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

He Will Come To Us Like Rain

Rain

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3 NIV

Let us run back to him, let us run to Him and acknowledge who He is. Let us say, He is mine and I am His. Let us not give up. Let us walk toward Him and without fear. As we press on to acknowledge Him, we discover more of who He really is, more of the Father’s Heart, the character of the Son and the strength of the Spirit.

And his answer to us, when we run to him, will not be rejection or betrayal or indifference.

There are times I have felt this way. I know it’s not right, but when I feel like I have failed, I sometimes find it hard to approach God. Instead of leaning into his grace, I avoid Him altogether.

Sometimes we can imagine a response of God that fits with where we feel we have gone wrong. The greater the sin, the greater his anger, the greater our indifference then the greater His, the greater our rejection of Him, the more likely he will not accept us. We can imagine his response in equal measure to the way in which we feel we have failed or not given enough. We can feel like we have to earn the right to his favor.

But this is not who He is. None of these things are true. He is truly good all the time and we see his best when we are in our worst. We see the depth of His love, when we most fear we won’t receive it. We can’t earn the right to His favor, and he was so concerned about this He gave His son, that we would never need to.

When we run to Him and acknowledge Him, He doesn’t treat us according to our failings, he treats us according to Jesus’ perfection.  Like rain pouring into a weary land, the love of the Father pours over surely and steadily refreshing and making new. He is not waiting to reject, abandon or ignore, He is waiting, fully ready to love you. Before you could even ask, He had already prepared the way to show all His favor and love over you.

And as we lean in to his grace and kindness he will come to us like rain. Rain that causes the earth to be fruitful, strong and refreshed. His arrival is sure and steady, He will not fail you.

Love, Grace and Rain 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

They Will Soar

Eagle Mountain“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

Today was one of those, God speak to me moments, when you pick up your Bible, flip it open and hope for the best. Have you ever done that? I don’t do it all the time, but some days, it’s what I love to do. I hold it in hope, what will he speak into my life today? It’s usually in a needy moment, where my heart is saying, ‘please speak’.

Thankfully bibles, pretty naturally turn to the Psalms, it’s a big book, right in the middle, and there is always comfort found there. But every now and then in those moments, where you hope for a God sized talking too, you open to a passage that is well worn and at the sight of it you think, ‘thank you Jesus’, that is just what I needed to hear today. I love those days.

This morning I read Acts and Job from my bible plan, and it was full of goodness, I sat and let the words soak deep. But this afternoon, when I walked through the door, I had a ‘please speak to me moment’. I opened to Isaiah, and the word of God reminded me to remember Him, to not forget Him, He hasn’t left, He won’t leave, He’s right there, all the way. A gentle whisper to remember who He is, this gentle word;  don’t forget Him, don’t lose sight of Him, remember who He is.

The Ancient of Days, full of wisdom and stronger than youth. The creating one. This God who says I will not get tired of caring for you, I will not weary from loving you, I will not rest from helping you, wherever you are, whatever is happening, I will carry you, so that you will soar. The one who flung the stars into the sky says so. Where you have lost your strength the strong one makes you stronger, where you have lost  your fervor, the alive one will renew it, where you have lost your way, the wise one will guide you. All my strength is found hoping in him, hoping in the saving one, who forever keeps his promises.

I needed that word today, it was all I needed, just a reminder to look up and hold on, He is greater, He is good.

Love, Grace and Strength for your day

Rachel x

Girl 31 Large

This is Day 12 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

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