Flowing Faith

May 18, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

The Secret of Christian Living

The Secret of Christian LivingDo you want to know the secret of Christian living? How can some people live according to the will of God? The fact is no one can live up to the high standards. But would you rather lower the expectations of Christian living than learn the secret of Christian living? I hope you choose the latter option. Because even if Christian living is impossible for us, it’s very possible for God. And he provides us everything we need for victorious Christian living. Let’s find out how.

 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. (Acts 1:8a, NLT,*)

The Secret of Christian Living

The Secret of Christian living is nothing we can produce or do. It’s the present Jesus promised to his followers. As Ray C. Stedman has said, “He who rose from the dead, rose to pour out His Holy Spirit into human lives, and, by that Spirit, to make available to any individual all the fullness of Himself, twenty-four hours a day.” By the Holy Spirit, Jesus is available to us 24/7. The Holy Spirit is our power, our secret of Christian living.

D.L. Moody has said, “You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears, or breathe without lungs, as to try to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.” There’s just no way we can live Christian life without the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to live up the Christian ideal presented us in the Bible. Hence we are not to lower the expectations but to receive and rely on the Holy Spirit to do it. Because he will if we ask. So let’s not forget to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

Gracious God,
You are so good to us.
Thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit
to enable and empower us to Christian living.
Come Holy Spirit, fill us to the brim each morning
so we have plenty of grace to share each day.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know the secret of Christian living? Do you put it in practice?

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.].

Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

May 15, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

More of God’s Grace and Peace

More of God's Grace and PeaceAre you after spiritual well-being? Do you want more of God’s grace and peace? Good for you. This means you know what can make your life better and more blessed. So you are ready to choose life over death. Wonderful. But do you know how to go about it? How can you have more of God’s grace and peace? Let’s find out.

Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2, AMP)

This Bible verse gets me so excited. First of all, it tells us that special sense of spiritual well-being is possible. And, second of all, it tells us how to go about it, how to get more of God’s grace and peace. It happens when we get to know more intimately God and Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

More of God’s grace and peace

Too often we don’t think it is necessary to get to know Jesus up, close and personal. Or we don’t see the connection between our spiritual well-being and the true knowledge of God and of Jesus. But here is Peter telling us this is exactly the case. He tells us our spiritual well-being will be multiplied to us as we deepen our experience with Jesus.

Did you catch that? There’s room for expansion! We don’t get just a little bit more of God’s grace and peace if we communicate with him regularly. But if we truly get to know Jesus intimately, our spiritual well-being can be multiplied many times over. The better and deeper we get to know Jesus, the more spiritually blessed we become. Just think of how our lives could change for better just because we take time to linger in God’s presence.

This is a no-brainer for me. I want more of God’s grace and peace. Hence I will spend more time with Jesus. Why don’t you join me? I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through us all. Multiplied spiritual well-being ahead! Thank you, Jesus!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for calling us to you.
We want to linger in your presence,
we want to get to know you personally.
Bless us with more of grace and peace,
bless us with your presence.
Multiply our spiritual well-being,
show us what it means to be truly yours.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you ready for some more of God’s grace and peace?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you deepen your experience with God and Jesus!

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

May 11, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Included in Christ

Included in ChristAre you included in Christ? If yes, you’re part of a very rich inheritance. All the riches of Christ are yours when you heard the good news of your salvation, and as a result, believed in Him. If no, know that all are included in the invitation to come to Christ. All are welcome just as they are. Christ has everything you need to be made right with God and even that is not all. He has everything to heal you and make you whole. Once you believe in Jesus, also you become a child of God. And, believe me, there’s nothing better than that.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13-14, NIV,*)

Included in Christ

Being included in Christ is the best there is. It’s like arriving in your destiny. Receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit (that Jesus promised to us) feels like somebody would have finally turned the lights on. Suddenly, the world – even in its desperate state – has colors and your life – even in its pitiful state – has hope. Because Jesus ascended to heaven, we received the Holy Spirit which is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. God’s salvation plan is on schedule.

So let’s count our blessings. Let’s lean on forward. We are included in Christ. That means we can own all the promises of the Bible as ours. We can embrace all that God has for us in Christ. Already, right now, wherever we are. So we are resurrection people waiting for the redemption of those who are God’s possession. Let’s keep on celebrating and praising God. Because we are his, we are free and filled with hope, love, and grace. We are included in Christ. Hallelujah!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for having such an awesome and powerful salvation plan.
We are beyond grateful for what Christ has done for us.
To be included in Christ is the greatest gifts of all times.
Be praised for all you’ve done for us.
We love you and we praise you.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you feel about being included in Christ?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace the truth of your salvation and believe in 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 toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Photo by Michael McFatridge via CreationSwap. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

May 8, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

God or Mammon?

God or mammon? Do you ever read some Bible verses thinking ‘thank God that’s not my problem’? But once you dig a bit deeper you realise that it’s exactly your problem? I share a Bible verse today that had that kind of effect on me. It’s from the sermon of the Mount. Jesus tells us that we can’t serve both God and mammon. I nod wistfully like a Pharisee and I am thankful money has never been an issue for me. (I have many other struggles but money has never been that special to me). But then I read the verse in the Amplified version of the Bible:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord]. (Matthew 6:24, AMP)

God or mammon?

Mammon is not just money, I read. It can be fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord. Hence I do not get off the hook. I sink deep: I am guilty as charged. Mammon is anything valued more than the Lord, mammon is the world itself. When the world tempts me in any way to put God on the back burner, I am a fool to cave in. And when I put my life and my plans and my dreams first and God second, I sin. Who is my master? God or mammon? Me? Money? Success?

Truly, I need a Savior. I mumble like the tax collector: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:14, NIV)Thankfully my Savior is mighty. He does not only save me, he continues to work in me. By God’s grace, I am able to let go of mammon in my life by surrendering to Jesus day by day. No one but Jesus can sit on the throne of my heart. Otherwise, my faith will wither. And that’s not what I want. I want Jesus to be my Savior but also the Lord of all my life.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me my selfishness.
I want you to be the Lord of my life,
yet I have my own agenda.
I lay down my plans, my dreams, my agendas.
May only your will happen in and through my life.
Enable me to keep you always number 1 in my life.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: What are you temptations? How do you keep Jesus the Lord of your life?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you surrender to Jesus and let him lead you!

Photo by William Krause on Unsplash. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

May 4, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Learning to Adapt to Change

Learning to adapt to changeHow do you adapt to changes happening in your life? Change is hard and because life is nothing but change we need to somehow adapt to change. Some people have better ways to cope than others. At least, they are less destructive ways to adapt to changes. But learning to adapt to changes is a very important life skill. Or faith skill as I think of it.

Learning to adapt to change…

I’m sure you’ve realized that change is inevitable in life. If nothing else changes, your age does and that brings along changes for sure. But we also lose jobs, people get sick or die, children grow up and leave the nest, friendships are broken and others are formed, buildings are torn down and new roads are built where there used to be nothing. Change is constant. You get the picture.

How do we keep up with change? And how do we adapt to new situations? This is the key to living well. If we don’t know how to adapt to change, we will be lost in life. So…what to do then? How can we adapt to change? Here are a few faith-filled thoughts that might help you to embrace change.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. (Romans 8:28, VOICE,*)

… is a faith skill

The fear of change is fear of unknown. But as Christians, we know who is in charge of our lives. Hence we can relax. Our heavenly Father is in charge, we don’t have to be afraid of anything. Even if everything around us seems to change, God does not. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So when the fear of future tries to paralyze you, just embrace God tighter, he is the God of peace and he has a good plan for you. He can change even ugly things into beauty when we surrender to him.

Also, using eternal perspective helps. When we remember this world is not all there is, we realize we would not even want to make this world a permanent residence. And if we truly are on our way to heaven, we want to be changed into more Christ-likeness. Hence we need change. Staying as we are is not an option.

…which is most deeded when life gets rough

When the change is not something we’d like to welcome into our lives, it’s good to remind ourselves that whatever brings us closer to God (through prayer) is a blessing in disguise. Not necessarily by the first glimpse but when we take a closer look, we can see how God is working in and through us in that situation. Hence any change is an opportunity for us to get closer to God, to get know him better or in a different way.

This world is not our destination, we are only passing through on our way to the better place. Hence we welcome all the changes God sees fit for us as he prepares us for eternity. We just need to pray God will also give us all the strength and wisdom needed to adapt well to the new situations along the way. And, guess what, God is delighted to answer those prayers and pour out everything we need on our way to heaven.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for fearing change,
for forgetting who is in charge of our lives.
Thank you that you do not change,
your promises are valid always valid.
Enable us to welcome change
as opportunities to grow in you.
Change our lives according to your plan.
Make us more like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you adapt to change? Share your best ways with us!

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace change as part of God’s plan for 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.].

Photo by Balaji Malliswamy on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

May 1, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Discarding My Own Glory

DIscarding my own gloryMany of you know that I’ve been tweeting Christian quotes for almost a decade now. So I don’t come across a new quote every day, especially older ones. But a couple of days ago I found this Jean (John) Calvin quote that felt, first of all, new to me and, second of all, touching. Somehow, Jean Calvin summed up Christian faith only in few well-selected words, which is remarkable of course. But mostly I was in awe of its ability to lead me to the cross for discarding my own glory.

Discarding my own glory…

Okay, you say. Let’s just hear the quote. Here it is: “We never truly glory in God until we have utterly discarded our own glory”. It talks to me about surrender. If I have not died to myself, I can’t be resurrected in Christ. Until I have surrendered my all to God, I am not ready to live in him. Discarding my own glory is something I need to do every day. Otherwise, I try to glory in myself. And that’s not pretty, it’s pathetic.

What to do then? How can I learn to glory in God? Saint Paul guides us this way: Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. (Romans 12:1-2, AMP)

…by God’s empowering grace

I need God’s empowering grace for discarding my own glory. This, of course, goes against the grain. We’ve been taught to ‘find ourselves’, ‘follow our dreams’ and ‘make our mark in the world’. The very opposite what the gospel invites us to do. According to the gospel, we are to die to ourselves, take our cross and follow Christ wherever he leads us. At the first glance, these things are not very inviting. But if you take a closer look, you realize they lead you into the eternal life.

As A.W. Tozer has said, “To seek God does not narrow one’s life, rather it brings it to the level of highest possible fulfillment”. This is what faith is all about. Outwardly, faith might not look much. But inwardly, faith brings the highest possible fulfillment. If you have not yet found it, keep on knocking, the door will be opened for you. Discarding your own glory by surrendering to Jesus is the first step towards the highest possible fulfillment: glory in God.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for surprising me with new ways to look at faith.
Enable me to keep on discarding my own glory.
I surrender my everything to you.
May you will happen in and through me.
I want to know you, glory only in you.
Create something beautiful out of my surrendered life, Lord.
Make it bring glory to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Does discarding your own glory come naturally to you?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you let the Holy Spirit guide you to glory in God!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

April 27, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

You Just need to Ask

You just need to ask - flowingfaith.comDo you feel stuck? Sometimes we feel like we’d be doing the same old, same old routines over and over. Nothing changes no matter how we try. Like we’d be forgotten in the middle of nowhere. But that’s not true. God knows exactly where you are and what is going on in your life. He is ready to help you. You just need to ask. Don’t let fear keep you stuck. Let God’s grace set you free.

You see, I have found that the only way out of a rut is Jesus. Really. Usually what keeps us stuck in a rut are our feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. We are tired and fearful, we can’t see a way out of our situation, so we feel overwhelmed, helpless and stuck. But then we forget that we were made for more than being stuck in a rut. That is not God’s plan for his children.

You just need to ask

What is God’s plan then? God wants to rescue his children from vicious cycles of defeat and self-blame. He wants us to be free in Christ. When we are in Jesus, we are not defined by our past or present. Instead, we are defined by Jesus. He tells us we are precious children of God, we are forgiven, loved and worthy. This changes everything.

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV,*)

Jesus yearns to show you how he can do a new thing in your life. You just need to ask. And when you do ask for help, you realize God releases you from the thought-patterns that have kept you stuck. And you are surrounded by God’s empowering and uplifting grace. It is amazing how everything then feels new even though outwardly everything is still the same. God can really help you, even in the middle of a wasteland. His help is real and it works. You can experience it too. You just need to ask.

 

Let us pray:

Gracious God,
Help me!
I am stuck in a rut in the middle of nowhere.
Come and rescue me.
I dump by fears and doubts at the feet of the cross
and ask you to fill me with your grace instead.
Instill faith, hope, joy, and peace in me.
Make me see myself and my situation with your eyes.
Create a way in my wilderness, Lord.
Show me your grace and glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What keeps you stuck in a rut? How do you get out of there? Have you experienced God’s help?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you ask for God’s help!

*[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.].

Photo by Luke Pamer on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

April 24, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Discipleship Is an Invitation for More

Discipleship is an invitation for moreDiscipleship doesn’t make us giddy, does it? Rather it is something we see as boring or tiresome, something we are not too keen on doing. It reminds us of kitchen privilege or chores we’d rather not be doing. But discipleship is not a chore, it’s an invitation to get to know our Maker better. Discipleship is an invitation for more. It’s a start of the lifelong process of becoming like Jesus. How come it’s not a chore then, making yourself better, more pleasing to God? Because it’s not your chore, you are not making anything out of yourself, God is. So relax. Breath in some glorious grace.

For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. (Phil.2:13, AMP)

Discipleship is an invitation for more

Because grace at work in us is what discipleship is all about. Our job is to cling to Jesus, abide in him and allow the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us. God takes care of the rest. We grow in grace when we abide in Jesus, it’s as simple as that. So let us enjoy God’s grace. The more we enjoy Jesus, the more we grow in grace. You see, discipleship is brilliantly designed in heaven for our benefit. As I said in the previous post: faith is receiving from start to finish.

Faith and discipleship are the vessels God uses to bring us from where we are to where God wants us to be. It might feel like we’d never get where God wants us to be. And that could very well be so if it was upon us to get there. But it is not. It is upon Christ. Hence we are safe and secure. So we will eventually get there. Meanwhile, we are called to spend time with Jesus, bask in God’s grace, and share it with others. Discipleship is an invitation for more. More of Jesus, more of grace, more of assurance, more of peace, more of joy. Yes, please.

 

Gracious God,
How come you are so good to us?
We assume discipleship to be a chore,
you make it an open invitation for more.
You invite us closer and closer to you
because you want us to know you intimately.
Thank you for always wooing us,
wanting us to have more of you.
We say yes.
Yes, please.
Give us more of you.
Show us how we can become more like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you see discipleship? Is it more like a chore or is it a way of getting to know God? It does make a difference, does it?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you embrace discipleship as means of getting to know God more intimately!

Image courtesy of Delanie/Lightstock. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

April 20, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Faith Is Receiving

Faith is receivingHow amazing it is that faith is receiving. And not trying, trying, and trying. Faith is always and forevermore receiving. It is always God first. Again and again, God pouring out blessings upon blessings on us. Faith is receiving God’s gifts: his love, his grace, his peace, his joy. Once we’ve filled to the brim with God’s grace, only then it is our turn to reciprocate and love God and others. But it is always God first.

We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19, AMP,*)

Faith is receiving

Some people don’t like the fact that faith is receiving. We can’t earn salvation no matter how much we’d like to pay for it, we can only receive it by grace through faith in Jesus. But even salvation is not the end of receiving. Like Martin Luther has said, we are all beggars. We need God’s grace to empower us for Christian living and loving. All the days of our life.

What a joy it is to receive faith as a gift. It is humbling for sure but receiving is the only way we can have it. I think it is most of all liberating and incredibly generous and life-affirming. God loves us so much that he does everything so we can be united with him. That leaves me in awe and adoration. Even the good works we are to do have been prepared for us. Faith is indeed receiving. Let’s open our hearts and minds for God to fill us to overflowing.

 

Gracious God,
The fact that faith is receiving
blesses us beyond measure.
It is you who does all the work,
who loves us first, and
wants to give and give and give.
We are in awe of your love
and because of your astonishing love
we want to receive all you have for us
and grow closer and closer to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think? Is faith receiving? How does it make you feel?

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.].

Photo by Wijdan Mq on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

April 17, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Loving Jesus More than Anything

Loving Jesus above all flowingfaith.comI love Jesus. How could I not, right? He died for me and gave me a chance to be made right with God. Loving Jesus is a no-brainer to me. How about you? It gets tough when we are told in the Bible to love God and Jesus above all. More than ourselves. Even more than our kids. And even more than life itself. Ouch. Loving Jesus more than anything does not come naturally to us.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV)

 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross[expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10:37-38, AMP)

Loving Jesus more than anything

I don’t know about you but this hit me hard as a mom. I have a son and a daughter and I take being their mom quite seriously, joyfully but seriously. It’s a calling to me to raise them well, teach them to love Jesus and find their peace in him. But here comes my struggle. I do say I love Jesus more than anything. And I desperately want to. But do I put my kids first anyway when it comes to following Jesus? You see, I always wonder how this or that will affect my children and make decisions based on those answers. And that’s all good – and expected in some ways- but does this make me not worthy of Jesus? Do I put Jesus above all else or not?

I’d like to think I always put God first. But my children are my weakness. Am I willing to surrender also them to Jesus? I want to. And in theory, I am sure I have. But in practice, I am not so sure. Lord, have mercy. Our primary allegiance must be to Jesus rather than to family. Yes, I understand it but do I live it? Do I make decisions solely based on my allegiance to Jesus? Or do I factor in other things too? I’m afraid I do. How about you?

How can we do it?

So the command is there, Jesus wants us to love him more than anything. It’s not our natural instinct to do so. How then can we do it? We can’t but, thankfully, God can. So we need God’s empowering grace to do it. God will provide us everything we need. Just like he provided everything for our salvation. Jesus will show us how. It starts with trusting God for wanting good things also for our kids (or for us), we don’t need to be the gatekeeper. By God’s grace, we slowly grow in our trust in God and allegiance to Jesus. And in the end, we are all better off for it. Because that’s how God’s love works. We will never be short-changed, instead, we will be abundantly blessed.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for following you and loving you most
just in theory and not in practice.
Show us how to love you more than anything,
how to follow you without hesitation.
We want to be fully yours and worthy of you.
So we surrender ourselves, our families, our everything to you.
May only your will happen in and through our lives.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How about you? Do you love Jesus above all? How do you do it?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you embrace God for all he has for you!

Image courtesy of John Emery. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

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