Flowing Faith

December 19, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

What I Hope for You This Christmas

What I hope for you this ChristmasI hope that this Christmas season you take time to do two things. They make or break your Christmas. First of all, welcome Jesus into your heart. He was born for you. Do you let him be born in your heart? Second of all, I hope you take time to reverently adore Jesus. That’s how we get the Christmas spirit. By welcoming Jesus and worshiping him.

O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker [in reverent praise and supplication]. (Psalm 95:6, AMP,*)

Don’t be too busy with your preparations and planned events that you don’t have time to both corporate and private adoration of Jesus. This is not about religious rituals, this is about heart matters. Either you adore Jesus or you don’t. Either you worship the Christ child or you go through empty rituals. Your choice. Everything is ready for Christmas joy.

God does not need our adoration. But we need to adore him. We all know what’s left if we take Christ out of Christmas: just a mess. But By welcoming Jesus into our hearts and adoring him we partake in the Christmas miracle and we are filled with joy. That’s what we all want for Christmas. And it’s available for everyone by opening our heart to receive Jesus and by worshiping God in reverent praise.

 

Dear God,
We thank you for sending your only son into world.
We thank you that Jesus for born for each of us.
We adore you.
We worship you.
We praise you.
Help us to open our hearts to Jesus.
Enable us to find time for quiet adoration of Jesus.
Pour out Christmas joy, Lord.
Let us feel what it means to us
that Christ was born!
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you celebrate the baby Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you open your heart for Jesus and adore him!

* [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 ochristian.com and creationswap.org, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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December 17, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

How to Deal with the Past

How to Deal with the PastAre you trying to leave your problems in the past? I have a better idea. Do you know why? Your history is part of you, there’s no way you can leave your past behind you. But don’t despair. I really do have a better idea. Something that works time after time. Namely facing your problems, sins, any kind of emotional wounds with Jesus. With the words of Francis Frangipane “For the past cannot be forgotten, it can only be forgiven and redeemed.”

There’s nothing Jesus can’t heal, nothing.
There’s no one Jesus can’t redeem.

What do do then? How to deal with the past? Bring you wounds and scars and sins and baggage to Jesus. Dump the load at the foot of the cross and ask for help. Whether you’re suffering from your own sins or you’ve been wounded by others, you need Jesus. Healing comes when we receive grace upon grace.

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)

By his wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24b, CEB)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows].
(Psalm 147:3, AMP)

Just remember to leave your baggage at the cross. Don’t pick it up again. Jesus has carried all of it on the cross. It’s finished. Let Jesus deal with the past. If you still carry around regrets, give also them to the Lord. Whatever your problem is, give it to Jesus. He can help you. Jesus will create beautiful things of the broken heart of yours. Just give him all the pieces.

 

Gracious God,
I gladly give you my junk.
Do you really give me grace and joy in return?
Thank you.
Forgive me my sins, Lord.
Redeem me, Lord.
Cleanse me, Lord.
Heal me, Lord.
Restore me, Lord.
Enable me to love and trust again.
Empower me to live boldly for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you deal with the past?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you leave your sins and troubles at the foot of the cross!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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December 15, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
3 Comments

How Can We Be Merry?

How can we be merry?The world news seem to be getting more horrific all the time. Kidnappings, massacres, wars, murders, accidents. It all feels terrible, especially in the season of love and peace. How can we be merry? How can we rejoice when the world is full of tears and heart-break?

But do we then forget what is the reason of the season?
Do we forget why Jesus came into the world?

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
(Isaiah 61:1-3, CEB)

Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all who mourn.  Jesus came to save us from our sins, from death and dying. Jesus came that our tears would dry and our hearts would rejoice in the Lord. Jesus came so we could have life and more life.

Jesus is Immanuel in Hebrew which means “God is with us”.
And this is exactly why we rejoice in the midst of sufferings.
This is exactly why we wish each other Merry Christmas also this year.

Because our savior has been born!
Because of Jesus we have hope everlasting!
Because Jesus changed everything.

Without him we are lost.
Without him we perish.
Without him we don’t have hope.

But in Jesus we have hope, we have peace, we have life everlasting!

The darker the world gets, the brighter the star of Bethlehem will shine. It announces that our savior is born! And that gives us hope even when nothing makes sense. This is not the end. Better things ahead. Thank you, God!

 

Gracious God,
We bring our devastated hearts to you.
We can’t make it on our ow
Heal us, heal the families affected by the tragedy.
Pour out hope, faith, and love!
Enable us to rejoice.
Thank you for sending Jesus into the world!
Thank you for saving us from the darkness!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Who is your strength in the midst of hardships?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you be merry and rejoice in the Lord in the midst of hardships!

Image courtesy of Amanda Petty,  design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2012. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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December 12, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
7 Comments

Prepare Your Heart

Prepare your heartPreparation is a big part of any celebration. The bigger the celebration, the larger-scale preparations are needed. As human beings we need time to get ready. But also God carefully prepared the creation of the world and the way of salvation long before they happened:

In the beginning God (prepared, formed, fashioned, and) created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, AMP,*)

How wonderful to know that God took time to prepare everything in the world, including you and me. God had a perfect plan long before he formed you. You are not an accident and neither is this green earth. We are all part of God’s amazing plan.

That they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but might keep His commandments And might not be as their fathers—a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their hearts aright nor prepared their hearts to know God, and whose spirits were not steadfast and faithful to God. (Psalm 78:7-8, AMP,*)

Our role is to prepare the way to the Lord and to be prepared when Jesus comes back. How can we do that? It all starts with preparing our hearts to know God. There are many ways to do it (but they all include spending time with God). You need to find your way to prepare your heart to know God. Start by asking God to show you the best way for you.

This Advent season itself invites you to prepare your heart for Jesus. One way to do it is to make room for Jesus in your heart. So often we forget Jesus in the midst of our hectic lives or even in our Christmas preparations. Something needs to go, hopefully it is not Jesus but all the junk in our lives.

Anything and everything that keeps us from being steadfast and faithful to God needs to go. What it is to you will be different than what it is to me. What hinders me from being ready to fully celebrate God is different than what hinders you from doing the same. But the goal is the same: to prepare your heart to know God and hear his voice.

Then we are ready for the celebration God is preparing for us.
Then we are ready to meet Jesus.
Then we are ready to glorify God forever and ever.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for carefully planning everything.
Thank you that none of us is an accident
but part of your plan.
Prepare our hearts and minds for you.
Prepare us to be ready to meet you.
Prepare us for the big celebration.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you prepare your heart to know God and do his will?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you prepare your heart for the big celebration!

* [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 Jo Vanlandingham, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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December 10, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

A Christmas Legend

wise men on the way Far, far away in Siberia lived a good but poor king. He had always been told that when the Highest King would be born a star would proclaim his birth. As the poor king saw the star of Bethlehem, he knew right away that now the Highest King had been born. He chose the best things his country could offer: pearls, linen, fur, and honey to be his gifts to this new king and started his journey on his horse.

The star was bright and it made the journey of the poor king easy. Far south he met three other kings who were on their way to greet the baby king. But these kings came from very powerful and rich countries and they did not have time to wait for the poor king and his old horse. During his long journey the poor king met a beggar woman whom just had had a baby. The poor king gave to her his fur to cloth the baby.

The journey of the poor king continued. He came to a very troubled country. He thought how these people would need the Highest King very much. Seeing such sufferings made the heart of the poor king ache. He gave away everything he had until he did not have anything left to bring to the Highest King. But he continued his journey anyway. When his old horse died he continued by walking.

The poor king finally arrived to a harbor. The poor king met an old woman saying goodbye to his only son who had been sentenced to slavery for 30 years to pay off his late father’s deaths. The poor king could not let this happen; otherwise the old woman would have been left without anybody to take care of her. So the poor king promised to take his place. Thirty years the king worked as a slave. The years were long, the work was hard and over those years the king saw unending sufferings and sadness. Sometimes he wondered why there weren’t any signs of the Highest King anywhere. But still the poor king believed in the star.

Finally those thirty years passed and the king was free to go. Now he was old and tired but he continued his journey hardly remembering any more what he was looking for. At the end he arrived to a city where there were people from all over the world. They were having a big celebration. There the poor king met the woman whom he had helped years ago. The king did not recognize her, but she told him that he had helped her when she had had nothing. “I gave you my heart, even though you did not ever know that. Something even a beggar can give: one’s heart”. She also told him that today was the Highest King dying in the city. Oh, the poor king would meet him after all! The king followed the crowds and came to a hill where there were three crosses. The poor king looked in the eyes of the person crucified in the middle cross and he immediately knew this was the Highest King he had been looking for all his life. The poor king was deeply sorry that he had given all his gifts away. But then he remembered the words of the poor woman. He knelt down and said: “My Lord, take my heart!”

Yes, Lord!
Take my heart!
Amen

Q4U: What kind of thoughts this Christmas legend stirred in you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim! You have everything it takes!

Image courtesy of Christmas-Clip-Art.com. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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December 8, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

God Knows You by Name

God knows you by nameOne of the great things about the Bible is that people are mentioned by their names. There are lists after lists telling us the names of the people involved. What does that have to do with you? Everything. Just like the people gone before us, also you are special. God knows you by name.

God knows all of us by name. We are not just numbers. We are persons with names and each of us have a different life story. There are millions of us yet God knows each of us personally. We should never forget that. We are special in God’s eyes.

You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
    Even from far away, you comprehend my plans.
You study my traveling and resting.
    You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways.
There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord,
    that you don’t already know completely.
You surround me—front and back.
    You put your hand on me.
That kind of knowledge is too much for me;
    it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it.
(Psalm 139:2-6, CEB)

God does not treat us impersonally either. He knows our history. He knows our struggles. He knows our personalities. He knows us inside out. Yet he loves us without hesitation. He loves us always more than we need. And he does know what are our needs before we do.

It is really amazing to know that God Almighty cares about us personally. We do matter. What’s going on in our life does not go by unnoticed. God has a plan for each of us and it is not a plan to harm us but bless us. We are in good hands.

You are the one who created my innermost parts;
    you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
14 I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
    Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.
15 My bones weren’t hidden from you
    when I was being put together in a secret place,
    when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my embryo,
    and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me,
    before any one of them had yet happened.
17 God, your plans are incomprehensible to me!
    Their total number is countless!
18 If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand!
    If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you.
(Psalm 139:13-18, CEB)

We don’t need to fake anything in order to be good enough for God. We can come as we are and know that God receives us with great joy. God knows you by name. He knows you personally. And he invites you to know him personally too.

God’s gift to us is not just to be known personally by him but also know him intimately. How can we do that? By spending time with him. And this time is never wasted. The more hectic and busy our life gets, the more important it is to spend time with him. The less time you have, the more time you need to spend in God’s presence. It sounds crazy but it is true. The benefits are out of this world. Try it! You will be blessed more than you can imagine: Peace in the midst of chaos.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for knowing me inside out.
Thank you for never letting go of me.
Thank you for having a plan for me.
Thank you for caring about me.
It is truly amazing.
You are truly amazing.
I come to rest in you, Lord.
Take away my anxiety,
give me your peace.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know God personally

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you spend time with God!

Photo courtesy of Timothy Lester, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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December 5, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

You Are Always Loved

You are always loved
Do you believe that you’re very dear to God? Truly precious and beloved? Good for you. Do you believe that you are always loved and cherished? That is a bit harder to believe, don’t you think?

Because we don’t so easily love unlovable ones ourselves.
Because we don’t always love even those who are dear to us.
Because we are incapable of altruistic and unconditional love.

But God is not hindered by our in-capabilities. God is God and he is love. You will always be loved because God will never stop loving you.

For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10, AMP,*)

No matter what happens God’s love shall not depart from you.
No matter what you do.
No matter what you leave undone.
No matter what happens to you.
No matter what happens in the world.
No matter what God loves you.

And not just any kind of love. God loves you with everlasting love. With amazing, pure, unconditional love. God loves you more than you can imagine.  God loves to love you and he loves every part of you. You are truly precious and dear to God. You are always loved. No matter what.

So bask in his love. Revel in the knowledge that God’s love shall never depart from you. And share the love with everyone you encounter!

 

Gracious God,
Your love is astonishing.
You love me even when I fail,
even when I disappoint you.
Thank you so very much!
Your love means everything to me.
Build me up with your love.
Make me what you want of me.
Just keep loving me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know that you’re very dear to God? Do you trust that God always love you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you revel in knowledge that God’s love shall never depart from 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 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 Jordan Chesbrough, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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December 3, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Refreshed, Supported, and Strengthened

refreshed, supported, strengthenedAre you painfully conscious of your need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened? Do you know what those things are? How do you get your soul refreshed, supported, and strengthened anyhow? If we hurry and go after all the bling-bling in the world, we will miss it. But if we take time to listen, we find our way to the well.

God has been calling us to the fresh waters long, long time. Already Isaiah prophesied:

Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty!
Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!
Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price
[simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing].
(Isaiah 55:1, AMP)

Jesus himself invited us to him:

He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said,
From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.
(John 7:38, AMP)

Jesus’ invitation is repeated in the invitation at the end of the book of Revelation:

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come!
And let him who is listening say, Come!
And let everyone come who is thirsty
[who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened];
and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it,
let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.
(Rev.22:17, AMP)

The things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened are available for anyone and everyone by grace through faith in Jesus. Prayerfully devour the word of God and be filled with the joy of salvation. Abide in Christ and drink the water of Life without cost. Bask in God’s grace and be filled with the Holy Spirit all the days of your life. Do all these as often as possible and you’re ready for anything the future might bring.

 

Gracious God,
We need to be refreshed,
supported and strengthened.
Pour out the Living Water.
Pour out grace upon grace
according to our needs
and your plan for us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know how to be refreshed, supported, and strengthened?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you drink the water of Life and be refreshed, supported, and strengthened for the journey!

Photo courtesy of James Cronin, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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December 1, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Yearning for the Light

Yearning for the LightIt’s getting dark very early these days. Even the days seem gloomy. We yearn to have more light. We try to get rid of darkness by putting up Christmas lights. But no amount of Christmas lighting can take away darkness of our lives. Only God can do that.

Psalm 36 verse 9 has been giving me comfort and perspective as it gets darker and darker around us:

For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.

(Psalm 36:9, NLT)

God is life and the giver of life.
God is light and the giver of light.

That’s why it doesn’t matter how dark it is outside. The most important thing in our lives is God. When we abide in Christ, we bask in Light. And all is well.

The physical darkness is not the only darkness we fight these days. Darkness of sin has even more powerful pressure on us than this time of year ever could. But God has the answer for both problems. God defeated darkness by sending his only son into the world.

The people who sat (dwelt enveloped) in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those who sat in the land and shadow of death Light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16, AMP)

Because of Jesus we can be redeemed by grace. Because of Jesus the weight of sin can be lifted off our shoulders. This is the message of Christianity. Our sins can be washed away by God’s grace. We only need to ask. And then continually live in this light.

If we loose track of God-Light, we do get desperate. Darkness around us and inside of our hearts browbeat us easily if we do not hold on to God. But darkness does not have a chance against God-Light. We are safe in Jesus. We feel light and see light – even in darkness – when we are one with God.

Love God, all you saints;
    God takes care of all who stay close to him.
(Psalm 31:12a, MSG)

Gracious God,
Thank you for having an answer for darkness: Jesus.
Thank you for taking care of all who stay close to you.
Shine on us, Lord!
Drive out all darkness inside of us.
Brighten our days with your Light!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you struggle with darkness?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you bask in His Light!

Photo courtesy of Timothy Lester, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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November 28, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Giving Is the Way

generosity begets generosityToday I’ve been pondering on giving. What it is and what is is not. I don’t think we need expensive gifts but I do think we need extraordinary generosity. Material gifts do not bring happiness. But love and caring do. Because when we love each other, we are touched by God.

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. (Luke 6:38, MSG,*)

This Bible verse has been asking me questions today. Is getting or giving your mode of operation? Are you adding good in this world? Are you giving your life or what? Do you live poorly just because you are selfish?

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (Luke 6:38, NLT,*)

God’s economy is different than the world’s economy. Getting is loosing. Giving is the way. If we want to have abundant life, we need to first give our lives away.

How could we do that? By surrendering our lives to Jesus every single morning. By loving, by being generous, by sharing kindness. Joy comes – they say – from putting Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. How true.

One of the meanings of the word ‘generous’ by the Free Online Dictionary is “free from meanness or pettiness”. Being generous means not only being liberal in giving but also being free from meanness.

God called us to love without measure.
Jesus showed us how to do it.
The Holy Spirit will equip and empower us to do it.

It is time to decide whether we want to be generous or not. It’s not about our nature or ability but about God’s nature and his ability. They are ours if we want to. What shall it be? You know, giving is the way.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for nudging us into the right direction.
Forgive our selfishness.
Turn us from getting into giving.
Turn us from meanness into kindness.
We surrender to you.
Use us according to your plan.
Make us generous like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you given your life away? Do you think giving is the way?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you turn from meanness into kindness & generosity!

* [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 Dan Johnson. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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