Category Archives: Prayer

My Faith is Weary but You are Strong!

In the trial, I ask God “Why?
Are You so silent while I cry
You see I’m shaky to the core
And certain that I can’t take more.”

“I know that what I want is good
I know You can – if You just would
I know You see my heart’s desire
And that I’m scared and that I’m tired. “

As I pray here on my knees
For the thousandth time I state my need
You are God and You did say
That help will come to those that wait.

You told us Lord, to not forget
Your benefits and all Your good
They satisfy and save our lives
They turn our darkness into light.

But here I sit in quiet dread
That this may not be over yet
I cannot conjure up the faith
To face this thing, for one more day.

So now it’s only up to You
To lift me up and make me new
For all my human strength is gone
My faith is weary; But You are strong.

O fill me with Your Holy Spirit
That I might rise renewed and fearless
I bind the lies that Satan whispers
That say “Give up, drown in this river”

I bind depression, dismay, and fear
I loose the truth that my God cares
I loose new faith, joy, and peace
His mighty victory, I now release!

Your ways are higher than I can know
Human values are not Your goal
You push me on to bigger faith
You use the trial to change my ways.

You want surrender, You want my trust
That You are God and I am not
So I will bloom here in the dark
Knowing Your plans will change my heart.

O Lord I lift Your name up high
O be my strength and fix my eyes
Only on You so I might stand
And hear the words, “My child, well done!”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Emmanuel Forever (Emmanuel – God with us)

O child of the most high king why do your hands hang limp;
Why is your heart so downcast; Your stance, weary and bent.
O lift your head and fix your eyes on God the one true Savior;
For He brings restoration and he’ll bring you new favor.
He knows that you’ve had sorrow and that there’s shame and pain;
He knows you’re disappointed but He is still the King.
He loves you more than you can know; He feels your hurt and pain;
But He allows the fire to cleanse and set us free.
He told us there’d be trouble but He will turn it ‘round,
If we’ll submit our rights and ways, to Him who wears the crown.
In submission we release God’s awesome, mighty power,
And rest and hope will fill our souls and we will grow and flower.
He has a plan O little one, so rise up from the ashes,
And fear not as you walk this out for He is true compassion.
Let God go forth in justice, let Him make all things right,
For He sees the big picture and He is truth and light.
O child, trust in Him alone, the Alpha and Omega,
The King of Kings, Almighty God; Emmanuel forever!

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Hidden Path

I cannot see the future Lord… but clearly I see You.
Right now the future seems unsure; I don’t know what to do.
What if things go terribly wrong and my hopes fall apart;
You’ve never failed me yet O God, so I won’t be alarmed.

My God who reaches down to save when in the waves I sink;
The One who loves me all the time, even when I’m weak.
My hope when fear is all I feel; My eyes when I can’t see.
This God of mercy, truth, and grace, He always walks with me.

I want to know what lies ahead; but God wants me to rest,
His spirit washes over me and brings peace in this test,
Even though the path is steep and hidden in the storm;
My Redeemer will not fail; these mountains I will charge!

O Sovereign God so full of grace; Please take my hand today,
Lead me, guide me safely home; I feel lost in a maze.
I lean on You my Savior King; the one who knows my name,
The one who knows my hidden dreams; Your praise I will proclaim!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Praise His Name!

He stood there staring out to sea
In a dark storm, out on the beach
The salt was thick as he breathed deep
And then exhaled all of his grief
He felt just like that rocky beach
Pounded and pummeled; dark and bleak
He wanted to be free from stress
His hands hung limp; he longed for rest
He said “O God where is your promise
To hear my prayer, to change my problems
For You know that I am depressed
And I am weary from this mess
I’ve prayed and sought You for the answer
I need You God to be my anchor
How does destruction bless Your name
And how does failure give You praise?”

He stood there silent and then he kneeled
And there he waited to know God’s will
And in the silence God took the stage
And said “Let go and praise My name
Fix not your eyes on crashing waves
Fix them on me, the God that saves
I’m with you when life falls apart
So praise and worship with all your heart
For when you do, you give control
To me, your maker; Father, Lord!”

In his weakness he sang and praised
He started quiet but gained in strength
He worshiped God which fanned faith’s flame
He raised his hands; he blessed God’s name
“LORD, You are good; the beginning and end
You rule the heavens by the power of Your hand
You made this world; You’re in control
No one can fathom my awesome Lord
Your mercy’s higher than the heavens
Your love is deeper than the ocean
Your grace is endless when I falter
I bow in worship before Your alter
O holy, holy are You Lord
My true redeemer; my shield, my sword!”

O Father God, I praise Your name
Use these dark times to bring You praise
Help me to grow while in this storm
O be my rudder; bring me to shore
You are my hope, there is no other
My joy and song, my perfect Father
I rebuke you satan, you’re plans won’t prosper
I break your chains for God is stronger
You are a liar; I am not yours
For I am God’s and His truth roars
You tell me everything is lost
But God say’s “no, I’ve paid the cost”
You tell me God won’t hear my prayer
But that’s a lie and I won’t fear
I loose the power of my great God
Into my life, though I am flawed.

O God, Your children of long ago
Faced a great army and had no hope
They were outnumbered; they had fear
But they knew God was standing near
And so they worshiped and they praised
You fought that battle and saved the day
They didn’t have to lift a finger
For You were mighty; You were bigger
You are that same God, now today
You are our Savior, O praise Your name!

II Chronicles 20: 1-26

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Redeemed

Redeemed

Her room was still like time had stopped, her eyes at nothing, stared,
Until a beep from the machine, brought her back crystal clear.
She looked down at her arm and saw the IV in its place,
Just for a moment, she had gone back, to another time and space.

Tears trickled down that old drawn face, her lips began to quiver,
As she recalled the years gone by and pain that she’d delivered.
It now was clear, as she looked back; it wasn’t clear back then,
She wished to have a second chance, some way to make amends.

The angry names her mother hurled still made her cringe in pain.
And knowing that she did the same brought grief, regret, and shame.
She didn’t end dysfunction, though that had been her hope,
And life went by so very fast, change ceased to be her goal.

She looked up at the ceiling, and cried out “Are You there?
Do You care about me? Can You remove despair?
Does hope exist? Can change be known? If so, then show the way,
Hear my prayer, see my heart; I’m buried in mistakes!”

Questions filled her weary mind as she lay there exhausted,
Is it true that God restores the hurt and broken hearted?
She shut her eyes; her shoulders shook, as tears continued falling,
With humbled heart, and contrite spirit; she longed for a new calling.

The hours trickled slowly by with no response from heaven,
But a strange rest had filled her heart and peace was like a fragrance.
That restful state was broken with a stroke upon her hair,
A voice that she had longed to hear said “Mom, I’ve news to share.”

“A year ago, at my ropes end, I gave my heart to Jesus,
Since that day I’ve changed and grown, more than I can measure.
I’m learning to submit my will and die to my own way.
The chains that tightly bound us, He’s breaking more each day.”

“I love you Mom, and know your plan was never one to hurt us,
You too were hurt, and it’s been said; hurt people… will hurt people
But hope has come into my heart, revealing a new path,
We cannot change the hurt-filled past, but hopes with us at last!”

“For I can see a future paved, with a new legacy
It’s there for us if we will grow and seek God on our knees,
In God’s all knowing timing, He’ll heal each hurt and scar,
Submitting all and letting go; our lives will be restored.

“The devil brought destruction, to our hearts and souls,
But God is here to lift us up and take back all control.
We can forgive each other, as Christ’s forgiven us.
He’ll wash us clean and make us new as we give Him our trust.”

“Dear Mother, I invite you, to join us in this path,
To know that you’re forgiven and all that’s passed… is past.”
That withered hand reached out to hers, as tears rolled down their faces,
With breaking voice the elder said, “Oh…the years I wasted.”

“I’m sorry for the things I’ve done, and for the words of pain.
I wish that I could turn back time and wash it all away.
But know dear, that I love you, and I’m sorry for the hurt,
I need the hope that you have found to mend my broken heart.”

Just before the morning broke with no bells or alarms,
With peaceful heart, she breathed her last, and went to Jesus’ arms.
Her children knew that she was free from bitterness and shame,
And they rejoiced, with hands upraised, to hope in Jesus’ name.

God used her children’s hurt-filled past; took beauty from the ashes,
As they reached out to hurting souls and others who had suffered.
No troubled path, no chains that bind, no mountain sized life problems,
Are greater than the power of God who brings good from our losses.
But stubborn hearts we must lay down; to change, we must be willing,
And as we do, we shall fulfill, God’s awesome, glorious, calling.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

My Hope, My Joy, My Stay!

God’s with me when I flounder and when I stress and fight,
He holds me close when life is hard and full of pain and strife.
When my faith starts to falter, when I want MY control;
When I cry out that life’s not fair and can’t take anymore;
When He tells me to “Just let go” and I just cannot do it,
Because this isn’t what I planned and now I’m struggling through it.
You know I’m straining hard to keep the future like I planned,
And for a moment I trust You; the next, I take command.

I open up my bible, I cry out on my knees,
I quote and say Your promises, that usually set me free;
But here I sit in anxious doubt so desperate for an answer;
O help me get through this dark book for I don’t like this chapter.
There’s anger and frustration, boiling deep in me,
I’m trying to keep it in control and not let others see.
But I am to my breaking point; O Father rescue me!
For I am lost and needy, O come and set me free!

Hear me Lord, my Father…I know You know what’s best,
So help me trust You even when, life does not make sense.
Please help me to surrender all my hopes and dreams,
To let You to take my trembling hand and follow where You lead.
Help me to lay down all my pride and what I think is best,
Replace it with a trust so true that I walk through this test.
Fill my heart with grace and love; free me from these chains;
Take away my fear and doubt, O turn my loss to gain!

I know Your ways aren’t my ways; I know You’re infinite;
I know that You are sovereign; That You’re magnificent!
That You see the whole picture, the beginning from the end;
So I release all my control and on You, I’ll depend.
I know Your plans are good for me so help me to let go,
And in this fire pour Your peace into this stormy soul.
Bring the change You want in me, I lay down my own way,
To You my Great Redeemer, my Hope, my Joy, my Stay!

Who is the Rock, except our God; His strength is always sure.
He arms us with His power and keeps our way secure.
He makes our feet like hinds feet so we can scale the heights;
He trains our hands for battle; our sword, our shield and might.
Your right hand will sustain us; Your help will make us great;
You clear the path before us so our ankles don’t give way.
O blessing, honor glory, to the King of Kings,
For He alone makes our dark, light; He crushes satan’s sting!
Pslams 18

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Walk Of Grace

How sweet and wondrous is God’s love that pours out grace on us;
That even when we fail Him, His mercy covers us.
Instead of judging each mistake we make along the way,
He offers us His mercy, though we struggle in our faith.

It’s stunning that He sees beyond our pride and all our failure;
He loves His broken children, our Lord; our Great Redeemer
He knows when we are ready, to give up our own way;
And like a potter, molds the clay; He turns our loss to gain.

He loves us when our hearts are hard and full of selfish gain;
He loves us in rebellion; when pride controls our way;
He loves us when our hearts are blind and His way we forget;
He loves us straight into His arms, when we realize our mess.

So why is it so easy, to judge another’s heart?
To point our index finger like we’re a judge in court?
If truth be told, we do not know the pain that others bear,
Or stresses that they’re facing, that are getting in God’s way.

But if we stop and think about our own humanity;
And look at our own pain and stress that affects us drastically;
We too will find that we do wrong and we fail every day,
And that it’s only by God’s grace that we can lift our face.

If every day we stood in awe at God’s amazing grace,
Then we would see another’s faults with grace in judgment’s place;
If we could fathom just how deep and wide is His great love;
Our lives would be surrendered, and grace would fill our hearts.

I can’t believe that God above has saved a wretch like me.
That His amazing grace and love, each day washes me clean.
I offer You this broken heart; please mend it God my Savior,
And use me Lord to share Your love with lavish grace and favor!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

God Is In Control!

My Lord my God how great you are,
You formed the heavens and every star;
You separated sea from land,
You hold each man within Your hand.
How awesome are Your wondrous works;
Your plans and ways are not like ours.
And though our world may shake and fall,
You stand eternal, above it all.

You order planets in their place
You rule the sun and all of space
The heavens are Your holy throne
The Earth, a footstool, for You alone
The rocks cry out in praise to You
The Great Creator, the Only Truth
All idols fall before Your shadow
All knees will bow, for You are hallowed.

Your righteousness is like the mountains
Your wisdom; an eternal fountain
Your justice; deeper than the sea
Your grace makes Satan’s darkness flee
Your love is like the mighty ocean
Your truth, it reaches to the heavens
The Earth resounds all of Your glory
All nature tells of Your great story.

You are our fortress and our strength
Hide us beneath Your mighty wings
May we dwell within Your shelter
And angles hold us lest we falter
A refuge true, are You alone
A certain shelter in the storm
There is no other in earth or sky
That can compare to God most high!

We know Your ways are higher than
What man can grasp and understand
Help us to trust in ALL Your ways
The good, the bad; life’s twisted maze
O fix our eyes on You alone
To walk on trouble, fear, and storms
To lay down all our foolish pride
To see things through Your knowing eyes
So joy will fill our heart and soul
And peace and rest will make us whole.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

O God; I Surrender!

I called on the Lord when I found my ropes end
I laid it all down and from my own way, fled
He opened my eyes to my pride and control
For I thought I knew better than my God and Lord.

The humble and contrite He’ll never despise
But pride and control He’ll oppose and defy
Why do we human’s think that we know best
Why do we maneuver and pound on our chests?

God in His mercy, knew I needed change
So He sent me trials and He sent the rain
As storms raged and battered my proud heart and soul
I sought only escape from those trials and storms.

I set out to stop them, to fix all the problems
But it only got worse… for I could not solve them
When I finally grew weary, I looked up and cried
O God I surrender; forgive all my pride!

Please help me Father, to submit my whole heart
To the true Lord and Savior; my shield and rampart
O help me to blossom, right here in my problems
To give You control in my trials and losses.

God brought me through trials to open my eyes
To help me to see that my ways bring demise
God knows the big picture, the beginning from end
He doesn’t zoom in on each day’s twist and bends.

O Lord give us sight to see like You do
To walk upon trials and focus on You
To fix our weak eyes on eternity’s picture
That we might rise up from the ashes, a victor!

All blessing and honor and praise to our Lord
The maker of heaven; keeper of our souls
May we be a fragrance that wafts up to You
As we bow to Your plans and submit to Your truth.

Call on the Lord with a heart bare and open
With pride put away and control crushed and broken
Submitting our hearts to the only true God
For He quickly hears cries from a humble heart.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Help Me Lord!

Prayer is powerful.   I believe that not only should we pour our hearts out to God with our cares and concerns  but we can also use the bible to frame our prayer life for every situation we are going through.  Below is an example  of taking scripture and turning it into a personal prayer.

 Help Me Lord!  A Prayer taken from 2 Samuel 22

O Lord my God, by the blast of your breath, split the darkness that has covered me; rescue me from above; draw me out of the deep waters – out of the darkness. Save me from the stranglehold of the enemy and all his power and circumstances that are too strong for me to fight alone.  For the enemy came upon me with a fury in the day of my calamity, but, O Lord, be my salvation, be my light, be my hope, be my future.  Make my darkness bright and may others see Christ in me.  Help me to get out of Your way and to quit trying to control outcomes. Help me to allow your holy spirit to work in my life and to change and mold me.  Use me for Your glory and rescue me and set me free by the power of Your glorious might.  For You are my salvation. 

 May I become Your delight and walk with righteousness before Your throne.  Break the strongholds that bind me and my family and set us free from the hurts of the past.  May we do good before Your face and be a great blessing to You. Thank you that You bore my shame and my despair and please carry it all for me.  For I am weak and tired and have no strength left to hide it or “put on a good face” 

May I once again, become Your delight. Give me skill to know how to fight this battle, help me to destroy the army that has come against me.  Give me the strength of the young and the strong; be my fortress and keep my family and me safe.

I Praise and exalt the rock of my salvation, I will sing praises to your name. For you are a glorious and powerful God.

I ask all of this in the holy and mighty name of Jesus Christ the holy son of God.  In Jesus name Amen.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

A Song Of Praise

All mighty God, the Lord of Lords
How awesome are Your ways
I praise You in each trial
And Lift my hands and sing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is my Savior, King, and Lord
Maker of the heavens and earth
My anchor in the storm
Blessing, honor, glory
To the King of Kings
For He alone is worthy
The Lamb for sinners slain
O God You’re such a mystery
Your ways cannot be known
You know the reasons for our trials
You comfort in each storm
You see through my sinful pride
Into my broken heart
You woo Me to Your holy truth
And make the darkness, light

You are my mighty fortress, Lord
You hide me in Your wings
You fill my heart with gladness
All praise to You I sing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is my Savior, Lord, and God
My mighty shield and hiding place
Your name brings strength and awe
My anchor in the raging storm
My Sovereign God and King
My joy, my hope, my all in all
All praise to You I sing!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

God’s Healing Hand On a Wounded Heart

Lord God, 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,  lifting my head and hands up to you

an honest prayer is uttered, no more pretense,

pride and self-righteousness are gone.

 

“take my battered heart, oh Lord

It feels constricted and small

Like a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball.

 

It’s beat is irregular,

emphasizing the deep wounds

and my desperate state of mind.”

 

Your strong hands encompass mine

Comforting and warm

Applying pressure without pain

 

My wounded heart beats a little faster

A  rhythm I’m unfamiliar with

Steady, strong, sure, secure

 

You, oh Lord, massage the healing balm

Of forgiveness and acceptance 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

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 chore 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

 

 

Forgiving, Again

I’m sitting at my desk with the computer on, iPod playing with an inviting, warm mug of coffee sitting next to me.  They are waiting patiently for me to start work, but I don’t.  My feet are resting on the edge of my desk while I hold our big, fat cat in my lap.  She contentedly purrs and occasionally nuzzled me on the chin.  Absently, I notice how her soft, heavy, weight in my lap feels comforting.  I continue to stare out the window lost in thought.

My chest feels heavy like an invisible brick is pushing down hard between my breasts, my head aches, but it’s the heavy sensation on my chest that’s troubling me.  The weight isn’t the beginning of a heart attack; it’s the result of years of hurt.  This brick has been carefully constructed by the fibrous tissue of judgment, verbal abuse, bitterness, unjust behavior, self-protection, and un-forgiveness.  And it’s heavy, pressing down on my sternum making it hard to breathe.

The unusual thing about this brick is that it’s frequently weightless, as if gone from my life.  During this time my heart is hopeful and I want to spend time considering and praying about my relationships.  With a hopeful spirit I choose to forgive; I choose to lay my hurts down before God. I desire to draw closer to Him and see others through His eyes.

Then something happens to set off old patterns of abuse and hurtful words are hurled through the air and I feel the impact of them.   I feel them working their way into the brick, finding a comfortable resting place next to the other festering pain.  The brick is back, heavier than before, pressing mercilessly down on my sternum and I wonder how all those negative, hurtful emotions from the past can come back with such force after I have chosen to forgive and let them go. 

So, here I sit at my desk with every necessary tool for a productive day.  But instead of working, I watch the tree branches move to the rhythm of the wind while pondering the uncomfortable pressure of the emotional brick on my chest.  I want to know how to truly lay down the hurt from yesterday.  I want to forgive so deeply that past pain will not have the power to mix with and amplify the hurts of today.  But, I’m human and for some unknown reason God made us emotionally complex beings that feel passionately, struggle mightily, and desperately need His guidance.

With this knowledge I ask God for his forgiveness and help.  I acknowledge my pain is real, but so is theirs.  I admit my part in the situation, because I’m not innocent.  Then I thank God for the good within my loved one and within myself; we are both God’s children.  And the brick gets lighter; for now.  Each time I practice seeking God’s truth in the midst of emotional pain they strengthen me and give me courage to forgive, again.

I’m grateful that God’s forgiveness is not like that of humans, Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.”  This verse is comforting and humbling; how can God forgive so completely?  I long to be able to forgive like God, but as of today, I don’t fully understand how to forgive the transgressions of others.  Maybe that’s the point. Maybe our seriously limited ability to forgive keeps us humble before God.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

The Hidden Path

 

I cannot see the future Lord… but clearly I see You.
Right now all outcomes seem unsure; I don’t know what to do.
What if things go terribly wrong and my hopes fall apart;
You’ve never failed me yet O God, so I won’t be alarmed.

My God who reaches down to save when in the waves I sink;
The One who loves me all the time, even when I’m weak.
My hope when fear is all I feel; My eyes when I can’t see.
This God of mercy, truth, and grace, is faithful unlike me.

I want to know what lies ahead; but God wants me to rest,
His spirit washes over me and brings peace in this test,
Even though the path is steep and hidden in the storm;
My Redeemer will not fail; these mountains I will charge!

O Sovereign God so full of grace; Please take my hand today,
Lead me, guide me safely home; walk me though this maze.
I lean on You my Savior King; the one who knows my name,
The one who knows my hidden dreams; Your praise I will proclaim!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Bitterness Weed

The Bitterness Weed

Bitterness:    Strong and sharp in taste: having a sharp strong unpleasant taste.  Angry and resentful Difficult to accept: mentally painful, or very hard to accept Synonyms: sour, acid, acidic, tart, astringent, vinegary, pungent, harsh, acrid

I’ve been thinking about the act of being bitter and how bitterness, if not dealt with, can affect every aspect of our lives.  Bitterness can blind a person to the love that is around them.  Bitterness has the power to turn a person inward, making them selfish and self-consumed.  A bitter heart becomes brittle and intolerant.  A bitter person will find the bad in every situation, unable to see the good.  Bitterness can strangle our creative energy.  And a bitter heart is unable to open up to God’s love, it is unable to trust in God’s love because it is always in a state of self-protection.

Bitterness is like a weed, it is a living organism that need sustenance to survive and when it’s thriving it has the power to weaken our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.  The Bitterness Weed is nourished by our judgmental, negative, self-righteous, and unforgiving thoughts.  Because bitterness is living, it will either grow or wither depending on our ability to starve it with forgiveness or feed it with judgment.  Starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It requires surrendering our right to justifiable anger and judgment.  It demands that we not seek retribution ourselves for our pain, but allow God’s justice, which is a mystery to most of us, to have control.

All of us at one time or another have thought, “They don’t deserve forgiveness” or “It’s not fair, they feel no pain and are suffering no consequence for their destructive behavior” and we’re right, it’s not fair from a human point of view.  So, in an effort to bring justice to the situation, we self-righteously judge the individual deeming them unworthy of forgiveness.  And then we move on, right?  Nope.

The problem is we’re not capable of judging others harshly and moving on.  We continue to judge them in our thoughts and before we know it, we’re feeding the weed of bitterness.  Each time we ruminate over their bad actions and reassure ourselves of our righteous judgment, the bitterness weed grows stronger. Before long our outlook on life becomes more negative and our prayer time less frequent, and the Bible sits unopened for longer stretches of time on our night stand.

Before long we become bitter, leaving a sharp and unpleasant taste in the mouths of our friends and family.  Unbeknown to ourselves we’ve become acrid in our attitudes and relationships.  We have officially become bitter because of our self-righteous right to judge and not forgive.  We now have a healthy, bitter-weed garden within our spirit that only God can eradicate.

It’s true that starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It takes unmeasurable amounts of faith, humility, and forgiveness to starve bitterness from our spirit.  But if we choose to do so, God will help us, He will give us strength when we have none, and the courage to continue to forgive even when it seems like justice is not being served.  God’s ways can be a mystery to us, but when we follow them they always replace bitterness with beauty.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

 

 

Are You There God?

i-ask-god-the-question-why

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear Not; He is With You!

Image result for God walking with us in a storm

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

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

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

 

 

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