Flowing Faith

July 30, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

How to Stay Focused on Christ

Fear comes in waves
Does summer for you mean living without routines? I love it. We truly need to break routines once in awhile. But the fact is living without routines can be disastrous. Also for our spiritual well-being. Routines help us stay focused on the right things.

While  on vacation we might forget to keep our daily date with God. For a few days it does not matter that much. God does not move anywhere. Grace is valid even when we do not focus on it. But after a few days without being filled with the Spirit, doubts and fears start to creep in us. And that’s when all kinds of troubles start. Just ask Peter.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!” (Matthew 14:25-33, MSG, emphasis added,*)

Peter was the first one to step out of the boat and walking in faith on the water toward Jesus. And he was doing great until he looked elsewhere. Fear does come in waves. When Peter lost his focus on Jesus, he became full of doubts and started to sink. Blessedly Jesus was right there for him to reach out and catch him. The same way when we lose our focus on Jesus, we become full of doubts and start to sink. Blessedly Jesus is right there for us to reach out and catch us.

As we look for Jesus Christ to be our guide in life we are doing great. If we focus on God, we won’t sink. If we focus on God, we will walk in faith. But the moment we start looking elsewhere for answers we start sinking in. The moment we get distracted, doubts and fear start creeping in.

What to do then? How can I stay focused on Christ in summer? Enjoy your vacation. Enjoy your routine-less existence. But don’t forget God. Don’t forget prayer. Don’t forget centering on God. Don’t forget reading your Bible. Even just a few verses will get you refocused on Jesus. And your doubts and fears are kicked out of your heart and mind. “Take a courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” This is what the blessed existence is all about: being free, fearless and focused on Christ.

 

Dear God,
We so need you.
Forgive us for getting distracted with minor things.
Enable us to stay focused on you.
That is the only way to the blessed existence.
Keep us free, fearless and focused on you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you stay focused on Christ?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace the blessed existence with Christ!

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

Image courtesy of Daly Hill. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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July 28, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
9 Comments

Flowing Faith Flies to Florida

Flowing Faith Flies to Florida
How has your summer been? Are you ready for some new things in your life? How is God guiding you right now? Our summer has been hot and fun and I hope we can do much more swimming before the fall. God is also creating new opportunities for me and I am saying ‘yes’ to him. What is going on?

Our family has received a save-a-date to a wedding in Florida around Thanksgiving. Our family has decided to go to the wedding, God willing. What does this have to do with you?

1) This gives your church/ministry a chance to invite me to speak at your event in November/December in Florida. (This will be much more cost-effective way to have me as your guest speaker than bringing me over the Ocean just for one event.) Please, spread the word!

2) Would you pray for this new venture of Flowing Faith? Mainly that God’s will would happen no matter what. If it means no speaking engagements (or no trip at all), so be it. If it means many events, pray that the Holy Spirit would mightily move in each and every one of them. If it means we need to stay a few weeks in Florida, pray that affordable –yet fun for the kids – housing (and anything else we need, like transportation) would be available. Pray that every little detail would be divinely prepared for us. Pray anyway and anyhow God leads you to pray. This is all in God’s hands.

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. (2.Cor. 4:5-6, MSG, emphasis added)

I just praise God for this opportunity. Every time I pray about this – my spirit just starts praising God. He seems to be creating something new and exciting and we are ready. How wonderful to have a family that is willing to follow. We’ll be home schooling the kids while on the road. And I will continue blogging regularly over there – God willing. All this is in his hands. We will see what happens.

Meanwhile let’s all continue to seek God, follow Christ, and abide in the Holy Spirit. What it means for each of us varies. One thing is for sure: God delights in interacting with us and working in and through us. Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim. I keep praying for you. And I can’t wait to hear from you.

Do you mind if I pray for you?

 

Dear God,
Thank you for each and every friend of Flowing Faith.
Bless them according to their needs and your plan for their lives.
Show all of us how to follow you more closely
and love your more dearly.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How has your summer been? Anything new in horizon?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you say ‘yes’ to God’s invitations!

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

Image courtesy of Greg Simmons, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God. Counting blessings: #1132 There’s time for everything in God’s plans. #1133 God is doing something news and exciting for Flowing Faith. #1134 God uses all of us for his glory.

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July 25, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Who Is Jesus?

Who is Jesus
Who do you say Jesus is? This is one of the most important questions you ever answer. Who is Jesus to you? Is Jesus a philosopher, a teacher, a radical social activist or something more personal, maybe even life-changing? This is what Peter answered to Jesus’ question:

Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, CEB,*)

How about you? Is Jesus a savior to you? Do you think Jesus is the son of God? Do you believe God is a living God? An active God who moves and works in the world and in your life? A wild God who loves you and does anything to be in a loving relationship with you? I certainly hope so. Because when we meet Christ, the son of the living God, not only our lives are changed but also our destiny is changed.

But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him. (Phil.3:20-21, MSG,*)

How do you think a front man of a world-known rock band would answer Jesus’ question? Here’s what Bono says who Jesus is:


(Great answers, Bono! God bless you!)

I hope that we don’t just know Jesus but live and breath Jesus.

That we truly live like sons and daughters of the living God, abiding in Christ. That we truly act like the followers of the risen Christ. empowered by grace. That we love and serve like the heirs of the kingdom of God, equipped by the Holy Spirit.

Because if we do, then we really know who Jesus is.

 

Gracious God,
You are the living God at work in our lives,
we praise you!
Jesus is Christ your son,
we praise him!
Your Holy Spirit enables, equips and empowers us,
we praise you!
Thank you that we can by grace be embraced by you.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Who is Jesus to you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you get to know Jesus and live and breath Jesus!

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

Image courtesy of Pierce Brantley, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays.

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July 23, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Faith for the Long Run

Faith for the long run
Is your faith an abstract collection of doctrines or do you have a resurrection faith? That kind of faith that drives any trace of fear out? That kind of faith that laughs in the front of death? That kind of faith that boldly declares like Paul: If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8, NRSV,*?

When we are in Christ, we have everything we ever need. Whether we live or die we are his. Resurrection faith knows for sure that life in Christ does not end at the grave. If you believe this, you have faith for the long run, faith for eternity with God.

The essence of the faith for the long run is abiding in Christ. Otherwise our faith might just be abstract piety. And that does not work on the long run. That does not get us into eternity. But when we are in Christ, we are safe and secure in God.

Paul underscored the importance of this intimate relationship with Jesus. Paul used ‘in Christ’ (or some form of it) 164 times in his letters. Being in Christ is what faith on the long run is all about.

It’s not about us keeping religious regulations.
It’s not about us trying to be perfect.
It’s not about us constructing abstract collections of doctrines.

Faith is about us surrendering to Jesus.
Faith is about us asking and receiving grace upon grace.
Faith is about us abiding in Christ forever more.

Then it doesn’t matter what happens to us, we are safe with God. Then we can be joyful even when we face death. That’s resurrection faith for you. That’s faith for the long run. That’s faith from here to eternity!

 

Gracious God,
We so yearn to experience the power of resurrection.
We so yearn to be fully yours.
Thank you for pouring out grace upon grace.
Thank you for sustaining our faith.
Thank you for guiding us home to you.
Empower us for resurrection living.
Show us what abiding in Christ
and having faith for the long run really means.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Is your faith an abstract collection of doctrines or do you have a resurrection faith?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace faith for the long run!

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

Image courtesy of Alan Belcher, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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July 21, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
7 Comments

The Selfie of God

The selfie of God

Have you ever taken a selfie? Do you enjoy seeing your friends’ selfies? These self portraits usually give us glimpses of their lives. Have you ever wondered how the selfie of God would look like?

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation. (Col.1:15, CEB,*)

The selfie of God is Jesus.

The selfie of God is indeed Jesus. And it is a huge blessing. Without Jesus we would not have an access to God. Without Jesus we would stay broken and lost. Without Jesus we would not know God.

When we become closer with Jesus, we become closer with God. In Jesus we have what we need to know of God. In Jesus we have everything we need to be made right with God. In Jesus we have everything to be made happy, whole, and holy.

How to go about it? Seek Jesus. Read the Word of God. Abide in him. Look at the selfie of God. Pray in Jesus’ name. Arrange your life around him. Make Jesus your everything. And you will not be disappointed.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for giving us your selfie in Jesus.
Help us to see all we need to see in Jesus.
Help us to become like Jesus.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How does the selfie of God change your view of him?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Jesus every day!

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

Image courtesy of Michael Polzella, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1131 God gave us Jesus so we could have eternal life.

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July 18, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Bloom with God

Bloom with God
Too often we take life granted. We forget how fragile we are. We forget that we can’t control everything. We forget that there are not guarantees in life. And most of all we focus on the earthly things and forget God. We flirt with the destructive things and wonder why we don’t feel close to God. We are in danger of becoming enemies of the cross.

As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross.Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things(Phil.3:17-18, CEB,*, emphasis added)

We insist it does not matter how we live, what we think, how we behave. We make excuses for our behavior. We forget that God is God and we are not. We forget how much we need God. We forget how wonderful it is to live with God. We forget we can only bloom with God. Otherwise we just go through the motions. That’s actually the most important choice we ever make: choosing to bloom with God or live on our own.

If you turned your back,
    they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
    revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
    the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
(Psalm 104:29-30, MSG,*)

The power of the cross changes everything:
Because of Jesus sinners are welcome into the presence of God.
Because of grace our sins are forgiven.
Because of the Holy Spirit we bloom with God.

And that’s what life with God is all about. In Christ we find out true identity. And when we are what we were created to be, we blossom like never before. We think we know what’s best for us. But we don’t. Only God knows. That’s why we only bloom with God. Why would we choose anything else?

 

Gracious God,
Forgive our selfishness.
Forgive our transgressions.
Pour out grace upon grace
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We want to be friends of the cross!
We want to bloom with you.
Send your Holy Spirit!
Make us what you created us to be.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you been in danger of becoming an enemy of the cross? How is your life as a friend of the cross? Do you bloom with God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you bloom with God!

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

Image courtesy of Terry Lane, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Image courtesy of Doug Shelton, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays,  Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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July 16, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Inside Out Faith

Inside out faith

Do you have Jesus in your heart? Good for you. But do you have inside out faith? Does your faith get an outside expression too? Does the workings of Jesus in your heart get you also work out your faith?

These are fundamental questions. When our faith becomes an inside out faith, we are truly experiencing the joy of salvation. Sure, we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus. But that is not the end of it. We are also called to abide in Christ. And when Jesus lives in us, we are enabled to both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out and work out our faith.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil.2:12-13, NRSV, emphasis added,*)

This does not mean that we could ever earn our salvation. Only God works salvation in and saves us. But only we can work salvation out. Working out our own salvation means we put our faith in practice. We don’t keep our faith inside of us. We pull our faith from inside out and live it out. All this because God is working in us.

When we truly work out our salvation, we learn to know our faith inside out. This inside out faith empowers us to humbly serve others. This inside out faith equips us to endure anything. This inside out faith enables us to truly enjoy living with God. We find meaning, purpose, and peace. We enjoy hope, love, and joy. We are home in God.

 

Gracious God,
You have planned everything so beautifully.
Enable us to have inside out faith,
empower us to live and work out our faith.
Show us how you want us to serve you.
Thank you for having a perfect plan
for all of us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you have an inside out faith? How does it impact your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live and work out your inside out faith?

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

Image courtesy of Kendall Conner, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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July 14, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual FormationWhat do you think? What is spiritual formation all about? I think it is simply becoming what God has meant you to be. It is the process of becoming Christ-like. It is growing in con-FORM-ity to Christ.

How does it happen? Only by letting God work in and through us. We can facilitate the process of spiritual formation but it’s always God’s work, not ours.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. (Phil.2:5, AMP,*)

What could this mean to you and me? How should this affect our daily living? How could we adopt the attitude of Christ and ooze it every single day? These are my questions lately.

It is fun to spend a lot of time with family and friends on vacation. But it also brings to light the state of our spiritual being. Are we humble as Christ? Do we care more for others than for self? Are we patient and kind? Do we keep score of the wrong-doings of others? Do we bless others even when we are hurt?

Ouch. We are guilty as charged. We are still works in progress. But when we abide in Christ, God is working in us. And this is the secret of spiritual formation. We can adopt the attitude of Christ by abiding in him. The more we spend time with him, the more like him we become. Spiritual formation happens through assimilation. We can’t make it happen. But it happens by grace when we just abide in Christ.

 

Gracious God,
We want to be conformed to Christ.
Don’t delay the process.
Help us to love like you and
live like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U
: How do you see spiritual formation?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you are con-form-ed to Christ!

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

Image courtesy of Lianne T., design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1128 God is at charge of our spiritual formation. #1129 Spiritual formations happens when we abide in Christ. #1130 Spiritual formation is growing in conformity to Christ.

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July 11, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Summertime Bliss

 

Summertime Bliss

Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.
(Ecclesiastes 11:7-8, MSG)

Summertime seems to be an on-going bliss in our household. Life is easy and worries are small. Thanks be to God! The hard winter is forgotten and the present is full of laughter and, it seems, endless sunshine. It is wonderful to go to bed and KNOW that there will be another day of sunshine waiting for you. Summertime bliss! Thanks be to God!

After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, MSG)

Summer is a wonderful time to count your blessings and praise the Lord! Winter will come but now we enjoy ourselves and praise the Lord! Let’s make the most of this summertime bliss and praise the Lord! It sure is God’s gift! Praise the Lord!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for summertime bliss!
Thank you for easy-going days,
family time, swimming and sunshine.
Thank you for warm breeze and cool shade.
Be praised for all the good things in life!
Store this happiness inside of us.
Keep us from taking life for granted.
Thank you for this gift of life!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How is your summer going?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim. Count your blessings! Experience Summertime Bliss!

Image courtesy of Doug Shelton, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays,  Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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July 9, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Sin Breaks Us

Sin breaks us
Over and over again the Bible proclaims that if we repent, God will forgive us. This grace feels too good to be true. Yet it is true. Love, grace, and forgiveness form together the very essence of God. Because we are not able to become holy on our own, God sent his only son to redeem us. Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we can be forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus.

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.(John 1:9, CEB,*)

Some people wager they will turn to God when they’re on their dead bed. But do you know when you will die? I don’t think so. Other folks think they can get away by misusing grace by doing whatever they want and then begging forgiveness again and again and again. What do you think? Could that work? Does God really forgive you over and over again? Yes, he does. God’s love can handle it. But can we handle it? I don’t think so. Sin breaks us.

Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. (Romans 6:15-16, MSG,*)

We want to think that doing whatever we want is what freedom is all about. But it’s not. It’s a sure way to disaster. Human beings are not made of steal. We break. Human beings are not untouchable. We suffer from consequences.

The only way to true freedom and wholeness is Jesus Christ. Take it or leave it. Sin breaks us; God restores us. Invest in your well-being and everlasting joy, choose Jesus. Today.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me for calculating and scheming against you.
Like I would know better what’s good for me.
Wash me clean with the blood of Jesus.
Show me your ways, Lord.
Our our grace upon grace and make me holy like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe that sin breaks us? Have you been made whole?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you offer yourselves to the ways of the Lord!

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

Image courtesy of Justin Newbury, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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