Flowing Faith

June 29, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
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Towards Spiritual Maturity

Towards Spiritual MaturityWould you like to become spiritually mature? I bet you do. I have very good news and very bad news. Let’s tackle the bad first. There are no shortcuts available. There’s no magic pill to take away the spiritual fat. There’s no fast track to skip the long lines of the obedience school. But here’s the very good news: spiritual maturity happens by grace when we stick to Jesus day in, day out.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. (2 Peter 3:18, NIV)

We are called to grow in grace. We are called to mature spiritually. With the words of J.C. Ryle “Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness – all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.”

If there isn’t any shortcuts available, how then do we reach spiritual maturity? By abiding in Jesus. That’s our only task. When we follow Christ, the Holy Spirit works in and through us. When we abide in Christ, we are being transformed into spiritual maturity. It’s all grace, we can’t brag about it. We are only blessed participants in what God is doing.

Spiritual growth does happen. But it doesn’t happen over night. We are saved in a moment, yes. But sanctification takes a lifetime. Spiritual growth is gradual, from one degree of holiness to the next degree of holiness. It happens by grace when we walk with God daily. When prayer becomes the most natural way of communication to us. When the Holy Bible takes more and more space in our hearts and minds. When spending time with God is what coming home is all about.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for calling us to spend lots of time with you.
How blessed we are to be your children!
Thank you that spiritual growth happens by grace.
Thank you that our only duty is to abide in you.
Bless us according to your plan for us.
Take care of all our needs,
make us more like you.
Become our everything, Lord.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What spiritual maturity is to you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and#tellhisstory.

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June 27, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Blessings Happen by Grace

Blessings happen by graceOne of many temptations in life is to forget where our blessings come from. We explain blessings away by thinking things happened by accident or it was serendipity. Or we take credit for those blessings. Or we don’t recognise them. Sometimes blessings are hard to see or they come in disguise. Also, it takes time for a seed of blessing to grow into a tree and bear fruit. The middle verses of the Bible emphasise the importance of counting our blessings and remembering them. And giving credit where credit is due.

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
   O my soul, bless God,
      don’t forget a single blessing!
(Psalm 103: 1-2, MSG)

When we stop believing in blessings and in God who is interested in our lives, something changes in us. We become cynical. But that’s not the way we are meant to live. We are meant to live in light and love.

When we stop believing in God who is in miracle business, we lose life-giving joy and our life start losing its meaning. This change is gradual and we don’t see it first but it does happen. We are not to forget a single blessing.

Max Lucado has said “I choose joy… I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.”

We can choose to keep our spiritual eyes closed. Or we can train them to see blessings in our everyday life. The more we practice seeing grace happening around us, the more we see grace in action. The more we count our blessings, the more we see them happening. Blessings happen by grace, not by accident. Look out for them!

 

Gracious God,
I bless your holy name!
Thank you for loving us and blessing us.
Keep my spiritual eyes always open.
I choose to see you in everything.
Thank you for your graceful presence in my life.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you seen things happening by grace in your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace what God is doing. Stick to grace! Stick to joy! God is good – all the time!

Image courtesy of creationswap.com, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2011. Linking up today with Us, Coffee and JesusSmall Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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June 24, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Make Room for Rest

Make room for restDid you wait for summer so life could get a bit less hectic? But now you’ve found yourself running a busy summer schedule? Now you’ve wondering where did the promised restful time disappear? Where is your peace, right?

It’s great to have many opportunities. It’s great to have a chance to try different things. But busyness does not bring peace or rest or rejuvenation, all those things that we were wanting from this summer. It’s time to cut back, don’t you think?

We need to make room for rest.

Otherwise we might be living lives that are not our own. We might miss all that is truly meaningful in life. And that’s not even the worst. We might forget where we are going.

We really need to make room for rest. How can we do that?

True rest is only found in Jesus. When we make room for rest, we are also making room for Jesus. And vice versa. When we make room for Jesus, we are also making room for rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28, NIV,*)

The best plan to avoid restlessness and exhaustion is to spend daily time with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7, NIV,*)

Make room for Jesus. Make room for rest. Everything else will follow suit.

 

Gracious God,
How wonderful you are!
Thank you for inviting me to rest in you.
Not only once in awhile but always and forever.
Help me to always have plenty of room for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you remember to make room for rest?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you continually abide 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 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 with Dance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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June 22, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

What to Do with Dreams and Desires

What to do with dreams and desiresDo you know yourself? Even your dreams and desires? Sometimes we don’t dare to get to know ourselves because we are afraid of what we’d find. But denial is not the way to go. God has not meant us to burry our heads in the sand. Instead we are called to know ourselves and give our everything to God.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4, NIV)

First and foremost we are to delight in the Lord. That’s the way of life for all the children of God. This is not just a test of obedience but in Christ we also find ourselves. The more time we spend in Christ, the more we get to know ourselves. And the more we become aware of our God-given dreams and desires.

That’s right. God gives us also dreams and desires. We don’t need to deny them in order to please God. What to do then? We are to give all our dreams and desires to God, he will use them in a good way. Human beings often misuse dreams and desires but when we give our passions to God, he can transform them into something extraordinarily wonderful.

So don’t hesitate to get to know yourself. God has created you to be you. Find yourself in Christ. Give all the parts of yourself, dreams and desires included, to God and watch how amazing things God has planned for you to do. Enjoy the Lordand he surely will give what your heart asks.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that you’ve created me to be me.
Thank you that I don’t need to deny my dreams and desires
but give them to you.
May your will happen in my life, Lord.
Use my dreams and desires for your glory.
Be praised forever and ever.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you manage your dreams and desires?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you give your everything to God and realise you already have everything in Him!

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

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June 20, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Walk in the Light of the Lord

Walk in the Light of the LordNo matter how busy you are, don’t forget to read the Bible. And, most of all, don’t forget to dwell in the Lord. Your own well-being is dependent on this interaction between you and your Creator. He loves you. He is waiting for you to embrace him and his lovingkindness.

Just this morning I randomly opened my Bible and here’s the verse that jumped out to me: “Praise and give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:21, AMP)

Just this little verse reminded me who and whose I am. That I am loved and cared for. It changes my outlook for the day. I’m filled with awe of God and his goodness towards me. I’m filled with his mercy and lovingkindness. And, just like that, I am ready to face the day and its demands. I am a child of God. He is on my side.

The next random verse I saw (as I leaf through the Bible towards the place I am currently reading) was in Isaiah:
Come, descendants of Jacob,
    let us walk in the light of the Lord.
(Isaiah 2:5, NIV, emphasis added)

I’m stopped in my tracks. This is what Christian living is all about: walking in the light of the Lord. Sometimes it’s easier than other times. But it always blesses us. There’s no other option for me.  That’s my heart’s desire: to walk in the Light of the Lord. What does it mean?

Sure, the Light of the Lord exposes our sins and then the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness if we ask. But even that’s not the end of the story. We are called to walk in the light of the Lord day by day. How do we do that?

We live with God. We regularly sit at the feet of Jesus. We let the Holy Spirit read us and stir us. This happens when we prayerfully read the Bible. It happens when we spend time with Jesus sharing our thoughts, worries, dreams with the Lord and listening to God’s solutions, plans and dreams for us.

We don’t need to have answers, we just need to go to the Lord. He has answers. We don’t need to have solutions, we just need to dwell in the Lord. He has solutions. And then some. Come, children of God, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Gracious God,
Your lovingkindness never quits,
be praised forever and ever!
Don’t let anything keep me away from your presence
because you are the source of all the good things.
Fill me daily with your lovingkindness.
Pour out grace upon grace, Lord.
Let me feel your presence in my life,
now and forever.
In Jesus name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you walk in the Light of the Lord?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God and his grace every day of your life!

Image courtesy of Brendan Sceroler. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Us, Coffee and JesusSmall Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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June 17, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Losing Is Gaining

Losing Is GainingThe world says losing is for losers. The Bible says losing is gaining. Which one do you believe? The world says you need to cumulate stuff, fame, wealth in order to be happy. The Bible says if you lose it all, you will gain everything in Christ. It sure sounds backwards. But it is the way to life everlasting.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up 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]. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world]will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16:24-26, AMP,*)

We are to set aside our selfish interests and follow Jesus. We need to give up our own way and conform to Jesus in everything. It might sound terrifying but it is the only way to life everlasting. Losing is gaining even if it does not look like it at first.

How to do it? How can you embrace ‘losing is gaining’ when you don’t want to? Just like anything else: start with prayer. Ask first for desire to surrender to God. You see, grace is not just pardon but also power. When we ask for God’s help, he will pour out grace upon grace according to our needs. In this case, God will give us desire to surrender and then power to do so.

When we want to live like Frank Sinatra sings “I did it my way”, we end up losing all that matters in the long run. When we want to live God’s way and surrender our will to God, we gain more than we are capable to imagine. And we don’t even need to wait for heaven to experience blessings. We don’t gain wealth, fame or success but we gain something better: peace, joy, hope and life upon life.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that you invite losers into your kingdom.
Thank you that your wisdom is much more than earthly wisdom.
Thank you that losing is gaining.
I want to be truly yours, Lord.
I surrender my way and my will to you.
May your will happen in me, through me and for me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you agree that losing is gaining? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Jesus as your leader!

* [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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June 15, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Power for Christian Living

Power for Christian LivingHave you given in after trying hard to please God and others? Are you so exhausted that you don’t care anymore? God just must lower his standards and have mercy on you, because you’ve done everything in your power.

Do you know what? You’ve got it all wrong. You are not even supposed to do it all on your own or in your power. Actually, no one can do it. No one but Christ in us can live the Christian life. No one but the Holy Spirit in us can empower us to do what we are called to do. Why then do we try to deal with everything on our own, in our own power?

With the words of Richard C. Halverson “Christ is not an idea which you are expected to try to emulate in your life. Christ is alive – contemporary – anxious to invade your lives with His dynamic presence, giving you Divine direction, power and wisdom in your daily affairs.”

We can’t. But God can.

We don’t have energy, skills, wisdom or power to succeed in Christian living. We are not even meant to do it on our own or in our own power. We are to live in God’s power. He is ready to pour out grace upon grace to empower us to do whatever he calls us to do.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4, NIV)

We have not been left to our own devices, the Holy Spirit is here to help us. We just need to stop trying to manage our lives on our own and welcome the Holy Spirit’s powerful, energising presence. And that’s what we are supposed to do. As long as we try to do everything in our own power, we are telling Jesus that his sacrifice on the cross was not necessary. 

You don’t need to be discouraged by failing to meet God’s standards. That’s what happens to all of us when we press on in our own power. But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus has already met all God’s standards. He is ready to help you in everything. You are not alone in this. If you allow, Jesus will come alongside you and empower you along the way.

We don’t get into heaven because we are flawless and successful. We get into heaven because Christ is flawless and successful and when we are in Christ, we are what he is: flawless and successful. 

 

Q4U: Do you have power for Christian living?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live in God’s powerful grace.

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

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

Making Room for God

 How can I fit God in my life?

Are you so busy that you don’t have time to to fit God in your life? We tend to get so crazy-buzy sometimes that it feels that we barely have time to breath. It might feel an added burden to find time and room for God.

But guess what? There’s no way you can ever fit God in your life. God is way too big for that. God can never fit in your life. If we want to experience God, we need to fit into him. And then it’s not a question about finding time and room for God. Then it’s a question about living in him. 24/7/365.

How do we do that? We need an attitude adjustment. Daily. Because we are not the center of the universe and it’s not about us. God is the center. God is the beginning and the end. God is everything. It’s about God.

If we want anything to do with God we need to fit into him, not vice versa. We can’t expect him to be at our beck at call or to fit in our busy schedules. There’s no box big enough that God could fit in. That’s not how it works.

When we have the right attitude to approach God, we soon realise that we do have time and room for God. We do have time to breath. We start our days with a conversation with God. We go about our daily routines by giving thanks. We serve God as we sacrificially serve our loved ones. We do our work for the Lord and not for the company. And we pray without ceasing. For in him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28, CEB).

There’s really no way we can fit God in our lives. We need to fit our lives into God. But the beautiful thing is: Because of Christ we fit perfectly into God. We can’t fit God in our lives, but by grace we can fit into God. And God’s plans for us are way more wonderful we can imagine. We need to stop rushing around and trying to fit God in our lives. We need to let God embrace us and enjoy the ride God has prepared for us.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for trying to fit you in a box way too small for You.
You are amazing and beyond wonderful!
Make us fit for You for Christ’s sake.
Embrace us with Your grace and
enlarge our territories according to Your will.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you had trouble to make room for God in your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live in God!

Image courtesy of Brendan Sceroler. This post is refurbished from 2012. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Us, Coffee and JesusSmall Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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June 10, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Become Everything God Created You to Be

Do you have difficulties believing that God really loves you? Don’t let that kind of doubts eat you up. Take God and his promises seriously. Because he is really serious about loving and caring for you.

When you doubt God, you diminish God in your life. And when you diminish him, you diminish yourself at the same time. Because in Him you find your true self. Become everything God created you to be, exceptional in every sense!

So cut off all the doubts from your life. Bring them to God and let him deal with them. Don’t nurture the doubts, don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Because the goal of our enemy is to diminish God in all of us. You don’t want that. You want God to increase in your life. You want to become everything God created you to be. Slowly but surely that happens when you keep on trusting God, receiving his abundant grace, and embracing his love for you.

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Matthew 10: 28-31, MSG)

God cares for you down to the last detail. How amazing is that! You’re worth more than a million canaries. How wonderful is that! Embrace it! Rejoice! And put that overflowing love in action.

Don’t let the world intimidate you or silence you. Become everything God created you to be, exceptional in every sense. Don’t let the world make you so busy that you don’t have time for the most important thing in life: a relationship with God Almighty. Immerse yourself in praying and studying the Scriptures, the only way to keep the doubts away and your faith flowing. Keep faith but not just to yourself. Pass it on!

 

Gracious God,
I bring you all our doubts.
Take away all that diminish you in my life.
May you increase in my life.
Enable me to truly receive your love and grace.
Help me to pass it on to others.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Why is it hard for you to believe that you’re cherished by God? That you’re meant to be exceptional in every sense?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God and become everything God created you to be, exceptional in every sense!

Photo courtesy of Jason Watson. This post is refurbished from 2011.

June 8, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

How to Cultivate a Spiritual Crop

How to cultivate a spiritual crop

Do you know how to cultivate a spiritual crop? All children of God are called to bear spiritual fruit, to cultivate a spiritual crop. What this means for each of us is a little different. We’ve been gifted and wired special and peculiar ways. God has created us unique and also our callings will be unique. Hence we are not to compare ourselves with each other. We are to do the creative best we can with our own life and help others along the way. The main goal for all of us is to bring glory to God with everything we do.

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. (Gal. 6: 4-5, MSG)

All our actions are seeds planted in the soil of life. It really does matter what we do, what we pray, what we think, what we say. They’re all seeds we’re planting. What we plant, we will harvest. What kind of seeds do you want to plant? What kind of harvest do you want to reap?

Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience. Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. (Gal. 6: 6-8, MSG)

We are to plant in response to God. We are to follow God’s guidance and his plan for our life. When we let the Holy Spirit work in us and through us we will eventually harvest a spiritual crop, eternal life. But we need to be faithful in planting. We need to keep on doing good even when we don’t see results. Cultivating a crop does take time and lots of hard work. We need to weed, water and nurture while planting more seeds. We need to have patience to wait and endure growing pangs. But we are not to quit. There will be a harvest! At the right time we will harvest a good crop instead of weeds. Let’s keep on keeping on!

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Gal. 6: 9-10, MSG)

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving meaning for our lives.
Thank you for calling us to work for you.
Equip us with the tools we need!
Give us endurance, patience and skills to
cultivate a great spiritual crop!
Bless what we plant,
enable the growth!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What is hardest in cultivating a spiritual crop?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you plant and cultivate a spiritual crop!

Photo courtesy of Joel Millhouse/creationswap.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2011.

 

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