Flowing Faith

September 2, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
5 Comments

Death, Dancing and Deliverance

Death, Dancing and DeliveranceI caught myself in the middle of night asking “God, why do we need to die?” after dreaming of some people I was dearly missing.

Instantly, I was reminded of what happened in my childhood. How I had turned from a sunny to sullen child after my grandmother’s death. My mother had asked me what’s wrong and I had told her ‘I hate God’. She asked me why I thought so. And I had told her ‘because he makes people dead’. And my mother had explained me that actually God loves us so much that he gives us life upon life.

And guess what? I had danced for the joy of being loved by such an amazing God.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. (Romans 8:1-3, NLT)

I was reminded that life is a gift yet this life is not all there is. That it was our own sin that separated us from God and brought death upon us. That because God sent his only son to die for us, death is not the end but the beginning of life everlasting with God. Needless to say, I was humbled. How could I forget the big picture? But that easily happens when we grieve and miss our friends and family. We do have troubles and tribulations here on earth but once we get to the other side there won’t be any more tears. This is not all there is. Life is just a passage to the real deal. That’s why we can rejoice even in the midst of death, grieving, and sadness.

Before I fell back to sleep,  I danced in my spirit for the joy of being loved by such an amazing God.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for forgetting this life is not all there is.
Strengthen the voice of heaven in the midst of our troubles.
Thank you for giving us life upon life.
Set our hearts in fire for you.
Help us the share the good news of Jesus with others too.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you struggle with death? What does help you to keep on keeping on?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you dance for the joy of being loved by such an amazing God!

Image courtesy of Sean David/creationswap.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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August 31, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
3 Comments

Note to Self: I Am God’s Beloved

God's BelovedHere’s what you need to know today and every day for the rest of your life: you are God’s beloved. Nothing will ever change it. You are God’s beloved, that’s your identity.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
(Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

David G. Benner writes “What a different relationship begins to develop when you realize that God is head-over-heels in love with you. God is simply giddy about you. He just can’t help loving you. And he loves you deeply, recklessly and extravagantly-just as you are.”

You are God’s beloved. God is in love with you. He really wants to be in a loving relationship with you. How do you respond? Is the idea too out there? Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991) assures us this way:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what gets you out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you will spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Being in love with God does change everything. For better. How to go about it then? How can we fall in love with God, again or for the first time? Talk to him. Listen. Ask him to ignite his fire in you. Read the word of God. Spend time with him. Bask in his love. Revel in his presence. Enjoy his company. Live like God’s beloved!

 

Gracious God,
Your love towards me is amazing.
I don’t deserve it yet you love me with wild abandonment.
Make me worthy of your love.
Pour out love upon love, Lord.
I want to be forever in love with you.
Make it so, Lord.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know that you’re God’s beloved? Are you in love with God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you fall in love with God over and over again!

Image design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Looking up, Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders.

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August 28, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
9 Comments

Guided by God Alone

 

Guided by God AloneMany of us want to be guided by God alone. It’s a wonderful concept, isn’t it? But how do you put it in practice in real life? How does God guide us these days? How can we live for God alone?

The best advice comes from Jehoshaphat in the Bible: “But before you do anything, ask God for guidance.” (2 Chronicles 18:4, MSG,*) Whatever you do, start with asking God for guidance. Then your project is not in your hands but God’s. Don’t just bring your plan to God to be blessed but bring your confusion to God asking God to show you what to do, how to proceed, how to live for God alone in each situation.

Listening to God’s voice is not a special thing reserved for few selected members of the body of Christ. It is for every Christian. With the words of Jesus: The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27, AMP, emphasis added,*)

We can recognize God’s voice. The Holy Spirit living in us enables us to hear his voice. But we need to keep on listening to his voice. And shut all the other voices out so we are able to be guided by God alone.

Talk to God and ask him to speak to you, answer your questions. And then wait for God to answer you. He might give you peace over a decision. He might give you a Bible verse or two. God might send a friend or a stranger to give you direction. Or you might hear God’s voice within your heart or you get a vision while praying. God speaks in so many ways. We just need to be tuned into listening to his voice. Prayerfully reading his word is like a treasure hunt.

I rejoice in your word
    like one who discovers a great treasure.
(Psalm 119:162, NLT,*)

If you want to live for God alone, listening to God is important. But so is putting the message into practice. We don’t want to hear God’s guidance just to consider it. We need to obediently follow his guidance. We are called not only to listening to God’s voice but to heed his advice and live it out.

Then we are living for God alone.
Then we are guided by God alone.

 

Gracious God,
I want to live for you alone.
I want to be guided by you alone.
Open my ears to hear.
Open my heart to follow.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you guided by God alone? How do you hear God’s voice?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God’s guidance with your whole heart and mind.

* [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 creationswap.com, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke.  Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday, Faith Barista, and WordswithWinter. 

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August 26, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
3 Comments

REthink Your Life with Jesus Christ

Rethink Life with Jesus ChristHow would your life be different if you dared to “live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow “(Martin Luther)? This question has been staying with me for quite a long time now.

You are called to rethink your life with Jesus Christ too. Are you really following him? Would you be ready to state like Jack Hyles “I’d rather die in the will of God than to live outside of it”? When you’re ready to state that and live that, you’re ready for Jesus’ to come back any day.

Because Jesus is coming back. It is time to rethink your life with Jesus Christ.

Jesus tells us:“Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.” (John 14:3,MSG)

I strongly believe that Jesus indeed died on the cross, rose on the third day and will come again. We don’t need to know when Jesus is coming but we need to be always ready. Meanwhile, we are to serve God. Passionately, wholeheartedly. Like Jesus was coming back any day now.

It is indeed time to rethink your life with Jesus Christ. Life is not meant to be spent by being entertained. God has a specific plan and purpose for you. Seek God and you will find who you are meant to be and what you are meant to do. And that beats everything. Nothing like being in the center of God’s will.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for preparing us the way back to you.
Thank you for knowing the past, the present, and the future.
Help us to dare to believe all your promises.
Equip us to serve you passionately wherever you send us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How would your life be different if you would “live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow “(Martin Luther)?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you search your way to live and serve passionately!

Image courtesy of Stefan Tribble. Parts of this post refurbished from 2010. Lining up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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August 24, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
7 Comments

WhatsApp with God

WhatsApp with GodWhatsApp seems to be the way to instant message these days. It’s a fast and easy way to keep the communication lines open with your inner circles. What about God? Is he in your inner circle of communication?

Do you WhatsApp with God? Do you open God’s WhatsApp messages to you? Or do you ignore them? Is God your first go to person whenever you want to share something? Or has someone replaced him in your life?

Smart phones and their appications are blessings in many ways.  We can communicate fast and easy. But they can also alienate us further from God. We get so busy and connected with everyone and everything that there’s absolutely no time, no room left for God in our lives.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
(Isaiah 55:6, NIV)

It is time to take a pause and create time to WhatsApp with God. The intimacy with you and God can be something beautiful and very blessed. Think about talking with God, messaging with God as your first choice. That could change everything in your life.

Give God a priority status in your life. At least, please, do not block God’s messages. God has lot of wisdom and lot of guidance for you. God has an amazing heart just for you. He loves to listen you to tell about your day and what’s going on in your life.

Messaging with God is even easier than using WhatsApp; you don’t even need to type, you can just whisper what’s on your heart and you can be certain God hears you. And don’t forget to listen to God. He has your best interest on his heart. From everlasting to everlasting.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive my busyness,
my selfishness.
Show me
how to create an intimate relationship with you.
Show me
how to be in constant connection with you.
Because I do know
you’re the best.
Come and change anything and everything
that needs to be changed.
Come and make your home in my heart.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you WhatsApp with God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you give God a favorite status in your life!

Image courtesy of Aaron Burden/creationswap.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Looking up, Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders.

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August 21, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Finding Your Worth

finding your worthDo you know how precious you are? Do you know your worth? Do you know how loved you are? I hope you do. Because you are all that and even more. You’re not a mere mortal, you are an eternal being called into life by God himself.

You find your true worth and identity in Christ. God sent Jesus to die for us so he could save us and then lavish us with the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us. God planned all this out of the great love so he could love us even more.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (1 John 3:1, MSG,*)

You see, God does not only love you but he loves to love you. Also, there’s nothing you could do to separate yourself from God’s love. Nothing. God created you and knows you better than you know yourself. And nothing will make him to stop loving and caring for you.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NLT, emphasis added,*)

When you’ve found your worth in the Word of God, you find it easier to love yourself. When you’ve experienced God’s love and grace, you’re ready to extend grace to people around you. When you’ve embraced all the promises of God for yourself, you are ready to live bold, love much, laugh often. Because all is more than well. You are a beloved child of God and you will never be forgotten.

Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 23:5, AMP, emphasis added,*)

Finding your worth in God opens up your future in a new way. Life is not about your imperfections and limitations. It’s about God and his perfect plan for you and the whole wide world. You do have purpose. You do have hope. You do have life upon life.

 

Gracious God,
You are so marvelous.
You are more than I deserve
but I so thank you for your love for me.
Thank you for giving me life
with meaning and purpose.
Enable me always know my worth
and extend your love and grace to others.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you found your worth in the Bible? How has that helped you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you stake your life on the promises of 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 creationswap.com, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke.  Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday, Faith Barista, and WordswithWinter.

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August 19, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Hope in Chaos

hope in chaosToday’s post is for you who cannot even imagine how things could work out in your situation. This little reminder is for you who is right now overwhelmed with things happening in your life. These words are for you who is at the end of your rope. There’s hope even in chaos.

There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today.~ H.C.G. Moule.

Hang in there, my friend. Hang in there. God is in control. God is helping you and creating beauty out of ashes right now. With the words of Martin Luther God made man out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us’. 

And if these quotes were not enough, here’s what Jesus said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (Matthew 5:3, MSG).

When you are a child of God, the same power that was in operation at creation and at resurrection is at work in your life. Embrace this fact. And live accordingly.

Don’t let hardships tear you away from the center of God’s will for you. Don’t let your in capability to see how your life will turn around, diminish your trust in God’s ability to do so.

God’s power is with you today. Cling to that knowledge. Cling to Jesus. You will be all right. More than all right. You will be blessed beyond measure. With Jesus, there’s hope even in chaos.

 

Dear God,
Thank you for always knowing the right words to
uplift and encourage me.
Thank you for your limitless supply of hope.
Thank you for being in control of my life.
Come and use your power to make your will
happen in my life.
Use me for your glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How has God’s power affected your life? Do you believe there’s hope in chaos?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you hope and lean on God when the going gets tough!

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

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August 17, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

God-given Confidence

GOd-given confidenceDo you know the secret of peace and joy? It is leaving all your anxieties and insecurities at the foot of the cross and banking your life on Almighty God.

Then you can dance in the front of fear.
Then you can sing in the presence of evil.
Then you can be confident when you’re out of your comfort zone.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
(Jeremiah 17:7, NLT, emphasis added)

When we put our confidence in God, we are filled with peace and joy. But when we put our confidence in ourselves or others, we often experience stress, despair and disappointments. This should not be a difficult choice, right? Especially to those who already know God and his goodness.

We are partners with Christ, but only if we hold on to the confidence we had in the beginning until the end. (Hebrews 3:14, CEB)

Why then do we so often forget this and try to manage on our own? Aren’t we tried of beating our heads against the wall time after time? I am anyway. I am done with self-made plans and self-confidence. I am all for God’s plans and God-given confidence.

With the words of Martin Luther “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.”

God-given confidence is based on trusting God as our heavenly Father. God-given confidence is about believing in God and his gifts in you. It’s about believing that God is always with you and is working in you and through you.

God-given confidence gives you courage to do what God asks you to do. God-given confidence does not inflate your ego but inflates your faith to the max. And then you are unstoppable. Because it is not about you but about Christ in you.

 

Dear God,
You are so good to me.
Thank you for
loving me,
redeeming me,
encouraging me,
readying me,
equipping me,
sending me,
always being with me.
Enable me to be all you created me to be.
Empower me to reach all you want to reach through me.
Thank you for having big plans for/in/through me.
Thank you for making them happen.
May I always be bold in and for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What does God-given confidence do in/through you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let God do amazing things in/through you!

Image courtesy of ochristian.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Looking up, Sharing His Beauty, Small Wonders.

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August 14, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Learn God’s Ways

Learn God's WaysYesterday, I was going through old photos, letters and my own diaries. It was so fun to see pictures of fellow camp counselors and college friends. I also went through some writings of my own and realized that every experience I’ve gone through has taught me a lot. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those experiences and those people along the way. I’ve learned to hang in there no matter what. God is always at work behind the scenes.

As I went through the pictures, I was also reminded how sometimes people think if something doesn’t come naturally to them, they give up. They just say ‘I’m not good at it’ and leave it at that. It might be okay when you talk about some hobbies. But it’s not an okay behavior when it comes to the matters of faith. God’s ways do not come naturally to us. We need to learn them.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. (Phil.4:11-12, NLT,*)

It is comforting to know even the apostle Paul had to learn things. We do need to take time to learn things God’s way. Most often it doesn’t come naturally to us. Our natural selfishness leads us astray if we are not tuned into God’s ways.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. (Isaiah 55:8, NLT)

God’s ways are better than our ways. When we have learned this, it is easier to accept delays and difficulties along the way. It is easier to press on and keep on hoping despite of everything. When we have gotten to know God intimately, it is easier to believe when everything points out to the other direction.

How can we then learn God’s ways? By reading his Word, communicating with him in prayer, practicing what we believe. God will show us how when we just ask. God is always with us even if we don’t feel his presence. And, please do remember: we can also ask to feel his presence. We can learn God’s ways by interacting with him.

 

Dear God,
Thank you for wanting to be in relationship with me.
Thank you for always being there for me.
Thank you for teaching me your ways.
Shower me with your grace
according to your plan for me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What have your learned of God’s ways lately?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you learn God’s ways!

* [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 creationswap.com, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke.  Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday, Faith Barista, and WordswithWinter.

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August 12, 2015
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Holy Living

holy livingDid you know that Jesus did not die only for our salvation? According to the Bible he also died so that we would ‘die to sin and live to righteousness’ (1 Peter 2:24). Being saved by grace is not the end. It is the beginning of holy living.

God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside. (1 Thessalonians 4:7, MSG)

Grace does not excuse us from holy living, it empowers us for holiness.
Holiness is not just reserved for church professionals, it is for every Christian.

God even provides everything we need – his grace – for holy living. Why don’t we then use his provision? Why do we go with the flow instead? Why don’t we resist unholy things in our lives when we do have the power to do so (provided by Jesus)?

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God. (2 Cor. 7:1, MSG)

We are called for becoming holy as God is holy.
We are even empowered for holy living.

Now it is our turn to do our part, don’t you think? How can we then live holy? Only by abiding in the Holy Spirit, we can’t do it alone. It’s not about growing our moral muscle, it’s about abiding in grace. You can learn how to overcome temptations. By God’s grace holy living can become your new normal.

Gracious God,
Help us to understand that being saved is only the beginning.
Help us to embrace holy living as our new normal.
Make us holy like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you aim for holy living? How do you do it?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace holy living as your way of life!

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

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