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Renee Swope

  • No More Guilt-Induced Doubt

    Renee Swope SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

    No More Guilt-Induced Doubt RENEE SWOPE

    "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

    The retreat was just a few weeks away and my message outlines were due, but not quite ready. Knowing the stress I felt, my mom invited me to work at her house that Saturday since she’d be gone all day.

    Studying and preparing with no kids or interruptions sounded like perfection to me!

    Mom said she’d be running errands until 5 p.m. She’d already planned to watch our boys that evening so my husband, JJ, and I could attend a surprise birthday party. He could meet me at Mom’s house, and we’d leave from there.

    A quiet house was just what I needed to get into my "zone" of focused study. I was making great progress, and kept thinking how perfect the setting was … until my mom came home … two hours early.

    Not only was she early, she was noisy! Displaying her new landscape treasures, she unloaded several cement pavers on the floor in the kitchen, where I was working. Then she walked back out to her car and returned with grocery bags that she plopped down on the kitchen table, next to my stuff.

    Normally this would have been fine. It was her house and I was grateful to be there, but not today. I wasn’t done, and I was terrified I’d never get back into my "zone" again.

    It didn’t matter though. My time was up, and unfortunately that was only the beginning of my terribly horrible, very bad day.

    As I started to put my papers away, I knocked over a water bottle, which spilled onto my laptop! You can imagine the mayhem. Finally after mopping up my mess, and laying hands on my laptop while praying for protection over my files, I decided to get ready early for the party.

    From 5 p.m. on, I waited for my husband to arrive. But he didn’t arrive … not at 5 or 5:30. The party was 20 minutes away, and I knew it could ruin the surprise if we were late. But he wasn’t answering his cell phone either, so I didn’t know whether to be irritated or worried.

    I decided to borrow my mom’s car and meet JJ there. But, just as I was pulling out of the driveway, he pulled up.

    Surprisingly, he didn’t look a bit hurried. And to make matters worse, my 6-year-old son got out of the car first, walked over to me and said, "Daddy told us you would be mad."

    That was an understatement! But also confirmation we still needed to drive separately to the party. Because my perfect day was about to turn into the perfect storm!

    Confused that I was still driving out of the driveway, JJ waved for me to stop and asked, "Aren’t you going to wait for me?"

    "No," I snapped. "Because you’re acting like a [beep]."

    Just about that time, my 8-year-old son walked up and said, "Mommy! You just called Daddy a [beep]."

    It was a mess. I was a mess. And I was convinced God wondered why He ever thought it was a good idea to have me speak at my church’s retreat.

    Guilt crashed over me in waves of accusation and condemnation: I’m not cut out for this. I’m not godly enough. I have no business teaching a message I can’t even live.

    We ended up going to the party together, with fake "everything is fine" smiles. But the next morning at church, I went straight to our women’s ministry director to confess what happened and step down from speaking at our retreat.

    Her response shocked me: "Renee, if you don’t need this message as much as the women attending, then you are not qualified to teach it. But because you need it as much as we do, you are. You’ve been appointed and you are anointed to do this."

    I had never experienced such a demonstration of God’s grace. Her words reminded me of today’s key verse and showed me what it looks like to "approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

    I ended up speaking at the retreat, and although I feared some women might judge me, I shared what had happened that weekend. Instead of judgment, they offered acceptance, love and a sense of relief knowing they aren’t the only ones who blow it occasionally.

    Isn’t it hard to believe God could use us when we mess up? Yet the Bible is filled with stories of men and women He used greatly — despite their downfalls.

    Although guilt from the enemy tempts us to give up on ourselves, grace reminds us God never will. Instead, He can take what feels like destruction and use it for reconstruction through our dependence on Him.

    When we confess our wrong thoughts, words and actions and receive God’s forgiveness, we can replace guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence.

    Lord, I come to You today to receive Your mercy and find Your grace to help me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If Renee Swope’s devotion resonated with you today, you’ll love her A Confident Heart book and A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself.

    Discover "3 Ways to Replace Guilt-induced Doubt with Grace-infused Confidence" on Renee’s blog today and enter to WIN A Confident Heart Devotional by Renee Swope, plus a set of Scripture Promises Cards! Enter to win here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: Jesus lived and died to save us from our sins and downfalls. Receive His forgiveness today and ask Him to replace your guilt-induced doubt with His grace-infused confidence. Find out more here.

    © 2015 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith

    Renee Swope JULY 31, 2015

    When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith RENEE SWOPE

    "‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’" Isaiah 43:1b-2 (NIV)

    I crawled into bed and slipped under a blanket of fear. My husband was out of town for work, and I was afraid to go to sleep. Fear had become a constant companion during his nights away.

    I knew I needed to trust God, but I didn’t.

    Instead, I went through the motions of what good Christians do: I prayed, read Scripture and taped Bible verses on sticky notes to my lamp and bedside. But then I also put a phone under my pillow and a neighborhood directory beside my bed.

    The next night, I took it a step further by putting toys on the stairs — to trip possible burglars. I brought my children into my room to sleep there as well, and moved the dresser in front of our bedroom door.

    Although I thought I was controlling my circumstances, fear had taken control of me. Frustrated that I still couldn’t sleep, I opened the Bible and read a familiar passage, found in today’s key verse:

    "‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’" (Isaiah 43:1b-2).

    As I read each word slowly, God showed me something I’d never seen: My fears were like flames and my efforts to protect myself were like gasoline. Every attempt to ease my fears was like dousing fuel on the fire, and now it was consuming me.

    Gently, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God had not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit "of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7b, NKJV).

    Suddenly I knew the only way to overcome my fear and walk in faith was to walk through what I feared the most. I had to put away the props in which I’d placed my faith and go to bed trusting God, realizing that even if my fears came true, He would be with me.

    I crawled out of bed and put everything away. The dresser went back in place. My kids went back to their rooms and I went to sleep without my phone under my pillow. And that night, I slept better than I had in weeks.

    Fear loses its power when we actively trust God more than what we fear.

    Let’s ask God to show us what we are afraid of. What is paralyzing our faith and keeping us from living confidently in His peace and freedom? And then let’s give God a chance to come though for us as we courageously walk through our fears, holding God’s hand and trusting His heart to lead, protect and preserve us each step of the way.

    Dear God, help me walk through my fears by facing them instead of being paralyzed by them. I want to take Your hand and trust Your heart with all that is within me. Give me courage today to take the first step. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 34:4, "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Could you use the encouragement of a friend to help overcome your fears? In her life-changing book, A Confident Heart, Renee Swope will walk you through a powerful process of identifying and overcoming your greatest fears and insecurities so you can live with confidence and courage!

    For more encouragement and a giveaway, visit Renee’s blog.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: What fears paralyze your faith or hinder your everyday life?

    Ask God to show you one step to take today to walk through a fear that keeps you from trusting Him completely.

    © 2015 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • You Get to Decide

    Renee Swope JUNE 30, 2015

    You Get to Decide RENEE SWOPE

    "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

    My 8-year-old son walked into my room before school one morning and declared, "Mom, I don’t want to have any anxious thoughts today!"

    "I don’t want to worry about you not being home when I get off the school bus. I don’t want to worry about my teacher not liking my science project. And I don’t want to worry about Dad getting in a car accident! I wish I could be like other kids because they never worry."

    Listening to him describe his fears made my stomach ache. Anxious thoughts had been a companion ever since I was a child, so I knew just how he felt.

    However, I assumed my fears stemmed from hard things in my childhood during my parents’ divorce. My anxiety had solid reasoning behind it. My dad left before I was ever born. And by the time I was 2 years old, their divorce was final.

    For as long as I could remember, I feared my mom would leave me too. Fear of rejection and abandonment followed me into every relationship I had for the rest of my life: with friends, boyfriends and even my husband.

    Somewhere along the way, I accepted worry as a disability and settled into believing I didn’t have a choice in how it impacted my life. I let anxiety form a pattern in my thoughts.

    Now here I stood with my son who’d declared he wanted a day off from worry! And I was determined to help him get it. I wanted to rip those threads of fear out of his thoughts and make sure he knew what to do with them.

    I couldn’t take my child’s fears away, but I could equip him with the truth to face them courageously and fight them victoriously. I told Andrew, "You get to decide what to do with your worries." And I shared three powerful truths to help him:

    Truth #1: Other kids do worry; they just don’t talk about it on the playground.

    Truth #2: Worry and fear must be a normal because God tells us not to, over 100 times in the Bible.

    Truth #3: God doesn’t just tell us not to worry or fear, He tells us what to do when we do!

    I read today’s verse out loud from 2 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." But a puzzled look on his face told me Andrew needed to know how to do that, so I described it in terms he could understand:

    "Andrew, when you have a thought that makes you feel anxious, you have to decide to catch it like a baseball." I then cupped my hand like I was holding a ball and told him to look at it and ask, "Is this something Jesus would say to me?"

    If the answer is "no" — then throw your thought back into the outfield!

    For instance, worry says: "Your mom isn’t going to be home when you get off the bus."

    "Would Jesus say that?" I asked.

    "No," he replied.

    "Then it’s outta here!" I told him, as I threw the invisible ball across the room.

    Worry says: "Your teacher isn’t going to like your science project!"

    "Would Jesus say that?" I prompted.

    Again, "No."

    "Throw that one away, too!"

    We talked through each worry, and I helped him decide what to do. Then we prayed and asked God to replace each worry with confident peace, and thanked God for ways He’d protected Andrew in the past, reminding him how good He is at being God.

    After our collective "Amen" I looked up and Andrew had a big grin on his face. Then he said, "Thanks Mom!" as though all his worries were gone.

    My sons are 17 and 20 now, and there have been many days I’ve wanted to take away their worries. I’ve been tempted to fix problems and sticky situations. But I’ve learned that doesn’t strengthen their faith or their ability to decide what to do when hard times come.

    Instead, what our kids need most is for us to be there: to talk through their struggles, listen to their stories, pray through their worries and be willing to share God’s truths that have helped us decide how to face ours.

    Dear Lord, show me how to be still and listen, and let You be God in my child’s life. Help me walk in Your truth and win the war over my own worry so I can share Your Word and show them how to lean on You when they come to me for help. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 56:3, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Don’t miss Renee Swope’s "Fear Not For I am With You" FREE printable. It’s a powerful reminder and tool to help us, and our kids, decide worry won’t get the final say — God will! Download yours and enter to win A Confident Heart Devotional gift pack.

    Perfect for summer, Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart Devotional is filled with powerful stories, practical life-lessons and biblical insights to help you overcome fear and worry through the power of God’s truth each day! Order a copy here.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How much does fear and worry impact your daily decisions and joy (or your child’s)?

    What might happen if you took each anxious thought captive and decided which ones stay and which ones go, based on what Renee shared today?

    © 2015 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • What's Their Secret

    Renee Swope MAY 20, 2015

    What's Their Secret RENEE SWOPE

    "… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you …" John 17:21a, (NIV)

    Have you ever wondered why we need each other? Why we crave relationships yet find it hard to build the kind we long for?

    My craving for closer friendships surfaced as I sat across the table listening to the sounds of laughter and admiring the bond between two women I’d met at a lunch. What they had was uncommon.

    The way they loved each other, how well they knew each other and how much they enjoyed each other reminded me of a Hallmark commercial. But I wasn’t watching television. This was real life.

    And when I asked how long they’d known each other, they replied, "More than 60 years."

    More than 60 years? Now I was more interested in listening than eating lunch. So I put down my fork and picked up a pen like a journalist and tried to think of as many questions as I could. How had they met? What had they done to build a lifelong friendship? What moments and memories filled all those years and kept their hearts so closely knit together? What’s their secret?

    Here’s what I discovered:

    They were intentional about making their friendship last because it mattered to them. They became friends in grade school, but their friendship grew and continued long after they both married their high school sweethearts, who played football together.

    Things had to be planned and time together had to be priority. Their families vacationed together for years. And when they were young and had little money, they’d all get together for a meal while the kids played in the yard. But as their kids got older it became more challenging, so they’d get together and play cards once a week — a tradition that was still going strong.

    They determined early on they would be there for each other no matter what. These two lifelong friends were now widowed and counted on each other for companionship and laughter, weekly shopping adventures and everything in between. And they had an understanding between them. If one of them starts feeling down she’ll call the other and say, "Hey, I need to get out of the house." And then they go do something together.

    I thought about how different our generation is, how busy we are. How much more we rely on screen time more than face-to-face time. And a twinge of sadness came over me. Would there be anyone in my life I would have known for 40 or 50 years, much less 60 years, when I’m 70 or 80 years old?

    Besides my husband, which friend will be able to finish my sentences? Who will know me better than I know myself?

    From the beginning of time, God created us to be in relationship — with Him and each other.

    Designed in His image, our need for connection comes from God, who has always been in community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    Jesus’ final prayer for His friends in today’s key verse challenges me. In it, He prays they will know the Father the way He does, and that the world would know His love because of their love for one another. And in Jesus’ prayer we find His heart’s desire for us to be closely connected with each other:

    "… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you" (John 17:21a).

    How can we do this better? Maybe we can be creative and get together for lunch during a busy workday, or meet to plan menus for our families each week, do laundry at one of our houses, or take turns cleaning out each other’s closets or running errands together.

    That was their secret. They wanted to be together and so they made sure they were.

    Dear Lord, the longer I live, the harder it seems to build close friendships. With family and work, and all I have on my plate, intimate friendships drop to the bottom of my priorities. And yet I know deep friendships are part of what You want for me. Show me how to get creative, find a new starting point and be intentional by reaching out to a friend this week. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: Proverbs 18:24, "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family." (MSG)

    RELATED RESOURCES: Looking for a great book to help you grow closer in your relationship with God and a friend, or a group of friends? Renee Swope’s book, A Confident Heart, can help you do just that! Packed with personal stories and Biblical truths we need friends to remind us of, each chapter also includes great conversation-starter questions at the end.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: How often do you make time for friendships each week? What is one step you can take today to grow closer to a friend you already have, or make a new one?

    © 2015 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Concern Consumes Me

    Renee Swope APRIL 22, 2015

    When Concern Consumes Me RENEE SWOPE

    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

    As we drove home from a weekend away in the mountains, I felt a heavy sense of dread and sadness. Laying my head back on my seat, I told my husband, JJ, "I don’t want to go home."

    The stress and strain of countless commitments at home and at work were taking a toll on me. If only I could return to that little mountain town where no one knew me or needed me.

    JJ asked some clarifying questions, and then he suggested I make a list of everything on my plate so I could ask God what needed to be cut back.

    Honestly, at first I resented the fact that he was adding one more thing "to do" on my already long list of things I’d never get done.

    But later that week I took his advice and wrote out all my commitments and concerns. I made a list of deadlines and dates on my calendar with every appointment, event, conference call and meeting I could think of for the next six months.

    And I prayed: Please God, show me where I need to make changes.

    I assumed the Holy Spirit would suggest adjustments in my schedule, but that’s not what happened. God didn’t tell me to make cut backs at work or in ministry. He didn’t show me our family had too many activities. He didn’t challenge me to take a sabbatical, although I was hoping He would.

    Jesus showed me it was worry — not my workload — that was making me weary.

    You see, during the weeks leading up to my "meltdown," I let my thoughts dwell on the possible negative outcome of several different circumstances and decisions, all at the same time. And without realizing it, I had spent as much time thinking and worrying about concerns, commitments, circumstances and deadlines as I did working on them.

    It was not only how I spent my time, but how I spent my thoughts that left me depleted. It wasn’t until I brought it all to God, and wrote it all out, that I recognized what was happening.

    Instead of escaping to the mountains where no one knows us or needs us, in today’s key verse from Matthew 11:28 above, Jesus invites us to come to Him so He can give us:

    Rest for our weary hearts and minds. "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’" (Psalm 91:1-2, NIV).

    Freedom from the captivity of our concerns. "‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity’" (Jeremiah 29:12-14a, NIV).

    Maybe there are worries making you weary. Do you hear Jesus gently inviting you to come to Him, seeking and trusting that His heart is big enough to care and strong enough to carry all that concerns you?

    Dear Lord, when concerns consume me, help me remember You are there inviting me to come to You and talk about all I’m thinking and doing. Show me if my workload or my worries are making me weary and help me trust You more with both. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY: 1 Peter 5:7, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES: If you ever tire of feeling like you’re not good enough, smart enough or gifted enough, you’ll enjoy A Confident Heart Devotional: 60 Days to Stop Doubting Yourself by Renee Swope.

    Be sure to download Renee’s "3 Steps to Getting God’s Peace" printable and enter to win her "Heart-and-Soul Spa" gift-pack that includes Renee’s A Confident Heart Devotional book, a prayer journal and a Bath & Body Works gift card. You’ll find it all on her blog today.

    If you’ve tried everything else to tackle the disease of stress in your life, with little success, maybe it’s time to give Jesus a try. Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles can help you do just that.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND: When you think about all you need to get done, what makes you feel like you’re coming undone?

    Write three concerns on a piece of paper and put them in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope write: "Jesus, I’m giving my cares to You because You care about me." Put your envelope in a journal or notebook and let God take care of what’s concerning You today.

    © 2015 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • Sometimes I Have to Boss My Heart Around

    Renee

    "Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—" Psalm 103:1-2 (NIV)

    I caught my heart heading to a pit of discouragement for spring break. It was supposed to go to the beach with my family and me, but it was not cooperating.

    We had been hit by one emotional and financial crisis after another. A close friend learned that, after a year's worth of abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, and an undiagnosed illness, she had a large tumor that appeared to be ovarian cancer.

    Then our upstairs air conditioner broke, again. And that same week, we found out our international adoption expenses would not apply as a deduction that year, which meant we owed significantly more on taxes than we anticipated. Yet our savings had been poured into our adoption and our air conditioning systems.

    My mind was divided. My spirit was depleted. And my body was exhausted.

    I couldn't stop worrying about my friend. I couldn't stop thinking about our finances. How was I supposed to rest and relax with all we had going on?

    Although I had packed my bags for the beach, my heart had decided it wasn't in the mood for vacation. It was marching straight toward the pit.

    But as much as I didn't want to go on vacation, I knew I didn't want to dwell in a place of despair or pull my family in with me. It wasn't part of God's plans—nor mine.

    Eventually I realized I was going to have to boss my heart around!

    King David was really good at telling his heart and soul what to do. In Psalm 103 he said: "Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name" (vs. 1). I decided to follow his example. In the midst of my turmoil and troubles, I told my soul to praise the Lord.

    Now this wasn't a superficial "say your bedtime prayers" talk to my soul. No, this was a deep-down, preach it to my inmost being, "GOD IS GOOD no matter what your feelings are telling you" sermon. I bossed my heart with Truth and pulled it away from the pit by telling myself to "forget not ALL his benefits" (Ps. 103:2).

    Then I walked my heart down memory lane, reminding it of the One who: Forgives all [my] sins and heals all [my] diseases, who redeems [my] life from the pit and crowns [me] with love and compassion, who satisfies [my] desires with good things so that [my] youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Ps. 103:3-5 NIV)

    No matter what the answer was to my friend's diagnosis, or how costly our air conditioner was going to be, or how much we owed on taxes—my soul needed to praise the Lord. My heart needed me to ... Remember Who He is. Thank Him for what He had done in the past. Trust Him for what He would do in the future.

    My circumstances didn't change but my perspective did. By re-directing my thoughts and my focus, I was able to re-direct my emotions. And our spring break wasn't ruined after all.

    Every time I was tempted to start worrying about what might be, I used King David's prayer to focus on what was, is, and will forever be-God's faithfulness to walk by my side and navigate my heart through the valleys of life.

    Are there circumstances that have pulled you into a place of discouragement? Do you have concerns that are causing your thoughts to head down a path of despair? I pray you won't go there.

    Today you can be the boss of your emotions by telling your heart what to do-and if you have to get a little bossy, that's okay too!

    Dear Lord, please help me trust You and empower me through Your Spirit to stop my emotions from bossing me around. I want to quit worrying about what might happen and focus on what has already happened by remembering and praising You for Your faithfulness in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: This devotion was taken in part from Renee's Swope's best-selling book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises.

    LET. IT. GO. How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith, by Karen Ehman, will empower and equip you to control what you should and trust God with what you can't.

    Reflect and Respond: Are there concerns that are causing your thoughts to head down a path of despair?

    Every time you're tempted to worry about what might be, use King David's prayer to focus on what was, is, and will forever be-God's faithfulness to walk by your side and navigate your heart through the valleys of life.

    Power Verse: Psalm 43:5, "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!" (NLT)

    © 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

  • When You Feel Like Your Not Enough

    Renee

    "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (John 8:12 NIV)

    I had that awful yucky feeling of not being enough ... not smart enough or good enough. For weeks I felt inadequate and incompetent about everything–from the way I parented to the way I served God in ministry to the way I organized my time and my life.

    I had begged God to take away my feelings of insecurity. Though He didn't answer the way I hoped, He showed me what I needed to see in the most unexpected way.

    One afternoon, I was putting on make-up in my bathroom when I noticed a huge nine-foot shadow on the wall behind me. And as I stood there looking at the humongous shadow, it dawned on me: all of my insecurities were creating a huge shadow over my soul–a shadow of doubt.

    That day in my bathroom, I came to two important realizations. First, I could only see the shadow when I turned away from the light. And second, I was creating the shadow by blocking the light from the wall.

    Shadows are created all around us when something blocks light, and so it is with the shadow of doubt.

    When we focus our thoughts on ourselves and how inadequate we feel, or what others think about us and how we're performing, we cast a shadow of doubt in our minds by blocking the light of God's Truth in our hearts.

    But we were not designed to block the light. We were created to live in the Light by focusing on what God thinks about us instead of what we think about ourselves.

    Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12b NIV) When we follow Jesus closely and completely in our thoughts, turning away from doubts and lies, we can find lasting security and confidence in Him.

    That afternoon, I realized my self-doubt wasn't going to just go away. I had to purposefully shift my focus from my feelings of inadequacy to God's promises of His all-sufficiency and grace in my life.

    I had to choose to focus on truth {the Light} so I could exchange my feelings of low self-confidence with lasting "God-fidence."

    Feeling paralyzed and stuck in a place of insecurity is not where God intends for us to live. When Jesus spoke to the people in John 8:12, He called them out of darkness.

    Now He's calling you - to step of out of the shadows of doubt so that you can become the God-fident women He created you to be. A woman whose assurance and soul-security is found in what He says and thinks about her.

    And, the next time you feel your heart dwelling in the shadow of self-doubt, ask God to replace your lack of self-confidence with lasting soul-confidence as you turn towards the Light and focus your thoughts on His truths:

    When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN. "'You are my witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.'" (Isa. 43:10a NIV)

    When you feel unstable, God says: You are ABLE. "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." (Hab. 3:19 NIV)

    When you feel unworthy, God says: You are PRECIOUS and LOVED. "... you are precious and honored in my sight, and ... I love you." (Isa. 43:4a NIV)

    Dear Lord, You say I am a chosen woman, a royal priest, a holy daughter, a woman belonging to You. Help me believe that and live beyond the shadows of my doubts as I follow and focus on the Light of Your truth today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources: In her book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises, Renee helps you see how self-doubt overshadows your heart and how it can hold you back from all God has for you! Then she equips you to overcome your doubts and live with lasting confidence in ways you never thought possible.

    Reflect and Respond: "I had to choose to focus on truth {the Light} so I could exchange my feelings of low self-confidence with lasting "God-fidence."

    Power Verse: Romans 8:6, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace ..." (NASB)

    © 2012 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries 616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org

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