Flowing Faith

July 21, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Are You Collecting Idols?

Are you collecting idols?Summer is an awesome time for spiritual check-ups. Usually, we get some time off the grid or even time away from routines. That gives us time to see our life better than when we are barely trying to survive from day to day. Today I am trying to look at my life if there are any other gods than God Almighty. You know, it’s so easy to start collecting idols without even noticing it. How about you? Are you collecting idols?

Because God says:

When you cry out for help,
    let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
    a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
    will inherit the land
    and possess my holy mountain.
(Isaiah 57:13, NIV,*)

Are you collecting idols?

It’s so hard to admit that we are collecting idols when we are putting our trust in money or even in such a great thing as a family. It’s wise to save up and love your family, right? Yes and no. Saving (versus spending) is a good thing but our security does not come from piles of cash but from the Lord. Love is also good, even biblical, yet our help does not come from our family but from the Lord.

It is hard to trust God without hesitation. Maybe it’s even harder to surrender fully to God. Without conditions. But those conditions and reserves are our idols. Whether we realize it or not.

Your collection of idols does not save you. Nobody but Jesus can save you. And there’s no one but God who can make you whole and secure your future. Yet we insist on managing on our own. Over and over again. But our insurances and bank accounts or piles of stuff won’t help when we really need it. Even a family can’t always be there for us. In the end, we are alone before God. And that does not have to be scary. Christ is inviting us to take refuge in him and then being alone with God is a celebration. I am choosing God. Every day. Why don’t you join me in this celebration?

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for trying to manage on our own,
collecting idols left and right.
You are the only Living God
and we want to choose you.
We surrender to you without conditions.
May Thy will happen in and around our lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you collecting idols?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you get rid of idols at the feet of Jesus! Choose God, choose joy!

* [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 Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

July 18, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Well-Being of Your Soul

The well-being of your soulHow are you doing? And how about the well-being of your soul? We hear the first question quite often even if they are not really wanting to know how we are. The second question is something we rarely get asked which is kind of sad. But maybe it is a question we should ask ourselves. You know, the well-being of your soul is the most important thing. Without the well-being of your soul, you are not only unhappy but also lost.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
(Psalm 25:16-17, NIV)

John Ortberg shares an inspiring and helpful story about this in his book The Me I Want to Be: “I asked a wise man, “How do you assess the well-being of your soul?” He immediately said, “I ask myself two questions”: Am I growing more easily discouraged these days? Am I growing more easily irritated these days? At the core of a flourishing soul are the love of God and the peace of God. If peace is growing in me, I am less easily discouraged. If love is growing, I am less easily irritated. It was a brilliantly helpful diagnostic to assess the health of my soul. How would you answer those two questions?”

Two questions to assess the well-being of your soul

These two questions provide a fast and effective assessment of the state of your soul. Are you growing more discouraged or irritated these days? Your answers tell the state of your soul. If you’re growing more discouraged and irritated, you’re growing away from God. And, friends, that is the way for the ill-being of your soul. If you are filled with the love of God and the peace of God, you are joyful and peaceful no matter what. Because God’s peace is the inner calm and spiritual well-being we are all after.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

Only the abundance of grace can give you the well-being of your soul

There’s no other way for lasting well-being than God’s grace. We need Jesus to save us and sustain us. The less content we are, the less filled with the Holy Spirit we are. (Or vice versa.) It is well with our soul when God’s love and peace are growing in us. It’s that simple. Yet we live like the well-being of our soul would be solely on our shoulders. And then we wonder why we are not happier.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.
(Psalm 28:7, NIV)

Hence, run to God every day. He is your strength and your shield. Get your fill of God’s grace and you are set. God wants to help you. He wants to be the source of your well-being. Just ask and you will receive. Grace upon grace. Hallelujah!

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for trying to manage our lives on our own.
Help us to see you are the nourishment and sustenance we need.
We truly need you.
Pour out grace upon grace on us, Lord.
We want your love and peace to grow in us.
Help us to flourish for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How is the well-being of your soul?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you run to God to get your fill of his grace!

Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

July 14, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

If You Crave Comfort, Crawl to Jesus

If you crave comfort, crawl to JesusSometimes, we all crave comfort. Or maybe I should say, most of the time, we all crave comfort. Most likely we don’t realize it but we do. Life is hard, the world seems harsh. Hence, we crave comfort. The advertisers try to sell us their products to bring us some level of comfort. But they all are fake advertisers. There’s only one way to get lasting comfort and that is Jesus. Until we are truly comforted by the Lord, we are always lacking, whether it is a fancier handbag, a faster car, a new job or a better partner. But nothing – not even new toys – satisfies us until we are comforted by Jesus.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NLT,*)

For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person. (Jeremiah 31.25, AMP)

If you crave comfort, crawl to Jesus

Truly, if you crave comfort crawl to Jesus. Because comfort is possible because of him. Jesus forwent comfort so you might have it. It’s yours in Jesus, no matter how unattainable any peace, comfort or joy might look in your situation. But peace beyond understanding, satisfying comfort, and indescribable joy are yours in Jesus. Because he chose to fight for you on the cross. Hence, if you crave comfort, any kind of comfort, crawl to Jesus. He can bless you with whatever you need. This might sound too good to be true. But the good news of Jesus Christ is not fake news or fake advertisement. It’s all good and all true. Satisfaction guaranteed.

 

Dear Jesus,
We need you.
There’s nothing we have on our own.
Not peace, not comfort, not joy,
nothing worth living for.
But you have the words of eternal life,
so we come to you asking:
Pour out grace upon grace.
Give us what we need,
give until we are truly satisfied.
Fill every little space in our hearts with you.
Then we are truly comforted.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you craving comfort? Do you crawl to Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you go to Jesus with your needs and receive grace upon grace!

* [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 Christopher Campbell on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

July 11, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Pray and Never Quit

Pray and never quitOnce more I want to write about prayer. It’s utmost important that Christians do not live without it. With the words of E.M. Bounds “Prayer and a holy life are one. They mutually act and react. Neither can survive alone. The absence of the one is the absence of the other.” Prayer needs to be part of Christian’s life, plain and simple. Today I want to talk about persistent prayer. And, yes, I know, I’ve written even about that before. But I recently read the Parable of the Persistent Widow and it gave me some new insights. We are to pray and never quit.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, NIV)

Pray and never quit

I know the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonian 5:17, NIV) but reading this passage from Luke stating “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up got me thinking. This really is the way Jesus wants us to live: to pray and never quit. Never ever. There are deeper benefits in prayer than we can even imagine. But if we love Jesus, this is the way we need to live. We need to put our faith in God and pray constantly. We need to pray and never quit. But even this is not all Jesus is saying with this parable. Let’s find out.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow reminded of me wanting a scholarship to study abroad so badly that I kept emailing the office all the time. And I am still convinced that they granted me the scholarship just to get me off their backs. [*a goofy grin*] This parable tells us that if the unjust people give in to persistent pleas, how much more our just God blesses us when we pray and never quit. We are to knock on heaven’s door with our requests. Not only once in awhile but all the time. We should not treat prayer as an almost forgotten habit but as the power tool, it really is. God hears our prayers. Each one of them. Prayer is the highway for God’s power to come into our lives and into the world. Through prayer we grow in grace and mature in our faith. We are to pray and never quit. That’s our Christian duty. Every single minute of our lives.

Let us pray:

Gracious God,
How good you are to us.
Thank you for calling us into partnership with you.
Ignite a spirit of prayer in all of us.
Help us to take seriously your call to pray.
Give us the spirit of persistent prayer
so we can pray and never quit.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you practice persistent prayer? How has it made a difference in your life?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you pray and never quit!

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

July 7, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Sundays for Worship and Play Only

Sundays for Worship and Play OnlyI reserve Sundays for play and worship only. I try to avoid doing anything useful (like doing laundry or mowing the lawn). When you first start doing this, it might feel a bit annoying that you can’t deal with the everyday stuff whenever you want. But when you truly embrace the idea of play and worship only, you start celebrating the fact that you have a whole day set aside for worship and play only. You can plan ahead of meeting up with friends and family just to play. Just like worship, it is good for your soul.

Why we need Sundays for worship and play only

A human being is not a human doing. And we are not machines that can go on without any rest or recreation. Just as bad as we need play in our life, we need worship. Too often we forget that we are created to be in an intimate relationship with our God or, at least, we forget what it entails. If we stay away from God too long, we suffer. It’s not God who is suffering but us. We need God just as bad as we need rest. Hence, God has ordained us to have Sundays for worship and play only. We need them both to flourish.

Listen to God’s Voice to guide you

But this thing I did command them: ‘Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey Me or bend their ear [to hear Me], but followed the counsels and the stubbornness of their [own] evil heart (mind), and [they turned and] went backward instead of forward. (Jeremiah 7:23-24, AMP)

If we do listen to God’s voice and do as he says, we will be blessed. We are not to follow the counsels of our own hearts or minds. And that is our selfish tendency to do. In order to not shut our ears to hear God’s voice and turn our backs to God, we need to worship. And in order to not shut our hearts to our fellow human beings, we need to play. There is time to work and there is time to play. But it is always time to worship.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for wanting us to also play.
Help us to remember to reserve time for it
and bless our time for rest and recreation.
Thank you for calling us to spend time with you.
Help us to not turn our backs to you
but always listen and obey your voice.
Lift our spirits, Lord.
Help us to find a way of life that honors you
and blesses us.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you reserve Sundays for worship and play only? Why/why not? If yes, how has it blessed you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you listen and obey God’s voice.

* [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 Nick Abrams on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

July 4, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Are You Ready to Give up Everything to Follow Jesus?

Are you ready to give up everything to follow JesusDo you love God more than anything? And do you surrender to Jesus daily? Your will, your strength, your heart, your mind, your body, your soul, your spirit, your everything? That is a tall order, isn’t it? Are you truly willing to give up your own children, even your own life, to follow Jesus? Because that is what he expects you to do. Are you ready to give up everything to follow Jesus?

With the words of Jesus: Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple. (Luke 14:33, MSG)

Do you give up everything to follow Jesus?

This is for real. Following Jesus is much more radical than we’d like it to be. How convenient it’d be to get all the benefits and not give up anything, right? But that’s not how it works. Jesus gives us everything we can’t have on our own: freedom from sin, peace everlasting, a direct access to God, his holiness, unlimited joy, unconditional love and so on. We can’t earn any of it. We can only receive it by grace.

Grace is free but it’s not cheap. First of all, grace cost Jesus his life and second, we are bid to die when we come to Christ. It costs our life and everything that is dear to us. That is the only way to be a follower of Christ. How about you? Are you willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? Not just once. But daily. All your plans, all your loved ones, all your money, all your life.

What is your answer?

It’s not an easy answer. And sometimes we’d like to change it especially when we don’t like what God is asking us to do. But we can be certain that we will never be short-changed when we deal with God. Because he loves us. He wants what’s best for us. But it can be scary to surrender everything to God. Because then we are not free to do whatever we want to do but we are yoked to follow Christ wherever he leads us. But we can be certain it will always pay off to surrender our dearest to God. Most often God gives them right back to us (just like Abraham got Isaac back).

Surrendering our freedom goes against our (Western?) sensibilities. We want to be independent and free no matter what. But that’s not God’s way. We can only be truly free in Christ. That’s the paradox of faith which we can only understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. Surrendering our egos and giving up everything to follow Christ is the most life-giving thing we can ever do. So let’s get right to it!

 

Gracious God,
We want to be truly yours because we are not truly living without you.
You have the words of life, the keys to peace and freedom, the secret of joy.
So we surrender our body, soul, spirit, heart, mind, will, and strength to you.
We give up our loved ones, our desires, and our plans, our very own lives to follow Jesus.
Make us true followers of Christ.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you ready to give up everything to follow Jesus?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you surrender your everything to follow Jesus!

Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

June 30, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

spiritual blessings in ChristWe all love blessings, right? The more the better, I think. A blessing is a favor of God and a life full of blessings is the best kind of life, isn’t it? But don’t fool yourself. God’s blessings are most often not materialistic and temporal but spiritual and eternal. Somehow, that diminishes the ranks of people who want them. We’d like to have a new car and money enough to control our destiny. But that’s not how it works. Spiritual blessings in Christ are better than any fancy car or a huge bank account could ever be. How so? Let me explain.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Eph.1:3-11, NLT, empahsis added,*)

What are spiritual blessings in Christ?

Simply, they are God’s gifts to everyone who is one with Christ. They are gifts to the children of God. And they give us more than any temporary benefit could ever do. Because this life is not all there is. This life is only an entrance to eternity. And for eternity we need spiritual blessings in Christ. Without them, we can’t even get into heaven. Hence, the biggest spiritual blessing is salvation. Long before our time, God already loved us and chose us in Christ to be his adoptive family. Because of Jesus, we can now be holy and without fault in God’s eyes. What an amazing blessing for sure.

God loves to bless us richly

God loves to pour all kinds of spiritual blessings in Christ on us like love, grace, forgiveness, and acceptance. Spiritual blessings in Christ are God’s favor for us. He wants to give everything we need to live victoriously. When we are united with Jesus, everything that is Christ’s is ours. Talk about spiritual blessings: his peace, joy, power, wisdom, and grace. Yet, only people who are spiritually alive value spiritual blessings in Christ. But for us, these are priceless, better than rubies, greater than anything we could ever desire.

 

Gracious God,
Your generosity stuns us,
you are so good to us.
Thank you for loving us without measure.
Forgive us for not valuing eternal things more.
Help us to see what is real and what is not.
Instill in us a deep desire for all things eternal.
Pour out all the spiritual blessings in Christ on us.
Become our everything, Lord.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you value spiritual blessings in Christ? Do you see them at work in your life? How many blessings could you find in the Bible passage?

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.].

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

Image courtesies of Henry Be via Unsplash.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

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

The Spiritual Gift of Martyrdom

The spiritual gift of martyrdomFor a long time, whenever I was reading a list of spiritual gifts, the spiritual gift of martyrdom – the divine enablement to undergo suffering for the faith even to death – puzzled me. Of course, even then I knew a multitude of Christians have been martyred ever since the early church and persecution is still a factor around the world. I’ve always admired the martyrs and thought they’ve possessed something I don’t have. Where I did go wrong was assuming the martyrs always have had the spiritual gift of martyrdom.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Matthew 5:11, NIV, emphasis added)

The spiritual gift of martyrdom

We are not born with the spiritual gift of martyrdom. It’s not given to us if we don’t need it. Like any other spiritual gift for that matter. We get the spiritual gifting we need as we go. This is how it is also as it comes to the spiritual gift of martyrdom. If we find ourselves persecuted, we will supernaturally receive what we need at that moment.

Jesus instructed his followers this way: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (Luke 12:11-12, NIV, emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit will teach us as we go. We will receive everything we need when we need it. What a reassuring thought. Right here and now we do not have what it takes to be a martyr. But it’s not about us, folks. It’s about God and his possibilities are endless. Hence, all the Christians that are persecuted or martyred will receive all the supernatural aid they need. The spiritual gift of martyrdom is real and it’s yours if/when you need it.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Praise God when you don’t need this spiritual gift. But know that you are called to pray for persecuted Christians and churches that are under threat. Prayer is not optional, it is a command for every Christian. You might not feel like praying. But persecuted Christians don’t have the luxury to wait until you do. Pray now, pray always. Pray and feel connected to the body of Christ.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that you do not leave us to battle here on our own.
Be praised for your supernatural powers.
Thank you for giving us all the spiritual gifts we need.
Also, we pray for the body of Christ around the world:
protect, equip, bless all who are yours.
Enable us to commit to praying for the persecuted church.
May the whole world hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think about the spiritual gift of martyrdom? How do you pray for the persecuted church?

Photo by Nicole Mason on Unsplash, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

June 23, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

How to Have a Love-filled Marriage

love-filled marriageMy oldest goddaughter is getting married today. Even though we have never lived in the same place and sometimes even thousands of kilometers have separated us, our connection has never wavered. I’ve been praying for her since before she was born and that’s the key here: prayer. We don’t have this great connection because I would have been such an awesome godmother. It’s because of God’s grace. And that’s the secret to any steady relationship. Prayer is also the pathway to a love-filled marriage.

How to have a love-filled marriage

There are way too many marriages failing these days. They say they lost their loving feeling. But marriage is not about always having a certain feeling. It’s about choosing to love steady even on those days when we have absolutely no loving feeling left. How is it possible? We can’t but God can. That’s why we need to pray for our spouses and our marriages but, specifically, we need to ask for more love.

Pray for more love

That’s right. The key for a love-filled marriage is to pray for more love. Our human love will fade. But God’s love never will. Our supplies of love will diminish. But God’s love lasts forever.

God is more than happy to give us more love when we ask. He is delighted to pour out love upon love on us. And, let me tell you, this really works. Every time I ask for more love, I receive it.

For a long time, I did not figure out how this worked. I was just happy it did work. Whenever I felt I had lost that loving feeling and I prayed for more love, there was an ample supply of it delivered in the midst of us. Miraculously, it did work. (Try it yourself, it works in any relationship.) It took me quite a long time figure out how this worked. How can love be delivered to us? But then I remembered that God is love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:16, NLT)

God is love

When we pray for love, we receive Love, we receive God himself. That’s holy. And powerful. Hence, when we have Christ in our midst, we have a love-filled marriage. It’s that simple. Yet, we tend to forget it.

As Christians, we are to live in God. When we do that, we live in love. When we pray for love, we receive more than we asked for: we receive God who is love. Then it’s not us loving our spouses anymore. It’s Christ in us. Then it’s not us creating a love-filled marriage. It’s Christ in our midst.

Hence, a love-filled marriage is possible. Not because we’d be so great at it but because God is more than awesome. So, my marriage advice is this: Ask for more love and you will receive.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that a love-filled marriage is possible.
We ask for more love, Lord.
We ask for more you in our lives.
Bless all the marriages, old and new.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe it’s possible to have a love-filled marriage?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you steadily ask for more love!

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

Image courtesies of Kristina Litvjak, Clem Onojeghu, Gabby Orcutt and Ben White via Unsplash.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

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

Grow into Maturity

Grow into maturity

I’ve always loved The Parable of the Sower. The Holy Spirit seems to be speaking through it so powerfully. At least, that’s my experience. It opens our eyes to see what hinders our spiritual growth and what helps us to grow into maturity.

The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. (Luke 8:14, NLT)

What does hinder our spiritual growth?

Life can be that busy that we don’t feel we have time to seek God. Also, too much worry can do that to you. (Yet, I believe that’s exactly when we should turn to God. We don’t need to do this life alone and God has plenty of power and grace to help us along the way.) And I can understand that the riches can woo you when you feel invincible and self-sufficient. But I had not thought that the pleasures of this life can do that to you too. Aren’t they what makes life what it is?

I think simple pleasures are blessings. Just think about a cup of your favorite hot beverage first thing in the morning. Isn’t it divine? I think so. But, we are not talking about simple pleasures here. We are talking about things that suffocate your faith life. We can so easily get caught up with leisurely activities and entertainment that eventually there is not much room for Jesus in our lives anymore. A life that looks good to others might contain some things that hinder our faith. What is that pleasure (or some other thing) that prevents your faith from maturing?

The result of this fun-seeking, pleasure-hunting life is not then that great or what do you think? What if we never grow into maturity? When we always choose pleasure over service, riches over sacrifice, worry over trust, we do not mature. Our faith does not produce a crop if we continue to do whatever we want at any given time. We are not called to only have fun here on this earth. And, don’t get me wrong, fun is good. But if fun is all we ever want; our faith does not mature.

What to do then? How to grow into maturity?

With the words of Jesus:

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15, NIV)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matt. 6:33, NLT)

Prioritize God in your life. Listen to his guidance and act upon it. Hold on to God’s Word no matter what and you will produce a huge harvest. The only way to grow into maturity is to abide in Jesus. Always and every day. Then there is no more need to worry about tomorrow and making more money or finding new pleasures. Because in Jesus there are all the answers and pleasures we ever need. And don’t even let me start about joy in the Lord. It’s endless and there’s nothing better in this universe.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for thinking this world and our lives are all there is.
Help us to discern what is meaningful and what’s harmful and then choose wisely.
Enable us to trust you so firmly that we do not need to worry about tomorrow.
Fill us with your Spirit, Lord.
Let us see what a joy it is to live our lives with you.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: What is that pleasure (or some other thing) that prevents your faith from maturing? How do you deal with your tendency to surround yourself with pleasures? What does help you to grow into maturity?

Image courtesy of Luke Pamer, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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