Friday, September 30, 2011

When-Then Statements

In Chapter 3 of A Confident Heart, author Renee Swope writes about when-then statements as a way to recognize when we’re looking to other people and things for our worth, instead of looking to God. 
Earlier this week, I said I’d share a couple of the when-then statements I wrote.  

When I first read about them I didn’t know where to start or what to write about. It was when I didn’t have the book in front of me and I was feeling anxious and unsettled that I decided to try it. I acknowledged and wrote in my journal how I was feeling (when) and remembered and claimed God’s promises for me (then). I found the Scripture verses I was thinking of and wrote them in my journal too.  

Each time I did this I felt God’s calming presence, and my focus shifted from my emotions and the situation back to Him. 

Once I tried it, writing when-then statements came more naturally. Here are a couple I’d like to share.


When I feel like my world is spinning out of control, then I will thank God that He doesn’t change.

“I am the Lord, and I do not change.” – Malachi 3:6a NLT 

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” – James 1:17 NLT


When I begin to feel that a situation is hopeless, then I will thank God that with Him, nothing is impossible. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. 

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.’” – Matthew 19:26 NLT 

“For nothing is impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37 NLT


Did you write a statement? Please leave a comment to share.

In Christ,
Laura

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where is Your Treasure?

Welcome! This week we are in Chapter 3 “Finding Love that Won’t Fail Even When I Do” of our online study of Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart.

“When we worship something or someone, we give them great worth in our lives and oftentimes we find our worth in them. We also set our focus on them and eventually they become the very thing we look toward to fill us.” (Renee Swope, A Confident Heart)

For days I’ve been coming back to this thought and each time I think of Matthew 6:21. I like both of these versions…

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.” (NLT)

“The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (The Message)

How often do we try to fill our lives with the treasures of this world? Whether we’re looking to people, positions, or things, they can make us happy for a time, but they can’t fill us or bring us everlasting joy like only Christ can.

Knowing this doesn’t always mean it’s easy. In the world today there are so many temptations. We long for the approval of others. We feel the need to keep up with those around us. There’re always newer and more advanced things coming out to spend money on. It’s easy to get caught up in the ways of the world.

I don’t believe God says we can’t have these things and enjoy them, but when they take our focus off of Him, we can be headed down a path that leads us away from Him. Renee writes “…so many times we look to the gifts instead of the Giver to fill us and fulfill us with lasting security and significance.”

Maybe you can relate to this like I can. My attention can be so centered on something or someone other than Christ that I’ve shifted my focus off of Him. When that happens, I start looking to other people or things to fill me. When they can’t fill me, I feel lost and empty.

The shift in focus to the gifts instead of the Giver can happen quickly—often before I even realize it. So, every day I need to make a conscious effort to find my treasure in Him, and there I will find my security.

Have you written any when-then statements that Renee Swope explains on page 60? Come back later this week when I’ll share one or two that I’ve written, and I hope you’ll share yours by leaving a comment. I agree with Renee—they do help!

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Confident Heart Study - Week 2

Welcome!

If you are studying A Confident Heart by Renee Swope with me, we start slowing it down this week with only one chapter per week. At the end of each week's schedule I'm noting ways to go deeper into the study, if you choose. Melissa Taylor, author and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries, is also doing a study on A Confident Heart. Although we are one chapter ahead of her study, I still recommend visiting her blog, if you haven't already.

Just a note...I'm now on Twitter, and working on Facebook.

I pray that you are seeing God's work in your life as we read A Confident Heart! Have a great week!

In Christ,
Laura

Week 2 – Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2011
Monday & Tuesday
  • Read Chapter 3 “Finding Love That Won’t Fail Even When I Do.” Remember to underline or take notes on anything you want to remember and go back to. 
Tuesday
 Wednesday & Thursday
  • Reflect on, and answer, the Discussion Questions at the end of the chapter. 
Friday
  • Spend some time in prayer and reflecting on this week’s reading. 
To Go Deeper:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Believing God

Welcome! If you are joining me in the online study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, I’m glad you’re here. If you are not participating in the study, I still welcome you to look around my blog. Read what interests you and stay as long as you like. I hope you’ll return!

In Chapter 1 of A Confident Heart, author Renee Swope says, “He’s led me beyond believing in Him to really believing Him by relying on the power of His words and living like they are true no matter what my feelings tell me.”

It was as I read this a second time that it clicked, and I realized what a difference this makes. As I grow closer to God, I don’t just believe in Him, but I believe His Word and promises as truth. I know that I can rely on what He says, and that’s how I find my confidence and identity in Him.

Jeremiah 17:5, 7 (NLT) says…
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.’”
                                                                                            
When I look to find my confidence and security in myself and others, I set myself up for failure because it’s based on something that’s ever changing. My mood changes based on my feelings and situations I’m going through. Someone may hurt my feelings, or I may feel confident one moment, but by later in the day feel insecure about myself and what I’m doing. The way I act and react depends on how I’m feeling at the time, what mood I’m in, how stressed out I may be, and a host of other things going on around me. As humans, this is how we are, so how can I base my security on myself and others?

However, when I believe God—when I put my hope and trust in Him—I am changed. I look for my security and confidence in Him, and that keeps me grounded. Christ is the Rock, the Foundation. When I find my security in Him, I know He won’t change His mind about me. The Lord is unchanging. (Malachi 3:6a NLT) He’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His love is never ending. While people will disappoint us and often leave us, God never will. Nothing can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:38-39 NLT)

Some days are harder than others. I fall back into relying on myself and what others think of me. I have to make an effort to silence my own thoughts and listen to God. The more I make the effort, the more natural it becomes to seek God. The more I seek Him, the more I want to hear from Him. And the more I hear from Him, the more I want to silence my own thoughts so when He whispers to me, I will hear Him.

In Christ,
Laura

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Confident Heart Online Study - Week 1

Welcome! If you are studying Renee Swope's A Confident Heart, I'm so glad to have you join me!

Below is the suggested reading schedule for this week. I plan to post on Tuesday with my thoughts on the reading. Please consider posting a comment with your thoughts or on how God is working in your life.
 
My prayer is that you will enjoy A Confident Heart, and that this study will be a blessing in your life.

In Christ,
Laura

Week 1 – Sept. 18-24, 2011
As you read each chapter, underline or highlight in your book any points you want to remember. I also suggest having a journal or notebook for notes and for the Reflection and Discussion Questions at the end of each chapter.

Monday & Tuesday
  • Read Chapter 1 “Discovering the Shadow of My Doubts” and reflect on the questions at the end of the chapter.
Tuesday
  • Visit Laura’s blog at www.laurarath.blogspot.com for the weekly post. Leave a comment to the post with your thoughts from the reading. (Remember, you can do so anonymously, if you choose.)
Wednesday & Thursday
  • Read Chapter 2 “Because God’s Love is Perfect, I Don’t Have to Be” and reflect on the end of the chapter questions.
Friday
  • Spend some personal time with God and reflect on this week’s reading. This day can also be used as a catch-up day if you got behind with the reading or questions.
To Go Deeper:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Enemy Lies

Have you ever been reminded how easily the enemy can slip in and change our thoughts to his way of thinking?

Not long ago I was reminded of this very thing.

I was upset and angry with a loved one, and I wasn’t even trying to shake it off. My feelings had been hurt and I was frustrated. As I worked around the kitchen, I silently fumed, “I’m so tired of this! Why isn’t God doing something!? Does He even care?!?”

I stopped cold. Where did that thought come from? I know God cares! Absolutely I know He cares. So, how could I even think to question it?

I have to tell you, it scared me. It frightened me that in my state of frustrated venting I could question God’s concern for me, the other person, and the situation.

Immediately I knew the enemy was at work trying to get me to believe his lies. I stopped what I was doing and prayed. How easy it could have been for me to get caught up in my anger and let that thought fester inside. My hurt and frustration could have grown, not only against the other person, but against God.

Lies.

Our enemy Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and he wants us to believe his lies as truth. He looks for any opportunity to slip his lies into our thoughts, and he smiles when we believe them. He knows where we question our relationships and how we doubt ourselves. He knows our insecurities and he uses them against us.

The closer we grow to God, the harder the enemy will work to block our way. He wants us to doubt ourselves, and especially God’s love for us.

But this is what God says in Isaiah 43:1-4 (The Message)…

“…‘Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. 
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place, 
it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, 
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt
with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That's how much you mean to me! 
That's how much I love you!'"

God loves us and promises He will never leave us. (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 NIV) That is why we must remain in God’s Word. The more we know by heart the truth and promises in God’s Word, the better we will be able to detect the enemy’s lies.

Last week I read a post on Melissa Taylor’s (Proverbs 31 Ministries) blog. It was exactly what I needed to read that day, and in fact, I went back to read it multiple times throughout the week. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. I Know and Yet...I Still Doubt, by Melissa Taylor

I hope you’ll join me when we begin our online study of Renee Swope’s new book A Confident Heart on September 18. To sign up, send me an e-mail at laurajrath@gmail.com with your name, e-mail address, city and state.

In Christ,
Laura