more than enough and you are safe to bring all you are and all you have to the feet of the one who saves.

Love, Grace and a Meal of Strength for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 1 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x