Flowing Faith

February 23, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

God Is the Source of All Beauty

God is the source of all beautyBeauty – how do you define it? It’s a hard task, isn’t it? Beauty is much more than just loveliness. In some ways, I think, we can intuitively sense beauty is something other-worldly or heavenly. Maybe a better question would be: how does encountering beauty make you feel? Or what or who does beauty remind you of? These questions would lead you more towards the source of beauty.

God is the source of all beauty

In the matters of beauty I’ve been inspired by Steve DeWitt’s great book Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything. He points out that in essence, God is the source of all beauty and goodness. DeWitt states, “Beauty boomerangs from God into created beauty, then through the senses and soul of the image-bearer, and finally back to God with praise and glory.”

For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36, AMP,*)

DeWitt paints with his words a beautiful picture of God’s perfect beauty: “God’s beauty is the bouquet of His perfections in His person, unveiled in His purposes, and displayed in His glory.” God’s beauty is indeed so much more we can imagine. God’s beauty is him, his holiness, his loving-kindness surrounding us. Whenever we encounter beauty in any form, it reminds us of the source of all beauty.

Nature is God’s self-portrait

I find DeWitt’s idea of nature as God’s self-portrait intriguing. Through nature, God helps us to get to know him. “It [nature] is not God, since God transcends what He has created, but it reveals in physical form what He is like spiritually. God creates beauty so we can know what He is like. Since He is and always has been glorious and beautiful, creation reflects this with seeable, tastable, touchable, hearable, and smellable reflections of His glory and beauty.”

“Holy, holy, holy is the LordAlmighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3, NIV,*)

God created beauty for purpose

DeWitt states God created beauty to give us the experience of wonder and ultimately to worship. Hence, he writes “Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving.” And that’s what we should do whenever we encounter beauty anywhere. We should give thanks and praise to God for providing and creating it but also for our pleasure in experiencing it.

God is an awesome father who gives to his children in so many ways, beauty being one of them. And there’s beauty even in brokenness. So let’s keep our eyes open for his glory, for his beauty in all forms. And let’s ask him to make us more like him. Holy and beautiful.

 

Dear God,
Thank you for blessing us
with your beauty and goodness.
Surround us with your radiant love
and inspiring beauty.
Open our eyes to see more of you
and get to know you better.
Make us more like you,
holy and beautiful.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How does beauty make you feel? Do you recognize God in beauty?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you look for God’s beauty around 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.].

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

February 20, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Unsuspected Enemies of Growing in Faith

Unsuspected Enemies of Growing in Faith - flowingfaith.comDo you want to grow in your faith? I think that is what we all want. But we might not want what it takes to make it happen. We’d like to get the benefits of a mature faith but we’re not willing to sacrifice for it. Or we’re not ready to wait for years while obediently keeping on doing what’s required. Craving instant gratification is an enemy of spiritual growth for sure. So is pampering yourself in comfort.

Unsuspected enemies …

Ouch. That’s what I thought when I read this John Ortberg quote “The decision to grow always involves a choice between risk and comfort. This means that to be a follower of Jesus you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life.” Isn’t safety and comfort exactly what we seek in this life? We want that comfy feeling. Happiness, we call it. God sees it differently. Comfort and spiritual laziness are unsuspected enemies of growing in faith. That’s why God is calling us out of stupor and offering us something more. Better. Bigger. Bolder.

Growing in faith involves a choice between risk and comfort. Following Jesus requires us moving our feet in the direction chosen by God. And especially it does not mean staying put in your own bubble. Faith is not needed in doing the same old, same old over and over again. Hence faith does not grow.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. (Col.1:9-11, NIV)

… of growing in faith

So what should we do? How could we renounce comfort as the ultimate value of our life? The first step is to notice the power comfort has in our lives. And the second step is to bring it to God in prayer. Over and over again. I believe surrendering to Jesus has to happen every morning like we had never surrendered before. Otherwise, we take the reigns and stay in comfort.

Only when we live in the Spirit, we are bold enough to take the risk to truly follow Jesus into the unknown territories of life. When we dare to take risks for Jesus, our faith is stretched and it grows. So don’t live without prayer, without surrender, without the Holy Spirit lifting you up and installing boldness and empowering grace in you. Your life is not meant to be boring and repetitive. It’s meant to be an adventure more beautiful and exciting than anything in your boldest dreams.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us worshipping comfort.
Help us to renounce comfort as our ultimate life value.
It’s YOU we want, it’s spiritual growth we desire.
We surrender to you, Lord.
Fill us with your Spirit and
make us daring and bold for you.
Enable us to live lives you’ve designed for us
and keep on growing in faith.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Is comfort the ultimate value of your life? Or are you growing in faith?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you dare to step out of your comfort zone in order of growing in faith!

Photo by Stephen Di Donato on Unsplash. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

February 16, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

How to Be Prepared for Tough Times

prepared for tough times - flowingfaith.comOften we have big why questions when horrible things happen. But that question does not help us to deal with disasters. Because we can’t understand why certain things happen. Some of the evil things are caused by humans, directly or indirectly. But there are a lot of mysterious, inexplicable suffering in the world too. Whatever the cause of the current suffering is, taking it all in is taxing. Then it’s just time to lean on God, trust Him for seeing us through these hardships. But there are ways how we can become prepared for tough times. Let’s find out.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. (Hebrews 11:1, MSG, emphasis added,*)

How to be prepared for tough times

So when disasters strike, there’s no time to learn to handle them. The learning needs to happen beforehand. If we want to learn to handle tough times, we need to dig deeper into faith. Because our faith is our handle on what we can’t see. We need to find out why we believe what we believe and why we live or what’s our ultimate purpose in this life. So when tough times arrive next time, we don’t need to be paralyzed with fear or spend time speculating why something happened. We can move on to deal with the reality based on our beliefs that we have tested beforehand. Hence the best way to be prepared for tough times is to know 1) why you really believe in Jesus and 2) why you live, what’s your purpose.

Every God-begotten person conquers the world’s ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world’s ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5, MSG,*)

I would have never chosen my hardships but through them, I found out faith really works. And having a war-tested faith gives you boldness to live because you know from a first-hand experience that God will see you through no matter what happens. That’s our God. He can change even the bad in our lives into good if we let him take over. I believe in Jesus because he has proven to me that he will never leave me nor forsake me. When you know why you believe in Jesus, nothing will shake your faith either.

Our purpose is to glorify God in all we do

What gives me the confidence to keep on keeping on when things get tough, you ask. Sure, I’ve learned that God knows the big picture and is working behind the scenes. I can trust him to be good even when it does not look like it. But this faith, this trust is not all I have. I’ve also learned the purpose of my existence is not just to have fun but to glorify God. And that changes the game for me, that makes me prepared for tough times.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ. (2 Tess. 1:11-12, NLT,*)

I don’t need to understand what’s happening or why it is happening

But I do need to truly know God is good all the time and he will see me through anything and everything. Meanwhile, I can bring glory to God with my actions. I am God’s beloved and he has called me to share his love with others. Hence I know why I live. That gives me the incentive to keep on keeping on even when nothing makes sense. And God will provide me everything I need to accomplish all the good thing my faith prompts me to do. In the end, it’s all about letting God fill us with his grace. Then when we are weak, his grace makes us strong. When we are clueless, he gives us wisdom. And when we are helpless, he comes to our aid. Hence we are always blessed. Even if the world is shaking around us, Jesus is our peace. Hence we can be at peace at all times.

Gracious God,
Help us to learn to lean on you
when things get tough.
Instill in us unwavering faith and trust in you
so that when things get tough,
we can keep on praising you.
We want to bring glory to you, Lord.
Be our strength, be our wisdom, be our everything.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you prepared for tough times? How do you handle hardships?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you dig deeper into faith to be prepared for tough times!

* [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.].

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday. (Okay, this was supposed to be a five-minute post but I forgot it once I started writing. Sorry!)

February 13, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Fasting and Feasting

Fasting and feasting - flowingfaith.comThe first day of Lent and Valentine’s Day do not collide that often. It creates an interesting situation this year. Valentine’s Day is full of chocolate and feasting. Ash Wednesday invites us to repentance and fasting. How can we combine Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, fasting and feasting? Or do we need to choose one over other? Let’s find out.

Fasting and Feasting

Both fasting and feasting are part of Christian life. There is time for both. But the question here now is: could we do them simultaneously? Could Lent be about fasting and feasting? I think the answer is yes, yet I know it needs a little bit explaining.

Traditionally, Lent is about fasting, preparing ourselves for the Easter joy. I know some of you might even wonder whether we need Lent or not. We follow Jesus’ example if holding a 40 day fast. Hence there must be some spiritual blessings hidden in fasting. So we embrace fasting in general. During Lent, we just practice this spiritual discipline together. Lent is an opportunity for us to grow in grace.

The example of Jesus

Jesus also embraced feasting, celebrating Life and the Giver of Life. Christian life at its best is feasting: it’s a joyful life with God. In that sense, it should be a daily occurrence. That’s why feasting does not most often mean parties and excess of food and drink. Feasting is embracing God and his loving presence every second of your life.

So far we have established that both fasting and feasting are stables of the Christian lifestyle. But they do seem like polar opposites, don’t they? How could we practice fasting and feasting simultaneously? If the matter was about food, it would be impossible to do. But we can fast and feast on immaterial things too.

fasting and feasting - flowingfaith.com

Could fasting and feasting be combined?

So if you want to fast from talking negatively and feast on kind words, you are combing them beautifully. Or if you’re fasting from selfishness and feasting on loving your neighbor, you’re practicing them simultaneously. Also, if you’re fasting from watching TV and feasting on reading the Word of God, you’re once again fasting and feasting at the same time. How about fasting from gossip and feasting on prayer? Or fasting from holding grudges and feasting on forgiveness? What a great way to combine fasting and feasting, don’t you think?

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. (Romans 12:11-16, MSG)

What about Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day

How about Valentine’s Day, you ask. Fast from crumpiness and feast on friendships; fast from wastefulness, feast on hugs. Maybe you want to fast from food, then feast on companionship. Whatever you do, do it with love. Our God is a generous God full of love and his mercy is new every morning. Hence, go and fast from worldliness and hate, feast on godliness and love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
(1 Cor. 13:4-7, MSG)

Let us pray

Dear God,
Thank you for always having answers even before we’re able to articulate questions.
Your love is so astronomical and you want to lavish us with it.
Pour on love upon love and grace upon grace.
Enable us to fast from things that hurt
and feast on things that uplift us and our loved ones.
Bless us as we enter this season of Lent and
as we detox from the bad things and
celebrate the good things in our lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Ash Wednesday & Valentine’s Day. How are you going to combine them?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you celebrate by fasting and feasting!

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha and Roman Kraft on Unsplash. I am linking up with #tellhisstory.

February 9, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Grace from Start to Finish

It's grace from start to finish - flowingfaith.comSometimes we forget how big of a gift and privilege grace really is. We easily take it granted because it was given freely to us. And we forget how amazing it is that God – who is holy and almighty – does everything to make it possible for sinners to come to him. It’s grace from start to finish. It’s his idea and it’s his power that makes it happen.

But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name— who were born, not of blood [natural conception], nor of the will of the flesh [physical impulse], nor of the will of man [that of a natural father], but of God [that is, a divine and supernatural birth—they are born of God—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified]. (John 1:12-13, AMP)

Just like the baby does not birth him/herself, we can’t either birth ourselves spiritually. It is God’s power that does everything when we are born again of the Holy Spirit. It’s God’s grace from start to finish when we are spiritually transformed and renewed and adopted as his children. We just receive God’s generous gifts of grace and mercy in Jesus’ name.

It’s grace from start to finish

Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Hebrews 4:16, AMP)

So God prepared the way for us to be reconciled with God. But even that is not all, he continually invites us to come to him anytime we want. Let’s not take God granted and forget to use our privilege to approach him 24/7. We can receive mercy for our failures and grace in the form of an appropriate blessing whenever we need it.

God’s love for us is immense, we can never use it up. We are always at the receiving end, we will never be shortchanged. It’s all grace. And that grace will see us home to God at the end. It’s grace from start to finish.

 

Gracious God,
You are so much more than we can imagine
and we thank you and praise you for that.
Thank you that you do not fit in a box
and you are full of love, not demands.
How blessed and privileged we are that
you provide the way back to you.
Forgive our trespasses, Lord.
Pour out grace upon grace and
show us what it really means to live with you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe it’s grace from start to finish?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you use your privilege to approach God 24/7!

* [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.].

Photo by Kevin Young on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

February 6, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Whoever Has Jesus Has Life

Whoever has Jesus has life - flowingfaith.comSometimes you hear people saying there’s no way of knowing that we really need Jesus for eternal life. They don’t believe that whoever has Jesus has life because it does not make sense to them. But to me, it does not make sense to refuse Jesus. If you’re one of these people or know someone who could benefit from knowing the answer to this dilemma, may I suggest reading a few verses from the first letter of John? According to John, God gives his testimony about this very thing.

 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12, NIV)

Whoever has Jesus has life

The Bible tells us it’s as simple as this: if you have Jesus, you have life. I know it may sound too simple but it is a free gift made purposefully simple so everyone can receive it. If you have Jesus, accept him as Lord and Savior, you have eternal life. And if you do not have Jesus, you do not have it. Clear and concise, don’t you think? Also, the text wants to make sure you who believe in Jesus, know that you really do have eternal life.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13, NIV)

What does it mean to have Jesus?

It means all the promises of the Bible are yours. Jesus died for you, rose for you, will come back to you. It means God loves you dearly and all that is his is yours. God has plans for you, plans to bless you and keep you. And it means you are safe in Jesus. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Nothing.

Through hardships, I have come to personally know that because I have Jesus I have everything I ever need. God created the world with Jesus and as long as we live and create with Jesus, the Word of God, new things will happen in our lives too. The risen Christ wants to have eternal companionship with you. Think about it. Jesus offers you his power, his grace, his peace. He offers life upon life. What’s there to hesitate? Nothing in my mind.

 

Dear God,
Your salvation plan
– its length, its depth, its beauty, its grace –
takes my breath away.
I want to receive Jesus
into my heart and into my life.
Thank you for this amazing gift.
Fill me with your Spirit,
show me how to live closely with you.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: What does it mean to have Jesus to you?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you enjoy eternal companionship with Jesus!

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

February 2, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Amen to that!

Amen to that - flowingfaith.comWhat does Amen mean? Is it just a way to end a prayer or does it mean something more? Amen means ‘so be it’ or ‘truly’ and it is very appropriate to end one’s prayer with an Amen. But it can also be said after a statement that is true. Very often you hear people shout Amen when they agree with the speaker. It’s like stating ‘Amen to that’ or I agree with that.

However, we should never say Amen to anything we are not sure about or are not in complete agreement with. Because we need to always be truthful. And words have power. But what a wonderful way to participate in when we do agree. So be it. Amen to that.

Save us, Lord our God,
    and gather us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.

Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the Lord.
(Psalm 106:47-48, NIV,*)

Amen to that!

Did you know that also Jesus used the word Amen? It was his way to start teaching with ‘truly (amen) I say to you’. These statements have been recorded in the gospels almost 70 times. It’s equivalent to the prophets “Thus says the Lord”. Powerful, isn’t it? It’s Jesus’ way to tell us about his deity and authority in the matters discussed. And when Jesus says ‘Truly I say to you’, we really should listen.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4, NIV, emphasis added,*)

Truly I tell you statements are prophetic in nature. Next time you come across ‘Truly, truly I say to you’ in one of the gospels, pay attention. And welcome Jesus into your life by saying amen to that.

 

Come, Lord Jesus.
Make it so.
Be our truth,
be our Lord.
Make us more like you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you use Amen? Do you ever shout ‘Amen to that’?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace the Truly I tell you statements of Jesus!

* [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.].

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

January 30, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

The First Aid Kit for Weary Pilgrims

the first aid kit for weary pilgrimsOften I tell people to collect Bible verses to quickly remind them of God’s goodness in a time of need. Because when you’re feeling distressed you don’t have much energy to dig deep. Then it’s a huge blessing to have a first aid kit for weary pilgrims handy. Your own collection of special Bible verses that you know work time after time. Make sticky notes, type notes on your smartphone, collect them in a beautiful box or memorize them.  Whatever you do, make sure you have some available whenever you feel needy. Because nothing but the Word of God can remind you of what’s true and truly important. Here are seven little lesser-known ‘pick me up’ Bible verses from my first aid kit for weary pilgrims. [What do you think? What would you add?]

The First Aid Kit for Weary Pilgrims

  1. But whoever loves God is known by God (1 Cor. 8:3, NIV).

     
    You are known by God. He knows what is going on in your life, you don’t have to stress about anything. As a child of God, you are his beloved. Hence, all is well. Relax.

  2. I know that You can do all things,
    And that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained  (Job 42:2, AMP).

    Nothing can stop God’s will from happening. So rest assured, all is well. God is in control. And he can do all things.
  3. ‘Do not fear [anything], for I am with you;
    Do not be afraid, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;
    I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’ (Isaiah 41:10, AMP)

    This is one of the 365 Bible verses stating “do not be afraid”. Hence being not afraid is an important message to all of us. There’s nothing to fear for God is with you. And he is helping you along the way with his grace and power.

  4. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me (Psalm 3:5, NIV).

    God sustains you even as I sleep. It’s not about you and your strength. Instead, it’s about God and his strength. You can rest in him all the days and nights of your life.
  5. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises (Romans 15:13, AMP).

    Our God is the God of hope. And he can fill you with joy and peace so that you can face whatever you are dealing with. You can trust in His promises and live hopefully and joyfully in every situation.
  6. The Lord will keep you from all harm—
        he will watch over your life;
    the Lord will watch over your coming and going
        both now and forevermore.
    (Psalm 121:7-8, NIV)

    No matter where you are in the world or what is going on in your life, you can be certain that God is guarding your life. He is at work behind the scenes and you will be taken care of.

  7. Though the mountains be shaken
        and the hills be removed,
    yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
        nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
        says theLord, who has compassion on you.
    (
    Isaiah 54:10, NIV)

    God Almighty has compassion 
    on you. And nothing can separate you from his love and grace. The world might go crazy but you are fine because God’s love for you will not be shaken. You are his and nothing will change that.

Hope these verses get you going today. Meditate on them and put them to use. Let your heart rejoice in every situation. God loves you very much. More than you can ever know. Bask in his love and care.

Let us pray

Gracious God,
You are amazing.
First, you provide us salvation
and then you want to make sure that
we have everything we need
to make it home to you.
Thank you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think about the (idea) of the First Aid Kit for Weary Pilgrims? Do you have one? What verses would you add?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you turn to God for all your needs!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

January 26, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Faith Is Surrender

Faith is surrender - flowingfaith.comThe core element of faith is surrender. Some people don’t think so but Jesus told his disciples that all who want to come after him must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. That is what faith is all about: surrender. And not just once but daily. Because there’s always something new to surrender. As A.W. Tozer has said, “Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.”

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me[believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life[in this world] will[eventually] lose it[through death], but whoever loses his life[in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. (Matthew 16:24-25, AMP,*)

Faith is surrender

How then do we surrender? The amplified version of the text guides us this way: 1) Set aside selfish interests, 2) express a willingness to endure whatever may come, and 3) believe in Jesus, conform to his example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus that much? That you’re willing to surrender everything to him? So that Jesus may be your boss in all the areas of your life?

That’s what faith is. Because faith is surrender. Faith is dying to yourself. And faith is letting Jesus live in you. Hence faith is everything we don’t want to do. Only the Holy Spirit can change our hearts in such a way that we want to surrender to God. Then we can pray like Ignatius of Loyola: “Accept, O Lord, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I am and have thou hast given to me; and I give all back to thee to be disposed of according to they good pleasure. Give me only the comfort of thy presence and the joy of they love; with thee I shall be more than rich and shall desire nothing more.”

Nothing better than surrender to God

Once we have dared to take the plunge, very soon we realize there’s nothing better than surrender to God. Thomas à Kempis has said “For immediately, as soon as thou givest thyself to God from thy whole heart, and seekest neither this nor that, according to thine own pleasure or will, but settlest thyself wholly in Him, thou shalt find thyself united and at peace; for nothing can afford so sweet a relish, nothing be so delightful, as the good pleasure of the Divine Will.” God blesses his children with his presence, with his peace. The more we surrender, the more we get to know God. And the more we get to know God and his will, the less we want our own way. With the words of Charles Spurgeon “When your will is God’s will, you will have your will.”

If surrender still scares you, read this post. You don’t need to worry about surrendering. God empowers you to do it. It’s all about grace.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the gift of faith.
Help us to live it out, conform us to you.
Enable us to surrender to you, daily.
We want to give you our everything:
our spirit, mind, body, heart, mind, will, and strength.
May your will happen in and through our lives.
Be forever praised, Lord.
We love you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you think faith is surrender? And how do you feel about surrendering?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live out your faith by surrendering to Jesus 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 toBiblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.].

Photo by Toia Montes de Oca on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

January 23, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Based on Faith

Based on Faith - flowingfaith.comToo often I meet Christians who have not embraced fully the freedom Christ offers to us. Lovely Christian people who are paralyzed by fear of possibly doing something that would keep them away from heaven. Like God’s grace would not be powerful enough to cover them if they are not perfect Christians. Why have they not been told it’s not about their religiosity? It’s about the power of God. We can’t save ourselves no matter how hard we try. Thank God, righteousness is not based on works, it’s based on faith in Jesus. Otherwise, none of us would make it.

For not knowing about God’s righteousness [which is based on faith], and seeking to establish their own [righteousness based on works], they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law [it leads to Him and its purpose is fulfilled in Him], for [granting] righteousness to everyone who believes [in Him as Savior]. (Romans 10:3-4, AMP)

Based on faith

Blessedly, righteousness is based on faith, not on works. Truly, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. Our salvation is God’s work from start to finish. It’s all grace. With the words of Alexander MacLaren “That which of all things unfits man for the reception of Christ as a Savior, is not gross profligacy and outward, vehement transgression, but it is self-complacency, fatal self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.” Sinfulness is the only prerequisite for grace. Without knowing our wretchedness, we do not recognize our need for grace.

When we think we can make it on our own, we are self-complacent and self-sufficient. Hence we have become enemies of grace. The exact opposite what God desires for us: becoming friends of grace.

Christ is the end of the law because its purpose is fulfilled in him. God has provided as much as grace as we will ever need. It is all finished. We can only accept (or reject) the gift of salvation. And let the Holy Spirit do any changing he desires for us. You see, even sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

…not on works

How could we get this message of God’s love and grace through? That our righteousness, our salvation, is not based on works but on faith. So people would not try to establish their own righteousness and get desperate when they fail at trying. My heart goes out to everyone who does not know (s)he is not an enemy of God. Because, in reality, (s)he is the apple of God’s eye. Because God even sent his only son to die on the cross, so he could give his righteousness to every single one who believes in Jesus as Savior.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NIV)

So if God has touched your heart, rejoice! You are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Hence nothing will separate you from the grace of God. Absolutely nothing. God’s grace wins hands down anything and everything in your past, present, and in the future.

 

Let us pray:

Dear God,
Thank you for loving us so much that you decided
righteousness is based on faith in Jesus and not on our works.
Otherwise, none of us would make it.
Thank you for loving us so much that
you arranged everything for us in Jesus.
We love you and we want to serve you.
Send your Holy Spirit to change what needs to be changed
but thank you that our righteousness is not based on our works
Help us to share this with others
so no one would have to live in fear of your judgment.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How does knowing your righteousness is based on faith and not works change your life? How could we better communicate this to people who live in fear?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you embrace the fact that your righteousness is based on faith only!

Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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