Canaan's Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

August 8, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying your weekend. The house is full of aroma as I am making soup and a Mexican dish. This morning I cleaned went to Aldi’s and soon we are off again with a couple more places we need to go. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I am ever amazed at God’s incredible timing and leading as He places people in the right place at the right time. Even if we try to plan that on our own, it doesn’t always work out in a successful way. But God’s way does. Al and I usually go for a walk together at 3:30 each day but the other day we went a little early as there was going to be a party in the courtyard at 4:15. We no more got on the wooded trail and we a met a friend, the director of Transformed by Love Ministries, going for a walk. It’s been so long since we could fellowship together face to face because of COVID19 and both Al and I felt so refreshed spiritually after our visit there on the trail. As we got to the end of our walk, someone called out to Al from the courtyard of the Assisted living. We wouldn’t have even noticed anyone there because of the bushes but we heard him call. It is a friend that use to live downstairs who is now in Hospice and hasn’t long to live. Al skipped most of the party gathering and spent his time with the friend and his wife as they talked about death and he prayed for them. Technically, Al would have had to go through some procedures to talk to him but God worked it out for that time and that way. It reinforced to me the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit as He directs our lives. Maybe we feel like driving another way home today, and all of sudden notice someone along the way is in need of help. Or sharing something you had not intended to say and yet later you discover it met the hidden need of the listener. God has purpose and is involved in every detail of our lives; who knows all that He is accomplishing when we listen and obey Him?  Let us step out in faith and ask Him to direct our lives, for as it says in Prov.16:9 (Amplified), “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” May we follow the path He has set for us, one step at a time, and be in His timing.
Challenge for today: Be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit would lead you and be quick to respond.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

August 7,2020

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you!  We are still waiting for the sun to show it’s face today,  and  so far no rain. This morning I did food prep and made strogonoff and going to bake this afternoon. 
 Devotions from Judy’s heart
As I hear from many of you of your health concerns and trials you are going through, I wish that I could just wave all your struggles away. I pray and if I had my way, I would take you out of your present difficult circumstances and give you a carefree life without pain and all the struggles. But it doesn’t always happen that way and there is purpose and even blessings in our suffering that we may not realize at the time. Paul tells the Philippians that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ and he was speaking from personal experience. He says in Phil. 1: 29-30 (NRSV), “For He has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for Him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear I still have.” Have you noticed how suffering weeds out what is superficial in our lives and we see what is truly important? In fact, our faith can grow so much stronger in the midst of what we are going through as we become so dependent on the Lord. The enemy would want to tell us we are going through these trials and pain because we are being punished for doing something wrong and we can start wondering if our faith is enough. But it could be just the opposite as God wants to use us as a demonstration of His grace. Sometimes when others are going through hardships, I want to say, “Do you realize how those around you are observing how you respond and are encouraged by the strength God is giving you! Your life is exemplifying God’s grace in a shining way.” May we learn all that God is teaching us in the midst of our struggles and also to be a Star witness of His grace and power.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to help you shine for Him in the times of your greatest struggles.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

August 6, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day. This morning I made almond cinnamon raisin bread and took a friend to the Dollar Store. We enjoyed our day at the lake yesterday as you will read in the following devotion.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Yesterday I was walking down the hall to the elevator and it was a day we were going to the lake and packing the car full of food and games for company. Suddenly I noticed the plaque on one of the apartment doors, “Enjoy the Moment.”  It stopped me in my tracks and I thought, Yes, just enjoy each moment given us from the Lord this day!  When we arrived at the cabin, our daughter came and we talked about the virus and the unrest in our country and world. We discussed the chaos around us, but we acknowledge we belong to the Lord and He is our anchor. Later when my brother and sister-in-law came, as we ate and played a game, we laughed deep belly laughs, recalling things from our past etc. It felt so freeing to just be in the moment and carefree in God’s care. Even though there is great stress in our world, the Lord is our safe place, our peace. In scripture we can read about bad things happening and then the word is followed with “But God!” We remember how Joseph’s brothers tried to harm him and then Joseph tells them but God meant it for good. It all happened according to His divine will.    Today I read the words of an unknown author and it may be familiar to you also.

“The will of God will never take you, where the grace of God cannot keep you, where the arms of God cannot support you, where the riches of God cannot supply your needs, where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you, where the Spirit of God cannot work through you, where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, where the army of God cannot protect you, where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you, where the love of God cannot enfold you, where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, where the peace of God cannot calm your fears, where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you, where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears, where the Word of God cannot feed you, where the miracles of God cannot be done for you, where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.”

No matter what happens to us and around us, let us enjoy the moment for we are in His hand.

Challenge for today: Rest in the Lord and enjoy the moment!                                                           Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

August 5, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is full of sunshine! We are going to the cabin early this morning  and have my brother and sister-in-law from Indiana coming for lunch. We look forward to time with family and being by the lake as we can see the ducks and loons as we sit at the table.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Not one of God’s promises has failed or ever will fail! I’m sure we have all been disappointed by promises made to us and then not being fulfilled. And it’s also quite likely that we have not come through for others in keeping our promises, even though we meant well at the time of making them. But God is totally trustworthy and will not be slow to keep His promises. Recently I ordered a pair of shoes online that I thought not only looked good but would help my foot alignment. I waited and waited some weeks and noticed our credit card had already been charged. I began thinking that perhaps this company was not going to keep their promise and I would be out my money. When we were about to give up, there was a notice on my e-mail that my package was coming and would be there the next day! They weren’t fraudulent after all and they were true to their advertised promise. And when my shoes came, they fit perfect and I was one happy recipient. I thought of how we feel and may even accuse God of not keeping His promises; after all, we have waited so long and nothing appears to have happened—yet! Of course, we don’t see behind the scenes to realize God is at work; and even if we never see in our life time, we can be assured He is faithful. For each of us, the assurance of certain promises, we may hold tighter than someone else. If we are lonely and down, we may hold on to the promise of God being with us in Deut. 1:9 (The Message), “Haven’t I commanded you? Strength, Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Or maybe we are lacking in something that is needful and we call out to God to provide. And it says in Phil.4:19, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.” Or maybe we feel unlovable and we look to I John 4:10(NRSV), “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  Whatever our need is, may we hold on to the promises given to us for God is true to His promises and they will not fail.
Challenge for today: Look to the Word for a promise to meet your need and hang on to it in faith. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

August 4, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope your day holds lots of blessings and that you appreciate the now! Today I’m going to make a big pot of stew to take to the lake tomorrow as my brother and sister-in-law are having dinner with us at the Silver Chateau. I hope to get downstairs this morning for coffee and to catch up. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we treasure the gifts God has given us or do we tend to take them for granted? Sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it is taken from us. This past week I went to visit a friend who many of you have prayed for in the past. She is in a wheelchair, has very limited vision and until recently has not been able to have company because of COVID19. It’s been many months since I have actually seen her, but this past week we were allowed to go out to the gazebo and have coffee and goodies and pray together (with masks and social distancing). What a joy that was and I savored it even more than those times before the virus changed things. On Facebook I saw these words, “Maybe when social distancing is a thing of the past, we’ll hug a little harder, hold on a little longer, and remember that nothing matters more than time we spend with people we love.” So many things we can take for granted rather than appreciating the gift they are to us daily. In I Peter 4:7-8 (The Message) Peter says, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically everything.” There isn’t anyone that knows what lies in the future, except God; so it is important to not take things for granted but appreciate what is right now, this very moment we are actually living in. That doesn’t mean it is all roses but even in the hard circumstances, we can still have joy and appreciate His grace to us. The Apostle Paul is such an example of that as he went through so much and yet he expressed joy and thankfulness in his letters. His life was a demonstration of God’s grace and ours can be too, if we practice His presence and have daily intimacy with Him. Let us not complain or take His gifts for granted but live in thankfulness and gratitude for all He is and has given us.
Challenge for today: List several things you are grateful for and give Him thanks.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

August 3, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Another beautiful summer day and I cleaned, went to Aldi’s, and to my exercise class this morning. Al and I will enjoy our walk on the trail this afternoon and so many wildflowers keep popping up.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Peace can’t be bought for a price but is a gift of the greatest worth. Imagine a picture in your own mind of peace and what that would look like to you. We recently stayed overnight at the cabin and woke to the most beautiful sunrise. As I looked out on calm waters, loons swimming by, and a cloudless sky it was so magnificent and peaceful–a sight to behold. I thought of the greatness of God who created all of this for us to enjoy. But by contrast, I was reminded of how the enemy wants to rob our peace, distract us, and cause us to live in fear and anxiety. I had just read statistics the day before on the mental health crises in our country. One in three people show signs of anxiety and depression. Emotional distress jumped 1000% from the year before and the suicide rate keeps getting higher and higher.  Only God can replace our anxiety with deep down inner peace that is not dependent on circumstances. Paul knew that for when he wrote to the Ephesians he was under house arrest and writing to a church that had external pressures from false teachers, and problems within the church of people acting selfishly. But Paul said in Phil. 4:6-7 (The Message): ”Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Yes, we all have concerns and problems but God is there to help us overcome them and we need to focus on Him rather than our fears. He can use meditation, counseling, exercise, medications etc.  Great help is especially found as we turn to the Word and feed on the promises that He is with us, He will give us strength to overcome, He will hold our hand and carry us through whatever turbulent times that hit us. It is also helpful to join with other Christians so we can be mutually encouraged in our faith and pray together. (Even if it has to be on the phone). Let us not stress but seek the One who is peace!
Challenge for today:  Give your anxieties to the Lord and trust Him to work things out.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

The Pagan Public Square

The title of this blog might surprise you.  It is the title of an article by Robert P George,  professor of law at Princeton.  He points out that secular liberals or “progressives” are making little effort to maintain “the pretense of  neutrality.”  “Having gained the advantage” notes George,  “on battle front after battle front in the modern culture war, and having achieved hegemony  in elite sectors of the culture….there is no longer any need to pretend.”

Steven Smith in his book “Pagans and Christians in the City” names this aggressive liberalism as “paganism.”  What he [Smith] perceives,  notes George, “is that contemporary  social liberalism reflects certain core ideas and  beliefs …… that partially defined the traditions of paganism that were dominant in the ancient Mediterranean world……..until the point at which they were defeated….by the Jewish sect  that came to be known as Christianity.”  Christians were like “resident aliens” in the world,  following a God who was transcendent, whereas pagans located the sacred within the world. 

These two worldviews clashed with the spread of the gospel in the first centuries of the church.  No where was the clash greater than in sexuality.  “The Christian view of sexuality was not only radically alien,” notes Smith, “it was close to incomprehensible.”  There was a fear that Christians would “turn the lights out on the party.”  In the West, the Christian sexual ethic prevailed until the present time.   

But now in our day the lights have been turned on once again and the party is going again.  It is “live and let live” when it comes to sexual morality.  The old Christian ethic is “no longer operative.”  We are entering into what George calls a “new Diocletian age,”  similar to the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. 

“The culture war is over; they lost,  we won…..Taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers who are defending positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all” declares Mark Tushnet.  The neo-pagans are not willing to accommodate Christians in the public square, when they dissent from progressive orthodoxy.  

There are people “who want to ensure that we never again get near the light switch and that we are properly punished for having switched off the lights to the party in the first place.”  So what are believers with a biblical worldview to do in the coming days. 

George give three options.  First that of capitulation and acquiescence.  There are whole denominations that practice a visible evidence of faith but have  no moral substance.  George believes they have made themselves “useful idiots” of neo-paganism. 

The two other options are between “flight or fight.”  Rod Dreher has a strategic retreat in his promotion of the “Benedict Option.”  Christian are to build arks in order to endure the coming flood.  Believers would still be involved in the affairs of the world, while attending to intentional community for the sake of maintaining to faith.   

The third option is that of staying in the public square and fighting.  George opts for fight, saying “the cost of discipleship is a heavy cost……the days of comfortable Christianity are over.”  We are, in his opinion, “back in the position of our forebears in imperial Rome.”  

So men we are at a crossroads.  Accommodation is not an option.  Will it be flight or fight?  I personally lean toward flight ( building an ark through my church) rather than fight.  But I know that I will need to take a stand among the pagans.  God give me grace to stand for Jesus 

 

 

 

August 1, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart
God’s plan for our lives is perfect for how He has made us. Each of us must find God’s calling on our lives for we are created equal but very individually fashioned according to His divine plan. I have been reading from the book of Amos and he was a man who certainly never dreamed he would become a prophet; after all who was he? He was just a lowly nobody from the small town of Tekoa in Judah and called himself a sheep farmer, a rancher, a grower of figs; not a very impressive resume. But God had a plan for him to deliver messages to His people, Israel. They had grown complacent and drifted away from God, oppressed the poor, and were idolatrous. Amos obeyed God and had to give the people difficult messages, and anything but popular or what they wanted to hear. It was God’s plan for Amos and He put within his heart all that was necessary to accomplish this mission. God wasn’t limited by Amos’ background but gifted him with a message and all that was needed for God’s purposes. How about us? Are we in the position God has for us? Do we excuse ourselves from being in that place that He wants to use us, by telling Him we aren’t qualified? But let us remember what it says in I Samuel 16:7b(NRSV), “The Lord does not see as mortals see: they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We will never experience that wonderful sense of pleasing the Lord if we are not obedient and in that special place He has for us. Yes, we may be successful in the eyes of the world and making tons of money, and yet something will be missing. Success is doing what God wants in our lives, no matter how prestigious that is in the eyes of others. To fulfill our potential is to be exactly where God has chosen us to be and doing what He has called us to do.

Challenge for today: Spend time with the Lord and ask Him if you are where you are suppose to be at this time in your life.

July 31, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart
I love to ponder on what it means to live a carefree life; to be free as a child that has no worries and just enjoys the present moment delighting in what is happening right now?  Doesn’t that sound heavenly? Wouldn’t we all like that to be our state of mind and heart each day and each moment? Sometimes I have had dreams of flying and it is the most wonderful exhilarating feeling, much like living carefree. Peter says in I Peter 5:7 (The Message), Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”  We can only live carefree if we truly believe God loves and cares for us, and has our back. If we grew up in a home with lots of conflict, excessive rules, screaming and sharp remarks, it may be hard to imagine living carefree without expecting a boom to be lowered on us any second. But if we know God is our loving Father who is most careful with us, then our outlook each day will be changed. We won’t be overwhelmed with worries but can cast every concern we have on the Lord, knowing He is powerful enough to handle it all. We can be lighthearted and free to enjoy the present moment, knowing that we don’t need something else to make us happy but can enjoy what we have right now. We can embrace life and enjoy the little things and give praise to the Lord who made them. When Al and I go for our walk each day on the Paul Bunyan trail, my heart skips when I see the array of wildflowers of all colors decorating the woods. We can freely just enjoy creation and delight in its beauty and give praise to the Creator of it all. Part of living carefree is our focus. If it is on the Lord and the expectation that He is good, He is faithful, and He is loving and worthy of our trust, then we can live in abandonment to Him. When everything is put into His hands then we are set free to just be present in this moment and live life to the fullest. Let us live to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

Challenge for today: Give the Lord all your concerns and live carefree in His love. 

July 30, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart

How well do our inner lives match what we say with our lips?  Sometimes we can be doing right things but our hearts are not truly in it. There is perfect harmony within when our outward and inward match and we do things from right motives. I remember years ago when one of our parishioners brought a huge load of manure and put on my garden at the parsonage. It was the first time that I had space for a garden and I was so excited about all the veggies we were going to have to eat. I dreamed of picking my own greens and just serving them right away in a big chef salad. Well my garden grew quickly and it may have looked beautiful on top but when it came time to harvest and I pulled up some of the veggies, there was hardly anything at the other end. They were all stunted as too much manure had been put on. What was outwardly good was not good underneath! The Lord wants to continue to transform our lives so that our inward and outward match and that we become more and more like Him. I read today from II Cor. 3:18 (NRSV), “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” The word transformed here is the same word in Greek that is used when Jesus was transformed before the disciples on the Mount. We haven’t all arrived yet but we are in process of being transformed. This is a transformation of the Spirit and it is a gradual change. We fail in ways each day and need forgiveness but hopefully we are growing and maturing. As we read the Word and closely follow Him, it says in The Message translation that our lives become brighter and more beautiful and we become more like Him. May our outward lives be reflectors of a deep work He is doing in our hearts.

Challenge for today: Co-operate with the Holy Spirit as He brings change to your heart.

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