I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that I am no longer who I once was.  I was recently reminded of this as I waited to board my flight at the airport.  I walked away from my husband in search of a piping hot cup of coffee and returned to find him chatting with a man at our gate. The man was an old high school acquaintance of ours.  I recognized him immediately even though it has been more years than I care to admit since we all went to high school together.  He looked exactly the same. It took him a little longer to recognize me.  The years have definitely changed me.  I don’t look much like I did in high school.  I’ve lost the pony tail, bangs, and cheerleading uniform that were so familiar back then.  My hair is cut short now and, thankfully, I don’t have to wear that cheerleading skirt anymore. After a brief time to catch up, we parted ways to catch our flight.  As the plane took off, so did my thoughts.  I began to think about just how different I am from that girl that I was in high school. The difference is actually pretty shocking.  The biggest changes, though, are probably not ones that my old high school acquaintance could even see during that short encounter.  Sure, my appearance has changed, but greater still is the change that has happened in my heart.  It is unrecognizably different. I’m reminded of Colossians 3:9-10 ESV that says …”seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” The next verses in Colossians say that after we’ve put off the old self, there are some things that we need to put on.  Colossians 3:12-17 ESV tells us that our new self wears the knowledge that he/she is holy and beloved.  The new self that we put on when Christ moves into our hearts changes us.  We become compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, forgiving, loving, peace filled, and thankful.  Verse 17 says that whatever we do in word or in deed we do in the name of the Lord Jesus. I’m glad that my old self has been put off.  She wasn’t always kind, humble, meek, patient, or forgiving.  She definitely didn’t have the love and peace of Christ in her heart because she didn’t even understand who He was.   That is the way we are before Christ intervenes. That moment we accepted Christ the old self died and the new self, with a new heart, was born.  Everything about us is changed in that instant that we believe in Jesus as our Savior. That doesn’t mean that our new self is perfect.  I’m going to be honest.  I don’t look like that high school cheerleader anymore, but I don’t look exactly like that person described in those verses from Colossians either.  Like most of us, I am learning to intentionally put on the new self each and every day that bears the image of my Savior.  Every day I look more and more like Him as I learn to love, follow, and obey Him.  He is constantly at work in me and He is constantly at work in you. This side of Heaven, none of us will be perfect.  But, we do have the promise of Philippians 1:6ESV that says that he who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.  As we continue to grow in Him, we will continue to look less and less like the old selves that we used to be. Honestly, I hardly recognize the girl that I use to be.  That is because I have been changed from the inside out.  I am a new person with a new heart.  I may not look like a cheerleader anymore, but I look a whole lot more like my Savior and I think that’s definitely progress in the right direction. *This article is featured in the June issue of Faith Filled Family Magazine as Out With The Old Man In With The New Creation You can read the article or see the whole magazine here: https://indd.adobe.com/view/befd5796-7daf-48ba-9a0e-2acdb904229e
"Reaching my hand into the dark soil, I could feel that the roots had gotten deep. I had to put my weight into the pull to unearth something I had spent weeks tending. I felt a little discouraged; I’d invested my time and attention into something that had proved to be working against the growth I was seeking the whole time. I also felt a little frustrated that I’d been so easily deceived." God is constantly teaching me valuable lessons through everyday life experiences.  I had the opportunity to share a particularly powerful lesson that I learned recently at iBelieve.com about recognizing spiritual weeds in my life. Pulling out that weed and the others like it that day in my garden caused a slew of thoughts to start circulating around my mind. As Christians, how many weeds have taken root in our lives? How many things have we poured our time and attention into that are choking out the Spiritual fruit we are trying to grow? How can we tell the difference between a weed and fruit when it is so easy to mistake one for the other? Am I watering weeds? Do you want to know how to recognize spiritual weeds in your life? Join me over at iBelieve.com by clicking the link below to read the full article! http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/how-to-recognize-spiritual-weeds-in-your-life.html Love and blessings, Bobbie
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

Sometimes doing wrong isn’t deliberate. Sometimes it is simply the lack of focus on doing right. At least that is usually the case for me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often set out to make a slew of bad choices, but occasionally (or often, depending on the week) I find myself in a place where I am standing, dumbstruck, wondering how I ended up in the situation that I am in. Does this just happen to me? I think it is safe to say that it probably doesn’t. I found the explanation for it this morning in my Bible reading in 2 Chronicles and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV says, “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” This verse is talking about Rehoboam, King of Judah, but it might as well have had my name in the text. Maybe yours could have fit there too? I think this is a truth that applies to all of us because we don’t typically end up in a mess because we plan to. We usually end up in our messes because we forgot to seek God in certain situations and followed our own way instead. We didn’t set our heart and our focus on staying on the right track so before we knew it, we were on the wrong one. Man that sounds super familiar! I can tell that I have gotten on the wrong in a few areas in my life lately. It reminds me of what I’m always saying to my boys. When they get a little out of control and are headed toward bad choices, I’m known to say, “Rein it in, boys!” They know that means to check their behavior. I can feel God telling me to “Rein it in, girl!” in a few areas in my life. 1. Being Content Way too often, I just forget to be content with what I have. Everything that I have, everything that I am, and everything that I do is a gift from God. It is evidence of his grace poured out in abundance in my life. In turn, I should be grateful for all he has given me. Instead, I’ve continued to strive for more instead of being content. I add more to my schedule. I add more to my closet. I add more into our budget. I add more into our lives and I often do it without even stopping for a second to consider God at all in those decisions. Here is a very embarrassing example. I felt like I really needed to declutter, simplify, and cut out the excess. The place I decided to start was in my closet. I love to shop. Like, I really love it. It is usually at thrift stores because I love a great bargain, but it has gotten a little out of control. My closet was prime evidence of that. I’m not even going to shame myself by admitting how much has amassed in my closet.      That isn’t good stewardship. It is excessive and wasteful and selfish. I need to reign in my desire for more and learn to be content with all that God has already blessed me with. I’ve really felt convicted this year to focus on the amazing grace that God has lavished on me in every situation and circumstance. If I’m focused on his gift of grace then being content and being thankful comes as a natural result of that. It has really helped me to see that I have all I need. 2. My Words and Attitude Here is another not so flattering truth I’m seeing about myself these days. I am not sweet and loving and kind by nature. I’m just not. I know this about myself. I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky. I’ve always just kind of chalked that up to my personality. I’m not mean and I am usually pretty funny, so it all balances out, right? I’m not so sure. God’s grace is so evident by the amazing people that he has lovingly put in my life. I’ve been feeling very convicted for my words and attitude to match my gratitude. I want to show just how blessed I feel to have these wonderful people in my world. I’m a work in progress. We all are, but I truly desire to do a better job of building up, encouraging, and loving. I want my words and attitude to reflect a heart overflowing with thanks for these gifts of grace. 3. My Time Oh man. At the risk of sounding like a total slacker, I will share this last area that I want to rein in. I’m turning into a recluse. I could easily stay in my house, in my pajamas, on the couch, with a good book for days. I don’t do that. Much. But I could. Very easily. I really enjoy being at home and homeschooling my boys, but without a real effort on staying involved with people and with the work God has called me to, I could very easily just keep my focus on what is right in front of me in my own home. I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t what God wants for me. I firmly believe He has called me into relationships, into community, and into works that He has chosen specifically for me at this time. My time isn’t mine to hoard and use in whatever way pleases me the most. It is a resource and a tool to do the work God has called me to and I want to be a better steward of the time God has blessed me with. Getting off track in these areas wasn’t deliberate. It was simply a lack of focus on seeking God and doing the right thing. I took my eyes off of God and put them on my own ways for a while and before I knew it, I felt God saying, “Rein it in, girl!” 2 Chronicles 12:14 was like a palm to the forehead. What a call to refocus and put God back at the front and center!  What a gift of grace that He allows us to see our messes for what they are and gives us opportunities to change them! Are there any areas where you feel God asking you to rein it in and put your focus back on him? I’d love to hear from you! Love and blessings, Bobbie