Flowing Faith

February 27, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Life Is a Gift from God. Do Not Take It Granted.

Life is a gift from GodDo you think life is a gift or do you take your life granted? Even if think in theory that life is a gift, there are times when we get so busy and task-oriented that we almost forget that life is a gift from God. A very precious gift from God. When we don’t appreciate breathing, we take life granted. And that leads us into life that is not all it is meant to be. What to do then?

Life is a gift from God

The only way to fulfilling life is through thanksgiving and praise. When we recognise life as a gift from God, we start appreciating every breath we take. And when we do that, we are fully living. Our life is not then any more glamorous or easier than before but life becomes full of meaning and purpose. And that is another gift from God. Suddenly we start recognising heavenly gifts around us. Life becomes more and more precious. And we love it more as we continue to grow in God’s love and grace.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16, NIV)

Do not take it granted

Taking God’s good gifts granted leads to misery. As soon as we forget to give thanks and praise God for his gifts, we take them granted. When we don’t remember we are not entitled to luxuries and niceties in life, we blame God for our hardships. That’s why it is important to seize every day and remember that life is a gift from God. Counting blessings is an effective way to keep us from taking life and other gifts of God granted. And that enables us to truly enjoy every breath we take.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of life.
Help us to appreciate every breath we take.
Do not let us take your gifts granted.
Help us to see your handiwork in our lives.
We thank you and praise you forever and ever.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think? Is life a gift from God? If yes: How do you live out that in your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace life as a gift from God!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

February 24, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Slow Faith

Slow faithThere has been a lot of talk about the slow food movement (I’m all for it) and about slow living in general. It is wise to slow down or you will miss what’s most important in life. What about slow church or slow faith – is there such a thing?

Slow faith

As much as we need to slow down to enjoy life we need to slow down to encounter Jesus. If we keep on rushing around and speeding on the fast track, we miss the precious beauty of everyday life and, most importantly, we miss the echoes of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Hence, we need slow faith. We need to slow down enough to let God to set the grace-filled tune and tempo for our lives.

 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63, NLT,*)

Seize God

Slow faith gives God the right to intervene any time and select the ultimate time for everything. Scary? Probably. But, most of all, it is life-giving and peace-inducing. Slow faith brings forth fruit of the Spirit in God’s time. And slow faith blesses us according to God’s plan to us, not according to our own “gimme-everything-right now” plan that leads us away from eternal life. That’s why we are blessed by slow faith. More than we ever could be on the fast track. So, slow down, my friend. Seize the day, seize God.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for rushing through life
without slowing down and embracing you.
Help us to cultivate slow faith
according to your plan and timing.
Come and refresh our faith, Lord.
Pour out grace upon grace and
show us how to enjoy life with you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you cultivate slow faith?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you slow down and seize 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 toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Image via creationswap.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

February 22, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Come to Jesus who Is Gentle and Humble in Heart

Come to JesusAre you stressed out, overwhelmed or burdened? I have good news for you. Jesus’ promise to give you rest is as valid today as it was 2000 years ago. No hooplas required. Just come to Jesus. He is already waiting for you.

Come to Jesus …

Jesus does not introduce a religious program for you to follow. Also, he does not want to burden you with more things to do. Instead, he invites you to come to him. Jesus wants to meet you personally. And give you rest.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30; NIV)

….who is gentle and humble in heart.

I’ve always found this Bible passage meaningful, I’ve even blogged about these Bible verses many times with titles like Real Rest, Dance with Jesus, Grace for Has-beens & Wannabes, Spiritual Rest and I am sure I will be writing about this discipleship aspect again. But this time I fell in love with these words of Jesus “I am gentle and humble in heart”. We are called to come to Jesus who is gentle and humble in heart. Wow.

This is who our Jesus is: gentle and humble in heart. So that’s why we don’t have to be afraid or hesitate about coming to Jesus. He truly is gentle and humble in heart. Our Jesus does not lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on us. He wants us to recover our lives, have rest in him. Jesus wants us to learn to live freely and lightly and joyfully. Don’t we all want that? Come to Jesus. That’s the start for grace-filled living.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for touching the core of our being
with you gentleness.
We want to come to Jesus.
Give us what we need,
teach us to live freely and lightly.
Show us what grace-filled living is all about.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Have you learned to “come to Jesus”? Do you find rest in Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you come to Jesus daily.

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

February 20, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Give Me the Spirit of the Lord

Give me the Spirit of the LordCurrently, I am reading through the book of Isaiah. I’m in awe of all the prophecies of the Messiah and how perfectly they came to be in Jesus. Today, I was reading about how a shoot will grow up from Jesse’s stump. Especially, the second verse describing the Spirit of the Lord resting on Jesus, took my breath away. I want that too. Give me the Spirit of the Lord – all of it!

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him— The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and strength, The Spirit of knowledge and of the [reverential and obedient] fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2, AMP)

Give me the Spirit of the Lord!

We are called to be Christ-like. Hence we can plea “give me the Spirit of the Lord too”. The Spirit of the Lord is not reserved only for Jesus. It is meant for all the children of God. God wants to bless us with his spiritual gifts. And when the Spirit of the Lord will rest on us, we will know what happiness is.

Every morning I will ask God to give me the Spirit of the Lord – all of it: the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. All the things I naturally lack. But the things I need to become what God wants me to be. The things that will make all the difference in my life. And the things God is more than happy to give me. Yes! Give me the Spirit of the Lord!

Gracious God,
Thank you for the prophecies of the Messiah
and thank you fulfilling them all in Jesus.
Make me more Christ-like and
give me the Spirit of the Lord!
Also, may your will happen in/through my life.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you want to have the Spirit of the Lord – all of it?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace what God is doing in your life!

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

February 17, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
10 Comments

Less of Me, More of God

Less of me, more of GodI’m slowly learning to celebrate my weaknesses. I would never do that without God’s grace. But one of the most beautiful facts of Christianity is that we don’t have to be strong. Because God is strong. And when we live and move in him, his strength is ours, we can be as weak as we are. That’s why I’ve learned to celebrate my weaknesses. When there’s less of me, there’s more of God. That’s what I want: less of me, more of God!

Well pleased with weaknesses

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me;but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.10 So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]. (2 Cor. 12:7-10, AMP,*, emphasis added)

Less of me, more of God

How blessed we are that we can celebrate our weaknesses. We don’t need to hide them or pretend they don’t exist. How wonderful that life is not about who is strongest and most capable. We can be who we are and know that we are loved by God.

Christian life is about leaning on God. It’s about being weak in our human strength but being strong in Christ. That strength will never let us down. Hence we can celebrate our weaknesses. God’s grace is always sufficient, we can rest in that. That’s why the recipe for fulfilling life is: less of me, more of God!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for arranging it so
that your power works best in weakness.
Be praised for loving me as I am.
Thank you that your grace is always enough.
Work through my weaknesses, Lord.
Use me for your glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you feel about “less of me, more of God” statement?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace “less of me, more of God” statement as your leading life principle!

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

Image via creationswap.com, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

February 15, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Beautiful Jesus

Beautiful JesusWhenever you feel empty, call out to Jesus. His presence will comfort you. It’s okay to be nothing but a shell, the Holy Spirit is happy to fill you. When you’re tired, slow down and let the grace of Christ minister to you. One of the most beautiful songs about this is Beautiful Jesus by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser. Listen to it, let it sooth your soul, and praise the Lord. He is near to brokenhearted.

Lyrics for Beautiful Jesus by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

Hey Jesus, won’t You come and dress me in Your thoughts
Pick out Your favorite ones I’m holding out my heart
You cover gray, empty space with color from Your well
Deep love is pouring out and filling up my shell

Chorus:

Beautiful Jesus, My glorious friend
The One who never grows weary and stays till the end
Oh how I love You, I cannot begin to say
All of the reasons that I love to sing Your name

Holy Spirit, won’t You come and cover me in light
Illuminate the dark space with color yellow bright
Like the stars coming out and filling up my night
The glory of Your promises, You make wrong things right
You make wrong things right

Bridge:
Oh, how I love You
Oh, how I love You
Oh, how I love You
Jesus

Outro:
I love You, no one’s like You
Keeper of my heart
Beautiful Jesus

 

Let us pray

Gracious God,
Thank you for inviting us to you,
especially when we are at the end of our rope.
Beautiful Jesus, our glorious friend,
we love you, we praise you!
Meet our needs with your grace.
Holy, holy Spirit,
fill our empty shells with your glory.
Surround us with your love.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you a friend of Beautiful Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you approach God for tender loving care!

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

February 13, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

The Sweetness of God

The sweetness of GodHave you ever experienced the sweetness of God? You know, that is the essence of God. We only get little glimpses of it at this side of eternity it’s real. It’s real, sweet, and wonderful. It’s God.

Knowing God is to know his sweetness.
Being loved by God means being enveloped in his sweetness.
Living in the Spirit is about enjoying the sweetness of God.

The sweetness of God is meant for all

It is readily available for all his children. However, it’s not magic. But way too often we get too busy to draw close enough to God to experience his sweetness.

This sweetness is the nectar that keeps us going when life crumbles around us. The sweetness of God is the energy that empowers us to endure hardships. This sweetness is the elixir that equips us for our journey to home.

How to experience the sweetness of God?

Somehow many of us have forgotten how to experience the sweetness of God. We can do that simply by reading his Word, by praying and praising him, by abiding in him, by living out the promises of God.

The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. (2 Cor. 5:5, MSG)

The sweetness of God is indeed a little bit of heaven here on earth. This sweetness of God is what Christianity is all about: God loved us so much that sent his only son to die for us so we could be embraced by the Father.

It’s God’s gift to his children

God yearns to be intimate with his children.
He adores showing affection to his children.
God wants to show his sweetness to you.

How do you respond? Do you stay away or do you settle for less? Or do you run to God to experience his sweet presence? Nothing quite like it! Just do it!

 

Dear God,
We yearn to know you
and to experience your love
and to taste your sweetness.
Embrace us tenderly!
Fill us with your spirit!
Heal us with your grace!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How have you experienced the sweetness of God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you draw close to God to experience the sweetness of God!

This post is refurbished from 2013. Image courtesy of Daniel R, design by  Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

February 10, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Move into God’s Zone!

Move into God's zoneThe number one reason why people like their comfort zones is safety. People like to be safe and secure. They think sticking in their comfort zone delivers it. But they are wrong. Comfort zone is dangerous. It kills your spirit, it sucks you out of life-giving breath. Then you’re merely existing. Somehow years slip by and your life becomes full of empty living. That’s not abundant life, is it? Hence get out of your comfort zone! Move into God’s zone!

Goodbye comfort zone!

You are a child of God called to do amazing things for God’s glory. That does not happen if you stick to your comfort zone. Shawn Bolz has said “the most amazing things happen when you are obedient and take risks for God.” Following Christ into unknown territories is the only way to reach what God has planned for us. We need to get out of the boat.

Move into God’s zone!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. (2 Tim 1:7, AMP,*)

We have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and that will enable us to get out of our comfort cone and move into God’s zone. So don’t get stuck in the rut but ask for Gods help. He is more than happy to help you. And you will be happy because you are closely connected to God while using all your faculties, gifts and desires for God’s glory. That never happens in your own comfort zone because you’re self-sufficient there. So move into God’s zone and experience safety in God while boldly venturing out into wilderness like you were meant to do. Say goodbye to your comfort cone, it is a dangerous trap, not a safety net. Move into God’s zone and find out what it means to be truly alive.

 

Gracious God,
Wake me up to see what a trap my comfort zone is.
Empower me to leave it and move into your zone.
Show me what it really is to be alive in you.
Help me to get out the boat and follow you wherever you lead me.
Thank you for not giving up on me.
I surrender to you and ask you to lead me clearly.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you ready to move into God’s zone?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you say goodbye to your comfort zone and follow Christ wherever he leads 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 toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Image courtesy of Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

February 8, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Do Not Trust in Your Own Reasoning

Do not trust your own reasoningLife is tough. It is especially tough if you try to manage it totally on your own. But you do not have to do it on your own. Help is available. And not just any help but divine help designed just for you. Why then do we insist on going on our own? Nothing but heartache comes out of prideful independence. But the Biblical advice “Do not trust in your own reasoning” leads us into different direction.

Those who trust in their own reasoning are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom will be kept safe.
(Proverbs 28:26, CEB)

Do not trust in your own reasoning

This might sound crazy. You might think our own reasoning is all we have. But you should trust in the Lord, not in your own reasoning. Our reasoning is limited, God’s is limitless. Also, our resources are limited, God’s isn’t. We don’t know the big picture, God does. Why then do we insist on trusting on our own reasoning when it’s limited even at its best?

Divine help designed for you

God is offering you a better way to do things. He want to provide divine help designed just for you. Not just generic help for masses but divine help for you. God wants to hear from you and help you in your every day concerns.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Phil.4:6-7, MSG)

God is asking you to not trust in your own reasoning but to trust him with everything. When you dare to trust him, Christ displaces worry at the center of your being. That’s when you realise all is well with your soul. Not because your reasoning has opened up new ways of doing things but because God’s presence in your life changes everything. Then it’s grace in charge. Not you. Rest in that.

 

Gracious God,
Help me to not trust in my own reasoning.
I want to trust in you.
I want your grace to be in charge of my life, not me.
Only you, Lord.
Only you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think? Is it wise not to trust in your own reasoning?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you trust in the Lord with everything!

Image courtesy of Kevin Carden, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

February 6, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Prayers for Spiritual Growth

prayers for spiritual growthBecoming stuck or stale is not something anybody strives for. Especially, we desire liveliness in our spiritual matters. That’s why we need prayers for spiritual growth. It does not happen without the Holy Spirit. Otherwise our faith will become dead and we don’t want that, do we?

Prayers for spiritual growth

I have collected a few prayers for spiritual growth. Which one is your favourite? I felt that I could have written many of these prayers yet they were written hundreds of years ago. Prayers for spiritual growth are always relevant and so needed.

The Universal Prayer (attributed to pope Clement XI, 1649-1721)

Lord, I believe in you – increase my faith.
I trust in you – strengthen my trust.
I love you- let me love your more and more.
I am sorry for my sins – deepen my sorrow.
I worship you as my first beginning. I lone for you as my last end, I praise you as my constant helper, and call on you as my loving protector.
Guide me by your wisdom, correct me with your justice, comfort me with your mercy, protect me with your power.
I offer you, Lord, my thoughts – to be fixed on you; my words – to have your for their theme; my actions – to reflect my love for you my sufferings – to be endured for your grater glory.
I want to do what you ask of me – in the way you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it.
Lord, enlighten my understanding, strengthen my will, purify my heart, and make me holy.
Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future. Help me rise above my human weaknesses and to grow stronger as a Christian.
Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am – a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and to love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies.
Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed with generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out to others.
Make me prudent in planning, courageous in taking risks. Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.
Keep me, Lord, attentive in prayer, temperate in food and drink, diligent in my work, firm in my good intentions.
Let my conscience be clear, my conduct without fault, my speech blameless, and my life well-ordered.
Teach me to realize that this world is passing, that my true future is the happiness of heaven, that life on earth is short, and the life to come eternal.
Help me prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment, and a greater trust in your goodness.
Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Prayer by Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

I believe that you created me;
let not the work of your hands be despised.
I believe that I am after your image and likeness:
let not your own likeness be defaced.
I believe that you saved me by your blood:
let not the price of the ransom be squandered.
I believe that you proclaimed me a Christian in your name:
let your namesake be scorned.
I believe that you hallowed me in rebirth:
let not that consecration be despoiled.
I believe that you engrafted me into the cultivated olive tree:
let not the limb of your mystical body be cut out.
Amen

Prayer by Thomas à Kempis (1379-1471)

Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus,
to rest in you above all creature, above all health and beauty, above all glory and honor, above all power and dignity, above all skill and shrewdness, above all riches and talents, above all joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, above all hope and promise, above all merit and desire, above all gifts that you may shower on me , above all joy or tribulation that my mind may feel or receive. And grant me to rest in you above angels and archangels, above all the heavenly host, above all things visible and invisible, and above all that you are not, my God. For you, My God, are above all.

Prayer by Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith, strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love my go out to my neighbor. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you.
With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness. Therefore I will remain in you, from whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give.

Prayer by Thomas Aquinas (1225-74)

Make me, O my God,
humble without pretence,
cheerful without levity,
serious without dejection,
grave without moroseness,
active without frivolity,
truthful without duplicity,
fearful of thee without despair,
trustful of thee without presumption,
chaste without depravity,
able to correct my neighbor without angry feeling,
and by word and example to edify him without pride,
obedient without gainsaying,
patient without murmuring.

Prayer by Bridget of Sweden (1303-73)

Lord, show me the way
And make me willing to walk therein.

Prayer by David Livingstone (1813-73)

O Lord, I am yours. For what seems good in your sight,
and give me complete resignation to your will.

Here our prayers, Lord

We are yours, Lord.
Do with us what needs to be done.
Heal what needs healing,
renew what needs renewing.
Pour out grace upon grace, Lord.
May your will be done,
nothing else, nothing less, nothing more.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Which one of these prayers for spiritual growth is your favorite?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you invite the Holy Spirit to ignite holy fire in you!

Image courtesy of creationswap.com, design by  Mari-Anna Stålnacke.

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