Flowing Faith

March 29, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Do Not Settle for a Mediocre Version of Faith

Do not settle for a mediocre of faithHow is your faith doing? Are you excited about your salvation and eager to work with Jesus? Or are you rushing around like crazy without any chance to slow down to spend time with Jesus? And losing your interest in faith stuff in the process? Let me tell you: it doesn’t have to be that way. Do not settle for a mediocre version of faith.

With the words of John Ortberg “For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.” Exactly. Maybe you are one of these people that could never renounce your faith. Good for you. As you might know you’re still in a danger to settle for a mediocre version of faith.

Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. (1 Peter1: 14-15, MSG)

Do not settle for a mediocre version of faith

I am serious: do not settle for a mediocre version of faith. Otherwise you miss the best stuff: you miss the life with God. Christianity is not just about being saved from hell. It is also about being empowered for living.

Also, remember that it’s not YOU making your faith dazzling. Rather it is about you embracing what God is doing in and through your life. Hence, if you rush to do what the world demands you, you miss the most significant things in life: peace, purpose, meaning, solitude, joy. And sweet and special interaction with Jesus.

As we are fast approaching the Holy Week, take some time to evaluate how you’re doing, how is your faith doing. Do you feel God’s love in your bones, are you fired up for Jesus? If no, it is time for you to slow down and let the Holy Spirit minister to you. Let yourself be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life. God wants to give you a life energetic and blazing with holiness. He wants what’s best for you. Do not settle for a mediocre version of faith. Ask for a dazzling version of faith. You’re worth it.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for settling for a mediocre version of faith.
It’s not good enough, we want it all.
We want the best you have for us.
Be not only our Savior but our Lord.
Pour our grace upon grace to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Ignite a fire in our souls, Lord.
Let us burn for you.
Give us a dazzling version of faith.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you settled for a mediocre version of faith or do you live closely with Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace what God is doing in and through your life!

I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

March 27, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Our Happiness Depends on God

Our happiness depends on GodIf we insist we are the makers of our own happiness, we fool ourselves. It might take decades for us to discover the truth: our happiness depends on God. As long as we deny the fact that our well-being depends on God, we are sidetracked. Often we get frustrated and stressed out when nothing makes sense and there’s no purpose to live for. But it all changes when we get to know God. Because our happiness does not depend on circumstances and happenstances. Our happiness depends on God.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.
(Psalm 62:5-8, NIV)

Our happiness depends on God

Yes, our happiness depends on God but usually we are not ready to embrace the fact before we learn that our salvation, even our life depends on God. When Christ has become our rock, we start to see that also every blessing comes from above. That’s why when we learn to acknowledge God as our primary source of welfare, we are well on our way to real happiness.

Even when we are great friends with Jesus, we tend to forget where our help comes from. Unfortunately, we are not strangers to stress. But, fortunately, God is always ready to offer help whenever we pour our hearts to him. Truly, we can trust God at all times, he will never let us down. So, our confidence is built on God’s promise to always be there for us.

Our happiness depends on God but he truly is dependable. Nothing can take away from us the peace of the Lord. There’s nothing that can diminish the joy of salvation. Hence, we are blessed indeed.

 

Gracious God,
You are more than we can understand.
We praise you!
Thank you for redeeming us,
sustaining us, refreshing us and,
most of all, always being there for us.
You truly are the source of our welfare,
you are our everything.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you embrace the fact that our happiness depends on God? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you find rest in God and trust him all the time!

Image courtesy of Dmitri Popov via Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

March 24, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Embrace It with Grace and Praise

Embrace it with grace and praiseThis week I have not been enthusiastic at the gym. Somehow, I’ve been dragging my feet to get there and while there I’ve not done my best. There hasn’t been any spring in my steps for sure. While exercising today, I was wondering what was going on and what I could do to lift the veil of cheerlessness. And then I remembered. The antidote to anything trying to drag us down is praise. Whatever it is, we need to embrace it with grace and praise.

I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace. (Psalm 34:1, TLB,*)

Embrace it with grace and praise

Running from your problem is not the key to joyfulness. Embracing it with grace and praise is. When we praise God no matter what happens, we invite Jesus in the thick of our problems. Grace and praise changes our position on things. Suddenly, gloom and doom do not affect us anymore.

With the words of Joni Eareckson Tada “Whatever troubles are weighing you down are not chains. They are featherweight when compared to the glory yet to come. With a sweep of a prayer and the praise of a child’s heart, God can strip away any cobweb.”

We do not have to live under cobwebs.

When we embrace it with grace and praise, God can strip away any cobweb. We are free children of God. Harry Ironside has said “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” How true.

So, whenever you feel under the weather, embrace it with grace and praise. Whenever your troubles are weighing you down, let your heavenly Father know your concerns and receive his love and grace. That’s what happened to me this morning. Right there in the middle of gym glass I decided to praise God for he is good. And the veil of cheerlessness was lifted.

 

Gracious God,
You are grater than we can ever understand.
Do not let us ever forget that.
Give us the spirit of grace and praise, Lord.
Enable us to always live in that.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you experienced doom and gloom? Do you embrace it with grace and praise? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you * [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

March 22, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Overflow with Hope

Overflow with Hope

Today, I was moved by this blessing found at the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans. This is what I want to me personally but also for you and every single person on this earth. We all need to get to know the God of hope and then live in that hope. Because that’s God will for us. God wants us to overflow with hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NIV)

Overflow with hope

Only overflow will ensure that we have plenty. And that’s what God wants for us. He wants to give us so much hope that it will never run out. The God of hope wants to make sure that we have so much hope that we are happy to share it with others. God does not give skimpily. He always gives abundantly.

When we overflow with hope in Christ, all the good things, like joy and peace, will follow. Because hope gives us stability, it anchors core being in God. And that’s when we find true happiness. Hope in Christ is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline.

 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. (Hebrews 6:19, NLT)

Hope in action

This hope in Christ is not just a wish. We don’t put our trust on an idea or a distant person. God is not a stranger to us. Jesus is our friend, not “just” our redeemer. You see, our hope is an application of faith, not a wish. When we overflow with hope in Christ, we boldly claim God’s promises and then state our life on them. We act upon our beliefs because we know God is true and his promises are valid. And as we cling to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will continually keep on supplying us with a fresh batch of hope. That’s why we always overflow with hope.

 

Dear God,
How good you are!
First, you save us,
then you overflow us with hope.
You keep us well cared for.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you overflow with hope?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you state your life in Christ and

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

March 20, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Draw Near to God

Because of Jesus we can walk right up to God. Without Jesus we do not have an access to God. But because Jesus died on the cross and was raised on the third day, we can approach God without hesitation. Quite a gift, isn’t it? Now we can draw near to God and we are more than welcome in his presence.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, NLT)

Why to draw near to God

We have been given this access to God, why then do we not use it more? Why should we draw near to God? Without Jesus’s blood we would not be clean enough to draw near to God. And we would also be without God’s gifts: grace, love, peace, joy, and all the other good things in our lives. We need God to be fully alive and well.

With the words of Charles H. Brent “Peace comes when there is no cloud between us and God. Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God’s removal of that which obscures His face and so breaks union with Him.” Only Jesus can remove anything and everything between us and God. But now we should boldly draw near to God to enjoy God. There’s nothing better than basking in God’s love and grace.

How to draw near to God

What to do then when we desire to draw near to God? That’s easy. Like William Law has said “Prayer is the nearest approach to God.” We don’t need to do anything but open our heart to God. He can hear our cries no matter how weak they are. We don’t need to fix ourselves before approaching God. He is always delighted to see us. There’s nothing we can do for God to love us any less. He just wants us to draw near to him. Daily, hourly, momentarily. He wants to pour out grace upon grace and love upon love. Let’s receive all God has for us.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of salvation.
Jesus did what we could not do.
Thank you for the gift of prayer.
Draw us near to you.
Thank you for the gift of your love and grace.
Pour our grace upon grace, and love upon love.
We need you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How often do you draw near to God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you continually draw near to God and dwell in his presence!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

March 17, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Be Deep-spirited Friends

Be deep-spirited friendsThe Christian way of doing things is the opposite of what the world things is successful. We don’t use our elbows to get ahead. And we don’t sweet talk our way to the top. Instead, we are called to love others as we love ourselves. And love does not give us permission to selfishness. Instead, it urges us to become deep-spirited friends.

Wesley Hill writes “God never meant us to be purely spiritual creatures. That is why He uses material things like conversations, shared meals and trips, hugs, small kindnesses, and gifts between friends to enrich the new life He’s given us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented human relationships. He likes friendship. He invented it.”

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Phil. 2:1-4, MSG, emphasis added,*)

Deep-spirited friends

We can leave coldness, selfishness, and hate at the foot of the cross. When we do this, God’s grace empowers us to live a life of love instead. We are called to love our brothers and sisters, neighbours, even our enemies. God wants the best for us and being friends, especially deep-spirited friends, is the best life can offer.

With the words of St. Aelred: “But how happy, how carefree, how joyful you are if you have a friend with whom you may talk as freely as with yourself, to whom you neither fear to confess any fault nor blush at revealing any spiritual progress, to whom you may entrust all the secrets of your heart and confide all your plans. And what is more delightful than so to unite spirit to spirit and so to make one out of two?”

Friends are gifts from God. So, if you do not have any deep-spirited friends, ask God to send you a new friend. Meanwhile, spend lots of time with the ultimate friend, Jesus. He will make you more loving, grace-filled, and ready for becoming deep-spirited friends when the time is right. Then you can keep on pushing each other to grow closer to God. And have the time of your life while doing it.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of friendships.
Fill us with your love and grace,
make us ready for being deep-spirited friends.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you have deep-spirited friends? Do they help you to grow in grace?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you grace empowers you to live a life of love!

* [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Image courtesy of Tim Pirfält, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

March 15, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Set for Life – and Beyond

Set for Life - and BeyondThe world is going crazy, it seems. Also, the everyday chaos seems to get worse and worse. Yet, we do not despair. We do not get discouraged. How come? Because, we have hope. And that is not just any wishful thinking or positive psychology. It is solid hope that delivers, rescues, and redeems. Our story does not end when we die. Because of Jesus our hope is always valid. That’s why we are set for life. And beyond.

God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
    I’m set for life.
(Psalm 62:5-6, MSG)

Set for Life

When Jesus is our friend, nothing holds us back. With that kind of hope, nothing despairs us. We know where to take our troubles and problems. God is always waiting to offer help to us and he is in control. We are indeed set for life.

This is also true when we can’t see the outcome of our present situation. Because this hope is like a beacon that shows us the way to go when it’s otherwise to dark to find the way. Whenever we find ourselves helpless, whenever things look hopeless and pointless, we cling to Jesus. We do not despair. Because we are not alone: God is with us. God’s promises are valid and active even when God is silent. He will not let us down. Thats’ why we are set for life.

Wait, Israel, forGod. Wait with hope.
    Hope now; hope always!
(Psalm 131:3, MSG)

Hope always!

Because of God, hope always. Hope now, Jesus has saved you. Wait with hope, the Spirit of God is with you. Hang in there, my friend. No matter what you’re going through, this too will pass. God will give you all the strength, all the hope, all the faith you need to keep on keeping on. Hope always, because God is good. More than good. Wonderful, awesome, marvellous. God who loves you dearly. That’s why you are set for life.

 

Gracious God,
I thank you for giving me hope.
Be praised for mercy to be new every morning.
Thank you for saving me from my sins and
making me new according to your plans.
Your promises ground me and give me hope
even when I feel lost.
Thank you that with you I have everything I ever need.
Pout out grace upon grace and hope upon hope.
Thank you for your gift of eternal hope,
I am truly set for life – and beyond.
May your will happen in and through my life.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you set for life? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Christ as your Lord and enjoy hope everlasting!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

March 13, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Pray because Jesus Prayed

Pray because Jesus prayedI’ve written lots of posts on prayer. I’ve talked about how our prayers matter. How we are supposed to pray without ceasing. And how we should be persistent on prayer. I’ve talked about the power of prayer and how wonderful it is that we have a prayer-hearing God. Also, I have mentioned how blessed we are that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit prays for us. All these are wonderful things. We truly need prayer. But there’s one thing that I have never mentioned. I’ve even written a post about 10 reasons why I can’t live without prayer but I never mentioned this as a reason. And maybe it should be our number one reason. Sure, it’s a thing that is easy to overlook. But we shouldn’t. Because when we acknowledge this, we are out of excuses of not to pray. We should pray because Jesus prayed.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV)

Pray because Jesus prayed

It’s just that simple. If Jesus himself prayed, we don’t have any excuses to not to pray. We are to become more Christ-like, right? And because Jesus prayed, we should pray. So find time to pray, do not try to find any more excuses. There are none left. You can pray anywhere and everywhere. Hence, just do it. If you’re battling a spirit of praylessness, ask God to take it away. Of course, we do not pray just because we are told to do so. We pray because our life depends on it, we truly need this connection to God. But if nothing else gets you to pray, pray because Jesus prayed. That’s enough of a reason for me. Because I want to be just like Jesus.

 

Gracious God,
You are so amazing and wonderful.
Thank you for the gift of prayer,
this blessed connection between you and me.
I want to live a life of prayer,
show me how.
Come and talk to me, Lord.
Let’s spend lots of time together.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What’s your excuse not to pray without ceasing?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you pray because Jesus prayed!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

March 10, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Soft Living Leads to Destruction

Soft Living Leads to DestructionGod has promised to never abandoned us. Quite a promise! Hallelujah! If God is this good to us, why then do we abandon him? We might think we are fond of God but our everyday choices speak otherwise. Somehow, God is far from our mind when we decide how we spend our days. In the western world Christians can live freely. But the enemy knows how to tempt us in this freedom. Too much of wanton pleasure shreds our integrity. Eventually, soft living leads to destruction.

On the earth you have lived luxuriously and abandoned yourselves to soft living and led a life of wanton pleasure [self-indulgence, self-gratification]; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. (James 5:5, AMP,*)

Soft Living Leads to Destruction

Why is self-indulgence dangerous? What do you think? Does it matter luxuriously I live? Why would soft living lead to destruction? Because entertainment oriented living keeps us focused on idols. If we are self-indulgent, we are not God-centered. And that’s what we are meant to be. Faith is not supposed to be a theory but a way of life.

The more we practice soft living, the less we yearn for spiritual nourishment. Eventually, soft living leads to destruction. Soon, a life of wanton pleasure is all we want. Too much of a good thing is as dangerous as a little bit of a bad thing. They take our hearts away from the Lord. Hence, we need to be really careful about how we live. Mindless pursuits of entertainment are costly. They keep us from doing God’s will. Indeed, soft living leads to destruction.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me my selfishness and tendency for soft living.
I want only you, yet my thoughts whirl around me and mine.
Save me! Create a new heart in me, Lord.
Show me how to live fully in your presence.
Enable me to leave my self-indulgent ways.
Empower me for victorious living in you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think? Is soft living bad for Christians?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God as your source of happiness!

* [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Image courtesy of cfisherphotography/picmonkey.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

March 8, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Father of Mercies and the God of All Comfort

The Father of Mercies and the God of All ComfortOur heavenly father is the father of mercies and the God of all comfort, says the Bible. How wonderful is that? Especially, when we are feeling helpless and clueless. Despite everything, we are okay. Just because our God is the father of mercies and the God of all comfort. We are not alone and we are not despised. We are loved and cherished no matter what. 

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4, AMP)

The Father of Mercies and the God of All Comfort

The fact that our God is the father of mercies and the God of all comfort is a tremendous blessing. Whenever we are in any kind of trouble, he indeed comforts and encourages us so we can get through the dark times in our lives. It is a blessing to have a loving Father who will never abandon us. But that’s not the end of his blessings.

By sending us to comfort and encourage others who are experiencing hardships, he gives us purpose and meaning for our lives. When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, she went right back to serving others. Not because she had to but because she wanted. Our callings give us purpose and meaning. God knows that. Hence, he does not “just” comfort and encourage us but he also sends us – in his power – to comfort and encourage others. We are not “just” healed by the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort but we are also restored to fulfil our callings. Because only then we are truly blessed.

 

Gracious God,
Be praise for offering us grace and mercy or
comfort and encouragement
according to our needs.
Thank you for loving and caring for us
without hesitation.
We love you, Lord.
Give us what we need.
Restore us and send us to serve you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you a friend of the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you open your heart to receive God’s care for you and God’s calling to serve others!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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