Flowing Faith

January 12, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Simplify Your Life

Simplify your life - flowingfaith.comThis month, I’ve been partaking in a challenge of getting rid of stuff. The goal is to get rid of as many things as the date number. The first day you get rid of one thing and on the second day, you part ways with two things and so on. During the month of January, it will around to 496 things all together. Not easy but so good. Getting rid of unused or otherwise unnecessary things makes room for peace and contentment. It feels good to simplify your life.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Tim. 6:6-8, NIV,*)

Simplify your life

Clutter in our home and/or in our life prevents us from fully enjoying and experiencing the joy of living. We don’t even notice it but it’s true nonetheless. There’s freedom in letting go. If we fill our homes and our minds with junk, there really is no peace. But when we declutter our living spaces and our souls, there are peace and happiness more readily available. It’s time to simplify your life: Less junk, more Jesus.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12:1, NLT, emphasis added,*)

Taking care of stuff takes us away from serving God. Owing can be a burden and stuff can slow us down. When we get rid of stuff that we don’t need any longer, we create space for the new thing God is doing in our lives. I know it is very easy to get attached to stuff. But the stuff does not bring security we crave. We always want more. And more. Yet stuff – or sin – never delivers. Only Jesus does.

 

Gracious God,
Help us to declutter our lives.
Enable us to get rid of anything and everything
that hinders our work in your kingdom
or starts to take your place in our lives.
We want less junk, more of you.
Become our everything.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Is it easy for you to get rid of stuff? How do you simplify your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you simplify your life according to God’s plan for 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 Brooke Lark on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

January 9, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Drink from the River of Pure Joy

Drink from the river of joy - flowingfaith.comI love Psalms. My whole life fits in the book of Psalms. It confronts, consoles, and counsels me. And, yes, it lifts my spirit and encourages me to go on with God. It reminds me what is important, who is in charge and why it matters what I choose and how I live. The book of Psalms guides me to the river of pure joy.

Your faithful love is priceless, God!
    Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings.
(Psalm 36:7, CEB)

God is faithful and his love is endless. We can build our life on him and be happy. He is our refuge, our help. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Ps. 103:8, NIV). God is as alive and active now as he was when King David wrote these psalms. I need to be reminded of this, preferably every morning. Fill us full every morning with your faithful love so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long (Psalm 90:14, CEB). This is how I want to live my life: I want to rejoice and celebrate. What a blessing the book of Psalms is. Hallelujah!

Drink from the river of pure joy

They feast on the bounty of your house;
    you let them drink from your river of pure joy.
(Psalm 36:8, CEB, emphasis added)

This morning I was revived by these words. We are invited to drink from the river of pure joy. Nowhere else we can do that. No one else can make us rejoice and celebrate our whole life long. Nobody’s life is a celebration from start to finish without God. There’s no way to rejoice in the midst of hardships if we don’t drink from the river of pure joy. Thankfully, we don’t have to live without the bounty of God’s house and drink from the river of pure joy. This is what God wants for us: abundant life. How blessed we are. Let’s remember that and keep on rejoicing and celebrating. God is with us, for us and in us. Hallelujah!

God is the spring of life and light

Within you is the spring of life.
    In your light, we see light.
(Psalm 36:9, CEB)

God is the source of life and light. And he loves us. He wants to give us his life and light. God wants to surround and shield us with his grace. He is everything we need. Why then do we so often turn away from him? How on earth do we think we could do better on our own? Where else can we find the spring of life and light? Who else can provide for us and protect us from evil? There’s no one else who has the words of life. And God does not give us skimpily, he is a generous father. We can feast on the bounty of his house and drink from the river of pure joy. Nothing better. Hallelujah!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for the book of Psalms that reminds us of your love and care.
Draw us into your Word, Lord.
Help us to remember you are everything we ever need.
Thank you for letting us feast on your bounty and
drink from your river of pure joy.
You are so good to us.
Fill us with your everlasting love
so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you love Psalms? Why/why not?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you rejoice and celebrate God and his amazing love towards us!

Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud on Unsplash. I am linking up with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

January 5, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
6 Comments

Motivated by the Holy Spirit

motivated by the Holy SpiritWhat motivates you? Inner motivation beats outer motivation. So if you only do things because other people tell you so, your New Year resolutions won’t last. But if you really want change yourself, you have better chance to succeed. So it is in our spiritual life. It does matter what/who we are motivated by.

Watchman Nee points out “Many saints cannot distinguish inspiration from emotion. Actually, these two can be defined readily. Emotion always enters from man’s outside, whereas inspiration originates with the Holy Spirit in man’s spirit.” Emotions are not trustworthy leaders, they provide only outer motivation. On the other hand, inspiration originates with the Holy Spirit in our spirit and so provides the best kind of motivation.

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? (Gal. 5:16-18, MSG, emphasis added,*)

Be motivated by the Holy Spirit

The best kind of motivation comes from the Holy Spirit. If we want what’s best for us, we regularly place ourselves at the feet of Jesus to be filled with the Spirit. Paul urges us “live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit”. That’s how we need to live. And that’s how we will live the best life.

God wants to motivate us. We only need to seek him and be responsive to his guidance, and then we will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature of ours. Then we will be motivated by the Holy Spirit instead. We learn it by practicing it. So learn to surrender to God each morning. Today is a wonderful day to start to practice this. Then every day you will be living free, animated and motivated by the Holy Spirit. Nothing better, my friend. Nothing better.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit.
We want to live freely, animated and motivated by the Spirit.
Hence, we surrender to you daily
and ask you to fill us with the Holy Spirit.
Change us, renew us, motivate us.
Use us according to your plan for each of us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Who motivates you?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you as life freely, animated and motivated by the Holy Spirit!

* [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 Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

January 1, 2018
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

How to Approach the New Year

How to approach the New Year - flowingfaith.comHow are you feeling? Are you excited about the New Year or are you dreading it? Have you made resolutions or are you continuing as you were? Whatever you do, be bold in Christ. Approach the New Year – and life in general – with boldness. Not because you are bold. But because God can embolden you. Note the difference!

Commit your works to theLord [submit and trust them to Him],
And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].
(Proverbs 16:3, AMP)

How to approach the New Year

As Dwight L. Moody has said, “If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!” And that’s how I am going to approach the New Year and life in general. I hope you will join me. We are not to plan according to our abilities but according to God’s power. And that is limitless, right?

And so are God’s provisions. Reinhard Bonnke has said ‘Don’t plan with what is in your pocket; plan with what is in God’s pocket.’ Hence, don’t discard your plans because you don’t have much and don’t approach the New Year without boldness. It’s really not about your resources, it’s about God’s resources. And they are limitless, too. Just put God in charge of the New Year and your life and you will be blessed to be a blessing.

 

 
Gracious God,
You are more than we can imagine.
Thank you for being in charge.
We surrender the new year to you
and ask you to bless it.
Give us new and bold dreams
according to your plan for us.
Use us for your glory.
Make us bold in Christ.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you approach the New Year? Have you made bold plans for the New Year? Why/why not?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you surrender the New Year to God and let him embolden you for amazing plans!

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

December 29, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

The Secret of Finishing Well

Finishing Well - flowingfaith.comAs this year is almost over, our thoughts start to swirl around new beginnings. That’s good. But often we forget that finishing well is a skill that helps us to start well and live well. But, you see, if we don’t finish well, we can’t move on. At least, not well. And that’s what we want. We want to embrace the new with gusto. But that won’t happen if we don’t finish well. Okay, you say, how can we accomplish that? Let’s find out.

Finishing well is relatively easy when things in our lives go smoothly. But finishing well is not meant to be complicated even when our lives are messy and hard. But we unknowingly complicate things when we choose to pretend our lives are smooth when they are not and that takes a toll on us. Or we fall into despair. Neither denial or despair are ways of finishing well. They’re quite the opposite actually.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
(Proverbs 28:13, NIV,*)

The Secret of Finishing Well

The only way to finishing well is to look at your life as it is and deal with it. You can’t move on before you’ve faced the chaos of your life. That’s why finishing well is so important. But how can we do it? Looking at your own mistakes is not fun for sure. Sadly, most people don’t finish well, they choose to pretend everything is okay even when they are not. Instead, they try to forget but that does not work in a long run.

The most effective way of dealing with our past is through forgiveness. Only forgiveness swipes our plates truly clean. There’s no one who does not need forgiveness. Hence, we all need Jesus. We need Jesus for finishing well. We can’t even leave this year behind us if we don’t own all of it and ask for forgiveness for the things that did not go well.

Jesus is ready to forgive anyone who asks for it. But too many people choose to live in denial so they don’t have to deal with their sins. When they choose not to own their own mistakes they also forego living well. That’s not their intention, of course. But finishing well is a prerequisite to living well. The only way we can start the new year well is to finish this year well. How do we do it? By repenting the messes we’ve made, by asking forgiveness for our sins and then asking for grace to empower us for living well. That is not complicated, is it? Let’s put our faith in practice.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for teaching us about the importance of finishing well.
We want to finish well in order to live well.
Forgive us the messes we’ve made,
the things we’ve left undone,
and the sins we’ve committed.
Thank you for forgiving us!
Empower us to live well in the future.
Be our guide into the future.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you deal with the end of the year?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you finish well this year and embrace the new with grace!

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash.

December 26, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Why Is Jesus Better than Santa?

Why Jesus is better than SantaChristmas is not a day for Santa to bring gifts to well-behaved kids. It’s a day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Actually, the birth of Jesus has such a huge impact on our lives that we celebrate it for 12 days. So, Happy Second Day of Christmas, all! Jesus is better than Santa in so many ways. For the starters, Christmas without Christ is just a big mess. Not something we want to celebrate for days for sure.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (Gal. 4:4-5, NIV)

Jesus is better than Santa

Jesus does not ask if you’ve been nice, he asks if you need grace. Do I need to say more? Jesus comes to you without asking for your qualifications or works or about things you’ve left undone. He comes to you and offers his love and grace. For free.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation]. (Acts 4:12, AMP)

The gifts of Jesus will never be out of date like Santa’s gifts eventually will be. The gifts of Jesus won’t disappoint you like Santa’s gifts so very often do. And Santa’s gifts won’t have an eternal impact on you like Jesus’ gifts of life upon life, love upon love, faith upon faith do. And if that’s not already enough, Santa does not save you. Jesus does. Also, Santa comes only once a year. Jesus is with you always. So we have a lot to celebrate. Not just for the twelve days of Christmas but for an eternity.

 

Gracious God,
We thank you and we praise you for Jesus.
There is no name above him
Thank you that Jesus does not ask if we’ve been nice
but offers us grace upon grace.
There’s nothing better than you.
Be praised forever and ever.
We love you and adore you.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe that Jesus is better than Santa? What would you add to the list of reasons why it is so?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you keep on celebrating Jesus!

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

December 22, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

How Can We Receive the Gift of Christmas?

How to receive the gift of Christmas? flowingfaith.comWhat is the best part of Christmas? I’m sure there are as many answers as people giving them. Very often we talk about food and gathering with our loved ones. And they are great blessings for sure. But the outer things of Christmas do not make what’s the best part of Christmas. I think the best part of Christmas is that the true message of Christmas is always valid. For everyone, everywhere. Jesus came to set people free. Hence hope came down. Love came down. Joy came down. Everything that ever matters came down. And now the gift of Christmas is with us. Always and forevermore. Hallelujah.

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
(John 1:14, AMP,*)

How then can we receive the gift of Christmas?

We receive the gift of Christmas just by saying yes to God. We make room in our heart and invite Jesus to make his home in it. And this is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. Or something that happens only at Christmas. It’s something we are to do every day. Making room for Christ is what Christians do. (We are, of course, empowered to do this by God’s grace. Our salvation is God’s idea from start to finish. We just say yes and hallelujah.)

Without Christ, there is no Christmas. And without Christmas, there is no Easter. Without Easter, there is no salvation. No hope, no joy, no life upon life. We need Jesus. Hence we truly need to make room for God to be born in it.

Make room in your heart for Jesus

We are fast approaching the Holy Night, the night that changed everything not only for the whole world but for you and me also. Let’s make room in our heart for Jesus to come and write his story. It’s our turn to make a way for Jesus. He is to be the king of our hearts. If you do this, you can be sure your life will never be the same. Jesus changes everything for better. Truth sets us free. Love encourages and grace heals. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Gracious God,
You have prepared salvation for us,
you’ve sent Jesus.
Thank you for giving us way more than we deserve.
We want to make room for him.
Come, Lord Jesus.
We keep our hearts wide open for you to come.
Come and change everything.
Free us from our sins and burdens.
Become the king of our heart,
be our everything.
Show us the way,
be our way.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you have room in your heart for Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you keep on opening your heart wide open for 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 Dan Kiefer on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus.

December 19, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Come and Meet Jesus

Come and meet Jesus - flowingfaith.comAre you ready for Christmas? Or are you secretly hoping for an extra week? Thankfully, Christmas does not depend on our mindset or feelings or how perfectly prepared we are. The journey to Christmas joy starts slowly and it is more than okay to come as you are. No preparations needed. Just come and meet Jesus. You can walk to the stable at your own pace. There are no requirements. You can come empty-handed and heavy-hearted.

Yet you don’t ever leave empty. That’s grace. Whenever we meet Jesus, God’s grace heals and fills us with his peace, joy, and love. Grace renews, restores, and re-energizes us in amazing ways. Truly, we need Jesus. Not only for our salvation but also for abundant life. We can’t have it on our own but we don’t have to either. It’s all prepared for us. And it starts at the manger.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us). (Isaiah 7:14, AMP)

Come and meet Jesus

This is the central message of Christmas: Jesus came to meet us as we are and save us from ourselves by making it possible for us to be reunited with God. Dan Schaeffer has said, “Christmas celebrates the awesome and amazing fact that God is grander, wiser and more mysterious than we could have ever imagined.” A lot to celebrate. And it has nothing to do with us and how far behind we are with our preparations. It has everything to with our awesome God. Hallelujah.

What I hope for you this Christmas is to have a moment with Jesus alone. Embrace his love and grace for you. Be in awe of God who has come to you. Then your heart will be ready to unite with the songs of angels. And that’s Christmas. It doesn’t matter if you are in a stable or a palace. If Jesus is born in your heart, there’s nothing that can take it away from you. Keep celebrating! Our Savior is born! Hallelujah!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for sending Jesus to save us.
Be praised for welcoming us all as we are.
We open our hearts wide to receive Jesus.
Come and change us according to your plan.
What an awesome God you are.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: Is meeting Jesus part of your Christmas?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you meet Jesus and celebrate this birth!

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

December 15, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Christian Hope

 

Christian hope is a different kind of hope. It’s not based on wishful thinking or false hope. Christian hope does not depend on our own positivity and we are not hope-makers either. Instead, Christian hope is based on Christ and what he has done for us. Jesus is our hope. And that hope never lets us down.

How freeing it is to realize that God is the source of hope. He is always the same. Hope is also not something we have to produce ourselves. No amount of positive thinking could hold anything together when life gets really rough. We truly need Christ and the different kind of hope that he offers. The everlasting kind that is not based on anything but the truth.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NIV)

Christian hope is powered by the Holy Spirit

Did you catch it? The Bible tells us our God is the God of peace and the God of comfort but have you noticed before our God is also the God of hope? He is the source of our hope. That’s why Christian hope is a different kind of hope. It’s not something we force ourselves, it’s from our heavenly father. How wonderful is that? There’s always fresh hope for hopeless.

Also, this verse tells us hope is born in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not to pretend it or force it to happen. It happens when we are clinging to Jesus. When we believe in God and his promises, he will make it happen. How beautiful, how graceful, how delightful. The different kind of hope is born in our hearts.

God loves us so much that he provides everything we need in this life and next. Yet he does not give us the way the world gives. He gives what we need: hope, peace, joy, love, faith and anything else we truly need. We as his children are blessed beyond measure.

 

God of Hope,
We need you and we love you.
Send your Holy Spirit to overflow us with your hope
and everything else we need.
Thank you for always providing for us and protecting us.
May your will happen in, for and through us.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you think the Christian hope is a different kind of hope?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as 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 Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash. Linking up today with Dance with JesusFive-minute Friday.

December 12, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
5 Comments

Somewhere in Your Silent Night

Somewhere in your silent nightI don’t know about you but I feel I am so far behind in my Christmas preparations. I don’t even dare to tell my American friends how behind I am. It’s not the first time either. The first year I was teaching at Concordia College (at Moorhead, MN) I bought my gifts – other than from the college bookstore – at the airports on my way home. I just had been so busy with teaching and grading and everything else that I hadn’t had any time or energy left to think about gifts. This year I am only a bit better. I feel exhausted and so far from having a merry Christmas Spirit. Thankfully, I have this habit of talking to God every morning and I cried out to him about all this. Then I ran into this new Christmas song called Somewhere in your silent night from my favorite Christian group Casting Crowns (going to their concert is on my bucket list) and it felt like grace raining down on me.

Somewhere in your silent night

All is calm and all is bright
Everywhere but in your heart tonight
They’re singing carols of joy and peace
But you feel too far gone and too far out of reach

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

No matter how you feel: unwanted, unprepared or unimportant, it’s not true. Somewhere in your silent night, God sees you and hears you. God loves you and he has come to find you. This is what makes Christmas, not the lavish decorations or the perfect preparations.

For Love has come to find you

From heaven’s height to manger low
There is no distance the Prince of Peace won’t go
From manger low to Calvary’s hill
When your pain runs deep
His love runs deeper still
He has always loved you, child
And He always will

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

There’s nothing God won’t do to find you and surround you with his grace. This is not something new, God has always loved you. And there’s nothing you can do or leave undone to stop him from loving you. God sent his only son to die for your sins so you two could be reconciled.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (Gal. 4:4-5, NLT)

Emmanuel will meet you where you are

Lift your head
Lift your heart
Emmanuel will meet you where you are
He knows your hurt
He knows your name
And you’re the very reason that He came

Somewhere in your silent night
Heaven hears the song your broken heart has cried
Hope is here, just lift your head
For love has come to find you
Somewhere in your silent night

Love will find you
Love will find you
Love will find you

You are not unlovable or unreachable. God knows your name and he knows where you are he will meet you right there. Somewhere in your silent night, in your self-pity and exhaustion, he will reach you. Rest in peace, love will find you.

Needless to say, I was lifted up. All will be well. Not perfect but just fine. Because I have Jesus in my heart, the Spirit of Christmas is with me wherever I go. And that means the party has already started. Hope has come. Also to you, my fellow pilgrim. Also to you.

Let us pray

Dear God,
Thank you for your love,
for sending Jesus to save us.
Remind all of us of the true meaning of Christmas.
Help us to believe that you truly will meet all of us somewhere in our silent nights.
Restore hope, faith, and love within us.
Come and start the celebration in the midst of our chaos.
In Jesus’ precious name,
Amen

Q4U: How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Has the party already started for you? What’s your favorite Christmas song this year?

Be blessed my fellow pilgrim as you let Jesus to start the party within you!

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

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