If you don't already know her, I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to my sweet friend, Katie M. Reid.  She is someone you will want to get familiar with.  Her encouraging words and practical teachings have quickly become a favorite of mine! She has become a very dear friend and someone that I just love talking to because her heart for God and for people is just impossible to overlook! Today, in her guest post, she is sharing how we, as Christians, can have hope even in the hard days.  I know that you are going to love her and her words as much as I do! Hope for the Hard Days By: Katie M. Reid   Where do you turn in times of trouble? How do you excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand? When the earth seems to give way to fear, how do you find the strength to stand?   Besides eating copious amounts of ice cream, hiding under layers of covers, or putting our heads in the sand—how do we uncover light to pierce the darkness?   How do we adopt hope in uncertain times, when the world seems to be spinning out of control?   Through Jesus, by faith, we hope.   My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.*    Jesus.   The Son of God—fully man, fully God—came to bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the restless, and peace to the chaos by bringing salvation to the sinner.   Faith.   Faith is not a weakness, band-aid, or fluffy ideology. It’s hope with skin on—skin and bones that came to walk the planet** so that we wouldn’t be suffocated by dread or buried in darkness.   When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.*   Hope.   Hope is the assurance that comes from knowing that even if it gets darker, Jesus has already overcome that which threatens to take us under. We rise. We stand. We follow the lead of the One who sits on the throne.   Our faith isn’t flawed, fake, or fandangled.   It is the lifeline that is thrown when we are in quicksand. It is the anchor that holds us steady in the midst of wind and waves. It is the breath in our lungs, the song on our hearts, the comfort that upholds us.   His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.*   Where do we find hope? Upon the Rock.   Isaiah 44:6-8 The Voice (VOICE)   6 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, King of Israel, who paid their ransom, has this to say:   Eternal One: I am at the beginning and will be at the end. There is no God except for Me. 7     If you know any God like Me, tell it now. Declare and demonstrate any who can compare to Me. Or if you know and have announced events before their time, told what is to come, then speak so now. 8     Don’t be afraid. Let your minds be clear of fear. Haven’t I announced events and revealed what is to come? From the earliest days, I have done so. You know it—you have seen and know. So, go ahead, My witnesses: is there a god out there other than Me? Witnesses: There is no other rock like God. I don’t know a single one.   These are not fighting words, these are cool cup of water words. These are not burning coal sentiments, they are a roaring blaze for those groping in darkness. These are not weak words, these are words to bolster and provide balm for the hurting. These are not words of judgment, they are words of life, of grace, of freedom.   The world cries out. The people mourn.   O God, may You excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand. Like you called Lazarus from the grave, may You call forth Your church to rise from the ashes and come forth, as gold. Like You were raised from the dead, may we witness the resurrection of Hope.   You don’t change. You don’t leave. You don’t abandon us. You don’t lack. You Are. You remain. You dwell within. You are enough.   Jesus, we desperately need You, every moment—good and bad. Forgive us for turning against one another. Forgive us for misplacing our hope. Forgive us for throwing stones and bypassing grace. Forgive us for being wise in our own eyes and misrepresenting you to a hurting world.   God, we need You. Set us straight with Your Word. Purify our lips with Your Truth. Deliver us from apathy, prejudice, and complacency. Return our hearts to Yours.   Restore our unity with You and one another. Heal our land. We have dirtied ourselves with blood, pride, and idol worship.   Lord, help us! We have turned our back and we feel the harsh reality that comes from distancing ourselves from You. Help us remember Who You are. You are Love. You are Peace. You are Holy. You are Just. You are Perfect. You are able to do anything!   We take a moment and bow before You Jesus.   We stop.   We turn back to You and we find hope.   It might just be a glimmer at first, but as we return, like the Prodigal, the light of Home becomes brighter as the Father’s arms open wider and we find Grace in the eyes of the One who calls us His own.   When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.*   Now, let’s go forward…through Jesus, by faith, with hope!   *”On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” hymn by Edward Mote.   **I heard this phrase “Jesus put skin and bones on and came to the planet” on an album of Judah Smith’s messages.  

Do you feel the tension that seems to permeate the air of this world lately? Things just feel heavy. Hearts are hurting. People are discouraged and dissatisfied. It seems as if this whole world is worn down from the struggles and it would be so very easy to just give in to the pull of weariness and discontent.

In the middle of the strife and struggles, we can start to feel overwhelmed, worn, and just plain weary. When these feelings come, and they linger far past their welcome, what can we do to keep our heads up? How do we remain hopeful when things just seem so difficult?

We might get angry and feel like being loud to drown out the noise of others or fighting back harder to win the war. We might get fearful, worried, and just want to withdraw and hide our heads in the sand to ignore the strife around us. Or maybe we don’t even know how we feel or how to respond, but we do know that we are called to be set apart and to shine as lights in the darkness of a weary and worn world. We are called to be the salt that seasons the bitterness around us and makes it a little more palatable. Because we know these things, we need a plan to stay in the battle when weariness starts to overcome us.

Maybe a good place to start is to look at someone else who was weary in the battle and see how they overcame it. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is facing a multitude that has come against him. He’s going to have to fight his enemies, however, when he seeks God’s battle plan, he sees that it is a little different than the one he might have been considering. Maybe like Jehoshaphat, God’s plan to overcome our battles looks a little different than ours. When Jehoshaphat took the fear, discontent, worry, and strife that he faced because of his battle to God, the Lord sent a message to him. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ESV says, “Do not be afraid or dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight this battle…Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” Those verses outline a battle plan that ultimately spells victory for the believer.

This is a truth God has been continually pressing into my heart lately. There is so much peace that floods my soul when I realize how much easier God’s battle plan is than the ones that I have been using. His plan is a plan that can breathe hope into our weariness.

5 Steps to Hope for The Battle Weary From 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

1. Don’t be afraid- Fear is such an instinctive response to trials. We allow ourselves to be afraid of what may or may not happen. We allow ourselves to fear how circumstances might turn out. We also allow ourselves to be scared that the battle may never be won. That is not what God calls us to. He tells us not to be afraid.

2. Don’t be dismayed- Discouragement plants deep seeds of bitterness that can grow into anger, depression, hate, or hurt. Discouragement can fool us into thinking that the battle isn’t worth fighting. It can make us want to give up. God wants us to keep hope, to trust in him, and to have faith.

3. Let God handle the battle- It is in our nature to struggle and fight for victory over the battles that we face or to try to avoid them by running and hiding from them. God calls us to seek Him continually and rest in the fact that He is not only working in our hearts and in our lives, but also our situations.

4. Stand firm and hold your position- We can get a little wobbly when the battles rages. The things going on all around us can seem to pull us in all directions and make us doubt our stance. God calls us to stand firm in His truth and to hold the position that He has called us to.

5. See the salvation of the Lord- God is at work in everything. The victory is His in the end. The fact that in the battles, He draws us closer to Him is proof that he is doing a good thing, even if the overall situation doesn’t look like it. God calls us to believe that, ultimately, He is working all things together for good.

Read the rest of the article and find even more encouragement at iBelieve.com by clicking the link below!

http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/5-steps-to-hope-for-the-battle-weary.html

Love and blessings, Bobbie Schaeperkoetter

It's become a bit of a tradition to choose a word for the New Year.  This word is supposed to be one specific word to focus on all year.  Honestly, I'm not big on this.  It feels a little like boxing myself in.  My mind goes one hundred miles an hour in a hundred different directions.  How on Earth do I choose just one word to represent all that I want to embody in a whole entire year?  That just seems plain impossible. Unless, of course, God writes that word on your heart countless times over the last several weeks.  It seems every time I turn around one word keeps being presented to me. GRACE Let me get a little wordy nerdy and define it for you.  According to Oxforddictionaries.com, one of the meanings of grace is "(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."  It's synonyms are:  goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, beneficence, and indulgence. That definition, that deep truth behind the meaning of grace, has lodged itself in the forefront of my thoughts for weeks.  It has taken up such real estate in my thoughts that I wake up at night pondering God's unmerited favor and his constant bestowal of blessings in my life. I've been thinking back to trials and struggles in my life and have been sifting through the evidence of God's grace through it all.  His goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, and indulgence is overwhelming.  Just focusing on finding the obvious ways that His grace has been present in every situation has caused a perspective shift in my heart and mind. Looking for grace is simply seeing glimpses of His little gifts, evidence of His love and favor, in everything.  Keeping my eyes open for it makes me humble and grateful.  It keeps me attentive to God's goodness and blessings.  Hunting for grace in each moment allows me to see the hand of God at work when I might otherwise miss it entirely. My blog has always purposed to talk about honoring God in the craziness of our lives.  I truly believe that no matter how messy, how chaotic, how absolutely crazy our lives get; we can choose to honor God by the way that we live it.  That's why my little tag line has always been "Honoring Him in the Craziness of Life". I still firmly believe that, but I'm adding on to that thought in 2017.  I'm narrowing my focus, or maybe broadening my view, depending on your thinking. In 2017, I'm choosing to honor him by looking for evidence of His grace in every moment of this crazy life that I've been given. This verse has been etched in my heart.  I'm making it my focus verse in this new year.  John 1:16 ESV says, "For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace." GRACE UPON GRACE What a beautiful truth!  I want to be more aware of His grace.  I'm going to search for evidence of His grace upon grace in every situation, in every moment, in all of the craziness of my life in 2017. If you would like to join me, my social media posts and blog will feature the hashtags #honoringhim and #graceupongrace in 2017.  When you see evidences of grace, use these hashtags and share it with me.  I'd love to see how you experience His grace upon grace this year! Love and blessings! Bobbie

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My heart aches this morning as I scroll through my news feed on Facebook.  So many people that I know and love are hurting.  I see so much heartbreak and pain and confusion.  I desperately long to hold tightly onto the shoulders of each person that is broken and look deeply into their eyes and tell them of the hope they have in Jesus.  He's the only thing that makes walking through the trials bearable.  He's the only constant and steadfast hope that I've ever found.  He's the only one that will never ever fail.

If I were with you right now and I knew that your heart ached for something better than this world can offer, that is just what I would do.  I would lovingly tell you that this world can be hard and God never promised that living in it would be easy.  I would tell you that although He doesn't offer you a life of ease, He does offer to make life a little easier by shouldering some of the burden for you as He walks with you through your trials.  He promises to be a comfort, a friend, and a constant companion to all who trust in Him.  He is good no matter the situation.  His love endures no matter where you are.

I would encourage you to turn to Him and to seek Him and I would do by very best to point you towards Him.

That desire spurred this prayer in my heart this morning.  I shared it with my Facebook small group and I felt led to share it here as well in the hopes that it might be a blessing to a hurting heart.

Love and blessings,

 Bobbie

31 DAYS OF CHANGE GROUP Day 26: Prayer: Father God, Help me to have a heart for your people. Give me eyes to see them as you do. You see the affliction of your people. You hear their cry and know their suffering. You feel the weight of their burdens and you long to redeem them. Your desire is that your children would know you, love you, trust you, turn to you, and be restored to you. You gave your only son, Jesus Christ, for that purpose. You love your children that much. Father, help me to look at my brothers and sisters, and all of the people of this world, and see them as you do. Fill me with love for people. Open my eyes to see those around me who are hurting. Break my heart for the broken. Give me a tenderness and a compassion for people, but Lord, I also pray that you would give me the ability to be a help and an encouragement to them. Fill my heart with prayer for them so that I can lift them to you. Let me be a witness of your saving grace, and of your love, compassion, and mercy. Help me to act as your hands and feet while I'm on this earth. Help me to be compassionate and merciful to others because you've been compassionate and merciful with me, Lord Jesus. I know that this world isn't an easy place to live. You never promised a life with our trials. In fact, your Word tells us that we go out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Yet, you still call us to walk in love. Give me discernment so that I can be as wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me a sensitivity to respond to its' stirring in me. Fill my heart with your love and my mouth with your words in the specific moments that I need them. Work through me to show your love to all that I encounter. In Jesus precious name, I ask these things. Amen. Bible Verses: Exodus 3:7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings. Exodus 6:5-7 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Psalm 55:17-18 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. James 5:11, 15, 19-20 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Matthew 10:16-20 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Discussion Question: How can we be more aware, sensitive, and compassionate to those who are hurting that God has placed in our lives

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My friends and I been putting in work each and every day this October over on my Facebook group called 31 Days of Change and it's been amazing!  I'm loving the community there and the way that we all encourage each other and can share and talk about how God is working in our lives this month.  What I'm loving the most, though, is the way that God has been working on me!   I'm learning so much as I study the scriptures and write the posts for each day. Today we talked about renewing our mind.  This is something that's always been a little bit of a challenge for me.  OK, it's been a BIG challenge for me! I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to my thought life because I'm driven far too much by my emotions, feelings, and the thought patterns of my past.  I let myself get trapped in that cycle way more than I'd like to admit.  Renewing my mind when it's stuck in that place is hard. I'm learning to trust what's God's word says about who He is, who I am in Him, and what I'm capable of as HIS beloved child. I was challenged by today's post and I hope you will be too.  Studying the verses for today and praying over them was powerful for me.  I'd like to encourage you to give it a read if you're at all like me in this area. Here is a little peek into what we are discussing over in the Facebook group. Change Is In The Air: 31 Days Of Change Day 21: Prayer: Father God, I am ready to put off my old self that was driven by my past, my feelings, my emotions, and my own desires. Renew my mind so that I can fully embrace the new identity that you've given me as your child. I want to be more Christlike. Set my mind on the things that are above and not on the things of the world. I don't want to be someone who is consumed by worldly thoughts and desires. I don't want to be conformed to this world. Lord, transform me by the renewing of my mind so that I'm more closely attuned to follow after your good and acceptable and perfect will. God, fill my mind with thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Help me to put aside thoughts that are selfish and self serving. Let them be replaced by thought of things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Those are the things I want consuming my thought life. Your Word says that you will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is focused on you and I believe that promise. You did not give me a spirit or a mind that is a slave to fear, shame, hurt, anger, bitterness, or worry. You adopted me and gave me a spirit and a mind full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. The moment I cried out to you and became your child, I became a new creation. The old things lost their grip on me in that moment. My thoughts and feelings don't have control over me. I submit my thought life to you, Lord. I don't want to be double minded and live a life focused on fulfilling my own selfish desires while claiming to follow after you. Father, renew my mind every time it turns from you. Help me to love you with all of my heart, with all of my soul, and with all of my mind. I ask this in Jesus' holy name. Amen Bible Verses: Ephesians 4:22-24 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Colossians 3:2-3 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Psalm 119:113 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. Matthew 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Discussion: Is your thought life surrendered to Jesus or do you still let the your feelings and emotions control you? How can we renew our mind every time we feel that familiar push of our past thought life creeping in?   If this hit home for you, you may enjoy joining one of my online small groups.  Be sure to like my Facebook page to see when there are more available! http://www.facebook.com/bobbieschae Love and blessings, Bobbie