You would think after a decade working the same job I’d feel an unbroken stream of confidence that I am exactly where I need to be, doing precisely what I am called to do, and able to meet the challenges of each day with conviction. There are certainly days like that — praise God! But, more times that I’d like to admit, nagging concerns distract me.
Will my kindergartener survive my rookie parenting skills? Is my work helping others? What could I be doing to be and do better? What if I mess it all up? Are all these problems because I am the way I am? Will this decision unravel all our progress? What if I’m just not up to the task?
Thanks to personality tests, parenting podcasts, and Instagram accounts dedicated to the enneagram, I know how to talk myself into enough courage to get through a day — sometimes even a whole week. But my truest freedom from self-doubt, worry, and imposter syndrome has been through the apostle Paul’s teachings to the Christians living in Corinth.
According to the Scriptures, we are competent because of God.
Isn’t that the best news? By the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m hopeful that truth will change me. If we would only let God’s sufficiency determine our confidence levels.
The book of 2 Corinthians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul articulates the ups and downs of life and, more specifically, a Christ follower’s highs and lows. His brutal honesty is refreshing and endearing. He opens his letter by addressing some of the most pressing issues of his life and then poses a question about who is qualified to share the Gospel, to serve God as one of His ministers. And I think his rhetorical question is designed to remind us, all of us, that no one is really qualified to carry on Christ’s work here on earth.
And yet, Paul finds confidence enough to live through terrible circumstances, the betrayal of friends and colleagues, and physical challenges that might take anyone out of his or her calling. But he doesn’t find his fortitude or aptitude in his methods, his resume, his experience, or even the testimony of others (although he’s the first to point out he’s got that resume in check). Instead, he chooses to believe his qualifications come from God, through Christ, and by the Spirit:
Such is the confidence we have through Christ before God. It is not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God. — 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 CSB
What a relief to hear Paul say we are not competent in ourselves. We don’t need to fear that truth. Instead, our adequacy comes from God Himself. Now that’s what I call freedom.
The word competent in this passage means “enough, sufficient in ability, and/or the right fit.” Where would the enemy tempt you to believe you are not enough, your abilities fall short, or that you are just not the right fit for __________? Well, maybe you’re not — in and of yourself. But with God, we can unreservedly embrace our position as image bearers of God and heralds of the good news that Jesus is alive.
Maybe that’s why Paul follows up his thesis about our calling with this statement:
Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness. — 2 Corinthians 3:12 HCSB
I can see how assurance in our callings could produce great boldness in our lives.
Working for a boutique marketing company, I spent several seasons in tech support for our web-based clients. On a daily basis, I received calls from frustrated website users desperate for answers. On a few occasions their questions would stump me, but, thankfully, I sat right next to the genius architect of the whole system. Anytime I’d admit I didn’t know the work-around to a specific problem but mentioned that I was a few steps away from the expert’s desk and he was available to help us, the callers didn’t mind a brief hold for answers.
Using my experience in tech support to illustrate God’s supernatural ability to compensate for our deficiencies feels a little trite because God is so much more than a cosmic help desk. But you get my point.
What if we started asking God to help us with our daily needs as if He’s willing and able? What If we started to believe we can call on God anytime, for anything, and He will have what we need in that moment?
According to Paul, we will find newfound boldness because our hope in God’s sufficiency changes everything.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Kat Armstrong, author or No More Holding Back.
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Are you walking in boldness even if you may not have the answers, may not have the necessary skills or abilities? God has your back! Be bold in your calling! Come share your thoughts on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotion
Maybe it’s my age or where I am in life right now; I’m not sure. But I’ve simply grown weary of a yo-yo type of bravery. It is with all love that I insist we can’t be plucky one day and pitiful the next.
The unhealthy habit of swaying between faith and fear will only leave us as mental messes.
If we are to become brave, our words must echo our resolve to step out of the shadows and do something meaningful. I can usually judge how serious a woman is about stretching beyond her comfort zone by the verbal choices she makes in describing her future. Anyone can create a vision board, but it takes a determined woman to create a word board. I challenge you to find a tucked-away corner where you can pin your favorite mottos, inspirational catchphrases, or battle cries. Post them. Confess them. Allow these words to breathe life into your weary soul. Most important, get comfortable speaking out what you desire to live out.
What a woman holds hidden in her heart will eventually tumble out of her mouth.
Don’t believe me? Have you tried to hold an emotion inside and not let it slip from your lips? Almost impossible. That’s because our hearts and our mouths are wired to work in unison. What we say, our hearts believe. And what our hearts believe, we will speak. Jesus Himself said,
People speak the things that are in their hearts. — Luke 6:45
But our words are a double-edged blade. Solomon wrote:
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. — Proverbs 12:18 NIV
What we confess about our future is far more significant than any obstacle or enemy we will encounter. Our words are confessions of our internal persuasions.
What we continue to confess will become the framework of our future.
A wise man once said, “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
Let’s dig deeper into that thought. If a child can be convinced that fire-breathing dragons can be defeated, she can also be convinced that anything else that frightens her can also be defeated. That’s how courage is born. Somewhere down deep, children must believe they are able to defeat what frightens them most.
What do you do with your grown-up version of dragons? How do you handle the monsters, the ones that don’t have scales but leave scars anyway? What about the ones that don’t? They may not breathe fire, but somehow you still feel the burn. Whether you are age four or forty-four, those giants are not easy to confront. The courage to go up against what we most fear often begins with our mouths before it ever gives movement to our feet.
Authentic bravery is activated by our vocabulary long before it gives way to action.
Our words have influence over our surroundings. Picture Jesus staring into the face of the storm and speaking the words,
Peace, be still.
When those three words rippled over the water, the waves quit cascading over the bow of the boat (Mark 4:36-39 KJV).
So how about you? What words tumble off your lips during moments of crisis?
My life never moved in the right direction until my words began to lead the way. When I started speaking life into my future, it took on the shape of those words. Remember, that’s how God created the very world we live in. He spoke. The Bible tells us that
the whole world was made by God’s command. — Hebrews 11:3, emphasis added
And then, when He created man, we are told that God breathed into him, and “man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7 KJV). Sometimes our dreams just need us to breathe life into them, to speak life into them. What words are you using to shape your future? Are they words God would speak over you? Are they positive? Encouraging? Inspiring? Every word you speak in some way shapes your destiny.
As a woman who has witnessed words shape the lives of my sisters, I urge you to resolve to crush the self-criticism and any other words that would get in the way of your future, and replace them with words of faith.
Excerpted with permission from Becoming Brave by Tracey Mitchell, copyright Tracey Mitchell.
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What words do you think God speaks over your future? Are you speaking synonymous words over yourself? How working on breaking the habit of saying discouraging things to ourselves and replacing those words with scripture. Will you join us? Let’s speak life into ourselves rather than defeat! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
When John began to preach in the wilderness, crowds flocked to see Him. He baptized those who confessed their sins but rebuked the pious religious leaders for their self-reliance (Matthew 3:7-10). After 400 years without a prophet, people rushed to John, wondering if he might be the Christ, the one for whom they as a people had been waiting for centuries. John pointed them to One more powerful than himself who was to come — Jesus. While John baptized with water as a sign of repentance, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).
The power Jesus demonstrated in His baptism differed from John’s to an infinite degree. To observers, their physical actions looked similar.
While both used water, Jesus’ baptism pointed to an imminent change, the time when God would take up residence in the lives of believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.
Each of the Gospel writers reference this distinctive element of Jesus’ work (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, John 1:33), foreshadowing the nature of the Trinity: one God in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, His disciples experienced power for immediate tasks in Jesus’ name (Luke 10:17-20). While the disciples relished these experiences, Jesus knew they would soon experience a substantively different reality — something that could only happen when He returned to His Father (John 16:7). Before He ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, Jesus commanded His disciples not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the gift His Father had promised, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Once the Holy Spirit came in fullness, the Holy Spirit’s filling became the confirmation that God had accepted people by grace through faith in Jesus. This grace extended even to Gentiles who had not kept the Law of Moses (Acts 11:15-17).
Throughout His ministry, John stated firmly that Jesus must become greater while he became less (John 3:30). John understood that he was responsible for preparing the way for Jesus, calling people to repentance. Jesus affirmed this role, stating that John was a great man (Matthew 11:10-11) who had faithfully fulfilled his purpose. During his life, John never confused his role or ministry with that of Jesus. He knew Jesus was the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world — One who was more powerful than himself and greater in all possible ways (John 1:36).
Excerpted from The Jesus Bible, copyright Zondervan.
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What a blessing for John to be called “a great man who had faithfully fulfilled his purpose” by Jesus! Let’s live our lives on mission for Him so that the same can and will be said of us by Him when we see Jesus face-to-face! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily