Flowing Faith

September 1, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Labor of Love

labor of love
The first letter to Thessalonians starts the way I would like to be described and remembered.

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, MSG’*)

I would like to be a person recalled by my work of faith, my labor of love, and my patience of hope in following Jesus. But – I am afraid – I fail badly. This has bothered me lately. I’ve been rereading Micah 6:8 over and over again.

He has told you, human one, what is good and
        what the Lord requires from you:
            to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8, CEB,*)

This used to be a very straight-forward, life-giving and freeing verse to me. This is all God requires you to do, I heard. But now I think differently. It’s not little and it’s not easy that we are required to do.

TO DO JUSTICE. What is it, Lord? What does that require of me? Is it wrong to own a big house when people are starving and suffering around the globe? How can I live justly? How can I be fair in every way? Being just is far from simple affair. But simple living most likely is just.

EMBRACE FAITHFUL LOVE. A great sentiment for sure. I want that. I want to be a person whose labor of love is phenomenal. But, Lord, I fail so badly. How can I love like you? How can I serve joyfully without reservations or expectations?

WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD. This probably is the key for everything. But we mess this up too. The humble part especially. How often do we think we deserve better treatment than we get? How often do we not want to surrender our everything to God?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know the One who has all the answers: Jesus. We need to bring our questions to God, he will answer. We also need to remember that there is no staple answer for everyone. Each of our lives are different and therefore what God requires each of us is different. The only way to find out is to abide in Christ.

The closer our relationship with God is, the easier it is to know how God wants us to live. It would be easier to get a fax from heaven stating ‘it is a sin to buy this or that’. But, I bet, we would not like to take orders that way either. Ask questions and seek answers in the Word of God. You will be directed to read the right passages and the Holy Spirit will let you know the truth and even empower you to live that way.

And if you have hard time surrendering your wants to God, ask for help. God knows what we are going through. He will enable us to surrender those things that keeps us from being totally Christ-centered. When we are abiding in Christ fully, doing justice, embracing faithful love and walking humbly with our God comes naturally.

If we have any difficulties with our labor of love, we need more grace (because grace is not just a pardon but a power). We all know how to receive as much grace as we need, right? By returning to God and asking for it. God is more than happy to pour out grace upon grace. And where there is enough grace, there labor of love exists in abundance. Thanks be to God!

 

Gracious God,
We are often confused how you want us to live.
What’s right and what’s wrong.
Lord, show each of us what it means to us.
Show us how to live justly, love mercy
and walk humbly with you.
Pour out grace upon grace and
enable us to always mind our labor of love.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know what’s just? How is your labor of love going?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God!

Photo courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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August 29, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
10 Comments

Not Out of Our Reach

Not out of out reachSometimes we think God or faith is out of our reach but they aren’t. God wants to be found. God wants to pour out grace upon grace on us. God gives us as much faith as we want, he just leaves the choice to us. We can either receive or reject his gifts. Faith is not out of our reach. Faith is for everyone who loves God with heart and soul.

But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back. This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain—you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean—you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! (Deuteronomy 30:10-14, MSG, emphasis added,*)

This makes my heart soar. God is accessible through Jesus. He is not out of our reach. It makes me feel safe. God is not distant or uncaring. He is right here with us, within our reach.

God does not require of us anything but turning to him, receiving grace upon grace, and living with him. Salvation is not out of our reach. We don’t have to climb mountains or do this or that to earn our place at our Father’s table. All is done for us, we can just turn to God and choose him day by day.

Grace is new every morning, and it is not out of our reach. It is given daily to all, undeserving human beings who yearn to belong to God. We just need to ask and we will receive. Definitively not out of our reach, thanks be to God!

 

Gracious God,
Thanks for not being out of our reach.
Thank you for offering as much grace as we need.
Let us feel your presence and
enjoy your sweet grace all of our days.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: God is not out of your reach – how does that sound to you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace God with heart and soul!

* [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 Matt Gruber, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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August 27, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Faithful Living

Faithful Living
As you probably know, there’s no false advertising in the Bible. The Bible promises us difficulties, right? But that’s not the end of the story. The Bible also promises us (among other things) that God will always be with us. Awesome, you say. Just remember this does not mean that we could live however we please. In order to be strong in and through upcoming difficulties, we need to be built up in the Lord. Only when we abide in Jesus, we are ready for faithful living whatever the future brings.

Why then do we love ourselves more than God?
Why then do we love money more than God?
Why then do we love pleasure more than God?

And, most of all, why then do we deny God’s power in our lives?
Yes, really. Just read the following verses and tell me you don’t see yourselves in them!

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NLT,*)

I love how the word of God urges us to take a good look at ourselves. These verses supposedly describe the worldly people. But – God forbid – I see too much of myself there. How about you?

We are called to be holy like God. We are called to get ready and get others ready for the second coming of Jesus. We are called for faithful living. But how are we faring? Not that good, I’m afraid.

We have all but given up on co-working with God in this world. Even our prayers lack enthusiasm. We think world peace is impossible, hence we don’t pray. We think mission work has no future, hence we stop trying. We think it does not matter how we spend our free time, hence we get addicted to TV or whatnot. Is this the way of life for the children of God?

Of course not. Faithful living is a far cry from this. We have become self-centered unbelievers. We reject the power that could make us godly. We reject God’s resurrection power that is at work in the world even now. Lord, have mercy!

If we always choose novels over the Bible…shopping over going to church…watching sports over serving others… chatting over praying…pleasure over sacrifice….we are in trouble.

The Bible tells us to stay away from people who are self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.(2 Timothy 3:2-5, MSG,*)But we haven’t obeyed. Instead we’ve become just like them. We are drowning in the American dream that leads us into disaster after disaster.

What to do then? Run to God. Abide in Christ. Receive the Holy Spirit.

And ask God how to live according to his will.
Ask Jesus what needs to go that there’s plenty of room for him.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to pick up holy habits to protect you.

Faithful living is difficult if we are not connected to God. But if we let the Holy Spirit dwell in us, it’s the easiest thing ever. Because it’s not us but God in us.

 

Gracious God,
Forgive us for messing things up. Again.
Pleasure, fun, easy life does not fulfill us.
Show us which of our habits are destroying us.
Show us how to live according to your will.
Rekindle our faith, Lord.
Make us passionate about your plan for the world.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What are you tempted to love more than God? How are you practicing faithful living?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you put God first in everything!

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

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August 25, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Remember Jesus

Remember Jesus
Why should we remember Jesus? Because he brought us life upon life. Because he frees us from (unvisible) chains. Because he has the words of eternal life.

Why should we read the word of God? Because it brings us the good news. Because it frees us from the chains of the merely visible world. Because it testifies and reminds us of eternal life.

The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us. If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13, AMP,*)

The bible is very clear. If we want to embrace the eternal life, we need to surrender to Jesus. If we want to be on God’s side, we need to abide in Christ. If we want God to be faithful to us, we need to be faithful to him. That’s why we need to remember Jesus. Always.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:19, NLT’*)

Faith is not a one-time confession. Faith is a way of life turning away from evil and following Christ. God wants our everything. But the benefits are also out of this world: peace, hope, love, joy, and life upon life.

By remembering Jesus, we live in the world but not of the world. By remembering Jesus, we are steadily advancing on our way home to heaven. By remembering Jesus, we are safe in God’s arms.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for Jesus!
Thank you for the freedom
we have through Jesus!
Don’t let anything to hinder
our progress on our pilgrimage.
Enable us to always remember Jesus.
In Jesus’ precious name we pray,
Amen

Q4U: How do you remember Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you ePhoto courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2011. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God. Counting blessings: #1140 By remembering Jesus, we live in the world not of it.

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August 22, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

How to Cope with Change

How to cope with change
Change is inevitable. Change happens all the time, sometimes we are able to notice it, sometimes not. Yet it happens all the time, it’s part of life whether we like it or not. Change can be overwhelming and frightful because we can’t control it. And that seems to be the root of all fear. We don’t want to lose control. What to do then?

Paradoxically, the way to cope with change is to surrender all control to Jesus. When we release control to him (knowing that we are in good hands), we are free to enjoy life without fears. When we trust God to take care of us no matter what changes, we thrive even in the midst of chaos.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (1 Peter 5:7, AMP,*)

How can we be certain that change does not harm us? We have not been promised problem-free existence. But God will always be with us and he cares deeply for us. We sure have difficulties in our lives but nothing can harm our souls. Even if the world tumbles down, we are safe in God. We can build our lives on the permanence of His word. We can cope with any change when we abide in the risen Christ.

For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself. (Hebrews 13:8, MSG,*)

When we are anchored in Jesus, we are always safe, no matter how turbulent our life is. The more we abide in Jesus, the more peace we experience. That’s why…when you need to endure change, remember to spend lots of time with Jesus. When we live in Christ Jesus, his peace will always guard our hearts and minds. That’s how we cope with change. With Jesus.

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. (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG.*)

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for Jesus.
Thank you for showing us
how to cope with change.
Thank you for being never-changing.
Thank you that we can build our lives
on your promises.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you cope with change?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace Jesus in the midst of changes!

* [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 Quality Church Media, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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August 20, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Until Jesus Comes Back

Until Jesus comes back
Do you know what we are supposed to do until Jesus comes back? Are we just going to hang around? Or does it matter how we spend our time here on earth? Yes, it does matter. We are called to follow Christ, introduce our friends and family to Jesus and do as much good as possible. We are called to be Christ to the world.

Aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart. (1 Timothy 6:11, AMP,*)

We are not to slack off. But how often we do just that? How often do we act so self-centered that there is no room for Christ nor other people in our lives? But we are called to be ready to meet our Maker at any moment. Hence don’t do anything you would not do in your last hour.

Because no one knows when s/he is going to die. Because no one knows when Jesus is coming back. Either way, we need to be ready. Because  as sure as every human being is going to die one day, Jesus is coming back. He is on his way. He will show up right on time.

I’m charging you before the life-giving God and before Christ, who took his stand before Pontius Pilate and didn’t give an inch: Keep this command to the letter, and don’t slack off. Our Master, Jesus Christ, is on his way. He’ll show up right on time, his arrival guaranteed by the Blessed and Undisputed Ruler, High King, High God. He’s the only one death can’t touch, his light so bright no one can get close. He’s never been seen by human eyes—human eyes can’t take him in! Honor to him, and eternal rule! Oh, yes. (1 Timothy 6:13-16, MSG,*)

The very same way God’s plan for you will happen right on time. God knows what he is doing. God knows when the ultimate time is for everything. That’s why we can rest in him and rejoice while waiting.

Let’s seek God with everything we’ve got. Because still today we can find him. Let’s pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy as the Message version of 1 Timothy 6:11 suggests. Let’s prepare our hearts and minds until Jesus comes back.


Gracious God,
How wonderful to know Jesus is coming back
right on time.
Give us patience to wait and
eagerness to pursue rightousness
and godliness.
Show us how to use our time
until Jesus comes back.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U:  What are your plans until Jesus comes back?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you pursue a righteous life until Jesus comes back!

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

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August 18, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

Grace 101

Grace 101
How knowledgeable are you about grace? Grace is not complicated. Grace is simple yet powerful. There are four essential things you need to know about grace. Here’s grace 101 for you.

First of all, we are saved by grace through faith. God’s grace is a free gift to us. All we need to do is to turn to God in repentance and ask to receive grace upon grace. Everything is ready for us. There’s nothing for us to do but open our hearts and minds to receive God’s goodness.

 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] (Eph. 2:8-9, AMP,*)

The second thing to know about grace is that there’s nothing we can add to it. We are saved only by grace. There’s nothing we can do to make it better or last longer. Grace is more than enough. And we don’t need anything but grace.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2. Cor. 12:9, AMP,*) 

The third thing we need to know that there’s always plenty of grace, also today. They are new every morning. Because of this amazing grace, we can live boldly. Because of this amazing grace, we can live abundant lives even in deserts. Because of this amazing grace we praise God all the days of our lives.

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, AMP,*)

The fourth thing we need to know about grace is that grace is pardon AND power. When we live in grace, we also learn to live to the max. Grace not only saves us but equips us and empowers us for victorious living. Nothing better than grace.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for your grace,
today and always.
Pour out grace upon grace,
we so need it.
We receive it with open arms.
Teach us to live and love in grace.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you put Grace 101 in practice?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace grace day by day!

Photo courtesy of John Langer, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2011. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God. Counting blessings: #1137 Grace is enough. #1138 There’s grace today. #1139 There’s always enough grace.

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August 15, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

How to Maintain Your Saltiness

How to maintain your saltiness

‘Go tell it to the mountains’ was the first thing that went through my mind when I learned this week’s Five minute Friday prompt was ‘tell’. We are indeed commanded to go and tell everyone that Jesus has come for each of us. But are we really living out this command? How does is show in our everyday life? Ouch.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. (Matthew 5:13, MSG,*)

Are you bringing out the God-flavors of this earth? Or have you lost your saltiness? Do you live for yourself, lead by your own whims and wants? Or do you live for Christ, lead by God’s will and guidance?

It is so tempting to blend in. It is so easy to be satisfied with Sunday Christianity and living on our own the rest of the week. But we forget life does not revolve around us. Life revolves around Christ. It always has and it always will.

We need to decide whether we want to be part of what God is doing in this world through Christ. If yes, we need to keep being salt in the world. And if we want to be put in use as salt, we need to keep ourselves from contaminating with other minerals and getting diluted in water. Because that way we keep losing some of our strength, quality, and purity. And little by little we end up losing our saltiness. And if that happens we are not good for anything any longer.

You see, there really are different grades of quality and purity in salt. Only the highest quality of salt reaches our dining tables. The more we are blended with other minerals or diluted in water, the less useful we become. How then can we maintain our saltiness? How can we do our duty as the salt of the earth?

By staying pure.
By staying true to the gospel.
By staying connected to Jesus.

Gracious God,
Forgive my selfishness.
Forgive for forgetting your plan for me and the world.
Make me pure and holy like you.
Enable me to stay salty and ready to be used.
Use me to bring out the God-flavors!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How are you telling the good news of Jesus Christ? Is it difficult for you to stay salty? How do you maintain your saltiness?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let the Holy Spirit use you as salt!

* [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 Timothy Lester, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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August 13, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Spiritual Questions

Spiritual Questions
It’s time for new beginnings but it’s also time to evaluate the old ways. Am I living the way God wants me to live? That’s the question of the day for me. I am praying that God would show me what needs to go in order to serve him better. We are to give our lives as living sacrifices to God. We are to place all areas of our lives before God.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, AMP,*, emphasis added)

Is my life truly devoted, dedicated and consecrated to God? Or do I hold something back? Do I want to keep something for myself? Even if it’s good in general but bad for me?

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. (Romans 12:2, AMP,*)

Are there some influences in my life that prevent me to grow closer to God? Is there some things in my life – family, friends, work place, neighbors, hobbies, job – that make it difficult to stay faithful to God? Ask God how to arrange your life differently to make more room for God.

These are necessary but difficult spiritual questions. Discipleship is not always easy. But if we want to become holy like God, we need to find a way of life that isn’t pulling us away from God. Because the only way to grow in faith is to spend time with God. Spiritual disciplines can help in that.

But we need to remember that all our pursuits of spiritual growth need to begin and end in grace. The author of our faith and the growth of our faith is the Holy Spirit. All spiritual growth happens by grace. But that does not mean that we get off the hook. Our task is to create space for the Holy Spirit to work within us. And that’s why we need to make room for God. We need to eliminate temptations to stay away from God. The Holy Spirit is right along side us empowering us to stay away from worldly influences. It’s all grace from start to finish.

 

Gracious God,
I have all these spiritual questions,
help me to find right answers.
Help me to find a way of life
that does not hinder my spiritual growth.
Empower me to live boldly for you,
devoted, dedicated and consecrated for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Which spiritual questions are most difficult for you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let the Holy Spirit ask spiritual questions and lead you to the right answers. And may you be bold to pursue God’s leading!

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

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

The Soap of Salvation

The Soap of Salvation
Lately God has been waking me up (literally) to see my sinfulness. God has reminded me of some choices I have made in my life and led me to repent for them. Even though during that time of my life I did not even think they had been questionable. I did not know any better then. Selfishness does not produce good fruit. Selfishness paves the way to destruction whether we realize it or not.

Go home and wash up.
   Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
   so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
   Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
   Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
   Go to bat for the defenseless.
(Isaiah 1: 16-17, MSG)

The good news is that God has already cleared the path to forgiveness in Jesus. No matter how dirty our hands are, the soap of salvation is mighty and powerful. Everything will come clean and holy. We just need to repent and offer our hands to be cleansed thoroughly.

“Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.”
   This is God’s Message:
“If your sins are blood-red,
   they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
   they’ll be like wool.
If you’ll willingly obey,
   you’ll feast like kings.
But if you’re willful and stubborn,
   you’ll die like dogs.”
That’s right. God says so.
Isaiah 1: 16-20, MSG)

God specializes in giving fresh starts for people. God wants to clean every nook and cranny of our inner beings. We are called to become holy as our God is holy. This only happens by God’s radical and wild grace. But we don’t need to worry. God’s grace is also gentle. The Holy Spirit will breath holiness in us and lead us into a way of life shaped by God.

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
      scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
   Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
      set these once-broken bones to dancing.
   Don’t look too close for blemishes,
      give me a clean bill of health.
   God, make a fresh start in me,
      shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
   Don’t throw me out with the trash,
      or fail to breathe holiness in me.
   Bring me back from gray exile,
      put a fresh wind in my sails!
   Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
      so the lost can find their way home.
   Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
      and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
   Unbutton my lips, dear God;
      I’ll let loose with your praise.
(Psalm 51: 7-15, MSG)

How then can we live a holy life? By God’s grace. We can’t store up grace for the future. But we can be certain that God will provide us grace every day to live holy. We are utterly dependent on God. We can’t make it on our own. But we don’t have to. God will sustain us. God will be there every step of the way. All we need to do is to lean on grace. Because grace is more than enough. Grace energizes, uplifts, restores, redefines, heals, cleans, comforts according to our needs. When we live in grace, we can be certain that the Holy Spirit is at work in us. It’s not us living a snow-white lives, it’s Christ living in us!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for wanting to thoroughly cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Burn what needs to be burned, cleanse what needs to be cleansed.
Give us a fresh start, prepare us for your service.
Show us how to truly live in your grace.
Give us grace upon grace upon grace!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How has God led you to repent? How is God making you holy?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as God is working in you! Rest in his grace!

Photo courtesy of Esther Gibbons, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurbished from 2011. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God. Counting blessings: #1136 The Soap of Salvation is powerful.

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