God’s Healing Hand On a Wounded Heart

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I kneel at your feet

Head resting in my hands

Tears of pain flowing without restraint

 

My soul, battered, is without hope

My dreams of love and acceptance gone

Success, I’m unable to define

 

You let me cry, uninterrupted

Knowing I must taste the bitterness of pain

And acknowledge its vise like grip on my heart

 

Slowly I sit and lift my hands up to you

“Take my battered heart, oh Lord

It feels constricted and small from the wounds

 

Like a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball

No longer resembling its original purpose

Rendered of little value or use.”

 

Your strong hands encompass mine

Comforting and warm

Applying pressure without pain

 

My wounded heart beats a little faster

With a rhythm I’m unfamiliar with

Steady, strong, sure, secure

 

A healing balm of forgiveness and acceptance

Is  massaged into my heart

A spark of hope glows deep within

 

The Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life

Into my heart, mind and body

Smoothing out the crumpled edges of my life

 

Lord God Almighty, you are the great healer

Of wounded hearts and messed up lives

Restoring hope and purpose to those who love you

 

To God be all glory and praise.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Below are the lines from a chorus in Jeremy Camp’s Healing Hand of God and a link to his video. Enjoy this beautiful song.

I have seen, The healing hand of God, Reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, And hold on to what’s being held out. The healing hand of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-aE7zQTeEg

A Darkened Path

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Shifting sands, shifting sands hide a once known path
What once seemed all so certain is lost in grains of sand
Changing times, changing ways, announce a path unknown
Fear and darkness blind the eyes where God’s light once was shown.

Trying hard to fight the change; can’t things just stay the same
O to stop the madness, the shifting, and the maze
I want to know that everything is going to be okay
Why can’t you tell me God; why can’t I stop this change?

Why do You ask so much from me, to walk out this deep darkness
For I am merely human and need to know the outcomes
I can’t tell my own feelings from Your dear, still, small voice
O help me hear You clearly, so my heart may rejoice!

O how I hate the trials, O how I loathe to change
I wish that I could learn without the fire and the flame
But I have learned, its in Your love, that You allow the fire
To change me Lord, to make me new, to be what You require.

O look on me with mercy, though I’m a broken vessel
I need Your grace to fill me up so my soul can be settled
Help me to get out of Your way so Your plan can unfold
For You have never failed me yet, so I give You control!

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

God Controls the Course of World Events

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Fellow believers, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or undecided may I offer you hope through God’s word.  Daniel 2:21 says, “He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.”  The outcome of this election is in God’s hands, not ours.  Pray for our country, vote, then lay your anxieties down at the feet of God believing He is in control. 

This election has been particularly hostile; passions and beliefs are running hot on both sides of the aisle.  I’ve heard believers say “how can you believe in God and hold that political point of view?”  Comments like this are earnestly spoken by believers in both major parties; their convictions are strong.  May I ask, should we be treating each other that way? Questioning one’s belief in God because of their political views is harsh. 

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul addresses the Corinthian church because of a schism between Christians who passionately believe one teacher is superior to the other.  Paul cuts through all the dogma by asking a few thoughtful questions.  “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”  Paul’s point was clearly made; we’re followers of Jesus, not man.  Our faith is in Christ Jesus not our leaders.

I believe the current presidential election has divided some believers.  I believe the outcome could bring about hostilities between Democratic and Republican believers. Whether Hillary or Donald wins, God is in control and he is neither Democrat or Republican.  There is room enough in The House of God for differing political beliefs.  We are members of the family of God and shouldn’t allow human leaders and our political views divide us.  We must seek God first, give grace to fellow believers and pray for our leaders.

Christian, remember the world is watching us and will judge us harshly if we turn against each other.  Extend grace to those whose political beliefs differ from yours; after all, we’re all voting according to our consciences desiring the best for our country.  When the presidential race is over, accept the outcome with God’s grace and continue praying for our leaders and our country.  Then, if you’re still upset get involved instead of bad mouthing the new leaders.  Be a voice of reason and positive action.  Reflect God’s principles.

God Bless America,

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Are You There God?

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Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my breaking heart?

Do you care God, that my strength is gone?

My body and mind are numb.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my parents, ravaged with dementia?

Drooling and muttering, not knowing my name.

I no longer exist to them.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my friend lost in mental illness?

Homeless, clueless, mad at the world

Unable to make decisions for his own best interest.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Diligently I work, giving my all

While others refuse to contribute

Then take credit for the results as their own.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

My loved one is addicted and lives in denial

It’s always someone else’s fault

They’ve mastered the art of victimhood.

 

Are you there God, Listening to my prayer?

The world is crazy, out of control.

Good is called evil and evil good.

Those who speak truth are shunned.

Those who speak lies are called leaders.

 

I cry out to God, my heart is breaking.

God, do you hear my prayer?

Are you aware of my loved ones pain?

Please show me that you are there.

 

God answers in His word

Yes, I am here

I am near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.

I will wipe away every tear from your eye.

 

I am your fortress and high tower

I will wrap my wings for protection around you

My power is made perfect in weakness

I will never leave you nor forsake you

 

I will renew your strength.

You will soar on wings like eagles;

You will run and not grow weary,

You will walk and not be faint.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in trouble.

Even in darkness my light shines.

Yes, I am with you.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Made You…You

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Know you have a purpose, that God designed you for
Each trait and quirky detail that makes you who you are
He molded you with intent, designed you through and through
So never doubt the Potter’s work; see yourself through His view.

Our holy God decided, to make you like you are
There’s no mistake, you’re wonderful; a glorious shining star
Care not for the world’s values, the world knows not the truth
Embrace what God created; for you are not a fluke.

God gave us gifts and talents, entrusted for good use
To grow and nurture every day, so God’s plan can be loosed
No matter if they’re great or small, use them for His glory
Don’t discount what God’s given you, for He wrote your life story.

The devil wants to ravage, what God designed in us
He works to twist God’s perfect plan with lies that mar and crush
He takes life’s hurt and trials, to warp us through and through
He takes a hurtful word, and convinces us it’s true.

He even says we’re worthless; why would we even try
And then says selfishness is good; all means are justified
But we are vessels formed with love; designed before our birth
It’s satan lies that misalign, what God himself brought forth.

So recognize the devil’s goal is to make you crumble
And when he throws his poison darts; stand, don’t fall or stumble
Don’t believe the devil’s lies that steal and foster shame
For God made you with great intent, so break all satan’s chains.

Know you have authority to bruise the devil’s head
To walk upon his every lie, to become all God’s planned
God loves you and he made you, just the way you are
Fall on your knees and seek His face, he’ll melt away your scars.

God has a plan for each of us, even though we’ve failed
And as we humbly yield to Him, with new wings we shall sail
What satan used for evil, our God will use for gain
O Praise the Lord, we are set free, exalt the His holy name.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Psalms 139:   13,14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Fear Not; He is With You!

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The going was good, as they crossed Galilee
But as Jesus slept a squall come on the lee
The boat heaved and shook and was taking on water
The men cried in fear and thought they would falter
They wondered why Jesus didn’t care if they drowned
How could He just sleep while a storm raged around?

They finally woke Jesus and said “don’t you care
We’re going to drown in this storm: death is near”
He rose from His bed and said “Where is your faith”
And spoke to the storm and rebuked all the waves
The storm calmed that instant, His men stood amazed
They wondered and pondered His power that day.

That old fishing boat, would never have perished
And though things looked dark, the Lord God was present
But human anxiety, fear, and despair
Blinded their eyes to their Lord who was there
He calmed their storm, to grow them in faith
And to help them fear not, in storms and in waves.

When trouble rages all around and darkness hides your way
It may seem like the Lords asleep, but know that He’s awake
He knew your storm would happen, He knew the wind would rage
He knows just how He’ll bring you through, so rest, believe, and pray
Show Him that you trust Him, you are his chosen child
And praise His name, the King of Kings, He’s our Emmanuel.

Emmanuel: God with us
Matthew 8:24-32

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Fear, Don’t Let It Stop You

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We stood on top of Hog’s Back, an intermediate ski run at Stevens Pass, looking down at the mogul strewn and rather steep hill.  The night air was cold and crisp against my cheeks, thick with the spicy fragrance of pine and fir trees and fresh snow.  I sucked in the rich night air, holding it deep within my lungs for a moment or two, enjoying the sensation, then released it back to the mountain.  The ski slope was painted with lights and shadows cast from the powerful lights sitting high atop thick sturdy metal poles.  Skiers and boarders were swishing back and forth across the mountain, rhythmically moving to the sounds of nature.

I looked down at Sam, my eight year old, standing next to me, also deep in thought about our surroundings.  We watch as Jackson, his younger brother, and Dad headed fearlessly down the hill swishing back and forth.  I looked at the shiny helmet on top of Sam’s eight year brain and I know what he’s thinking. “What if I’ve forgotten how to ski down big hills?  What if I break my arm or leg?  What if I fall?  What if I fall and cry?  What if I fall, break a leg and arm, and die?  Is this really a safe and smart thing for me to do?”  Yep, that’s what was going on in that head, I knew it, but needed to ask anyway.  “Sam, are you ready to head down the hill?” I ask with a big confident smile on my face. “NO, I want to go back to Daisy chair … I’m not comfortable with this hill, it’s too steep … I want to go down another way” was his answer in a voice that started calm but grew in agitation as he spoke.

This was our first ski run of the season and we were ready to conquer the hill.  Well, almost ready.  We had skied the beginner’s chair several times to regain our rhythm and balance after the long break between ski seasons.  Sam was eager but cautious about reintroducing his body to the sensation of gliding over the snow on two highly waxed boards.  He’d been skiing since he was five and was quite a competent skier.  However, at the beginning of each season it took him a while to once again believe in the skill that he already possessed.  So, I reminded him about how he had skied this very slope many times last year and did well, he’d even raced Jackson down it once.  I reminded him that he already possessed the ability and skill; he just needed to trust his knowledge and body.

There he stood, a pint sized Michelin Tire Man in his grey down coat and thick ski pants determined to be immovable.  I knew he wanted to be like his older brother Ryan who talked about ski jumps and racing down the slopes with friends; or to be like Jackson who pointed his board downhill seemingly  never contemplating  the “what ifs” and when he fell, just laughed and got up.  But Sam’s mind didn’t work that way, it dwelled in the “what ifs” constantly asking question that were too deep and probing for a child.

So, we stood at the top of Hog’s Back, surrounded by the beauty of nature and fast moving skiers, discussing the importance of not letting fear stop you from doing what you know you can.  Sam knew he had the skill to ski down the hill; it was fear stopping him, not ability.  We talked about how fear can hinder someone from growing in character and skill, if they let it.  Finally Sam took off down the hill, slowly, cautiously, but he was moving.   Frequently he would stop, give me a squinty eyed look of disapproval and say something like “this is going to kill me” or “why are you making me do this”?  But, with slow progress we made it down the slope where he promptly asked for a cup of hot chocolate.  After a little rest we went back to Hog’s Back and Sam skied the same slope with more confidence, believing in the skill that he already possessed.

Many times over the years Sam and I have talked about how fear and insecurity can immobilize us from doing what we should or want to do.  We have talked about fear in relation to learning math and writing; in regard to school, friends, football, skiing and faith in God.  Fear is an issue that has resurfaced over and over again and each time Sam and I try to talk and pray through it.

Like Sam, I’ve had a life long struggle with fear and insecurity, so I’m able to understand how real and immobilizing fear can be.  Recently, the table was turned and Sam was the one giving me the “don’t let fear stop you, pep talk.”   A little while ago my husband and I decided it was time for me to reenter the workforce after many years of staying at home.  I spent a few months perusing Craigslist and other job boards, filling out application and writing cover letters.  Finally, I landed a job and felt so relieved at having the whole job hunting process over.  However, as I started the new job I realized how rusty my skills were and that I had a lot of catching up to do to be competitive.

I came home from work one afternoon a few weeks after I started my new job exhausted and rather than going into the house I sat on the front porch and let the warm afternoon sun sooth my up-tight muscles.  Adjusting to working full time was challenging, but it was the feeling of inadequacy about my skills and ability to perform my job that really had me down.  While I sat there Sam came out of the house and asked how I was doing.  My answer was surprisingly honest, I said “I just don’t know, I’m a little overwhelmed right now, maybe it’s not the right job, maybe I should quite.”  Well, someone could have cued the music because Sam gave me my speech about not allowing fear to keep us from our goals; how fear can make us doubt the talents we have and even prevent us from using them.  I smiled at my son and said “thanks, I needed that.”

Fear and its partner insecurity can immobilize us.  They can keep us from using and refining our talents.  They can hold us back from success.  They can prevent us from spiritual and emotional growth.  They can keep us from healthy relationships and keep us in unhealthy ones.  Fear and insecurity can keep us from stepping out in faith.  But with God’s help we can stand strong and face our fears and insecurities. Below are two of my favorite verses that help me move forward when fear and insecurity threaten to stop my progress in any area.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

Psalm 27: 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

God’s Great Symphony

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The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Remembering God’s Greatness

God is real

Over the last year or so, an uncomfortable and difficult question had been circling in Toby’s mind “Was God who they say He is?” This question inevitably led to another question; “did Toby still believe in God?” With life pressing in from all corners and disappointment in fellow Christians growing, Toby needed time to think so he drove to the beach and parked his car in the deserted parking lot. Lost in thought he stared out the rain streaked windshield.

As a child in Sunday school he’d learned about God’s greatness, His creative power; omnipresence. God was the one and only, all-powerful and loving creator. As an adult he had faithfully attended church with his wife and children, but over the years his belief in God had been chipped away by disappointment in humans, in the church, and with the evil they created.

“Who was God really”, he asked himself. If God was real, why did He love mankind? Why would he let imperfect man represent him? Why would he let imperfect man use His name as a surname, Christian, when every one of them was sinful? Toby thought that if he was God, he’d leave humans to destroy themselves with their greed, jealousy, prejudice, abuse and start over with an improved race. More difficult questions came to Toby.  “If God was real why didn’t he strike dead the rapist, pedophile, vicious dictator, and murderer? If He was real why didn’t he punish the religiously abusive minister, teacher, parent?”  Toby’s life was filled with Christians who claimed to be God honoring but lived in contradiction to that claim.

Toby’s mind was so muddled with confusion that it hurt. “God, who are you?” he said in frustration. “Are you really present in this world, seeing all the evil that happens daily?” Toby watched the white caps in silence; his mind seemingly blank for a moment or two.

In the quiet of his mind a Bible verse he learned in Sunday school come back to him. Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Toby thought about this verse for a few moments; maybe those claiming to honor God but deliberately abusing others do suffer judgment. Judgment accompanied by the natural consequences of their decisions. Toby found comfort in this knowledge. He remembered another verse, Proverbs 16:2, All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Toby thought about all the times he’d justified his own bad behavior then considered the many times the motivation of his heart had been unjustly judged by others. God knew the truth in all these situations, this fact was oddly comforting to Toby.

“God, why not stop the abuser before they have the chance to hurt someone?” Toby asked. But he knew the answer; Free Will. What a mystery Free Will was because it allows for sin, but hopes for obedience. Free Will, each person not only has the right to choose to believe in God or not, but actually must decide which way they believe at some point in their lives. Because of Free Will, each day a person decides how to think and behave. God wants our love but gives every person the freedom to choose to not love and believe in him; amazing. Toby’s spirit still felt heavy, he was so disappointed in mankind. Then another Bible verse came to him. 1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God looks at the heart and Toby looked mostly at the actions. Can a heart with good intentions hurt others? Toby knew the answer; Yes.

Toby started thinking about the nature of God. While thinking about God he realized that over the last few years he’d spent too much emotional energy and time thinking about how other humans had disappointed him, hurt him, and hurt others. He had focused on sinful man and not on the Holiness of God; this thinking had depressed him and caused him to lose hope. Numbers 23:19 said, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? What a comfort it was for Toby to meditate on the holiness of God and not the sinfulness of man. “I Choose to believe in you God, please help me understand these things that trouble my soul.”

One more verse came to Toby, Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing,” “God please quiet my troubled mind with your love; please be with me Lord.” Toby prayed, “Please help me stay focused on you and not on mankind for you are The Holy God and we are imperfect humans in need of your love.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Let Go! And He will Give You rest

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When I seek His presence, a peace comes over me
When resting in His shadow, I’m new and I am free
Oh to walk so closely with my Great and Mighty God
Protected in His mercy; engulfed within His love.

When I’m walking closely, with heart and soul laid bare
When I’m clay within His hands, I soar where eagles dare
When I lay down everything that my heart holds so dear
The presence of His spirit falls and makes my vision clear.

When I walk within His path; and hear His still, small voice
The peace of God floods over me and uproots every doubt
When I know that He knows best and rest within that truth
My pride-filled heart melts away; with mind and soul renewed.

When I lay down selfish gain and let God lead my way
Trusting Him with outcomes and all I lose or gain
His presence overwhelms me and I am not afraid
He makes my life a symphony; a poet’s best refrain.

So why does my heart wander, distracted by life’s cares
Holding on to burdens that cover me in fear
And why does pain and trouble, make me forget my God
Why do I strain against His Yoke and act like I am God?

Why do I let pride rise up strong and rule my wicked heart
Why do I think my needs come first, self-centered in my life
Why do I forget that You, always know what’s best
That when I let You lead my way… I overcome each test.

O God please give me eyes that see when my heart turns to stone
Give my mind understanding; a heart for You alone
Give me ears to hear Your truth and shut my ears to lies
That I might have discernment and from my ashes rise!

We praise You in the darkness, we praise You in the light
We trust You Holy Savior, with hearts and souls contrite
Blessing, honor, glory, and power to Your name
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords; Its You alone we praise!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Importance of Being Grateful

                    cross in sunset

Pam sat in the small auditorium eagerly waiting to hear the main speaker at the church’s women’s retreat.  The theme of the retreat was “Living a Grateful Life” and she desperately wanted help in understanding how to live daily with a grateful attitude.  Somehow over the last several years her attitude toward life in general and her family specifically had become negative.  Pam knew her negative attitude was damaging her most precious relationships and that it wasn’t honoring God.  With her whole heart she desired to change, but it was difficult establishing a new way of thinking.

The speaker began. “Lately I’ve been thinking about how important the act of being grateful is and how it can effect our everyday lives.  Learning to live a grateful life is such an important goal that when I type “being grateful” into the Amazon search box the results show 22,226 titles concerning this topic.  The Bible has more than 68 verses that specifically address being grateful or thankful to God for and in all our circumstances.   Pam thought, “68 verses!  I didn’t realize how important being grateful was to God.” 

The speaker continued.  “Why is it important to God that we Christians discipline ourselves in having a grateful spirit?  I think it’s because the act of being thankful focuses our minds on God, and His faithful hand of provision.  It puts the emphases on God and diminishes the frustration of our daily trials.  Practicing a grateful attitude helps us see and appreciate the many blessings God has given us, even when the blessings turn into momentary trials. ”Pam identified with this last statement; so many things she’d once considered a blessing had become trials in her life.

The speaker went on.  “A grateful attitude is a powerful attitude because it can change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern, and interaction with others.  A grateful attitude increases our energy and inspires those around us.  A grateful attitude will help keep us mindful of the fact that we are blessed by God and he loves us mightily.  A grateful attitude may not change our situation or circumstances, but it will help give us strength while going through them and make our days much more enjoyable.”  Pam wanted to be grateful; she wanted to be a blessing to others.

Next the speaker addressed the damaging effects of a negative attitude.  “On the other hand a negative attitude will have the opposite effect.  It will drain our energy, change our body language, tone of voice, thought pattern, and interaction with others, for the worse.  And it will discourage those around you.  A negative attitude will hinder our prayer life and Bible reading.  That’s why as Christians it’s imperative that we discipline ourselves daily to have a grateful attitude.”  Pam felt like the speaker was describing her and felt deep pain within her spirit.  She prayed for God’s forgiveness.

Concluding, the speaker addressed specifically how a God honoring attitude of gratefulness impacts the family.  “Sometimes our greatest blessings can also be our greatest struggles.  For example our families are indeed a great blessing.  However, when our husband’s idiosyncrasies start bugging us or when the children are whining, fighting, and generally driving us crazy, they can feel more like a curse than a blessing. This is when we need to practice the discipline of being grateful instead of giving in to negative thoughts about our loved ones.  If we allow that initial negative thought to take root in our minds, it can quickly grow and before long our annoyance with a few little quirks becomes the filter through which we see our spouses or children.  That’s why we need to discipline our minds to be thankful to God for the many blessings He has given us including our families instead of dwelling on our irritation with them.  When we choose to do this it will bring our negative thoughts into captivity and release ourselves to love as God has instructed us to love.”

That’s what Pam wanted, to honor God by disciplining her mind to be grateful, enabling her to love as God intended.  The speaker passed out a list of Bible verses about gratefulness, Pam read them and determined to use them as her daily guide to disciplining her mind to be grateful daily.

Psalm 100: 1-5 (A Psalm for giving thanks.)  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 

 Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Philippians 4:6   do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippian 4:8   Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

God’s With Us In The Storm

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Do you feel like you’re alone,
Adrift without a rudder?
Where is God, the heart cries out,
What happened to His favor?
Why do I feel abandoned,
Sinking in the waves?
Where is the light at tunnels end,
Where is Your hand that saves?

Though the storm is at its height,
Though all you see is darkness.
Know that God is there with you,
You need not be frightened.
Fear not my child, comes His great voice,
Know that My ways are perfect.
You’re not alone, I’m by your side
Even when I’m silent.

There is nothing on this Earth,
That severs us from God.
Not height nor depth nor powers great,
Can take away His love.
If God be for us, then who can say,
That anything’s against us?
For even in the darkest trial,
We’re sheltered in His love.

Trust and wait, submit your heart,
This pain will work for good.
Rest in His arms, know He knows best,
His peace will blanket you.
We can’t control outcomes of life,
We scarcely control ourselves,
So stand and walk; give God your best,
And you shall pass this test.

God loves you; God loves you,
Know that it’s true, He hasn’t left your side.
He puts us in the fire
To change us through and through
The fire burns away our chaff,
It will make us strong.
Refined and pure, washed in His blood,
To shine forever more.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Hold On To God’s Promises

                       Victory

My desire is for God to use me. My heart longs to make the right decisions that honor Him. I want to love humanity like Jesus does and to forgive easily. That is my aspiration. However, I keep getting in the way of God’s work. I keep messing up. Sometimes my mess-ups are just between God and I, other times they’re visible to many. Either way, my heart is saddened by my failure. Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever wondered, “how can God use a screw-up like me?” I have. After all, we know our flaws; the nasty thoughts, careless words, selfish demands that reflect how imperfect we are. How many times have we ignored the Spirit’s nudging to reach out and be vulnerable to someone in need? Or allowed our insecurities to hold us back from opportunities placed before us. Oh, the guilt and self-doubt that grows in our minds because we know the truth about ourselves; we are imperfect, deeply flawed creatures.

This leads us back to the question, “how can God use a flawed person like me?” The answer is found in the lives of our biblical heroes whom God loved, used, and blessed. When feeling unworthy remember that Moses had a short fuse, was insecure, and murdered a man. David was too young, killed a man and had an affair. Sarah could be impatient, temperamental, conniving, pouty, jealous, and a complainer. Yet, God used them to do amazing work and He will use you too.

Does this make you feel better? It should. God loves you and has work for you to do just like Moses, David and Sarah. The work He has for you may not end up in history books, but it is important. We may never know the ripples that spread from encouraging one person; or from making a difficult but right decision. Each day we leave a mark on the world constructed from our choices and behaviors and when we follow God’s precepts the mark we leave will be a positive one.

The other part of being used by God is walking in victory. We know there’s victory in the lord, the Bible makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments.  Yet, many of us struggle to live in victory because we focus on our failures and short comings instead of God’s grace and forgiveness. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Each new day He offers us forgiveness and hope even when we’ve blown it the day before. He also promises to strengthen us and make us victorious. 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world; our faith.” And 1 Corinthians 15:57 reminds us,  “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Embrace this victory! When self-doubt and defeated, negative thoughts dominate your day and prevent you from moving forward in Christ; claim victory in the name of Jesus and recite these verses over and over until you know in your heart Christ is with you, giving you victory in all situations. Isaiah 41:10So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Rise Today and Praise His Name

FORTRESS

I’m fighting hard for daylight my heart is filled with fear,
I’m begging for the answer that my heart wants to hear.
Why has this trial happened, did I do something wrong?
Or has God just allowed this, to change me in this storm?

Its true God sees inside our heart and knows what we long for,
And He does love to answer prayer from a humble heart.
But sometimes He has work to do to change and make us better,
And in the trial we’re refined; our chaff burned in the fire.

Oh what a God that loves us so, that sees each ones potential,
He’s calling us to grow and change into a shining vessel.
Just like a loving parent whose discipline brings pain,
To teach their beloved child, to find a better way.

Oh what a peace that’s offered when we lay down our way,
Oh what a joy that floods the soul, when we trust God each day.
When we love the Giver, far more than all His gifts
Then no matter what we walk through, our hearts and souls will lift.

Oh praise Him in the roaring fire and in the raging storm,
Walk upon the towering waves and know you’re in His arms.
Let go of what encumbers, the chains that bind so tight,
And rise today to praise His name, He turns the dark to light!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God in the Sunrise a Morning Praise

God in the morning

 

A sliver of light on the horizon emerges

Bringing salvation from the darkness.

The rising sun claims victory over the night

Restoring hope to all creatures.

Birds sing praises for a new day

Hope rises in worship to God.

Flowers moist with dew open

God’s word erupts from within.

Spicy rich fragrances fill the air

God’s presence is sweet, perceptible.

Cool grass caresses my feet

God’s Word leads me and gives me strength.

God’s majesty glows in the sunrise

All creatures stand in awe of Him.

A new day dawns to reveal His glory;

God, most high you are worthy of praise!

Debora Shelford Hobbs

My Child; Come Forth!

free

Call forth Your people, into their true purpose
Out of the tomb and the grave clothes that bind us
Strip off the chains that have taken us captive
Set free our purpose to blossom and practice.

Sometimes it’s comfortably safe in the tomb
Where no one can hurt us and failure can’t loom
But each life’s important to God’s perfect plan
And failure to launch is what Satan demands.

Life’s pressures and hurts have blinded our eyes
They’ve robbed us of purpose and bound us in lies
But God has a plan for you and for me
To unbridle our gifts and set our talents free.

Gifts aren’t just arts, or teaching, or leading
But also of serving, hospitality, and giving
Together we form an ornate tapestry
That blesses our God and proclaims His majesty!

Lazarus was done; he’d been buried for days
It seemed all was lost and there was no way
But God’s mighty power called him out of the grave
To start life again, to be new; to be saved!

Out of the tomb, our mighty God calls us
He say’s “Child come forth, be free from the darkness!”
Strip off the grave clothes and soar like a bird
Become what I made you and no longer fear!

Embrace who God’s made you; you’re His great creation
Blossom and grow in your purpose and station
Do all that you do, as unto our Lord
Not for worldly approval that will come and go.

Bless Your name Father, our Creator, our Lord
Its You, Mighty God that we will adore
May we be a fragrance of blessing to You
As we use what You give us, with hearts humble and true.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Interesting Thing about Grace

grateful heart

Grace: Unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.  A virtue coming from God.  A state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.  Approval, favor, mercy, pardon, disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.

I love God’s grace.  I like cuddling up to the knowledge that He loves me; accepts my sinful imperfect self while giving me undeserved forgiveness, unconditionally.  In God’s grace I find stability and security because there isn’t anything I can do that will separate me from the love of God.  If I disappoint Him, He won’t leave me, or hate me, or ignore me for a period of time.  God’s grace and love are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

By God’s design, humans are grace seekers.  We spend tremendous energy looking for love and in that love we desire grace.  Grace that allows us to be ourselves quirks and all, and that will forgive us when we make a mistake.  How many songs have been written about searching for love; a love that will accept us for who we are and forgive our faults; a love undeserved? 

Of course, there are many people who believe they have found true love and are overcome by the knowledge that someone accepts them completely.  However, the honeymoon always ends and the unconditional lover becomes annoyed with our quirks and eventually finds it hard to forgive our misdoings.  Quickly, the notion of unconditional love fades away.  But God’s grace and love do not fade away; they are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When we accept God’s grace and start to comprehend the spiritual depth of it, we become grateful, and grateful people are happy people.   As we grow in God’s grace we realize that it isn’t a one way street; those who receive God’s grace are compelled to humbly give grace to others.  Sometimes this means we must lay down our righteous judgment or individual rights.  This can be tough, but the reward is great.

Grace and Forgiveness are separate entities but it’s almost impossible to give one without the other.  To me, grace and forgiveness are related to each other much like inhaling and exhaling.  They are separate acts but one can’t be done without the other.  If you inhale without exhaling you will faint and the same is true if you try to exhale without inhaling.  And this is where God’s grace gets interesting.  Because God gives his grace freely to each one of us and we benefit greatly from the knowledge that we are set free from our sin it becomes incumbent on us to give grace freely to others. 

This is the part of God’s grace that doesn’t feel so cuddly.  My giving grace to others requires me to lay down my pride.  It requires that I not hold my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors under the harsh umbrella of my self-righteous judgment.  I must give grace to others because I’ve received unmerited grace from God.

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller addresses God’s grace by writing, “All humans beings are equally unworthy of God’s love and that therefore all humans beings have equal access to God’s grace.”  He also addresses what happens when we lay down our pride and choose to forgive others. “But if you let it humble you rather than embitter you, and turn to God instead of living for your own glory, then the death of your pride can lead to a resurrection.  You can emerge with a tender heart instead of a hard heart.”

I hope that you will embrace God’s grace.  That you cuddle up to it; finding acceptance, stability, and security there.  Then with a new understanding of the spiritual depth of God’s grace, extend it to others whether you think they deserve it or not. 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Psalm 86:15    but, you Oh Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Romans 8:37-39 in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor  height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 4:7   but to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Titus 2:11 for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

 

 

 

God, My Only Savior!

praise

My heart is overwhelmed with thanks for Your unfailing love.
Your peace is resting in my heart its filled anew with trust.
I worship You and sing all praise to God, my only savior,
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, I worship You forever.

You pick me up when I fall down, You make my burdens light.
Your hope pours deep into my heart and gives me brand new sight.
Oh make me clay in Your great hands; make me a shining vessel,
That I might be light in this world and overcome what’s evil.

I will not fear when trouble comes; my hands will not hang limp,
For El Shaddai is with me, when facing toil and stress.
The word says God delights in us and in His might will save,
He quiets us with His great love and we rise up with praise.

My spirit soars, My feet are light, I run and won’t grow weary.
He lifts us up on eagle’s wings above the dark and dreary.
I can’t believe that one so Great cares for this broken vessel,
I raise my hands, I give my heart to God, my only savior.

Bless Your holy name O God, Your ways are always just.
Let the Earth cry out Your praise; Your people bow in trust.
Holy, Holy is our God, whose peace can’t be surpassed,
We fall before You, El Elyon to You, we will hold fast.

El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty
El Elyon – The most High God

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

Changing Seasons

                     woman grateful

The weather is in that awkward stage of changing from one season to the next. It’s struggling to become spring with warm burst of sunshine and sweet cool breezes that encourages the daffodils and crocuses to bloom and gently beckons us outside to dig in the garden or walk in the woods. And some days it does just that. But on days like today, winter’s pull is strong not wanting to give up his control. The cold wind whips and tugs at my coat as the rain pelts my face and gray claims victory over the sky. However, winter can’t win this battle; he will lose allowing spring to rise and give birth hope.

In this I have faith, it has happened for millennia. There is order in the chaos of the seasons. There is a calm after the storm. There is rebirth in the spring, growth in the summer, dying back in the fall, and dormancy in the winter.

If I trust in the natural order of nature can I also accept the order of my life? Do I rest in the knowledge that my harsh winters will give way to spring?

Do I rest in the divine order and control of God or do I fret and fight when I perceive things aren’t right?   Battling with a delusional mind that believes I can conquer winter and produce spring using my strength alone.

Change is swirling around me. Winter’s darkness clawing at my spring. I stand in the storm bombarded by the winds, with hands on my hips I yell at winter with all my might. I’m in control … of nothing!

I crumble from strain weeping, defeated. Eventually, I see spring’s light radiate from an opening in the clouds and remember God’s promises. I call to Him for help and He hears me. He wraps His arms around me, lifts me up to my feet and supports me through the storm giving birth to my spring.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

I spoke to the air, as if it could hear me,
And said “All I want is just to be happy!”
I asked with frustration, “Where does happiness lie?
I’ve searched but can’t find it, though I try and try.
I’m making more money; I bought a lake house,
I bought my dream car and got a new spouse,
I’m climbing the ladder and buying more things,
Some people might say that I’m living the dream.
But each time my happiness just fades away,
When I thought for certain, it finally would stay.”

A little old lady tapped me on the shoulder,
And said “Dear please hear me, for I am much older.
I once was like you…I lived to be happy,
But all I became was selfish and shabby.
It took many years for truth to come clear,
That nothing on Earth can keep happiness near.
Nothing we buy or those we hold dear,
Nor status or title, or money to spare.
Happiness really is just an emotion,
That shifts like the sand and moves like the ocean.
What we love today, changes tomorrow,
And chasing and grasping, will only bring sorrow.”

“I learned that joy flows from a heart that is grateful.
And never depends on what’s set on my table.
I realized that God has planted me here,
It’s my job to bloom where I am, without fear.
To become my best, in each situation,
To love others more than my selfish obsessions,
To pray for my needs, then let go of the answers,
For God is all-sovereign and He knows what matters.
When you’re discontent, tell the Lord… He will help you.
And ask for a heart that is changed and renewed.”

“The Bible says clearly to seek first our Lord,
It changes the heart and the things we adore.
God knows all our needs and He sees our hearts,
Tell Him your desires, for He is our source.
Rejoice every day in God’s perfect allotment.
Let thankfulness reign and live life with contentment.
As we wait on the Lord, He gives joy everlasting,
And fills up our hearts with whatever is lacking.”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

Stories from life, Words of encouragement, and Poetry to lift your soul.

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