Flowing Faith

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

Laughter and Good Cheer

Laughter and Good CheerDo you like to laugh? Or have you forgotten how? Holiness does not mean cheerlessness. Actually, we are called to be cheerful no matter what. We are called to sing ourselves into God’s presence. We are called to be joyful. Laughter and good cheer are God’s good gifts to us.

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
      sing yourselves into his presence.
(Psalm 100:1-2, MSG,*)

Laughter is indeed a gift from God. Life without laughter would be dull, boring, and very hard. Life full of love and laughter is as good as it gets at this side of heaven. With the words of Karl Barth “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.”

Martin Luther declares “You have as much laughter as you have faith.” I guess that’s true. True joyfulness only comes from the Lord. Also, we can either concentrate on our troubles or we can lift our gaze up to God.

When we know that our worth comes from God who loves us, we are free to live in God’s grace and peace and laugh even in the middle of hardships.

Martin Luther has also said that “It is pleasing to God whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of thy heart.” I just love to think that our God loves laughing. I tend to laugh loudly. That’s why it’s a relief to know that Martin Luther has said “If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.”

I imagine heaven is a place of laughter, sunshine, peace, praise, and adoration. I imagine heaven is the eternal presence of God and laughter is a glimpse of that here on earth.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving us the gift of laughter.
Show us how to use this gift to ease our neighbors’ burdens.
Help us to bring more laughter into each other’s lives.
Give us more faith,
more laughter,
more compassion.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What does bring laughter into your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace laughter and good cheer as gifts from 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 Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today withDance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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May 25, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Perfectness Is an Illusion

Perfectness is an illusionAre you a perfectionist? Have you made ideal your idol? Sometimes we try so hard to make everything perfect that ideal really becomes our idol. But perfectness does not save us. Perfectness is an illusion that deludes us.

The best way to deal with perfectionism is to learn to live in grace. Because grace is a game changer, eye opener, freedom-releaser. We can quit trying to be perfect and embrace trusting.

The fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it. (Romans 4:16, MSG)

Success or perfectness does not get us into the kingdom of God, and failure does not keep us out of there. The only thing than matters is our trust in Jesus.

It does not matter how perfect (or not) we are. It’s not about us trying to be perfect. It’s about us trusting and embracing God and his ways. It’s about partnering with God for excellence, not trying to do that on our own.

The difference between trying and trusting is the difference between law and grace. Either you live in law or you live in grace. Either you exhaust yourself under the law or you rest in God’s free grace.

I say goodbye for perfectness and choose grace.
And I can’t help but rejoice.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that we don’t need to be perfect.
Enable us to trust you completely.
Help us to stop making ideal our idol.
Show us instead how to partner with you for excellence.
Refresh our weary souls.
Redeem and restore!
Show us how to truly live in your grace.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

 

Q4U: Are you a perfectionist? How do you deal with it?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you kiss perfectness goodbye and embrace God’s grace daily!

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

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May 23, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
7 Comments

God Is Peace

God is peaceGod is love, right? The Bible says so. And most of people agree. God is also joy. Something we don’t always think about. Even that is not all. God is also peace. Really. God does not only give peace but he is peace. The Bible tells this too.

So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. (Judges 6:24, NIV, emphasis added)

Just like we can’t separate real love or joy from God, we can’t separate real peace from God. There just isn’t such a thing.

When we abide in God, we abide in peace. That is amazing, isn’t it? And that’s exactly what happens. When we experience God’s presence, we experience peace beyond understanding.

Charles H. Brent has said “Peace comes when there is no cloud between us and God. Peace is the consequence of forgiveness, God’s removal of that which obscures His face and so breaks union with Him.”

When we are one with God, we are one with peace. This is incredible but true.

Because of Jesus we can be made right with God. And when we are one with God, we have peace upon peace. Because God is peace. God himself is the Lord of peace.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16, NIV, emphasis added)

So if you want peace, abide in God. When you experience God’s presence, you truly experience peace. And there’s no end to that peace. Abide in peace. Every day of your life.

 

Gracious God,
You are so good to us.
Thanks for providing all the good things in our lives.
Thank you for being all that we ever need.
Be our everything, Lord.
Pour our grace upon grace,
love upon love,
joy upon joy,
peace upon peace.
Be praised forever, Lord.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: God is peace. How does that sound?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you abide in peace!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Us, Coffee and JesusSmall Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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May 20, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

God-Expectant Living

God-expectant livingAre you God-expectant? God-ready? These two words stopped me in my tracks this morning. Am I truly God-expectant? Am I God-ready? Or am I just going with the cultural flow?

God sticks his head out of heaven.
    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.
(Psalm 14:2, MSG,*)

I know I want to be God-expectant and God-ready. I think you do too. But are we? Do you live your days with an air of expectancy? Are you ready for God any time. Are you ready for Jesus to come back any day?

We need to let God search our hearts and show us the true state of our hearts, minds, and hands. Because wanting to be God-expectant and God-ready is not enough. We need to live that desire out in our lives and be all that every day of our lives. By the grace of God.

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up.
    Expect God to get here soon.
(Psalm 31:24, MSG,*)

We are called to be brave and strong. We are called to be alert and focused on God. We are called to expect God  to move mightily in our midst. We are called for God-expectant living. Every God-given breath we take.

 

Gracious God,
Search my heart, Lord.
Show me how I could be God-ready
and God-expectant every day of my life.
Show me how to live the way you want me to.
Draw me closer and closer to you.
Make me holy as you.
Make you my everything.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How can you be more God-expectant and God-ready?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God and his grace for all there is for us.

* [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.

May 18, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
3 Comments

The More You Pray

The More You PrayHow are you doing? Did you know that your well-being correlates with your prayer life? The more you pray, the better you feel. The more you pray, the more divine power you have in your life.

When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” (Matthew 26:40-41, MSG)

Stay alert in your prayer life. That’s your connection to the Source of Life. With the words of Elisabeth Elliot “Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.”

Prayer is indeed a privilege. Let’s not be slackers in our prayer life. Through prayers we become partners in God’s work. Like E.M.Bounds has said “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”

We are called to pray. It’s our duty as Christians. But our prayers benefit also ourselves. When we abide in prayer, we experience God’s loving presence. And when that happens, our well-being improves dramatically. No gimmicks needed, just God’s grace-filled presence blesses our socks off every time. Why wouldn’t we want that?

The more we pray, the more blessed we realize we are. The more we pray, the more ‘incidents’ happen in our lives. The more we pray, the more connected with God we are.

Hence, prayer really is the key to our all-around well-being. By praying we also pave the way for Jesus to come into our lives, and through our lives into the world around us. It’s a high calling. Let’s not neglect it.

 

Gracious God,
What an honor and privilege you’ve give us:
an intimate way to communicate with you.
Thanks for calling us to pray.
Empower us to believingly pray without ceasing.
Enable us to be your partners in every way we can.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How would you end the phraise “the more you pray, …”?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace your calling to pray without ceasing!

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

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May 16, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
16 Comments

Pentecost Every Day

Pentecost Every DayLots of people wish it could be Christmas year round. How about Pentecost? Could we have Pentecost every day? Actually, yes. That’s called Christian living. For real.

But when the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father,that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify and bear witness about Me. But you will testify also and be My witnesses, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26-17, AMP)

Jesus did as he promised. He sent his disciples the Holy Spirit to help them in their every day lives. And if we are Jesus’ disciples, the Holy Spirit is for us too. If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, you are trying to survive under your privileges as a child of God. y

The Holy Spirit comforts when we need comforting, advocates when we need advocating, counsels when we need counseling, strengthens when we need strengthening. And, most importantly, the Holy Spirit is always there for us.

Why wouldn’t we acknowledge the Spirit of God every day and let him have his way in and through us? Talk about blessings galore. Then we really would have Pentecost every day. I am in. How about you?

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So much more than I deserve.
I open my heart to receive all your have for me.
Work in me, through me.
Let there be Pentecost every day.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think? How about Pentecost every day?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace the Holy Spirit and what he does in your life!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Us, Coffee and JesusSmall Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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

Grow up in Christ

Grow up in ChristAll children of God are all called to grow into spiritual maturity. We are called to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are called to grow up in Christ. How is your spiritual growing up process going?

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:48, MSG,*)

The key ingredient in the process is the Holy Spirit. When we abide in Jesus, the Holy Spirit works in us, making us -slowly but surely- to grow up in Christ. The more we spend time with Jesus, the more we mature spiritually.

It’s good to acknowledge that, just as any growth, also spiritual growth takes time. It does not happen over the night. God knows this, I hope you know it too. The slowness of the process is not a reason to give up. Quite the opposite, actually.

It’s time to press on, it’s time to actively integrate godly values into your daily life. And, most of all, it is time to spend lots of time with Jesus. Because, even though we still are imperfect and immature, we can already experience God’s abundance in God’s presence. And the more we linger in God’s presence, the more we grow up in Christ. And all this by God’s grace.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for loving me as I am.
Thank you also for calling me to grow up in Christ.
Show me personally how to live out my faith.
Draw me to spend lots of time with you.
Bless me according to your plan for me.
To you I give all the glory now and forever.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How is your growing up in Christ process going?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you linger in God’s presence and grow up in Christ.

* [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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May 11, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Are You Marked by Joy?

Are you marked by joy?Are you marked by joy?

Is it evident in your life that Christ lives in you?
If he lives in you, your life should be brimming with joy.
Because God is joy.

God is indeed the source of joy. All joy comes from him. When we stick close to God, joy is present in our lives no matter how dark the world around is. When we dare to embrace the cross of Christ, we are filled with overflowing joy. And this joy does not depend on the outward circumstances. This is holy joy.

I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. (John 15:11, AMP)

Everything God does is marked by joy. When we are friends with Jesus, this joy permeates also our lives. This has been true for all the generations of Christians. Also, one of the standard qualifications for a Christian to be canonized as a saint at the Roman Catholic Church is the evidence of hilaritas (joyousness, cheerfulness, merriment, hilarity in Latin). This means that they had to be marked by joy, capable of laughing, always ready to celebrate, praise and worship. That’s what cheerful living is all about.

How about you? Are you marked by joy?
Is there enough evidence of joy in your life?
Maybe not enough to be canonized as a saint.
But hopefully enough to be defined as a Christian.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for being such a delightful God.
Make us more like you!
Make our hearts glad and grateful!
Enable us to live cheerfully and
love extravagantly.
Pour out joy upon joy!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Is your life brimming with joy?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you celebrate Life and the Giver of Life!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Refurbished from 2012. Linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and#tellhisstory.

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May 9, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

More Blessed

more blessed

After all the Mother’s Day hype I was happy to read this on Monday morning:

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied,“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11: 27-28, NIV)

or like the Message version says it: “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!”

Happy are those who hear God’s word and put it in practice.
Blessed are those who hear God’s word and guard it with their lives.

They’re even more blessed than Mary the God-bearer!
Think about it!

There must be something really special about putting God’s word in practice if we need to guard it with our lives! Indeed, there is. Life flows from it. From here to eternity.

But how do we do it? How do we put God’s word in practice?

By praying.
By obeying.
By reading his Word.
By trusting.
By refusing to worry.
By serving.
By living simply.
By worshiping.
By loving.
By sharing grace.

Teresa of Avila has wisely said  “Let thy desire be the vision of God, thy fear the loss of Him, thy sorrow His absence, and thy joy in that which may take thee to Him; and thy life shall be in great peace.”

When God’s word enters our heart and permeates it, we experience peace.
When God’s word warms our heart and we apply it, we are blessed.
When God’s word changes us inside out, we are even more blessed.

Rest assured that no matter how blessed you can imagine to be, you are ever more blessed.
Rest assured that no matter how much you love God, he always loves you more.

Gracious God,
Thank you for always loving us more than we can imagine.
Thank you for blessings us more than we deserve.
Thank you for calling us to embrace you with everything we’ve got.
So you could lavish us with your gifts:
grace upon grace,
love upon love,
peace upon peace,
joy upon joy,
hope upon hope.
We want to receive!
Take our heart!
Show us how to apply your word in our lives.
Equip us to generously share your gifts with others.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you apply God’s word in your life? Do you feel blessed?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you put God’s word in practice!

Image courtesy of Chris Manfre. This post is refurbished from 2012. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders, and#InspireMeMonday.

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May 6, 2016
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Missing God

Missing GodAre you missing God in your life? Good for you, it’s the Holy Spirit at work in you, wooing you back. God is always there but, sure, we can choose to ignore him or the world can lure us away. But there’s no wholeness or profound well-being without God.

O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You;
My soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, AMP,*)

Missing God, longing for God, can be very daunting. We might feel truly parched, lost, and empty. But the good news is: the help is near; God is near. We just need to ask and we receive grace upon grace and anything else we need.

There’s plenty of the Living Water available for all who are thirsty.
There’s plenty of the Bread of Life for all who are hungry.

When you are missing God, the Holy Spirit is calling your name. Don’t ignore it. Turn to God and be refreshed. Turn to God and be made whole. That’s what God wants for you, nothing but the best. Not the best in your thinking necessarily, but the divine best: wholeness, peace, and joy.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for not giving up on me.
Thanks for calling my name until I turn back to you.
Thanks for welcoming me with open arms.
Thanks for giving me what’s best for me according to your plan.
Help me to remember you have the words of eternal, real life.
Keep me close, sustain me, make me whole.
Send grace upon grace and anything I need.
Make me what you want me to be.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you missing God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God daily!

* [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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