Flowing Faith

April 16, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Accepting Our Need for Christ

Accepting our need for Christ
Have you accepted the reality of your sinfulness? Are you willing to admit that because of you Jesus died on the cross? Or do you deny your need for Christ?

We would like to think we are not sinners. We would like to think it’s not our fault that Jesus died on the cross. But we could not be further from the truth. If we do not accept this fact, we are living in a lie. Then we either live in denial or despair. But we do have another option.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:6-11, NLT, emphasis added,*)

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. When we admit our sins, beg pardon and receive the gift of grace, we truly are reconciled with God. Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we can have this wonderful new relationship with God. And this enables us to accept the reality of our sinfulness and stop denying our need for Christ.

We don’t need to become depressed when we look at our sinfulness because we know the Redeemer. We don’t need to be in denial when it comes to our dark side because we know the One who makes us whole.

Brennan Manning has written “Accepting the reality of our sinfulness means accepting our authentic self. Judas could not face his shadow; Peter could. The latter befriended the impostor within; the former raged against him.”

Judas was as sinful as Peter and you and me. But he did not know Jesus as his redeemer and he despaired. This can happen to all of us if we don’t know grace. We all need Jesus to have hope.

Peter denied Jesus three times but he new Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Peter did not deny his sins. He repented and was made whole by God’s grace.

We are all sinners. But good news is: God sent Jesus to die for us already while we were still sinners. We are utterly helpless, we can’t redeem ourselves. We need Jesus.

If we don’t admit our sinfulness, we are either in denial or despair. But if we can admit our sinfulness and need for Christ, we are in for grace and more grace, life and more life.

That’s why we spend Holy Week in quiet adoration. And by Easter morning we will shout from the roof tops: Jesus is our redeemer! Hallelujah!


Gracious God,
Your love is so astonishing.
We can’t comprehend it
but we praise you for it.
Thank you for redeeming us.
Thank you for saving us
from both denial and despair.
Deliver us daily from sin’s dominion.
Heal us and make us whole.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you accepted your sinfulness? Have you accepted Jesus as your redeemer?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace grace day after day!

* [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 Joe Cavazos, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere , Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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April 14, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

What Can We Learn from Jesus’ Agony in Gethsemane

Christ's agony in Getshemane
On Monday of Holy week Christians traditionally read and contemplate on Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Luke concentrates on Jesus’ prayer and not on the failings of the disciples. Let’s see if there are any blessings hidden in the story. Let see what we can learn from Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane.

And He came out and went, as was His habit, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed Him. And when He came to the place, He said to them, Pray that you may not [at all] enter into temptation. And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed, Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done. And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him in spirit. And being in an agony [of mind], He prayed [all the] more earnestly and intently, and His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground. And when He got up from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from grief, And He said to them, Why do you sleep? Get up and pray that you may not enter [at all] into temptation. (Luke 22:39-46, AMP)

I just love the humanness of Jesus praying. He was not hiding his emotions from God. He struggled and didn’t even try to suppress his emotions. He desperately wanted to find another way. He agonized over it. He expressed his feelings openly to God. And that, I think, is the tremendous gift for us today. That’s what we can learn from Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane.

We don’t need to keep away from God when we are frustrated.
We don’t need to be stoic and hide our emotions from God.
We don’t need to suppress our feelings before the Lord.

We are free to be who we are and feel what we are feeling.
We are free to wrestle with God, express ourselves openly.
We are free to be authentic with God.

And even that’s not all, folks!

We are not left to struggle alone. Just like Jesus had an angel strengthening him, we are empowered through the Holy Spirit. We just need to enter into God’s presence and we will have as much grace as needed.

We need to stop thinking we’d need to suppress our real feelings if we want to come into God’s presence. Why should we if Jesus expressed himself freely before the Lord?

Real spirituality is authentic.
Real spirituality is passionate.
Real spirituality is Jesus-like.

Hence…when things get rough…don’t run from God…run to God! That’s where our help comes from. Time after time. Forever and ever.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for wanting authenticity.
Thank you for creating emotions
and allowing us to express them.
Help us to openly trust you
with our struggles and our joys.
Be praised forever and ever,
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: What did you learn from Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane? Do you feel secure enough in God’s love to express yourself freely?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live authentically before the Lord!

* [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 Wikimedia. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Hear it on Sunday, use it on Monday, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1104 Real spirituality is authentic. #1105 We are welcome to express all our feelings in God’s presence.

I always appreciate if you help sharing the blog posts with your friends & followers. So that everyone might know the love of God, receive the grace of Christ, and live in the presence of the Holy Spirit! Thank you! Be blessed now and forever! 

 

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April 11, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
12 Comments

Do Not Paint Over Your Brokenness

Do not paint over your brokenness
Have you been through a lot? Are you tired of bad news? So overwhelmed with the sorrows that you don’t know how to go on. Or are you tired of faking that everything is all right when it’s not?

Listen. No matter what:
Don’t paint over your brokenness. Bring it to Jesus.
Don’t hide your pain. Bring it to Jesus.

We won’t be thrown out just because we are broken. We are not even meant to be perfect and strong on our own. We don’t have to paint over our mistakes. We are all broken in one way or another. That’s why we all need Jesus.

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

We need Jesus because Jesus is the only way we can deal with hardships without becoming bitter. Only Jesus can transform us from death to life, brokenness to wholeness. Only Jesus. But Jesus truly can and he will if you just give him all the pieces, all the pain, all the sorrow you are experiencing.

Jesus is the only healer for our brokenness. Because only Jesus has been broken for us, for our sins, our brokenness, our sorrows, our hardships.

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
(Isaiah 53:5, NLT,*)

And only Jesus was resurrected from death to life bringing healing, wholeness and life upon life for us. Hence don’t paint over your brokenness, let Jesus make you whole. Don’t hide your pain, let Jesus heal you.

Jesus has been broken for you.
Just receive the gift of healing grace!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for your amazing gift of grace.
Thank you for providing us healing and wholeness through Christ.
Teach us to always turn to you with our sorrows.
Heal our hearts and keep us from becoming bitter.
Thank you for loving us so much!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you tried painting over your brokenness? Have you been made whole by Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Jesus as your healer and redeemer!

* [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 Meliza Celeridad, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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April 9, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Stimulated with the Holy Spirit

Stimulated with the Holy Spirit
Spring is here. I especially love how there is more and more light. It does invigorate us – at least me – so much. But there is a problem. You see, here in Finland we get light around the clock in summer time. Yes, it is wild. Yes, it is wonderful. But. It is hard to sleep when it’s so bright all the time. So what do I do? I block the sunlight out. Then it’s nice and dark and I can sleep. What does that have to do with flowing faith? Let’s see.

The Light of God is very bright and very invigorating if we let it be so. But we can also block it out. We can put blinders on and live according to our own whims. And the more we block the Light out, the more we forget what it feels like to be invigorated by the Light.

The Bible urges us to ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. (Eph. 5:18b, AMP, emphasis added,*) It is an ongoing process, not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It is to be repeated and sought after. It is a blessing and a privilege of children of God.

Why would we ever want to live under our privileges? Why would we want to block out the blessings of the Holy Spirit? It beats me. Because – in my opinion – being filled with the Holy Spirit is what makes life delightful.

Did you catch the special emphasis of the Amplified Bible? Do not just be filled but also stimulated with the Holy Spirit! What could that mean? The Holy Spirit is ready to invigorate us, to encourage us on our faith journey, to empower us to progress further towards becoming Christ-like, to energize us for victorious living. Who would not want that? It beats me.

How can we be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit? By asking. By basking in God’s grace. By enjoying God’s presence. God is more that ready to pour out grace upon grace, light upon light, life upon life. We just need to let the light shine on us. We need to get rid of the blinders that block God’s love and grace from our lives.

How do we do that? Just ask God to show you what kind of blinders you have on. What if you don’t want to get rid of them? Ask God to make you willing and go from there.

It’s all God’s work. It’s all grace. Right from the beginning to the end.

Let’s stay out of the way of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s let the Holy Spirit rule our lives.
Let’s be forever stimulated with the Holy Spirit!

 

Gracious God,
You have prepared blessings upon blessings for us.
Forgive us for blocking away your Light.
Enable us to stay out the way of the Holy Spirit.
May Your will be done in our lives.
We want to receive your gifts, Lord.
Stimulate, invigorate, encourage, empower us
for victorious living in Jesus.
Fill us with the Holy Spirit now and forever more.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you block the Light away? Or do you allow God move freely in your life? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let the Holy Spirit stimulate you!

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

Image courtesy of Justin Schroeder, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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April 7, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Good Morning, God! (or How to Start Your Day Right)

Good Morning, God
How do you start your day? Do you have some routines that are always the same? How long do you go until you greet God each day? You answer defines the robustness of your faith. Really.

Either you lean on God or on your own strength.
Either you live for God or for yourself.
Either you put God first or yourself.

In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]. (Psalm 5:3, AMP,*)

It is your choice. But if you choose to not communicate with God in the morning, don’t wonder why you feel frazzled later on the day. If you don’t keep communion with God early on the day, don’t wonder why you feel so distant from God later on.

Meeting with God the first thing in the morning is special. It almost sounds too good to be true. But we are powerless without God. When we ask God’s guidance for our day, we are strengthened. Then it’s not us working but Christ working in and through us. Why would we want to work without the power of the Holy Spirit?

Maybe we should take this seriously. Maybe we should start our days with the Lord and see what happens. Maybe we should invite Jesus into our day and bask in his grace throughout the day.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, AMP,*)

It is all about remembering each morning that God is God and we are not. It is all about embracing the fact that without God we are nothing. Like C.S. Lewis has said “Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”

That’s why we surrender to God every morning.
That’s why we rededicate our lives to Jesus every morning.
That’s why we see God’s Holy Spirit every morning.

When we’ve been empowered by God, we are ready to serve others. When we’ve communed with Christ, we are grace-filled for the rest of the day. When we’ve been showered with the Holy Spirit, we are ready to face the world.

I honestly do believe that embracing grace in the morning before meeting anyone else is crucial for everyone’s happiness. That’s why I surrender to God right after I open my eyes. Only when we abide in Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can love others as God loves us. Also only when we are empowered by God, we can do his work his way. Any time used in prayer is never wasted, prayer always brings blessings into our lives.

Here’s the bottom line: We truly need God. But that is not a bad thing. God wants to pour out grace upon grace on us. He is just waiting for us to come to him and ask. Why don’t we do just that?

 

Good Morning, God,
it’s me again.
Thank you for this new day.
I surrender my everything to you.
Fill me with your grace and
show me what you want me to do today.
Enable me to use my time right.
Empower me to do your will.
Strengthen me to serve others.
Use me in mighty ways, Lord.
Work in and through me.
Bless me according to my needs.
Thy will be done in me and through me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you start your day?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you start your day with prayer!

* [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 Kelly Sikkema, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Hear it on Sunday, use it on Monday, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp:  #1102 Growing into full maturity happens by grace. #1104

I always appreciate if you help sharing the blog posts with your friends & followers. So that everyone might know the love of God, receive the grace of Christ, and live in the presence of the Holy Spirit! Thank you! Be blessed now and forever!

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April 4, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Blessed Beyond Belief

blessed beyond belief
Today I want to concentrate on the awesomeness of the Lord. I want everyone to soak in God’s abundant grace for the two last weeks before Easter. I want each and everyone of us to be fully motivated to keep on surrendering to God.

Because it is what ultimately makes us happy.
Because it is what ultimately is best for us.
Because it is what brings life and more life forever more.

Don’t take my word on it, the Bible tells us so.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:5,7, AMP,*)

This is what we all want, right? We want to be blessed in the Lord. We want to go from strength to strength and find meaning for our lives. And that’s what God wants for us too. He wants to live in us and that makes us blessed beyond belief.

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather be a doorkeeper and stand at the threshold in the house of my God than to dwell [at ease] in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!
(Psalm 84:10-12, AMP,*)

Blessed indeed is the person who trusts in God. Blessed is the person who surrenders fully to God. Blessed is the person who is willing to pick up his/her cross and follow Christ wherever he leads. Blessed is the person who is willing to submit to God without hesitation.

Are you that blessed? Are you willing to let Jesus lead you life no questions asked? Are you blessed beyond belief?

I want to be that blessed. I want to live even more fully for Christ. I am asking God to show me the areas of my life that I am still holding back. I am asking God to enable me to completely die to myself so I could also be fully resurrected in Jesus.

I want to be that blessed. I want to be blessed beyond belief. How about you?

 

Gracious God,
We come to you in awe of you.
How beautifully you’ve arranged everything for us.
How amazingly you’ve provided everything we need.
How abundantly you want to bless us.
How amazingly wonderful you are.
We want to be fully yours.
Enable us to die to ourselves.
Enable us to fully surrender to you.
We want to be blessed beyond belief.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you blessed beyond belief?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you surrender your body, mind, and soul to the Lord!

* [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 Chris Manfre, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, and Faith Jam.

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April 2, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Called to Pray

called to pray
How is your prayer life? Do you know you are called to pray? You know, Martin Luther has said “As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.”

It is our business to pray.
It is our duty to pray.
It is our calling to pray.

Like Watchman Nee has written “our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.”

Hence we need to make time to pray. No matter what. We need to lay the track down for God’s power. We are partners in God’s work. It really is our business to pray. We also – pure and simple -need to pray.

With the words of M.E. Andross “The great freight and passenger trains are never too busy to stop for fuel. No matter how congested the yards may be, no matter how crowded the schedules are, no matter how many things demand the attention of the trainmen, those trains always stop for fuel.”

Praying is our way to get spiritual fuel.
Praying is our lifeline to the author of Life.
Praying brings blessings into our lives.

Like Andrew Murray has written “Let it be your business every day, in the secrecy of the inner chamber, to meet the holy God. You will be repaid for the trouble it may cost you. The reward will be sure and rich.”

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people). (Eph. 6:18, AMP,*)

Prayer works. That’ how we can partner in God’s work. That’s how our needs are met. That’s how God wants us to communicate with him. Even Jesus prayed. And Jesus is -  right now – praying for us in heaven. Really.

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. (Hebrews 7:25, AMP,*, emphasis added)

No matter how amazing it is to have Jesus praying for you, even that’s not all. Also the Holy Spirit is praying for you and helping you as you pray.

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in or behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27, AMP,*, emphasis added)

Our job is just to get into God’s presence. According to Mother Theresa “prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

Prayer is about surrendering.
Prayer is about trusting God and letting God work through you.
Prayer is about living in God’s presence.

And that is the secret of a prayer-filled life. Like Spurgeon has said “If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It’s all about basking in God’s love.
It’s all about abiding in Christ.
Breathing in and out the Holy Spirit.

Only God can turn our duty into bliss.

 

Gracious God,
You have asked us to pray.
But you’ve hidden blessings in our duty.
How blessed we are, thank you.
You have asked us to pray.
But you’re praying for us yourself.
How blessed we are, thank you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How often/how much/how hard do you pray? What have you learned along the way about prayer?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you pray hard and bask continually in His presence?

* [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 Joel Joseph, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere , Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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March 31, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
10 Comments

Getting Rid of All Ill Will

getting rid of all ill will
Did you know that the first half of the lent is already over? Less than 20 days for Easter! Let’s continue to ready our hearts, minds, and souls for Jesus.

Today I want to talk about something we very easily want to forget or, at least, downplay its importance in a life of a Christian. But the Bible does not want us to forget. If we want to mature in our faith, we need to be done with every trace of wickedness. The Word of God wants us to keep on growing to full maturity. Getting rid of all ill will is part of growing in faith.

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. (1 Peter 2:1-3, NLT, *)

Have you made a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk? Have you gotten rid of gossip, bad-mouthing, and all deceit and insincerity? Ouch! I know. Getting rid of all ill will is something we all need to work on.

I challenge you to start fasting on all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech! Let’s do it!

Because we have tasted that the Lord is good.
Because this enables us to keep on growing to full maturity.
Because when we give up something bad, we will receive something good.

How to go about it? Prayerfully, of course. If we want to be done with every trace of wickedness in our lives, it happens by fully surrendering to Jesus. Any growing to full maturity happens by God’s grace.  But it is possible. We need to earnestly desire to drink God’s pure goodness and we will have it overflowing. If we ask for help in getting rid of all ill will, we can be sure we will receive more than enough grace for it.

But how to approach it practically? Whenever you catch yourself talking or even just thinking unkindly, repent. Avoid situations where you are tempted to gossip. Remember it’s better to be silent than hurt with words. Give any and every ugly thought to Jesus. Get rid of all ill behavior. Fill in your mind with all the good things.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Phil. 4:8-9, MSG,*)

Growing to full maturity requires we cut off the bad and bring in the good. It might sound daunting but it is possible by God’s grace. Soon you realize people don’t even try to tell you gossip. You become so involved with compelling and gracious things that you don’t have time for any ill will. And as you are getting rid of all ill will and growing into full maturity, you learn to fully trust God making everything work together for the ones who love God. Nothing better than that.

 

Gracious God,
We are so sorry for nursing ill will and evil thoughts.
Forgive us for gossiping and using words for wickedness.
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness, Lord.
Pour our grace upon grace.
Nurture us with spiritual milk.
Fill us with your grace and all the good things.
Enable us to grow into full maturity.
Make us holy like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you struggled with any form of wickedness? What did help you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you’re getting rid of all ill will!

* [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 Jeff Brown, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Hear it on Sunday, use it on Monday, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp:  #1102 Growing into full maturity happens by grace. #1103 Leaving ill will behind clears way for Jesus.

I always appreciate if you help sharing the blog posts with your friends & followers. So that everyone might know the love of God, receive the grace of Christ, and live in the presence of the Holy Spirit! Thank you! Be blessed now and forever!

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

Blessings Come Through Wounds

wounded but healed

Do you know why we try so hard to hide our wounds? It almost feels like being vulnerable and real would be the end of the world. Like the real life would be only deserved for beautiful, perfect and unbroken. But that’s so, so wrong.

First of all, there’s beauty in brokenness. Second of all, blessings come through wounds. Not by avoiding or hiding them. But by embracing them. Really.

He was pierced because of our rebellions
    and crushed because of our crimes.
    He bore the punishment that made us whole;
    by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5, CEB,*)

Because of the wounds of Jesus, we can be made whole.
Because of the wounds of Jesus, our wounds can be healed.
Because of the wounds of Jesus, we can have life and more life.

Hence we don’t need to hide our imperfections anymore. We are not accepted because of our merits but through faith in Jesus who was wounded for our sake.

I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! (Phil.3:9-11, NLT,*)

We all have wounds, visible or invisible. We really do get wounded in this life one way or another. But we don’t have to walk wounded throughout life. We can’t heal ourselves for sure. We can’t be mighty on our own, no matter how hard we try. But we have a mighty healer in Jesus. By his wounds we are healed. We just need to bring our wounds to him and not lick our wounds on our own.

Only through knowing the wounds of Jesus we can accept our own wounds. And when we are able to accept our own wounds, we dare to be authentic and vulnerable as we meet others. That’s when blessings of wholeness flood into our lives. That’s when we realize blessings come through wounds indeed.

 

Gracious God,
You cover us with your grace
in so many incredible ways.
Thank you for bringing healing for us
through the wounds of Christ.
Thank you for showing us the way to wholeness.
Thank you for loving us beyond measure.
Empower us with inner strength through your Spirit.
Move mightily in us and through us.
May your will be done.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you been blessed through wounds?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let the wounds of Christ heal you!

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

Image courtesy of Scot Johns. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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March 26, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Aroma of Christ

the aroma of Christ
Do you know that you convey a message of eternal life or death without saying a word? I know, quite a responsibility. But our part is just to cling to Jesus. He takes care of the rest. How does that happen? Let’s find out.

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. (2 Cor. 2:14-16, MSG,*)

Whether we are messengers of eternal life or death depends on our relationship with Christ. If we are in Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God. This means God delights in us and he is well pleased with our lives. This all because of Christ! It really is the aroma of Christ; an aroma redolent with life. However, if we are not in Christ, our odor is quite different and not pleasing to God.

We can’t produce the aroma of Christ on our own. It just happens when we abide in Christ. But the more we abide in Christ, the sweeter and stronger the fragrance of eternal life will be.

This exquisite fragrance can only be perceived spiritually. But everybody does not like the scent of eternal life. Those who are not friends with grace think it is the worst odor on the earth because it warns them about judgment and death. But God calls all of us to him to receive the grace of God and eternal life. After embracing God’s grace, we all give off some of the aroma of Christ.

How about you? What do you smell like?

Lent is a perfect time for spiritual check-up. Is there something that hinders or competes with the aroma of Christ in your life? Maybe it’s time for some spiritual spring cleaning? Anyhow, rejoice in the Lord and let the sweet spiritual fragrance rise to God.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving us Jesus for our sacrifice.
Thank you for producing the sweet aroma of Christ through us.
Thank you that because of Christ we can be pleasing to you.
Thank you that we can be messengers of eternal life.
Help us to see if something hinders the aroma of Christ in us.
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Make our fragrance most pleasing to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you smell like? How do you feel like being a messenger of eternal life/death?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you give off a sweet scent rising to God!

* [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 Phyl Brown, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere , Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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