Psalm 95:7b-8a “…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” One thing that I am constantly trying to do is to listen to that still small voice that stirs my Spirit.  I’m trying to be attentive to its’ whispering.  I’m trying to keep a tender heart that is willing to obey. Do you want to hear a “true confession”?  Before I became a Christian, when I heard someone say something about the Holy Spirit, I thought they might be just a tad on the crazy side.  It all sounded a little too far-fetched for me.  Even early in my Christian life, I never fully understood the Holy Spirit because I leaned too heavily into the rules and the law.  They were black and white.  I could understand them easily and they left little room for interpretation.  Honestly, I was a little uncomfortable with the freedom the Spirit gave me.  I didn’t trust myself enough to let go of all of the rules and rely on the Holy Spirit. The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I’m learning to listen to, to appreciate, to trust, and to obey that still small voice that stirs my soul.  I’ve learned that it isn’t about trusting myself, but about trusting Him.  I’ve also learned that it is very easy to harden my heart because those little promptings of the Spirit nearly always push me outside of my comfort zone. My friend Jodi Snider at www.Overwhlemedwithgrace.com and I always tease that we are going to have t-shirts made that say: “Jesus always got me like 😳" I’m not sure I can even begin to count the number of times that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit asking me to do something that feels a little uncomfortable.  Writing is a good example.  It’s a little bit awkward to just type out your deepest thoughts about what Jesus is laying on your heart and throw it out into the world for anyone to see.  Leading groups, teaching breakout sessions, participating in ministry; they are all things that push me a bit outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned something, though.  Every time I obey the Spirit’s prompting, I am blessed.  The blessing may not always look like I expect it to, but listening to that still small voice helps me to trust, to press in to Jesus, to rely on Him instead of on myself, and it usually blesses me in an unexpected way. One example of that was this weekend.  I was teaching a breakout session at a women’s conference.  After my second session, I stood in the room as the women filtered out.  I chatted with them as they headed into the last session of the conference.  When the last woman left, I pulled out my phone to quickly check in with my family. After the call, I didn’t put away my phone.  I checked Facebook for a minute or two and then was going to log into Instagram when I heard that still small voice.  “You aren’t here to be on your phone.  You are here to build relationships.  Go out and talk to people.” Honestly, I would have rather just stayed in the quiet room for a few minutes.  I knew very few people at the conference and was content to stay tucked away for a little longer.  That’s not what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do, though. I put away my phone, grabbed by bag, took a deep breath, and headed out into the main area where everyone was browsing vendor tables, getting snacks, and socializing before the last session.  There were three ladies standing in a group talking and one stopped me to comment on my session.  That comment led into a discussion that lasted long enough that we missed nearly all of the closing session. We had a deep and much needed conversation for both of us.  We prayed together and had a time that really ministered to both of our hearts. I am a relationship person.  Quality time is a love language of mine and connecting with people in a meaningful way fills my heart. I would have missed that opportunity if I would have hardened my heart and been unwilling to get just a little uncomfortable.  I can tell you story after story like this one.  I could share how I met some of my dearest friends by obeying the Spirit’s prompting to reach out or be vulnerable.  I can tell you about time after time that He asked me to get a little uncomfortable and the result was a beautiful, unexpected blessing. Unfortunately, I can also tell you about time after time that I hardened my heart and was unwilling to step outside of my comfort zone.  I wonder how many opportunities have passed by or how many unexpected blessings I’ve missed because I didn’t listen to the Spirit’s prompting. Maybe you can relate?  Maybe you’ve felt your heart stirred or have heard that still small voice, but have been afraid to trust it and obey it?  Maybe getting a little uncomfortable isn’t always easy for you either? Will you join me today in praying for an attentive and tender heart that listens and responds when He speaks?  It’s worth it.  Obeying that still small voice is always so worth it.   Father God, Give me a heart that is attentive to your voice.  Keep my heart tender to the Holy Spirit’s stirrings. Help me to recognize your voice, to listen, and to obey. In Jesus’ name.  Amen   Love and blessings! Bobbie

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