Don’t Leave Me

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unsplash-logoIvana Cajina

“But you Lord, do not be far from  me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” Psalm 22:19

I have an image in my mind of this verse, of someone looking back with tenderness at a strong and loving Father and a cry of don’t leave me. A dependance that knows who is with her. Who faces the challenge ahead, who does not retreat, but just pleas for strength, for help to remain, for the Lord himself to stay. Stay with her, stay the path.

Have you ever begged for strength, for aid to come swift to your side. Postured in position to grab the hand of God to allow his strength to steel your spine, to allow his breath to cause you to rise up, to allow his presence to give you voice, to allow his hand to nudge you that little way forward, to allow his gaze to remind you of who you are and to whom you belong. All the while knowing you can face the next if he is with you, if he doesn’t leave, if he remains.

Understanding his strength is not only for you, but within you, his presence that awakens your purpose, your position and your advance. His strength that brings new vision, a new way to see, an awareness of what is and what could be.

But to see with vision is a dangerous calling, for vision is never easy, it does not come cheaply and it requires strength, humility and something beyond yourself. Vision should stir the heart and simultaneously make you weak at the knees. It often finds us both strong and broken as we chart the course. Lifted and kneeling.

It is such an intimate picture of help that is close, come be near me, don’t leave me, help me. How beautiful that we can know that call will be answered, that he will not leave, that he will be close, that he will bring strength. Companionship with the King of Kings.

Lots of Love and Strength for your day

Rachel x 

 

You are the Theme of my Praise

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unsplash-logoRobb Leahy

” From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly: before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him-may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion beings to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him: future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!” Psalm 22:25-31 NIV

What a beautiful image; you are the theme of my praise. I just want to dwell in those words for a while, to soak up the delight in a God who is so good that He draws forth a theme of praise. All that I have to say that is praiseworthy is about you Lord, all I have to offer is laid at your feet. You are the story of my praise, it is interwoven through my life, all that I have is yours. My song has a story and it is all about you. If I were to write song after song, it would be all about you, that is how good you are, that is how deeply you have loved me, you invade my praise, your stir my heart and my soul to sing, and all the notes declare you as King.

If there were ancient words to declare your mercy they would never fade, we could sing of them over and again and never tire of declaring who you are. If there were new songs to sing, we would never exhaust them all, for your goodness doesn’t wear out from one generation to another you remain steadfast and good. From one story to another, from pain to joy you remain our anthem, the song of our hearts.

Every deliverance, every step you have walked with me, in every moment I can read of your goodness, your faithfulness, your trustworthiness and your help that always comes. You are the mighty one who saves, you can write your love and faithfulness into forever and so the song of the greatest story ever told shall never fade, it will never leave my lips.

It is the living song that you breathe into our souls as you bring rescue and healing, it is the song that proclaims who you are and your powerful deeds, your mighty ways and your soft heart. It is a song to be sung, a declaration to be cried out so that those not yet born would know you. It is our testimony of your grace to the next generation.

May you be the theme of my praise forevermore. May you fill me with new songs that declare how good you have been to me over and again.

For those this may bless, my playlist this week:

Rachel x 

My Strong Place

Rock“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” {Psalm 18:2 NIV}

This safe hiding place, a refuge from the coming storm, a quiet and strong place, he not only provides the shelter he is the shelter. He is my rock, my hiding place, where I find safety, strength and saving. In every season this has been true for me.

I love that David, the writer, sings this story, declaring God’s faithful hand over him, in all his days, in the days of running afraid and the days of a King’s strength. Though there were places to go and to hide, true safety was found in his God. Wherever he ran, nowhere was as safe as running into the one who made him, who cared for him, who knows him and loves him. With enemies on all sides, nowhere was stronger than the care of his God. Such peace to run to the arms of the one who made you.

Fear can at times cause me to want to run away, to give up, to lose heart. To consider tomorrow’s concerns before they have yet come to be. God has taught me in those very moments,  to run to him instead. To find strength in his never giving up, never running out love, he has reminded me as the one who holds salvation in his hands, that He is bigger than this. Bigger than what is not yet, bigger than what is and bigger than what could be.

I am found safe in Jesus, his forever saving strength, found safe because there is nothing outside of what he can do. He is bigger than any problem that may or may not come, he is bigger than my greatest need or fear. Because of his forever love for me I can rest and find shelter in him, the one who will never change and remain always the same.

Love, Grace and Hope for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 29 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

Because He Hears Me

Psalm 116“I love the Lord for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” {Psalm 116:1-2 NIV}

He turned up, at a time you would no expect anyone to turn up, or have anyone able to help, when he was all there was left. More than that, he was the one first there and best to help and also the last left, when everyone else was gone. In those moments when he turns up and transforms pain to testimony, when he hears the whisper in the quiet place that no one else hears. A soft word that asks for help, a call for a savior. When the God of heaven shifts his gaze, his ear attentive to your greatest need. In that moment, you really know the relief of his power and goodness.

What a sweet relief it is, to know the help of  Jesus the forever Prince of Peace, to not be left, stranded and alone. What comfort to know that you are seen, known and loved just as you are, whatever you face,  because he loves you, because he is good, you have the ear of the Eternal King.

And I cannot help but love him in those moments. Filled with a forever gratefulness for the way he listens, the way he turns up to rescue, like a light that shines in the darkness, the one who really sees and really hears.  His love and care minister to me, assuring me that he can be trusted, for the one who is faithful and true, I can call on for all my days.

His help does not make me weak but strong. It means that whatever has happened, whatever lays ahead, there is one I can call on and he always listens, ready to bring help, because of him I am never alone. My voice is not lost in a multitude of need and noise, he turns his ear to me, he turns his ear to you. For whatever you face this day, whatever you have faced, the one who orders the stars, he who aligns the planets and causes oceans to roar loves to listen to you, and holds salvation in his wings.

Love, Grace and a still small voice for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 26 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

An Audience Before the King

An Audience Before the King“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the strength of the warrior; the Lord delights on those who fear him,who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

{Psalm 147:8-11 NIV}

It would be easy to assume that the God who covers the earth in clouds and causes grass to grow, may only be interested in Kings and Princes, in Mighty warriors with strong horses and impressive resumes. That is normally how we see power isn’t? The more power someone has, the more impressive you need to be in order to have an audience with them.

It would seem natural to assume then, that to find favor before the God of the universe you may need to be fairly impressive yourself. And yet the God who is sung about in the Psalms changes all the rules of power and favor. God is already for you, he already loves you, in Jesus he became weak that you might become strong. He does not require strength, but he gives it freely.

To find an audience before the King of Kings, simply requires humility, recognizing Him for who He is and what he has done and understanding our need for Him. There is no one like him, he requires nothing, because he has already given everything. He does not have love reserved only for those who may seem to have earned it or deserved it by some ordering of beauty, strength, intelligence or family line, but gives with delight to any who would humbly come, and simply ask.

It can be easy to slip into feeling or behaving like we need to prove ourselves to God, by trying to somehow earn what was freely given. Even ministry can become a set of tasks looking to achieve some form of equilibrium in the relationship between ourselves and the creator, hoping to make a good impression rather than generously living out worship. This beautiful freedom of God declares that we don’t need to try to earn his favor, we already have it, we don’t need to earn his love, it is already given. His delight is in us knowing Him more, seeking after Him, understanding more of who he is that we might understand each other, this world and ourselves in light of his power and grace.

This day, I will not seek to earn his love, I will seek rather to know more of it and find more of Him.

Love and Grace for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 25 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

He Has Done Great Things For Her

Like those who dreamed“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. those who go about weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

{Psalm 126 NIV}

This people, oppressed, unsafe, weeping and without hope were transformed with the mighty act of the saving power of God, and her whole frame changed. Her stance changed from one bowed down with suffering to one who stands tall in health and strength. Joy and Worship flowed from the lips of the people as they declared the good things God had done for them with unbridled praise. From the low place,  she was brought high because of the loving arm of the Father.

This is the same song of God’s people today, the same words we utter and stand together with this people of Israel. Our God has restored us, he has brought salvation and strength in his Son Jesus and in the power of His Spirit he has brought life back to our bones, we are like those who laugh and are filled with joy because of the great things he has done.

As we declare his faithfulness to us, as we live out the praise of God by bearing testimony to the great things he has done for us as a people, and in our own lives. As we live with joy, because he has been so good to us, as we live lives of worship, the nations, those around  us will see Him. They will see that He is the one who has changed our lives, He is the one who transforms and saves, he is the one who brings good, He is the one who can change sorrow to joy.

For me, the people of God changed my world, the church is not perfect, but He is, and the beautiful people of God showed me love, hope and joy in Him, that without their faithful witness I would never have known. This song of Israel I love, it is true in my life, where there was sorrow He has brought peace, what has been sown in tears He has returned with joy.

Real joy. Saved into the family of the one who my soul longed for, saved into His people who bring strength and love, saved into His ways that guide my life in hope, saved into a life of worship when my soul feels most at rest. When I was most alone, he made me a daughter of the King of Kings, for that I am forever thankful.

My challenge is to declare these truths with my life as I live out praise for the one who saved me. 

Love, Grace and Joy for your day

Rachel x

31 Days of Faith

This is Day 24 of the 31 Days of Faith Series, click to read more x

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

Illuminate The Way

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“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” {Psalm 119:105 NIV}

Sometimes I feel l like there is so much noise. So much to do, so much to know, so much to be a part of, so much potential, so much opportunity, so many arguments, so many opinions, so much talk. I love a good chat, and I love to listen, I can spend a whole day in conversation with a good friend, it’s like a hobby, I love to share stories with friends over a hundred coffees, but sometimes the world seems BIG and LOUD.

And when it seems big and loud, I want to sit by a campfire or near something equally soft and quiet with no words for a while, until I remember what it’s like for thoughts to ramble over again. What it’s like to think without the pressure of opinion or argument, just a moment of stillness.

‘More of Him, less of me’. These are the words that bring a deep calling lately. With so much noise, so much stuff, so much, of everything. The way to quiet the pace, is to listen to Him, holding my thoughts less about me and more about Him. With quiet strong words he stills the anxious sound of busy and confused.  His sweet words of Scripture that light the way ahead and guide when all seems dark, illuminating the way. His word speaking into every day and forever telling the story of Jesus the saving One.

Do not be afraid

He gives me new strength

I am with you always

Every word lighting the way to the one who is King of Heaven.

Love, Grace and More of Him for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

 This is Day 15 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

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