Flowing Faith

July 21, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
7 Comments

The Selfie of God

The selfie of God

Have you ever taken a selfie? Do you enjoy seeing your friends’ selfies? These self portraits usually give us glimpses of their lives. Have you ever wondered how the selfie of God would look like?

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the one who is first over all creation. (Col.1:15, CEB,*)

The selfie of God is Jesus.

The selfie of God is indeed Jesus. And it is a huge blessing. Without Jesus we would not have an access to God. Without Jesus we would stay broken and lost. Without Jesus we would not know God.

When we become closer with Jesus, we become closer with God. In Jesus we have what we need to know of God. In Jesus we have everything we need to be made right with God. In Jesus we have everything to be made happy, whole, and holy.

How to go about it? Seek Jesus. Read the Word of God. Abide in him. Look at the selfie of God. Pray in Jesus’ name. Arrange your life around him. Make Jesus your everything. And you will not be disappointed.

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for giving us your selfie in Jesus.
Help us to see all we need to see in Jesus.
Help us to become like Jesus.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How does the selfie of God change your view of him?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Jesus every 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 Michael Polzella, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1131 God gave us Jesus so we could have eternal life.

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July 18, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Bloom with God

Bloom with God
Too often we take life granted. We forget how fragile we are. We forget that we can’t control everything. We forget that there are not guarantees in life. And most of all we focus on the earthly things and forget God. We flirt with the destructive things and wonder why we don’t feel close to God. We are in danger of becoming enemies of the cross.

As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross.Their lives end with destruction. Their god is their stomach, and they take pride in their disgrace because their thoughts focus on earthly things(Phil.3:17-18, CEB,*, emphasis added)

We insist it does not matter how we live, what we think, how we behave. We make excuses for our behavior. We forget that God is God and we are not. We forget how much we need God. We forget how wonderful it is to live with God. We forget we can only bloom with God. Otherwise we just go through the motions. That’s actually the most important choice we ever make: choosing to bloom with God or live on our own.

If you turned your back,
    they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
    revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
    the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
(Psalm 104:29-30, MSG,*)

The power of the cross changes everything:
Because of Jesus sinners are welcome into the presence of God.
Because of grace our sins are forgiven.
Because of the Holy Spirit we bloom with God.

And that’s what life with God is all about. In Christ we find out true identity. And when we are what we were created to be, we blossom like never before. We think we know what’s best for us. But we don’t. Only God knows. That’s why we only bloom with God. Why would we choose anything else?

 

Gracious God,
Forgive our selfishness.
Forgive our transgressions.
Pour out grace upon grace
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We want to be friends of the cross!
We want to bloom with you.
Send your Holy Spirit!
Make us what you created us to be.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you been in danger of becoming an enemy of the cross? How is your life as a friend of the cross? Do you bloom with God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you bloom with 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 Terry Lane, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Image courtesy of Doug Shelton, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays,  Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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July 16, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Inside Out Faith

Inside out faith

Do you have Jesus in your heart? Good for you. But do you have inside out faith? Does your faith get an outside expression too? Does the workings of Jesus in your heart get you also work out your faith?

These are fundamental questions. When our faith becomes an inside out faith, we are truly experiencing the joy of salvation. Sure, we are saved only by grace through faith in Jesus. But that is not the end of it. We are also called to abide in Christ. And when Jesus lives in us, we are enabled to both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live out and work out our faith.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil.2:12-13, NRSV, emphasis added,*)

This does not mean that we could ever earn our salvation. Only God works salvation in and saves us. But only we can work salvation out. Working out our own salvation means we put our faith in practice. We don’t keep our faith inside of us. We pull our faith from inside out and live it out. All this because God is working in us.

When we truly work out our salvation, we learn to know our faith inside out. This inside out faith empowers us to humbly serve others. This inside out faith equips us to endure anything. This inside out faith enables us to truly enjoy living with God. We find meaning, purpose, and peace. We enjoy hope, love, and joy. We are home in God.

 

Gracious God,
You have planned everything so beautifully.
Enable us to have inside out faith,
empower us to live and work out our faith.
Show us how you want us to serve you.
Thank you for having a perfect plan
for all of us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you have an inside out faith? How does it impact your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live and work out your inside out faith?

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

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July 14, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual FormationWhat do you think? What is spiritual formation all about? I think it is simply becoming what God has meant you to be. It is the process of becoming Christ-like. It is growing in con-FORM-ity to Christ.

How does it happen? Only by letting God work in and through us. We can facilitate the process of spiritual formation but it’s always God’s work, not ours.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. (Phil.2:5, AMP,*)

What could this mean to you and me? How should this affect our daily living? How could we adopt the attitude of Christ and ooze it every single day? These are my questions lately.

It is fun to spend a lot of time with family and friends on vacation. But it also brings to light the state of our spiritual being. Are we humble as Christ? Do we care more for others than for self? Are we patient and kind? Do we keep score of the wrong-doings of others? Do we bless others even when we are hurt?

Ouch. We are guilty as charged. We are still works in progress. But when we abide in Christ, God is working in us. And this is the secret of spiritual formation. We can adopt the attitude of Christ by abiding in him. The more we spend time with him, the more like him we become. Spiritual formation happens through assimilation. We can’t make it happen. But it happens by grace when we just abide in Christ.

 

Gracious God,
We want to be conformed to Christ.
Don’t delay the process.
Help us to love like you and
live like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U
: How do you see spiritual formation?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you are con-form-ed to 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 Lianne T., design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1128 God is at charge of our spiritual formation. #1129 Spiritual formations happens when we abide in Christ. #1130 Spiritual formation is growing in conformity to Christ.

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July 11, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Summertime Bliss

 

Summertime Bliss

Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.
(Ecclesiastes 11:7-8, MSG)

Summertime seems to be an on-going bliss in our household. Life is easy and worries are small. Thanks be to God! The hard winter is forgotten and the present is full of laughter and, it seems, endless sunshine. It is wonderful to go to bed and KNOW that there will be another day of sunshine waiting for you. Summertime bliss! Thanks be to God!

After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, MSG)

Summer is a wonderful time to count your blessings and praise the Lord! Winter will come but now we enjoy ourselves and praise the Lord! Let’s make the most of this summertime bliss and praise the Lord! It sure is God’s gift! Praise the Lord!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for summertime bliss!
Thank you for easy-going days,
family time, swimming and sunshine.
Thank you for warm breeze and cool shade.
Be praised for all the good things in life!
Store this happiness inside of us.
Keep us from taking life for granted.
Thank you for this gift of life!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How is your summer going?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim. Count your blessings! Experience Summertime Bliss!

Image courtesy of Doug Shelton, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays,  Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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July 9, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Sin Breaks Us

Sin breaks us
Over and over again the Bible proclaims that if we repent, God will forgive us. This grace feels too good to be true. Yet it is true. Love, grace, and forgiveness form together the very essence of God. Because we are not able to become holy on our own, God sent his only son to redeem us. Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we can be forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus.

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.(John 1:9, CEB,*)

Some people wager they will turn to God when they’re on their dead bed. But do you know when you will die? I don’t think so. Other folks think they can get away by misusing grace by doing whatever they want and then begging forgiveness again and again and again. What do you think? Could that work? Does God really forgive you over and over again? Yes, he does. God’s love can handle it. But can we handle it? I don’t think so. Sin breaks us.

Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. (Romans 6:15-16, MSG,*)

We want to think that doing whatever we want is what freedom is all about. But it’s not. It’s a sure way to disaster. Human beings are not made of steal. We break. Human beings are not untouchable. We suffer from consequences.

The only way to true freedom and wholeness is Jesus Christ. Take it or leave it. Sin breaks us; God restores us. Invest in your well-being and everlasting joy, choose Jesus. Today.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive me for calculating and scheming against you.
Like I would know better what’s good for me.
Wash me clean with the blood of Jesus.
Show me your ways, Lord.
Our our grace upon grace and make me holy like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe that sin breaks us? Have you been made whole?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you offer yourselves to the ways of 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 Justin Newbury, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere, Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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July 7, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Inability to Enjoy Life with God

The elder brother of the prodigal son
The parable  of the prodigal son is powerful in so many ways and it speaks to us in so many levels. How about you? Do you identify more with the prodigal son or with the elder brother? I just realized that the brothers had something in common after all. They were both unhappy with their father. They were both unable to understand their father’s goodness. The younger son decided to find his happiness elsewhere – with no success. The older son stayed home but didn’t know how to enjoy life with his father. They were both unable to find true happiness. Does this ring any bells?

The number one reason why people leave faith is their inability to enjoy life with God. They don’t know how to use the gifts of their Father. They don’t know how to live out their faith in a meaningful and joyful way.

Just like the father of these two brothers God is saying to all of us: everything I have is yours” (John 15:31, NLT,*). All the gifts of God are ours, we just need to learn to use them. God wants to offer us abundant life – how do we respond? Do we take time to learn to enjoy life with our Father? Or do we complain that everything is so boring and take off? Or do we settle with religious but not spiritually empowered lives?

I hope we turn to our heavenly Father in order to live in grace and freedom. I hope we dump at the cross our inability to enjoy life with God. And I hope we all take time to learn what it really means to live abundantly. Because that was the ultimate goal of Jesus: I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)(John 10:10, AMP,*).

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for your endless goodness
and patience with us.
Thank you for boundless grace
that you extend to us.
Help us to get to know you better.
Enable us to enjoy life with you.
Show us what it means to live abundantly.
Empower us to live like you meant us to live.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you respond to the parable of the prodigal son and his brother?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you learn to enjoy life with 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  Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1127  God offers us abundant life.

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July 4, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Everything Real, True, and Free

Everything rea, true, and free
Some people assume that God tries to take our freedom and restrict our joy. But they’ve bought the lies of the devil and they could not be further from the truth. Because God made us free. But we have been abusing the freedom by making bad choices from the start. Like Philip Yancey has said “God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that he granted us the power to live as though He did not exist, to spit in His face, to crucify Him.“

We can choose to live without God. But without Jesus we are at the dead end of sins. We try to deny this truth and we try to deny that we are sinners. But we are missing God. And with that we are missing everything real, true, and free.

Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.” (John 8:23-24, MSG)

Some people think that if they only had money/education/free country/sponsors/work/you-name-it, their lives would be secure. But they’re just holding on to those things as idols. And they’re missing God in their lives. Nothing but Jesus can bring us security.

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” Surprised, they said, “But we’re descendants of Abraham. We’ve never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘The truth will free you’?” Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. (John 8:31-36, MSG, emphasis added)

Some people think that if they live in a free country where they can do whatever they want they are free. But they do not see the invisible web of bondage. They insist that they are not slaves of Hollywood or Madison Avenue. Or public opinion or money or security. But they are. We all are without Christ. A dead-end life is all we can expect without grace. But God offers us so much more.

It’s our choice: Freedom in Christ or bondage to sin. But only through the cross of Christ we find what we’ve always been looking for: God and everything real, true, and free.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving us freedom to choose.
We choose you.
You are everything we are yearning for.
Thank you for freeing us from bondage to sin.
You have everything we are looking for.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What is true freedom for you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you celebrate true freedom 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 Adam Major, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2012. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays.

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July 2, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Grace-Fulfillment

Grace-fulfillment
Do you live in Me-Me land? Are you only looking for self-fulfillment in this life? Or are you living for something bigger? This world around us tries to teach us to solely look after ourselves and seek self-gratification. Like that would bring us happiness and fulfillment in the long run.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matthew 6:33, AMP,*)

The kingdom of God works the other way around. When we first strive after God and his will, we will receive everything we need here on earth as well. And, most importantly, we will be filled with grace and peace. Then we are truly fulfilled. Not by self-fulfillment but by grace-fulfillment.

We are indeed called to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is a tall order (but we are not left alone to do so, the Holy Spirit is empowering us if we just ask). We need to leave our selfish desires at the foot of the cross. We need to live our lives Jesus in mind. What that looks for each of us is different and that’s why we need to ask Jesus to show us how he wants us to live every day of our lives. But here are some general guide lines for all of us:

1) Seek God first – Invite God into your life daily; seek his wisdom and guidance.
2) Live for Christ – Let the gospel of Christ form your days, your life.
3) Be filled with the Holy Spirit – Allow the Holy Spirit freely work in/through you.

All in all, seek grace-fulfillment, not self-fulfillment. And your life will flourish. God will bring gifts into your life: grace, peace, joy, love, hope. You will be fulfilled with God’s goodness forever and ever. Nothing better than grace-fulfillment. No matter what the world says, self-fulfillment leaves you empty. Grace-fulfillment makes you who you were meant to be. Like said, nothing better than grace-fulfillment.

 

Gracious God,
You are truly amazing.
Forgive us for being so selfish
and seeking our own good.
Fill us with your Spirit.
Help us to live lives worthy of the gospel.
Enable us to be forever grace-fulfilled.
Show us how to live the way honoring you
in everything we do and say.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you seeking self-fulfillment or grace-fulfillment?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live your life worth of the gospel of 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 Zack Fonville, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2010. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere , Three Word Wednesday and #tellhisstory.

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June 30, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

You Are God’s Work in Progress

You are God's work in progress
Do you ever feel that you are not doing enough or accomplishing enough? Even in the realm of faith? It is time to step back and look at the big picture. Then hopefully you will be able to relax and rest in God’s grace. Because all is well.

So then [God’s gift] is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God’s mercy. [It depends not on one’s own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, but on God’s having mercy on him.] (Romans 9:16, AMP,*)

It’s not about us. It’s all about God’s grace from start to finish. We are all works in progress. God has not yet perfected us. He has not yet finished with us. We all are God’s works in progress. Read what Paul wrote to the Philippians:

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ(Phil:1:6, NRSV, emphasis added,*)

God who began your spiritual formation will also complete it. By the day of Jesus Christ. You are God’s work in progress. He will perfect you by the day Jesus returns. Hence you do not need to be all stressed about your progress. It’s not about you and your hard work. It’s about God’s grace in you.

Sure. We are not called to be slackers in spiritual matters. We are indeed called to fully abide in Christ. We are called to focus on God. We are called to pray always. But we are not called to stress about our spiritual progress. It’s not about human will or human effort, but of God’s grace.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. (Phil.1:9, NLT,*)

Spiritual formation is about letting God’s grace overflow in and through us. Then spiritual growth just happens by grace. Then we are where we always wanted to be: growing in knowledge and understanding.

So surrender your worries and inadequacies to God. Let God’s love and grace permeate every inch of you. And praise God that you are his work in progress and that he will bring the work in you to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. You are right where God wants you to be. You are in mighty good hands.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for worrying over things that don’t even belong to us.
Thank you that both our justification and sanctification is your work in us.
Help us to enjoy you more.
Help us to rest in your grace more.
Help us to praise you more.
Because you really are everything we need.
It’s all about you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you ok with being God’s work in progress?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace your status as God’s work in progress.

* [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 Alexis St.Clair, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God, and counting blessings with Ann Voskamp: #1123 God has begun his good work in us. #1124 God is at work in us. #1125 God will complete his work in us by the day of Jesus Christ. #1125 We can rest in God’s grace as God’s works in progress.

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