pause

The Recipe for Answered Prayer

If you’re reading this, then you might have some questions or challenges about some prayers you’ve made that are unanswered or unresolved – so we’re in this together 🙂

To this end, I was recently asking God to change someone & make them more flexible.  This could translate to mean that I want that person to be more compliant to my preferences and it could mean that God might want to work on some control issues in my heart, which is certainly food for thought 🙂

As we think about the prayers we make to God, it’s interesting to think about how God answers prayers.  I say this because of recently reading two exchanges between David and God in 2Samuel 5, when David asks God about attacking the Philistines.  In the first exchange, God tells David to attack in response to his first enquiry.  David obeys God’s direction and successfully defeats the Philistines.

On the heels of being defeated, the Philistines attack a second time.  And David asks God again about confronting the Philistines.  In response to David’s second enquiry, God tells David to circle behind the Philistines, wait for the sound of marching in the tree tops and then attack.  David obeys God’s instructions and defeats the Philistines the second time.  From my point of view, these are very explicit instruction & a stark contrast from the first battle.

So here are some ingredients for the recipe to Answered Prayer:

  1. AFDI:  Ask For Divine Input rather than depending on your own brilliance or willpower
  2. Unlimited obedience, served up with daily consistency
  3. Trusting God more than a method:  yeast goes with flour like trust goes with God;  God seems to work uniquely in each situation, so trusting in a method isn’t as helpful as trusting in God 🙂
  4. DBS:  Don’t Be Surprised when you have to repeat something, but with a different method

In addition to these ingredients, it’s also important to consider how these ingredients go together, some possible marinading time and what happens when heat is applied over a length of time.  To this end, when I asked God about changing someone and making them more flexible, like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I received an interesting reply.

I felt God say to me, “Sarah, maybe the answer to your prayer is a combination of that person becoming more flexible and you being less controlling.”

I had to sit with that feedback and let that marinade for a little while.  And truth be told, I’m still ruminating on what God said to me.  Maybe I’m a little similar to meat marinating in a sauce.  Maybe it takes God a little time to break down the fibers of my resistance and self-deception so that God’s truth and loving flavor can influence my thoughts, attitudes, words, decisions and action.  Ultimately, this is what I want.  This is the ultimate answer to my prayers, even in the heat and fire of daily living.

In our quest to get our prayers answered, let’s be committed to allowing God to change us and help us grow.  Maybe the tasty outcome of God’s culinary efforts in our lives is the expression of genuine love, as we are wholly dependant on God’s presence yeasting into our core identity 🙂

Selah 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, cooking, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Ambition Factor

Are you ambitious?

That’s a really loaded question.  If we answer “yes” then we run the risk of being perceived as selfish, driven, neglectful, insensitive, demanding and lots more.  If we answer “no” then we might be perceived as unmotivated, lethargic, non-productive, aimless and inert.  No matter what your answer is, the external perceptions aren’t as important as your internal motives.  To this end, if insecurity, fear, selfishness, pride impatience, anxiety, etc drive our ambition, then the chances for a trainwreck and hurting others skyrocket.

I’ve been thinking about ambition as I’ve been reading about David being anointed to be king & then running from King Saul for ten years, just to stay alive.  In these ten years, David has some opportunities to kill Saul & take the throne which would be ambitious and easy to justify because Saul was a jerk & David was anointed by Samuel to be Saul’s replacement.  But David kept his ambition in check because he valued God’s anointing.

Furthermore, when Saul & Jonathon were killed in battle, David didn’t promote himself as king to save the day for Israel.  When David heard that Saul & Jonathon were dead, his immediate reaction was to grieve and write a lament about the loss of these important men.  In relation to David’s possible ambition to become the next king of Israel, it’s very insightful look at David’s words and action in 2Samuel 2:1, “Then it came about afterwards that David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up to one of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” So David said, “Where shall I go up?” And He said, “To Hebron.”

In this verse and the succeeding verses, I see several helpful keys for being ambitious:

  1. Seeking God:  raw ambition is often impulsive.  As a result, seeking for God’s input and direction is a very effective way to prevent the fallout from hasty, impulsvie and raw, unchecked ambition.  After mourning the death of Saul and Jonathon, David’s first action was to seek God.
  2. Clear Direction:  David had two questions for God.  The first was about action and the second was about location.  When we seek God, that helps to neutralize the impulsive nature of ambition.  Once we have some input from God, it’s helpful to pause for more clarity, direction and input from God.
  3. Be committed:  once David had God’s input and direction, he moved to Hebron, took his wives, kids and all of his loyal followers to settle down and reside in Hebron.  If we are driven by raw ambition, it can be very difficult to put down our roots and be committed in a community, in relationships, a church job, marriage etc.
  4. Get confirmation:  once David, his family and followers moved to Hebron, we still don’t see David being pushy, assertive, demanding nor self-promoting.  On the contrary!  In 2Sam 2:4 we read, “Then the men of Judah came and there anointed David king over the house of Judah.”  From my perspective, David waited for Judah to come to him.  Maybe we could say that ambition pursues but anointing pauses and waits.
  5. There’s more:  even though David was anointed to be King in Judah, the rest of Israel didn’t accept David to be their king until seven years later.  Unfortunately, human ambition settles for less than God’s best and fullest promise. Patience can vaccinate our human ambition so that we receive the full potential of God’s promises.

If God puts a dream in your heart for your life, let your highest priority be to walk with God even more than achieving God’s goal or dream. Walking with God will get you to the dream God puts in your heart, along with shaping your character, deepning your relationships and most importantly, knowing God with ever increasing intimacy.  Let’s make our life’s ambition to revolve around knowing God and letting God be known through our lives!,

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 1 comment

missing socks

I have three men in my family who basically wear the same size socks, so there’s a weekly challenge to match up pairs.  I’m tempted to be creative & see if they’d notice mismatched colors and ankle length with calf length.  And nevermind making sure they’re right side out instead of inside out.  So pretty much every week there are a few rogue socks looking for their partner & they wind up in the single sock bin.  From time to time, I’ll put on a mindless movie & go through the single sock bin to see who matches.

Sometimes life can seem a little bit like the single sock bin & maybe we’re waiting for God to put some missing parts together so there’s more cohesion and better functionality in our lives.  Maybe sometimes we’re like people in the Bible:  David, Moses, Elizabeth, Jacob and others, remembering God’s promises but waiting for the match up of these promises in our daily living.  If that’s you, I want to encourage you that God’s promises are faithful & true, coming to pass in God’s timing.  In the meantime, let’s decide daily to trust God our Divine Designer!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Thoughts From a Meltdown

In the Bible, Job is a fascinating read.  Within the first two chapters, we get an insider’s look at conversations between God & Satan about Job.  God is bragging & Satan is accusing, true to form.  From these conversations, Job goes through an horrific season, losing all of his wealth, all of his kids die in one day, his wife is surly, he gets very hurtful boils & his friends are very unfriendly & not constructive.  Job’s life was in meltdown for several months, according to theologians.

What are some helpful things Job said, that might be encouraging to us today?  Below is a list of some key verses and thoughts from Job.  Feel free to share this blog with anyone you know who might be experiencing a life meltdown.

6:14, “For the despairing man there should bekindness from his friend; So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.”

10:12, “You have granted me life and lovingkindness; And Your care has preserved my spirit.”

13:15, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

19:25, ““As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.”

23:10, “But He knows the way I take;  WhenHe has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

29:3, “When His lamp shone over my head, Andby His light I walked through darkness;”

42:2, “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

20:20, “Because he knew no quiet within him, He does not retain anything he desires.”

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, wednesday nights, 2 comments

The Prickly Factor

I like hummingbirds 🙂

Some days I feel prickly, like a cactus or porcupine. This is of course challenging for people who might interact with me, they might gets some barbs or needles.   When I know I’m feeling prickly, I try to do a few things that are helpful:

  • Why?  Often, it helps me if I can figure out the causes of being prickly, like sketchy sleep, travel, workload, hormones, people interactions, etc.
  • How? It’s important when I’m prickly that I’m careful about how I interact with people. Sometimes I put myself in timeout until I can play nice

No matter how I feel, it helps me to remember that I’m deeply loved & highly treasured by Holy Spirit. I’m also grateful that Holy Spirit gives me strength to have self control, not letting my flesh out weight the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:25 🙂

 

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

3 Ways to Grow from Feedback

In the recent days, I’ve had lots of feedback on sermons, writing, clothing, makeup, communication styles, etc.  In general, I much prefer the positive affirmation in contrast to stuff that’s more critical.  But alas, my potential to grow and improve is higher with the critical feedback more than only positive affirmation, with a few important ingredients:

  1. Be committed to growing & improving.  In darwinian speech we evolve through change or we become extinct with stagnation.  And no, I’m not a Darwinist so don’t get jittery 🙂
  2. The motive for feedback isn’t the main issue.  Sometimes people have good motives and sometimes people are trying to hurt us with their feedback.  What you do with the feedback is more important than the motive in which it’s given
  3. Don’t let the communication style distract you.  The way in which some people communicate is prickly on a good day.  But no matter how something is delivered, we can almost always find something helpful to grow and improve.

Finally and most importantly, stay in love with Jesus & stay true to His divine purposes.  Doing these two things aligns us for God’s participation in our lives to make lemonade out of lemons, based on Romans 8:28 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Truth Serum

Did you ever see a movie where they used truth serum to interrogate someone?  Supposedly, the truth serum  thing is a hoax or urban legend but wants to find out??  So no matter what you think about truth serum, truth is massively important!

  • Truth guards us from deception & ultimately destruction.
  • Truth helps us make healthy decisions.
  • Truth is a beacon of light when life can seem foggy, murky, unclear or even dark.

To this end, Jesus calls Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth & Jesus tells us that Holy Spirit leads us into truth. So let’s remember that Holy Spirit is our best truth serum!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

The Accidental Hypocrite

I’ve never met a person who willingly nor joyfully self-identified as a hypocrite.  Indeed, hypocrite is a label we give other people, as we are grateful to not be “that kind of person.”

But I can’t help but feel, sometimes, that I am an accidental hypocrite.  I see this in myself when I:

  • judge someone for being intolerant
  • am disdainful of someone who seems insincere
  • allow myself to be critical but reject constructive input

There are lots of ways that we can be a hypocrite, whether purposeful or accidental.  And I would propose that an effective antidote for hypocrisy is humility.  While hypocrisy can flourish in the comparison fertilizer, humility is the truth serum that helps us appreciate that we are each struggling in unique ways and it’s better to encourage than compare.  Just a little food for thought for your wonderful weekend 🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, fellowship, Genuine love, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, 0 comments

Waiting for Change

I would like to see some changes in my life with stuff like losing some weight, being more steady with exercise, having more patience with my kids, being less skittery about meeting new people, etc.  With some of these things, I need to take the proverbial bull by the horns & get after it.

But some changes take time & require me to wait. With some changes, I’ve learned that when I meddle & tinker with the stuff that needs to change, my efforts only make things worse.  And if you’re a “make it happen” person, then “wait” is the very close relative to other four letter cuss words.

Here are some benefits to waiting:

  • Slow change often lasts longer than quick changes;
  • the Bible says, “In patience, posses your soul”;
  • Sometimes our wisdom grows in the waiting time

Have a fantastic weekend!

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Are You Ready for Easter?

Easter is just around the corner & maybe you’re scurrying to finish up this week, to get a few things done before the festivities of Good Friday & Easter.  Here’s a helpful resource to prepare for Easter.  This is short & really good to share with your friends!  🙂

CONNECT WITH ME ON:
Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments