Flowing Faith

April 29, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Stop Passing on Judgment

Stop Passing on JudgmentLife is beautiful but it can be, at times, really hard. There are a lot of obstacles we face: sickness, poverty, emptiness, stress, all kinds of pain. Pretty much everyone is fighting tough battles. We need to live in a way that we are not adding on each other’s pain. We need to stop passing on judgment. It’s not our place and it does not help anyone.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:13, NIV)

We need to stop making life more difficult than it already is. We are called to love, not to hate. We need to stop passing on judgment. If we can’t do that, we need to spend more time with Jesus. People who are graceless hate. People who are grace-filled, love. And the only way we can be grace-filled is to abide in Jesus.

So. The next time you feel like hating someone or passing on judgment, know that it is you that needs help. It is you that needs Jesus. It is you that needs grace upon grace.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me for adding on others’ pain.
Forgive me for being filled with anything but grace.
Make my heart soft and gracious.
Make me more like Jesus.
Fill me with your love and grace.
Love others through me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you passing on judgment or grace?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you love as Jesus loved!

* [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 Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today withDance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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April 27, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Don’t Be Deceived

Don't be deceivedDo you think you are a good enough person without any need for a Savior? That’s what the world keeps telling you. Don’t buy it. The Bible tells us differently. First of all: you surely are precious. But, second of all, you also are a sinner just like the rest of us. You do need a Savior. Don’t be deceived.

I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
(Psalm 36:1-4, NIV)

Or the same with the words of Billy Graham: “We see ourselves as self-sufficient, self-important, and self-sustaining. God sees us as dependent, self-centered, and self-deceived.”

There’s not a single person in this world who is sinless. We all need God’s love and mercy. Blessedly, God loves us and has done everything to give us a chance to be made right with him again. Because of Jesus we have a standing invitation into a close relationship with God. He does not want to punish us but to bless us.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.
10 Continue your love to those who know you,
    your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
    nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
    thrown down, not able to rise!
    (Psalm 36:5-12, NIV)

Happiness does not come from being self-sufficient, self-important or self-sustaining. Blessings come from being united with God through Jesus. He is the fountain of life. He is the source of all the good things in life. He is everything we ever need.

Don’t be deceived by the world. Come to the fountain of life. Come to Jesus.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for sending Jesus,
for providing us a way back to you.
Clothe us with your righteousness,
give us your power to yield evil around us.
Strengthen us for your service.
Give us grace upon grace,
life upon life,
love upon love.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Does the world lure you? How have you been deceived? What helped you to see the truth?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you take Jesus up on the invitation to be in a close relationship with him.

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

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April 25, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Source of Contentment

The Source of ContentmentDon’t wait for tomorrow to be happy and fulfilled. Don’t wait for easier circumstances to be joyful. Don’t wait for something miraculous to happen to start really living. Because life is to be lived right here and right now. The ultimate reason and the unquenchable source of contentment, joy, happiness and fulfillment is available for you 24/7/365.

It’s not positive thinking. It’s not a new method of self-help. And it definitively is not a new program of self-improvement.

Apostle Paul already knew the way to contentment:

Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] (Phil.4:11-13, AMP) 

The source of contentment and fulfillment is Jesus. The reason of all joy and happiness in all times is Christ. Elisabeth Elliot nailed it: “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”next decade to be happy. Don’t wait for the tide to turn to be fulfilled. You can be joyful and content in any set of circumstances when Christ lives in you. 

Don’t live under your privileges as a child of God. Be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Ask for grace in abundance. Then you can experience the same as Paul and Elisabeth Elliot. Then you can be self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency and face anything with a smile on your lips.

Jesus is enough. Experience it yourself.

 

Gracious God,
You truly are more than enough.
Don’t let me ever forget that.
Abide in me, Lord, always and forever.
Fill me with your love and grace.
Strengthen me in every circumstance.
Be my true source of contentment
now and forever.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Who/what is the source of contentment for you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you

Photo courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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April 22, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

How to Walk in Love

how to walk in loveWe are called to be one in Christ…but we are not succeeding very well, are we? Living in unity seems like a balancing act sometimes. How can we who are so different live in harmony? How can we respect everyone and allow each other freedom in Christ? These are the questions I’ve been mulling over lately. Blessedly I learned five things about how to walk in love from Romans 14:13-23.

1) We need to stop criticizing at once. Everyone we meet is a precious gem of God for whom Christ died. We also need to proceed cautiously. Everyone we meet has his/her own set of difficulties, we are not to make them worse. Because everyone we meet is unique. We are not to decide what’s right for each other. That’s God’s job.

Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is.(Romans 14:13, MSG)

2) Walking in love means we live by the standard of love toward each other. If we hurt others, we are not conducting ourselves according to God’s will. We are called to live in love, breath in love, and share in love. Love is our job.

But if your brother is being pained or his feelings hurt or if he is being injured by what you eat, [then] you are no longer walking in love. [You have ceased to be living and conducting yourself by the standard of love toward him.] Do not let what you eat hurt or cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died! (Romans 14:15, AMP)

3) The Kingdom of God is about experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit here and now. And that’s why walking in love is possible. When we abide in the Holy Spirit, we can be living a life of love.

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)

4) We are to aim for mutual upbuilding in Christ. We are called to seek harmony among us. This does not happen by accident, we need to be intentional about this. We need to pursue first of all Christ and then peace among believers.

So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another. (Romans 14:19, AMP)

5) We also need to put our beliefs in practice. We need to walk the talk, as the saying goes. Our lives need to be consistent with our beliefs. Then we are truly walking in love and faith. Then we are truly enhancing harmony around us.

If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong. (Romans 14:23, MSG)

The only way anyone of us can be acceptable to God is by grace through faith in Jesus. It’s all grace. So let’s embrace it and share it in abundance. Just the way we receive it ourselves.

Then we are truly walking in love.
Then we are living in unity.
Then we are one in Christ.

 

Gracious God,
We so need you.
We can’t manage on our own.
Pour out more grace, Lord!
Pour out more love, Lord!
Send your Holy Spirit, Lord!
Show us what it means to live in unity.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you think living in unity is a balancing act? Do you know how to walk in love?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you dare to stop criticizing and pass on love instead!

* [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.].

Photo courtesy of Matt Ansley, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke.  This post has previously been published in 2013. Linking up today withDance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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April 20, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Becoming Alive

Becoming AliveAre you in the process of becoming alive? Or do you insist staying the way you’ve always been? This C. S. Lewis quote captured my attention and refueled my Biblical imagination today. How about you?

Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoiled. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can do to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it. The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself; He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, his Zoe, (spiritual life) into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.~C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis once again uses an analogy that brings life to the subject matter. We do think we are the real deal as tin soldiers but how wrong we are! We think we know best even though we clearly don’t. We think God wants bad things to us when the opposite is true. We’d rather keep our stone hearts as long as we are like everyone else.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26, NIV)

We are meant to be very much alive and well. Somehow we try to do anything and everything to prevent becoming alive and real. Why would we do that? Becoming alive does not even require work on our part. Jesus already did everything on our behalf. It is finished. All we need to do is to open our hearts and minds to receive the gift of grace and all the good things God wants to give us.

I will ask God to get rid of any tin I still have in me. Will you join me?

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me for resisting you in any way.
Please, do change me.
Make me real.
Make me the way you want me.
Be my everything.
And use me anyway you want.
I want to be fully yours.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you becoming alive? Or do you resist God’s work in you? What does help you to “let go and let God”?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let God change you and make you real.

Image courtesy creationswap.com and design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up withUnite the Bloggersphere and#tellhisstory.

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April 18, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Blaming God ?

Blaming God?Are you blaming God for your difficulties? Or are you angry at God for letting you suffer? I have news for you. It’s natural but not Biblical to think life, even for a follower of Christ, should be smooth sailing. The Bible does not promise life without difficulties or give an exempt for suffering. Actually, we are promised quite the opposite.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have[perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.”[My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (John 16:33, AMP)

Easy life and insider benefits are not why we are Christians. Why then would we want to be Christians? Because we are promised something far greater than life according to our wants and whims. We are promised real life with God. Not an easy life but life lived connected to God. And life that God has designed for us with love. Life that is full of meaning and purpose. Life that has no end.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:2-5, NLT)

When we are followers of Christ, we don’t separate either suffering or joy from God. Everything we face in this world, we face with God and that makes all the difference. When we live with God, we have everything. When we abide in Christ, we rejoice in everything. When we know the love of God intimately, all is well no matter what. This does not make sense for those who do not know God. But for those who do know him, this is real life.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for blaming you for our troubles.
We don’t need inside benefits,
we just need your presence.
When we have you,
we have everything.
Help us to see your heart.
Thank you for your love and grace.
Keep us in your arms.
May Your will happen in our lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U
: Have you ever been blaming God? What has helped you to see the truth?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you trust God with your whole life!

Photo courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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April 15, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

The Blessing of All Blessings

The Blessing of All BlessingsMany people think following Jesus is difficult. But I disagree. It’s the easiest thing ever. Because we were created to live with God. Sure, life is not easy. But life with God is easier than otherwise. The Blessing of all blessings is the love of God dwelling in your soul like William Law says it so eloquently:

The Spirit of Love, wherever it is, is its own blessing and happiness, because it is the truth and reality of God in the soul; and therefore is in the same joy of life, and is the same good to itself everywhere and on every occasion. Would you know the blessing of all blessings? It is this God of Love dwelling in your soul, and killing every root of bitterness, which is the pain and torment of every earthly, selfish love. For all wants are satisfied, all disorders of nature are removed, no life is any longer a burden, every day is a day of peace, everything you meet becomes a help to you, because everything you see or do is all done in the sweet, gentle element of Love.

This is exactly what life with God is all about. When we abide in Jesus, we are blessed. When we abide in Christ, we are safe. When we are united with Christ, we experience real peace and joy. Of course, this does not mean, there would not be any difficulties. Actually, Jesus promised us problems in this world. But he also promised he will be with us until the end of the world.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect]peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (John 16:33, AMP,*)

The blessing of all blessings is to have God of Love dwelling in your soul. There’s nothing better in my opinion. God’s sweet presence makes my life joyful. Because it reminds me of my true home.

Don’t fear, because I am with you;
don’t be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
I will surely help you;
I will hold you
 with my righteous strong hand.
(Isaiah 41:10, CEB,*)

In 1873, Horatio Spafford wrote the words to the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” after the tragic death of his four daughters. He wrote it on the ocean while sailing near the spot where his daughters died.

Horrible things can happen to us but it does not change the fact: When we abide in Jesus, it is well with our soul. No matter what. Because the blessing of all blessings is the love of God dwelling in our soul.

 

Gracious God,
Your sweet presence in my life makes my life bright
even when the circumstance are dark and gloomy.
Be praised for your everlasting love and grace.
It is well with my soul when you dwell in me.
Be forever praised, Lord.
You are my everything.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What is the blessing of all blessings to you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let the Lord dwell in your soul!

* [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 Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today withDance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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April 13, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Daily Faith Practices

Daily Faith PracticesHow do you live out your faith in your every day life? What do you do daily to feed your faith? Do you have some daily faith practices? Or are you asking why you should practice your faith daily? Well, Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11, AMP). And that’s not just bread we are talking about here. It’s anything and everything we need in our lives. Daily prayer helps us to remember we truly are dependent on God. For real.

You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48, AMP, emphasis added)

In order to have robust faith, we need to be actively integrating godly values into our life. There’s no way around it. Or that’s it is in my faith life anyway. If I spend time with God daily, my faith is blossoming. But if I don’t, my faith starts to wither away. Slowly, of course. But the direction is clear.

We need to take care of our faith in order to keep on growing into spiritual maturity in mind and character. What kind of daily faith practices do we need to  include into our daily routines? It is really between you and God. But most common ones are probably prayer, confession, Bible reading, doing devotions, prayer journaling etc. Find your own daily faith routines and keep them faithfully. You will most certainly be blessed.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for caring for us
and inviting us to spend time with you.
Guide us to form such daily faith habits
that keep us focused on you and what matters most.
We want to be yours and get to know you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What are your daily faith practices?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you form and keep your daily faith habits!

Image courtesy and design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up withUnite the Bloggersphere and#tellhisstory.

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April 11, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
10 Comments

Refresh Your Life!

Refresh your lifeDon’t you ever wish there would be a refresh button for your life? That by only pushing the button everything would just miraculously sort out just fine? But, yeah, I  guess that’s not how life works. But we have not been left alone to deal with the mess we’ve made. Jesus asks:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11: 28-30, MSG)

Jesus wants us to learn to come to him for renewal, recovery and refreshment. He invites us to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Jesus wants us to truly live in grace. To rest, work, play, eat, fellowship, do everything in grace. There is time for everything when we are not forcing our life to be something what it is not supposed to be.

The unforced rhythms of grace allow us to have adequate rest, enough soul food, enough fellowship time, enough work, enough play, and everything else we need for a balanced life. But we need to build our life on Jesus. Nothing else will recover, renew and refresh our lives. No magic button. Not this or that. Only Jesus. But he will never leave us or forsake us.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more freely and lightly we learn to live. The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we start breathing with the unforced rhythms of grace.

 

Gracious God,
We come to you with our messed-up lives.
Renew, refresh, recover our lives!
Teach us how to live in your grace.
Show us how to breath with the unforced rhythms of grace.
Enable us to live freely and lightly in you.
Help us to offer your grace to our neighbors
and lead them to you for restoring.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What does living in grace mean to you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you learn to truly live in grace!

Photo courtesy of Rusty Wilson, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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April 8, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

The Way to Wholeness

The Way to WholenessOne of the best things of Christianity is that we are not just saved, made right with God but we are also made whole. Wholeness is something everyone in the world wants. We want to feel complete. We want our lives to be wholesome. We want to be happy, whole, and peaceful. The way to wholeness is available for us in Christ. But only in Christ.

But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
(Isaiah 53:5, MSG,*)

Wholeness does not exist outside of Jesus. Because we need freedom from sin to be made whole. If we are broken by sin, we are not whole. Wholeness does not exist without freedom from our sins and transgressions. And freedom from sin does is not possible without Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection. Once we are made right with God through faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit starts the process of making us whole and holy.

Wholeness is what God desires for us and it is possible in Christ. What do we need to do? Seek Christ. Embrace Christ. Because Jesus is the way to wholeness. He does not just show it to us. He is the way himself.

Gracious God,
Your plan for our well-being is so detailed and amazing.
Thank you for sending Jesus for us.
Enable us to embrace Christ every day of our lives.
Make us whole and holy according to your plan for each of us.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know the way to wholeness?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Christ for your way to wholeness and holiness!

* [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 Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today withDance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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