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
  Honestly, I've never really paid much mind to the weeks of Advent.  I knew that in the liturgical calendar they celebrate the coming of Christmas, but aside from that and the recognition of The weeks of Advent at church, I haven't really given Advent much attention.  Maybe you're the same way? That's something that I'm changing this year.  It's so very easy to get caught up in the festive holiday spirit and put all of my focus into gifts, meals, parties, and family celebrations.  Those things are all wonderful things, however, if they are all that I'm focused on in the weeks leading up to Christmas, then I've missed the whole point! This year I am choosing to use the celebration of Advent as a time to focus on God's word, prayer, and a real celebration of the reason for the season - the birth of Jesus Christ.  I hope that you will join me.  Together we can really get to the heart of Christmas and truly appreciate the gift of our Lord and Savior. I had the wonderful privilege to write four Advent prayers for iBelieve.com.  There is one prayer per week with scripture reflections to dive into throughout that week.  I will be posting the prayers each week, and my hope is that you will choose to follow along with me. Let's not miss it this year.  Pray along with me.  Dig into the scripture with me.  Click the image above or copy and paste the link to your browser and let's get to the heart of Christmas together! http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/advent-prayers-week-one-the-hope-of-advent.html Love and blessings, Bobbie    
Have you ever felt like you didn't quite fit the mold?  Have you ever felt like you didn't fit in?  I had the wonderful opportunity to share at iBelieve.com about how I've felt that way and what I've learned about being a part of the body of Christ. Read more at iBelieve article
2016-04-20 07.21.00.png I'm a work in progress.  God is continually refining me and I'm grateful for that.  I love that He is working on me, pruning me, and helping me to grow.  I don't know about you, but it seems like, for me,  one of the areas that requires the most refinement is parenting.  Being a mom is a  challenging job.  It requires us to be selfless, patient, loving, generous, tender, and all of those other wonderful qualities that seem to go against all that is natural in us.  For me, there has been a learning curve with this.  My boys are 13 and 9.  I was kind of hoping I'd have it all together by now.  I don't.  I love my kids and they know this, but I also make some mistakes parenting.  My kids know this too.  We are on a journey together and they know that we are all growing and learning through the process.  Tonight I learned some things and I thought just maybe someone else might find them meaningful too. These lessons came after a rough start to our bedtime routine.  (Please tell me you've been there and that this doesn't only happen in our home.)  It was going so well, and then, all of a sudden, it wasn't.  Meltdowns ensued.  Consequences and corrective conversations had to happen.  The correction wasn't really very sweetly given and even less sweetly received.  Earlier in the evening, the boys had asked to sleep in my room, but I had taken away that privilege as a consequence of the craziness that we had all just participated in.  Tears were shed.  By the time I had both kids in bed, we were all a little frazzled. I was frustrated and worn, but was trying to bring a little peace back into our night before we all went to sleep.  I asked the boys to sit beside me in Gavin's bed, and I reminded them that today had been a little rough and we needed to all work a little harder at being loving and respectful tomorrow.  I pointed out some of the areas that we struggled with throughout the day and mentioned that we all should try to do a little better tomorrow.  The list wasn't a short one.  It hadn't been our very best day and I wanted to use this as a teaching opportunity so that we could all improve in the areas that were problematic for us.  I wanted to drive this lesson home so that it stuck because I wanted tomorrow to be better for all of us. My tender-hearted and wise-beyond-his-years 9 year old stopped me and said something that has been on my mind ever since.  He looked at me with very sad eyes and said, "Mommy, really, it has been a pretty good day.  There was way more good than bad. Right?" You know what?  He was right. It actually had been a pretty good day.  It wasn't perfect, there was way more good than bad.  However, in my frustration, I was focused on all the bad moments that had happened.  Not only that, I made sure we were all focusing on them.  I was wrapping up a pretty good day together by dwelling on all of our mistakes. Don't we all tend to do that sometimes?  We forget about the day's blessings because we let ourselves be consumed with the frustration of the moment. I am all for looking at the areas we struggle in and finding ways to improve in those areas.  We all need to do that from time to time.  It is an important part of the growth process, but there is also a lot to be said for extending a little grace and mercy sometimes too.  God does that for us so often.  I am afraid that I don't do it nearly as often.  I thought of the verse that I had read earlier that morning in Romans 2:4b that says that God's kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.  Maybe a little kindness sprinkled in with my correction would do more to encourage a repentant heart in my kids than my list of wrong doings.  Hmmmm, God, are you trying to tell me something? I finished tucking in my boys and then jumped into the shower to just physically and literally wash away the day.  Some of my best thinking happens in the shower, and tonight wasn't an exception.  I couldn't get Gavin's words out of my mind.  I was reminded of my tendency to look at the frustrating moments and forget the bigger picture.  I was also reminded of God's mercy and grace, and especially His kindness.  I thought about the times my heart was most often turned toward repentance, and I saw that it was most often due to His kindness.  He doesn't throw my mistakes back in my face and make me confront them over and over again.  When I've asked for forgiveness and owned my failures, He forgets them and loves me like they never happened.  He's way better to me than I deserve.  He is so patient and longsuffering with me. I finished my shower and went back into my kids' rooms.  It was obvious that both boys were having a hard time falling asleep after the emotional evening.  I told the boys what the Holy Spirit had pressed upon my heart.  I told them that most often, when we need God's kindness the most is when we deserve it the least.  We had obviously had a rough night, but what we all needed was a little grace, love, mercy, and some kindness. So, here I sit, typing away.  I've got one boy curled into his sleeping bag on the right side of my bed.  The other is sprawled across the top of his sleeping bag at the foot of my bed.  My heart is full as I reflect on the pretty good day that we had.  We definitely had a few hard moments, but, those few hard moments allowed us all to be reminded of the grace, love, and mercy that is always there waiting for us.  Those moments reminded me of God's continual kindness that draws me to repentance.  Those moments, the words of my sweet boy, and the Holy Spirit,  taught me a lesson tonight that I hope sticks with me for a long while. Love and blessings, Bobbie