Flowing Faith

January 23, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

Give God Your All

 

Give God your allIt’s true that you should give God your best. You should not reserve the best for yourself but give it to God. The Bible does not urge you to give the leftovers to God for sure. Quite the opposite in fact. You are to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30, NIV). That means you are not to give God just the best part of yourself. You are to give God your all. Also the parts you’d rather hide and forget they’re there. God wants you. Not just the good parts but also the sad, ugly, and broken parts of you.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. (Romans 12:1, AMP, emphasis added)

Give God your all

It might sound a bit odd that we need to give God also the bad things. But that’s who God is. He mends the broken, transforms the bad, creates beauty from ashes. You are to give God your all and watch what he does with your mess. You will be positively surprised.

There’s not such thing that not good enough in God’s vocabulary. It’s all material for God to perform miracles in your life. So don’t judge yourself. Just give everything to God as a living sacrifice. Ask God to do whatever he pleases with your everything. You can be certain that God will not waste a thing. That’s the beauty of God’s grace.

Let God rule your life

When you give God your all, you allow God work freely in and through your life. And that’s the ultimate best that could ever happen to you. When you let God rule your life, you can just enjoy the ride. Give God your all: the very best, the usual, and the worst. Let God transform you and your life for his glory. You will not regret it.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for not wanting the good parts of us,
thank you for taking also the not so good parts of us.
We surrender our all to you, Lord.
Take our very best and our worst and everything between
and create something new and wonderful.
Pour out grace upon grace and transform us to your glory.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you want to give God your all?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let God rule all of your life!

Photo courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with #SmallWonder.

January 20, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

God’s Plan to Redeem, Restore, and Refine Us

God's plan to redeem, restore, and refine usHave you tried to please God and failed miserably? Join the club. We can’t please God by self-improvement and we can’t be good on our own. Blessedly, that is not the end. We are not saved by works but by God’s grace. God’s plan to redeem, restore, and refine us is rock-solid.

We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. (Gal. 2: 15-16, MSG,*)

God’s plan to redeem, restore and refine us

God has planned an amazing way back to him: Jesus. We can only be set right with God through personal faith in Jesus Christ. But what a glorious gift that is! But even that is not the end! God doesn’t only want to redeem us but restore and refine us as well. That is a beginning of a new way of life in Jesus!

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. (Gal. 2:17-18, MSG,*)

This new way of life in Jesus is powered by the Holy Spirit.

We can’t be good on our own. When we are forced to do good things by moral rules we fail sooner or later. But the Holy Spirit enables us to live the Jesus way. It’s not us but God in us who empowers us to live the way God wants us to.

It’s freedom in Christ that makes all the difference. When we are first accepted and freed by Jesus, the spiritual life and good deeds develop as a loving response to God’s grace.

We are not called to live religiously but in Jesus.

We are not called to put on spiritual shows but let the Holy Spirit work in us. Also, we are not called to impress God or church but let Christ live in us. When we let Christ into our hearts our lives are not ours anymore. Our lives are not driven by our selfish ambitions but by faith in Jesus Christ.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. (Gal.2: 19-21, MSG, emphasis added)

Christianity is not just about being good and doing good.

Di you know that if we could please God by being good and doing good, then Jesus died unnecessarily. If a loving relationship with our Father could come by human effort, then Christ died unnecessarily. Repudiating God’s grace is such a scary thought, isn’t it? God, have mercy! That’s why all the talk about how Jesus is not necessary for salvation is just beyond me.

I know it is truly humbling to have God Almighty to send his only son to die for us. But when we humble ourselves to receive all that love and grace, when we let Christ redeem ourselves, there is no end to our joy. There is no way we would trade back our freedom! God’s plan to redeem, restore, and refine us is the best.

I choose Jesus. Today, tomorrow and forever. Why don’t you join me?

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for sending your son to die for us.
Thank you for loving us so much!
Enable us to live in freedom.
Enable us always to value your grace!
Come and make our hearts burn for you!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What do you think about God’s plan to redeem, restore, and refine us?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you celebrate God’s grace in your life!

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

Image courtesy of Josué Ribeiro, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. This post is refurnished from 2011. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

January 18, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

God Is Awesome

God is awesomeDo you think God is awesome? Good for you. You’ve found the beginning of wisdom. Sadly, the world these days does not think that God has anything to do with wisdom. But they don’t know anything about real life. They don’t know how awesome God is and where the blessings really come from.

For whoever finds me (Wisdom) finds life
And obtains favor and grace from theLord.
(Proverbs 8:35, AMP)

God is awesome

God is not awesome just because the Bible tells us so. I have experienced God’s awesomeness in my life many times. He has pulled me through some difficult life experiences but recently I have most been inspired by God’s presence in my everyday life. How he cares for my wellbeing and moves sweetly in my life. God is awesome. Also in small stuff.

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight. (Proverbs 9:10, AMP)

God is holy

Truly God is awesome. Much more so than we can ever understand. The starting point and the essence of wisdom is to know that God is holy. Whomever knows this is well on his/her way to know God intimately. It might sound odd to use the words ‘holy’ and ‘intimately’ in the same sentence. But it really isn’t.

Our God is holy and when we acknowledge that we automatically position ourselves rightly: on our knees worshiping God. That is the beginning of the wisdom. God is God and we most certainly are not. But that’s not all there is. Because God is not distant or uncaring or unreachable. He wants to be known intimately. And that happens when we worship him day in day out. Because he is so awesome!

 

Gracious God,
You are an awesome God.
We can’t tame you,
you are holy and wild and wonderful.
So we worship you;
be praised forever and ever!
Thank you for not being distant or uninterested in our affairs.
You amaze us for loving and caring for us so deeply.
Thanks for being more awesome than we can even imagine.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Why do you think God is awesome?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you worship the Holy One!

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

January 16, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

Pay Attention

pay attentionTwice a week I go to a gym class where there are 25 different stations that we rotate. It takes only an hour to get a great work out for different muscle groups. Also, it’s much more fun in a group setting. Today the person I was following made a mistake and skipped a station. I wasn’t paying attention, I just followed her and made the same mistake. And the one after me did the same. That got me thinking. It is dangerous to follow blindly anyone. We need to ourselves pay attention to where we are and where we are going. Especially in our spiritual lives.

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
    there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
    and all their plans die with them.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
(
Psalm 146:3-5, NLT)

Pay attention to Jesus

So often we outsource our spiritual lives to pastors or spiritual leaders. But that’s the quickest way to get lost. We can’t put our confidence in other people and their leadership skills. They are just people like us making mistakes and taking wrong turns once in awhile. Even the best spiritual leaders are not that trustworthy. We need to put our trust only in Jesus. Because he will never lead us astray.

So, don’t be satisfied with second hand Jesus, experience him first hand instead. Pay attention to Jesus and you will mature in your faith. Be attentive to Jesus and you will not get lost. Pay attention to Jesus and you will be eternally blessed.

 
Gracious God,
Forgive us for finding replacements for you.
Wake us up from our slumber,
(re)focus our hearts and minds to you.
We want to pay attention to Jesus,
live and love in Him.
Guide us home to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you pay attention to Jesus?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you follow Jesus!

Photo courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with #SmallWonder.

January 13, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Beauty of Christianity

The beauty of ChristianityDo you know the beauty of Christianity? Because of Jesus no middleman is needed to approach God. Jesus paved the way for all of us. He came to die for our sins and make us right with God. Since then all who believe in Jesus have a direct access to God. Amazing! Astonishing! Absolutely marvellous, isn’t it? Why then don’t you use this privilege more?

But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. (Gal.4:4-7, MSG,*)

If no middleman is needed…

If Jesus really broke the power of the devil, why do we then cringe on Friday the 13th? The promises of God, you know, are valid every single day. Also, and especially, on Friday the 13th.

Why do we choose to live in fear when we’ve been given freedom in Christ? Fear has nothing over us when we are in Christ. We have everything we ever need in Christ.

How come we don’t take our privileges as children of God more seriously? Putting them in action would make all the difference in our lives. We are meant to have wholesome lives, not fearful or lacking in any way.

If no middleman is needed why don’t we pray more often? Like all the time?

The beauty of Christianity

The beauty of Christianity is the fact that God loves us so much that he has prepared everything for us to be made right with him. All we need to do is to say yes to Jesus, to accept grace upon grace into our lives. But even this is not the end of the story.

We are also invited to live in freedom every single day of our lives. God wants to bless us, why would we say no to his involvement in our lives? Why would we try to make it on our own when God has better solutions ready for us? It’s time to embrace God for all he has for us. Let’s not limit God in any way. And let’s put our faith in action every way. Every day.

 

Dear God,
You have provided everything for us, thank you.
But forgive us for not using your gifts
and then wondering why we are not well.
Show us how to live freely and wholly in you.
Pour out grace upon grace according to your plan for us.
Knock our socks off with your blessings.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you see the beauty of Christianity?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace all God has for you in 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.].

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

January 11, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

The Resolution Psalm

The resolution psalmPeople have shared great New Year resolutions with me. But none of them are like this psalm I read the other day. How can one psalm capture the heart of Christian living so well? The college professor part of me smiles when I saw the number: 101. The resolution psalm really teaches us the most basic stuff about how to conduct our lives the Jesus way, don’t you think?

The Resolution Psalm

I will sing of your love and justice, Lord.
    I will praise you with songs.
I will be careful to live a blameless life—
    when will you come to help me?
I will lead a life of integrity
    in my own home.
I will refuse to look at
    anything vile and vulgar.
I hate all who deal crookedly;
    I will have nothing to do with them.
I will reject perverse ideas
    and stay away from every evil.
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors.
    I will not endure conceit and pride.

I will search for faithful people
    to be my companions.
Only those who are above reproach
    will be allowed to serve me.
I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
    and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
    and free the city of the Lord from their grip.
(Psalm 101, NLT)

The best resolution

If we aim to live our lives this way, we are on the right track. Especially, if we do it prayerfully and leaning on God’s grace. Hence our best resolution is to embrace God with our everything. The resolution psalm 101 shows us the way.

It is also important to remember that we are not alone forcing these things to happen in our lives. But we do need to decide how we want to live. When our resolution has been made, God will provide his grace to empower us for victorious living.

 

Gracious Father,
We thank you for your blessings.
Thank you for providing us everything we need:
Your Word, your grace, your love.
Enable us to live our lives according to you plans for us.
Empower us to seek godly ways to live and serve.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Does the resolution psalm help you to stay on the right path?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace all God has for you this year!

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

January 9, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

You Are Fashioned for Faith

Fashioned for FaithDid you know that you are fashioned for faith and not for fear? Sometimes we tend to think faith takes more out of you that worry or misery. Other times you hear people saying it’s not natural to have faith. How come? God created us to interact with him. His people are fashioned for faith, not for fear. That’s why I was thrilled to find this quote by E. Stanley Jones. It reflects beautifully the purposes of God.

You are fashioned for faith

I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt, and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath – these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breath freely – these are my native air. A Johns Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.” But I, who am simple of mind, think I know. We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.

Faith is our native land

God created his people to live in faith, not in fear. When we insist on worrying, we feel worse and worse. But when we dare to believe, we feel better and better. Faith is our native land. When we live by faith, with God, all is well. We need to guard out thoughts and feelings. The enemy tries to steal our joy. But we don’t have to give in. Instead we can pray and ask for more faith.

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

Worry destroys, faith blesses you

It is indeed wonderful that happens when we don’t worship worry but Jesus. Worrying does not ever change anything. It only creates problems and steals our joy and peace of mind. But when we truly trust God and put our faith in action, we realise God has been working behind the scenes for us. Faith is the oil for the machinery of life. Let’s put it in good use!

 

Gracious Father,
Thank you for fashioning your people for faith.
I want to stop worrying, Lord.
Pour out faith upon faith and grace upon grace.
Empower me, Lord, to be everything you created me to be.
I want to put my faith only in you and
I want to live by faith, not by fear.
In Jesus’ powerful name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe that you’re fashioned for faith? How does it change your view on life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you put your trust in the Lord and kick the worries out of your mind!

Photo courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with #SmallWonder.

January 6, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
4 Comments

The Most Important Connection

The most important connectionWhat is the most important connection you can make in your lifetime? Social networking has its place and it’s great to have friends. You can be on the top of the world of connections but if you haven’t made the most important connection, you don’t have anything. What could this be?

It’s certainly possible to say, “Other branches were pruned so that I could be grafted in!” Well and good. But they were pruned because they were deadwood, no longer connected by belief and commitment to the root. The only reason you’re on the tree is because your graft “took” when you believed, and because you’re connected to that belief-nurturing root. So don’t get cocky and strut your branch. Be humbly mindful of the root that keeps you lithe and green. (Romans 11:19-20, MSG, emphasis added,*)

The most important connection

If we are not connected with Jesus, we are not truly alive. Because if we are not connected by belief and commitment to Jesus, we are only deadwood. And you do know what happens to deadwood, right? (If you want more of either belief or commitment, just ask God. He is happy to answer your prayer.)

The sap in us that keeps us robust is the blood of Christ. The root of our wellbeing is Jesus. He and only he keeps us alive and well. Hence, the most important connection we can ever make is with Jesus. He is our lifeline, he is our everything. Thank you, Jesus!

 

Gracious God,
How good you are to us!
Thank you for providing us the most important connection to us.
Strengthen our connection to Jesus.
Increase our faith and commitment to you.
You make everything blossom.
Be praised forevermore!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: What’s the most important connection in your life?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you connect by belief and commitment to 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.].

Image courtesy of Chris Kennedy. This post is refurbished from 2011. Linking up today with Dance with Jesus, Five-minute Friday.

January 4, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

You Have Everything You Need in Jesus

You have everything you need in JesusDo you feel inadequate? Are you afraid you are not enough, not even to God? Do you feel you lack what it takes to make it? Don’t worry. I have great news for you feeling inadequate. You see, you have everything you need in Jesus.

You are enough. God made you and he does not make mistakes. You see, God loves you. There’s no buts about it. He loves you and he always will. His loves is not conditional on your performance. God loves you because he is love. And that’s not all: God loves to love you. He loves you so much that he provided everything you ever need in Jesus.

You have everything you need in Jesus

And my God will liberally supply (fill until full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19, AMP)

Truly, you have everything you need in Jesus. When you live in Jesus, God will liberally fill supply your every need. Wow, talk about blessings. Take this word seriously, ask God to fulfil it in your life. And don’t forget to turn to God with your every need. Don’t try to manage on your own. There’s not need to struggle alone and feel inadequate in the process when all your needs are met in Jesus.

Jesus is more than enough

Our worth, our competence, our salvation, our blessings come from being united with Jesus. When we have Jesus, we have more than enough. We are more than enough. All because of Jesus. Just Jesus.

So don’t believe what the enemy tries to tell you about your inadequacies. You are beautifully made by God, awesomely redeemed by Jesus, marvellously supplied by the Holy Spirit. You have everything you need in Jesus. And Jesus is more than enough. There’s nothing left to worry or feel inadequate about. Instead, bask in God’s love, revel in Jesus, and rejoice in the Spirit.

 

Dear God,
Thank you for providing me everything I ever need in Jesus.
Remind me to claim all you have for me.
Pour out grace upon grace
and show me how to rejoice in it.
You are more than enough, Lord.
Be praised forevermore!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you believe in your heart that you have everything you ever need in Jesus? If not, ask God to show you the truth.

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you embrace the fact that Jesus is more than enough!

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

January 2, 2017
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

How to Give Everything to God

 

How to give everything to GodHow are you going to live this new year? Are you planning to better yourself or make things better for yourself? Or what would you say about giving everything to God and letting him decide what’s best for you. If this is something you’re interested in doing, then we need to figure out how to give everything to God, right? Let’s do it.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13, NIV)

This verse shows us how to give everything to God in three steps

1) Refuse to give any part of yourself to sin 2) Offer yourselves to God 3) Offer every part of yourself to God. Let’s see what they could mean.

1) Refuse to give any part of yourself to sin

Our minds have a lot of power. For example, we can decide we don’t want to give our mouth to sin, to badmouth other people. Because we are children of God, we can refuse to give any part of ourselves to sin. Not just our body parts but also our soul and spirit, our heart and mind, our will and strength. We can also refuse to give any of our money, influence, abilities, time or anything else to sin. Not even our little finger.

2) Offer yourselves to God instead

This is something we need to do every day, not just at the beginning of the new year. It is wise to tell God in prayer we want to give our everything to him.  As we throw ourselves whole-heartedly to serve God with everything we’ve got, we are blessed beyond measure. Not with the things that the world values but with eternal things: peace, love, joy, hope and faith.

3) Offer every part of yourself to God

This is when we give every part of ourself to God, all those things we refused to give to sin. When we dedicate our spirit, mind, body, heart, mind, will, strength to him, we can be sure we are on the right track. We can be sure God will use our everything to his glory. We can prayerfully ask where God wants to use our feet or mouth or money today. Or how anything of ours can be used as instruments of righteousness from now on. God has a plan for you, every part of you. When we give everything to God, he is ready to use us. He is not going to harm us but bless us.

Are you ready to live your best life? Start with giving your everything to God. And then watch for God to move mightily in your life!

 

Dear God,
Empower me to not give any part of me to sin.
Because I want to surrender myself to you
and give my everything –
spirit, mind, body, heart, mind, will, strength – to you.
Take all I have  – money, influence, abilities, time – and use it for your glory.
I want you, I want to be yours,
nothing else, nothing more, nothing less.
I offer myself to you, I dedicate every part of me to you.
Use me, do what you want with me.
Be praised forever more.
In Jesus’ name,
Thank you, Lord.
Amen

Q4U: Do you give everything to God? Why/why not?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you dedicate every part of you to God!

Photo courtesy of Marian Trinidad, design by Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with #SmallWonder.

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