trust

Divine Provision

“What do you need?”

Last week, I returned from a whirlwind journey to Thailand and Bangladesh with Saving Moses.  It was a phenomenal trip, getting loads of things accomplished, meeting new people, catching up with established friendships, seeing the work we’re currently doing and looking at possible new places.  The trip was very successful in the sense of accomplishing lots of work.  In terms of the physical and emotional grind for me, it was a very difficult trip, with lots of overnight flights, significant time changes, funky food (which I LOVE) and seeing and experiencing very horrific things relating to babies and toddlers.  By the time I landed back in the US, I was entirely exhausted, having travelled non-stop for more than 30 hours, 5 flights and navigating a 12 hour time change.

This isn’t a “poor me” blog, but rather I hope to give you some fresh perspective on God providing for us.  When we think about the question, “What do you need?”, it seems to me that we’re often quick to answer with some kind of money response.  In our answer, it’s often  automatic that we think about paying off various loans, paying our bills, buying something necessary or helpful.  But if you asked me what I needed last week, I would have immediately replied that I needed time and rest.

I needed to catch my breath and that’s exactly what God gave me last week.  When I landed in the US, my schedule was organized such that I had two nights away from my home to accomplish some important business meetings, which weren’t long or grueling.  This time was massively helpful for my body and sleep to make some initial adjustments for getting back into my home culture and time zone.

In relation to divine provision, it says in Philippians 4:19, “God supplies all of our needs, according to His riches in glory, . . . “  This verse can encourage us in several ways.  To begin, it’s very helpful to establish and remind ourselves that God is our provider and the ultimate source for everything we need.  To this end, we must consistently remember to see God as our provider and not our paycheck, job, intellectual abilities, relationships, physical strength, etc.

Additionally God can give us what we need in lots of different ways: money through our job, wisdom through a conversation, book, blog, podcast, time through a cancelled appointment, creative solutions to a problem and inner strength to carry on.  How God supplies our needs is best left in God’s hands for God’s methods.

Finally, it gives me great confidence and comfort to recognize the divine timing element for divine provision.  I bring this to your attention because of God providing a ram in the thicket for Abraham at the exact moment of his greatest need, in Genesis 22:10-13.  The timing element was very clear to me last week, when God gave me some breathing room to recover from a very intense and effective trip.

Regardless of what you need, make the decision to keep your eyes focused on God and choose to trust that God is good, timely, creative, loving and abundant in divine provision!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

That’s Shocking!!

Getting a phone call from my kid’s school can be a shocking experience, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not so good.  It can also be shocking to hear about a friend going through a financial or health crisis, when you may have thought that everything with them was smoothy groovy. I like good shocking news and I dislike bad shocking news, much like you.  So I loved getting the unexpected news earlier this year about Saving Moses receiving some unexpected funding, but I very much disliked the shocking experience of dropping my daughter off for college this Fall and driving away from her in a puddle of tears.

 

When we receive shocking news, go through alarming experiences, or observe something that’s startling, how do we handle that?  How can we do this with grace and poise while seeing God’s sovereignty in the midst of uncertainty?

 

Stepping into experiences and situations that are unexpected can be massively challenging.  For some of us who enjoy adventure, maybe the unexpected goes through the “fun and new” filter.  For those of us who crave routine and stability, shocking news or experiences can be extremely difficult to navigate!  So no matter if you love adventure and new stuff or if you crave predictable and routine, I firmly believe that we can find help with Jesus, regardless of the preferences of our personality.

 

Consider for a moment, the shock that Jesus’ disciples experienced in John 4 from observing Jesus talking with a Samaritan woman.  Jesus’ behavior was totally unexpected because of the social norms of that day, keeping a strict separation between men and women conversing with each other unless they were married or connected in a familial context.  To add more surprise to the disciples’ observation, it was highly unusual for Jews and Samaritans to have casual conversations because of the hostility that existed between these ethnic groups.  The disciples were shocked by Jesus’ behavior!

 

Additionally, the townspeople were shocked to see the raving lunatic, who lived naked in the graveyard and was untamable, sitting fully sane and clothed talking with Jesus in Mark 5.  The townspeople were so stunned from seeing the crazy man made sane, that they asked Jesus to go away from their town (maybe also because the herd of pigs jumped off a nearby cliff and drown in the Sea of Galilee).

 

In both of these scenarios, Jesus is the common denominator for the disciples’ shock.  And in both of these scenarios, two people are drastically changed because of their encounters with Jesus, regardless of the spectators and bystanders who might have disapproved of Jesus’ choices.

 

As we think about stuff that can be shocking in our lives, let’s do a couple of things that could make such surprises constructive.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Keep Jesus in the middle of your thoughts and feelings when shocking things happen. It helps me when I remember that nothing surprises Jesus.
  2. In the middle of anything that’s shocking, be sure to talk with Jesus, letting Him know of your surprise, feelings, uncertainty, etc.
  3. Decide to trust that Jesus can make seemingly bad or difficult things into fertilizer and something beneficial and/or beautiful

 

As you finish reading this blog, I pray that you keep your focus on Jesus regardless of whatever may be surprising to you.  And I pray that Jesus’ peace will guard your heart in mind, so that fear, worry, panic and stress don’t hijack your soul.  Remember, nothing catches Jesus by surprise J

 

 

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, listen, living, prayer, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

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 🙂

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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

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!

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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

Doing Difficult Things

Life seems to throw difficult things our way, such as dropping off a child at college, health challenges, relationship struggles, financial crisis & lots of other stuff as well. Sometimes the stuff we face is a surprise & sometimes there’s a cumulative process the winds up being a significant difficulty.

In these experiences & seasons, I find it helpful to remember that Jesus is walking with me & doesn’t leave me to navigate alone. And when Jesus is with us, it’s good to ask Him for strength, comfort, wisdom, help, endurance & for His love to overflow our hearts. I also appreciate remembering Ps 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined to me & He heard my cry.”

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

Finding Rest

Last week, during our family vacation, my kids likened me to Dori in the movie, Finding Nemo.  From their perspective, I’m enthusiastic, optimistic & sometimes forgetful, similar to Dori. Their observations made me smile & warmed my heart because I like that character in Finding Nemo.

In the movie, Dori is relaxed & sees obstacles & hardships as friendly opportunities & adventures. She even takes the experience in the belly of a whale in a relaxed & conversational way. And getting lost doesn’t seem to ruffle her fins.

From my perspective, Dori keeps a relaxed approach to life. To help us keep a relaxed & restful mindset about life, let’s consider some helpful pointers:

  • God is in control, full stop
  • God is genuine love
  • God likes you heaps & heaps.

Let’s choose to rest & trust in our Heavenly Father no matter what we go through nor the season in which we find ourselves 🙂

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

Solutions, Provisions & Answers

Sometimes life can be very challenging. We can go through seasons when we don’t have enough money, time, energy, etc. We can also get birraged with problems & pummeled with questions. It seems to me that everyone goes through difficult times when it feels like we’re drowning & when we desperately need a life jacket, not just a life hack.

If you, or someone you know, is in this kind of a season, I pray that this blog would be helpful. In this kind of season, it’s been soothing to realize & embrace that God has more:

  • Answers than I have questions,
  • Solutions than I have problems,
  • Provisions than I have needs.

Let’s keep our eyes on & trust in God today, even hour by hour. God is helping us & these experiences can train us to know God better & trust God more!

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

Help for Making Decisions

We are all faced with making decisions everyday.  In general, we can navigate the smaller decisions like clothing options, food choices, time usage, where we focus our attention, etc.  But sometimes we can struggle with making bigger decisions.  For example, making a decision about college, taking a job, marriage, buying a house and others can be really stressful.

I recently did a sermon about making decisions & this link might be helpful if you’d like to see the whole thing (the message starts around 1:03), including the wonderful joke at the beginning ,)

And here are some helpful hints from Jacob that could be useful to you when making decisions:

  • recognize that God stays with you, whatever you decide because God is omni-present
  • instead of waiting for a lightning bolt of revelation it can be more helpful to move in a direction and invite God to adjust the direction and tweak the pacing
  • appreciate that God can show up in a dark season and bring some necessary and life-infusing encouragement

Feel free to share this with your friends & subscribe to this blog 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

YIKES!!!!

Have you ever been in the middle of something important & realized you’re not as prepared as you thought??  This happened to me last night, as I was speaking at the Wednesday night service at our church. Once I got up on the stage & opened my notes, I realized that I had the wrong notes. Attempting to think on my feet, I checked my phone for my notes because I’d sent them earlier in the day, only to discover that I’d sent the wrong notes!  And all of these realizations were happening real-time in front of both our church & livestream audience!  ARRRRRRGH!!!

In these moments when we are caught off guard or entirely unprepared, what can we do??

Upon realizing what I’d done, I took a few seconds to talk with Holy Spirit to ask for HELP!!!!  I decided to settle into my Bible, lean into Holy Spirit & endeavor to follow Holy Spirit real time. After the sermon, as I was driving home, I was abundantly grateful to Holy Spirit for making the sermon impactful, clear & helpful to the audience!  I’m learning to trust & flow with Holy Spirit, regardless of my circumstances or feelings.  Would you like to join me on this adventure for your life?  Feel free to check out my books on Holy Spirit (Heavenly Help & In Step), to grow in this adventure 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 0 comments

Peace in a Storm

Here in Israel today, we took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee & heard about Jesus walking on the water & Peter joining Him. This was in the middle of a storm & in the middle of night, so there was lots of fear & anxiety. On another occasion, Jesus was sleeping in a boat somewhere in the Sea of Galilee also during a storm. In both scenarios, Jesus had affirmed the trip before the storm started. 

My point is that when we follow Jesus, we can’t assume that our lives will be storm free. Indeed, sometimes we will follow Jesus into a storm. And to get through the storm, we must keep following g Jesus. While we follow Jesus, it’s helpful to remember that He’s the Prince of Peace & His peace will overcome any storm 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments