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.

February 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is full of sunshine and joy. I spent much of morning in the kitchen with food prep and making stroganoff, and the house is still full of aroma. I went to my exercise class and later Al and I plan to walk and find a church for Lenten service.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our hearts were made to worship. When we neglect to worship, something is missing in our lives. There are those moments when our hearts are so grateful to the Lord that we have a deep need to just express what is in our hearts. Recently I specifically prayed for the Lord’s intervention before going to an event. I prayed all the way there and clearly saw God’s hand move, leaving me with such an awe of His presence and power. I praised Him all the way home as it flowed from my thankful heart. But we don’t need any special circumstance to usher up our praise, for the Lord is worthy of our praise all the time. When we feel alone or down, what better way to have our hearts uplifted than to begin to praise the One who is Life, and Joy, and Peace and Love. I was reading from Genesis 28 this morning when Jacob was trying to escape from his brother Esau; he had stolen his father’s blessing and Esau was angry enough to want to kill him. But when Jacob got as far as Haran he camped for the night and put his head on a stone. He dreamed about a stairway that reached to the sky and angels of God going up and down it. God made him a promise that the ground that he was sleeping on would belong to his descendants and that they would be as many as the dust of the earth and bless all the families of the earth. Verse 15 (The Message) says, “Yes, I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.” You can imagine how Jacob felt when he woke up. He knew the Lord was in that place and the first thing he did was to make a memorial pillar in praise to God and poured oil on it and made a vow to the Lord. When our hearts are full there is need to do something to let it out and like the song goes, “Now is the time to worship”. Now is the time to bow our knees and give our hearts in surrender.
Challenge for today: Spend some time in worship and express praise for who God is!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 21, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day and living in the moment. This morning I cleaned and studied and this afternoon we are having company. It is 36 out and we enjoy our afternoon walks. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Several mornings I have woken up with the song from Psalm 51 playing in my mind, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Cast me not away from thy presence and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.” I learned that song when I was young, and I have been humming it a lot lately. I find that I need to constantly be aware of and guard against things that would dirty my heart and rob me of my joy.  If you are like me, maybe it’s hard to keep quiet when we see what is happening in our culture; or we quickly judge others in our hearts without knowing the whole story. When people make extreme statements to persuade us a certain way, instead of listening and holding our tongue we’d like to express our opinions and make statements to correct. Our hearts can get dirty mighty quick, if not by what we say, by what we are thinking in our hearts! I have to clean our apartment more often now as it is smaller than our former house and seems to get messed up quickly. But it feels good when I take the time to clean the smudges off the frig, shake the rugs, scrub the floor etc.  Likewise, how quickly our hearts get stained and David tells us where to go to be cleansed, for all of our sins, big or small, are really against the Lord. David says further on in the Psalm, “Purify me and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Now there are sins that are obvious to us and we know we need to confess; but we also have sins that are more hidden and sometimes we are unaware of them but they trip us up. We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those sin areas of our lives so we can be clean and have a fresh start. When we hold on to those sin patterns, we miss out on the joy of the Lord. Nothing is worth hanging onto when we fail to experience closeness to Him. We find a wonderful release in our spirit when we admit and come clean and ask for forgiveness. Let us not put it off today!
Challenge for today: Read Psalm 51 as your prayer to the Lord.
Have a blessed day and prayers and love, Judy

February 22, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend! We got more snow yesterday but is melting today. This morning I made individual egg dishes and went to Aldi’s and to my exercise class. We are off soon to do some errands this afternoon.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How much do we really trust God? Do we trust Him completely with our lives or do we waver especially when going through hardship? This morning I was reading about the Apostle Paul and all that he and other believers suffered for Christ. He said in I Cor 1:8 (God’s Word) that the suffering was so extreme that it was beyond their ability to endure but…. The but is important as he said in verse 9, “But we suffered so that we would stop trusting ourselves and learn to trust God, who brings the dead back to life.” Why are we surprised when we go through suffering since we were told that this would happen? Our culture paints the picture of being happy all the time and doing whatever we need to, to make us happy.  Even some Christians think that life should be all roses, but it involves hardship, sweat, and work as well. Gen, who has stage 4 cancer and who so many are praying for, asked family and friends to listen to Pastor Phil Manginelli’s message on hardship. He told the story of when he was newly married and he and his wife had their first fight. He had no clue what he had done but instead of letting the problem separate them, he tried to get on the same side of the problem. Whenever we have trials, it is important to partner with the Lord and not let it separate us from Him. Pastor shared how hardship isn’t something we should run from, for in the midst of our pain and struggles, God shows us who He is and waits to bless us. Rather than viewing our struggle as the enemy and trying to get out of it, see how it brings us closer to the Lord. Suffering is not a sign of God’s absence but an invitation of His presence. It is almost like a mystery unfolding when we see how God uses hardship to work glory into our lives and gives us joy in our trials. When I look back on a hard trial that we went through in one of our churches, I am left with such gratitude and praise for how the Lord carried us through; we leaned heavily on Him and knew our future was entirely in His hands. Whatever we go through today or the future, we need to humble ourselves and get on the same side as God. He will give us strength to act and will equip us for whatever is ahead. Let us trust Him in the hardships and pain and welcome His plan for our lives.
Challenge for today:  Trust God in your whatever you are going through and lean into Him.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

I Am Not a Mechanism

Recently, while going through some old papers, I came across a poem by D.H. Lawrence that spoke to me some years ago.  I was amazed at how it still speaks to my heart today.

I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections

And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.

I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,

And the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help

And patience, and a certain difficult repentance,

Long, difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake,

And the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake

Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.

When I re-read these words almost 20 years later, I realize the spiritual journey is a process of going deeper into the same wounded emotions, diseased attitudes, and default patterns of sin.  Paul knew this well. “It happens so regularly and it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge” (Rom 7:21-23 MSG). 

In his frustration Paul cries out, “Is there no one who can do anything for me?” (Rom. 7:24 MSG).  Then he answers his own question with thanksgiving for God’s provision. “The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different” (Rom 7:29 MSG). 

Over the past 20 years, I have learned to embrace my fallen nature without falling into ditches on either side of the road.  One is trying to understand and “fix” my faults out of my own strength. The second is resignation and despair in not being able to make a certain spiritual grade.  Even as I write, I sense the freedom to acknowledge, “I am ill because of wounds to my soul.”  These wounds take a long time to heal.  Lawrence’s poem talks of patience, allowing for “a certain difficult repentance.” 

I want to encourage each man reading this blog in finding freedom from “the endless repetition of the mistake.”  I exhort you to keep your eyes on the One who loves you unconditionally and to not fall in line with the patterns of the culture which “mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.”  Accept that you are still a work in progress.  

My focus at this stage of my journey is not on my incapacity to do God’s will, but my capacity in Christ.  Paul says it well, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).  That’s capacity.  Instead of sulking in my incapacity, I put my trust in God, who gives me the capacity to accomplish his will (it’s all grace).  

For too long I have limited the horizon of my spiritual life, having spent years shriveled up in a corner, nursing my self-pity and fear of exposure.  Now I am learning to celebrate the depth of God’s love for me despite my failures.   

My cry is for God to be merciful as I continue to find freedom “from the endless repetition” of my mistakes, God is giving me the capacity to receive not his condemnation but his love.  There is a new capacity to just be me… in Christ.

February 20, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend. This morning I made Chicken Chili and went to the women’s Bible Study at church…good lesson and good sharing! This afternoon I am going to make a roast dinner for tomorrow and enjoy a walk on the trail. Love that we can get outside again in nature.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Are we hungry to know God? Do we seek to hear His voice and do as He directs? We are nourished when we take in Jesus words and act on them, rather feeding on the junk food of this world and going our own way. Jesus was so careful to do everything His Father told Him to do and He said in John 4:34 (ESV), “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to complete His work.”  We were created for fellowship with God and for His pleasure. We feel full inside when we are listening and doing His will. Going our own way never works and in the long run we miss out on the blessings that we could have experienced. It reminds me of a child who gets his own way all the time and becomes very selfish and self-centered. He isn’t really happy and is always on the lookout for more. But a child that obeys and thinks of others will experience joy and will be a pleasure to be around. King David didn’t do everything right as we know, but he knew the joy when he followed God’s path for his life. My heart was uplifted as I read his song in Psalm 145 (ESV) this morning. He starts by singing about God’s greatness and desires to tell others of His power and mercy. He says in verses 15-19 “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him.” If we are spiritually hungry and want a full and satisfying life, we need only go to the Lord in faith. He waits for us and feeds us exactly what we need. Our part is to listen and obey, knowing He knows all and has our best in mind. The food He gives us will satisfy and we will feel full.
Challenge for the day: Ask the Lord to help you hear Him and the grace to obey

February 19, 2021

Devotions from Judy’s heart
Are we too smart for our own britches? That is something I remember my mom saying about people that were not especially teachable since they thought they knew it all. It is something we must guard against because if we are not humble and dependent on God, we will never really know Him. Mark Roberts on writes about how Jesus responded to the 70 who were sent out two by two ahead of Him to share the Good News. They came back so full of joy over their mission. They were especially excited that they witnessed that even demons obeyed them when they used the authority of Jesus name.  But Jesus told them to rejoice also that their names were written in heaven. He goes on to say in Luke10:21 (NRSV), “In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”  He is speaking metaphorically of babies as those who aren’t known for their wisdom. The Message translation says that He hid these things from the know-it-alls and showed them to these innocent newcomers. God’s kingdom is available to all of us but not through the strength of our intellect but through childlike trust in Him.  Spiritual pride can actually keep us from God. We can check ourselves as we read a familiar passage from scripture that we have heard teaching on many times, and dismiss it, rather than ask the Holy Spirit to teach us a fresh. Paul also said in I Cor. 1:27 (ESV), “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”  God doesn’t just choose the brightest with the most credentials but He most often chooses to reveal Himself to the humble and simple. One of the best teachings I heard years ago, was from a very humble guy without any titles. I was amazed and touched at the wisdom that poured out of Him and I knew it was from the Holy Spirit. Lately I have read writings of Professor Dallas Willard’s, who was a brilliant philosopher, who has since died.  But it is evident that he knew the Lord intimately and was open to what God had to reveal to him. We all need to go before the Lord as a simple child and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us. And as we pray for wisdom, let it not be to impress others, but to grow in our love for Him.
Challenge for today: Confess any spiritual pride and ask the Lord to give you the posture of a child. 
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

February 18, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day. We have had a little snow today but we hope to do an outdoor walk later this afternoon. We had a very good worship experience at the Ash Wed. service last night and the ashes were put on us outside as we left by the pastor who stood there in the cold. This morning I did food prep and cleaned our apartment as we have company coming this afternoon.Emoji 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Soul is mentioned many times in the Bible and we are to pay attention and nourish our souls. I am reading John Ortberg’s book on Soul Keeping and it speaks to me of the importance of good soul care. John himself was greatly influenced by Dallas Willard, who was a professor of philosophy at USC, and who has since died. Some time ago Al and I went to Chicago and heard him speak and I remember having to listen intently to understand the depth of his talk. He was brilliant and yet so ordinary in his everyday life. He taught John about eliminating hurry from his life and said, “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Even as John visited him at his home, when his phone rang, he never gave it a thought; he simply didn’t answer it but gave his attention to John. Dallas also taught John so much about how our souls matter. He said, “The most important thing in your life, is not what you do; it’s who you become.” It’s not trying to improve our reputation or circumstances of our outer world or accomplishing more but its more about what is happening inside of us. Soul is the deepest part of us and the whole person. Soul is hard to define and it is our life center, something eternal, invisible, and needs care. It integrates our will, our mind, and our body, and if it is healthy there is harmony between them. Dallas told John, “You’re a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self-sufficient.” When we lose our soul, he compares it to a car without a steering wheel and waiting to crash for we no longer have a healthy center. When we focus on ourself we neglect our souls; but when we see life through the lens of our connection with God, our souls thrive. Of course, we are to give attention to our work, family and others, but our soul should lie at the center of them. That way even when our circumstances are not good, our soul can still be at peace. Notice all the songs we sing about soul, “Jesus, lover of my soul,” “Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee” etc. Let us be centered in the Lord and take time for soul each day!
Challenge for today: Find a place to be alone with the Lord, preferably outside, and let your soul experience his love.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 17, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day and keeping warm. This morning I went to my exercise class and also made G.F. cake and a S.F. cinnamon raisin bread. We plan to find an Ash Wed. service to attend tonight as Lent begins.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we readily admit to ourselves and others that we are sinners? We sin daily, and just ask those close to us! We don’t hear much about the word sin today and even pastors don’t readily say it, but the truth is, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Today we begin the season of Lent and Al and I put purple paraments on the altar at church last Sunday in readiness for this special time. Purple is associated with mourning as in Jesus crucifixion; but it is also for royalty as we think of His resurrection. On this Ash Wednesday Christians all over the world are joined together in acknowledgement of our sin and need of a Savior. We receive ashes on our forehead in the sign of a cross which symbolizes and reminds us of our sinfulness and mortality. We all deserve death but Jesus came and paid the price for all who will receive Him. We are not excluded from the body of Christ because we are sinful, but it is the very fact that we acknowledge our sin that we are included. We are a gathering of fallen people that know our need of a Savior. I look forward to the season of Lent as it seems like a time to be quiet before the Lord and to draw closer. I often am led to give something up, as a small sacrifice in what He has done for me. But this morning as I read online the words of Pope Francis it is not only what to give up but what to put in its place. “Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and have trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity. Fast from pressure and be prayerful. Fast from bitterness and be filled with joy. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others. Fast from grudges and be reconnected. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.” We can all add to the list from our own hearts and I might add to fast from hurry and to enjoy each moment with Him. May this Lenten time remind us that we are far from perfect but we are forgiven, loved and cherished!
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord how He would have you spend this Lenten time and draw you closer to Him. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 16, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are keeping warm. It looks cold all over our nation and was -27 here when we got up. I love to bake when it is cold out and today I made Al’s favorite cookies. I went downstairs for coffee and Choc covered raspberries, and then we went out to Poncho Lefties for our belated Valentine dinner. I am so full! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What is really important in life?  Is it how much money we make, how many friends we have, how many degrees we have? All those things fall along the wayside if we lose our own soul. It says in Matt. 16: 26 (ESV), “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” Even if we get everything we want in life but lose our soul, we are lost and bankrupt. But how much of the time do we live without giving much thought to our souls and neglect what is most important? John Ortberg writes about the parable of the Sower that Jesus told to a large crowd by the sea. Jesus must have thought it was very important for afterwards He gave the full interpretation to his disciples. The sower is the Lord who is so generous with the seed as He scatters it everywhere. But it is the soil that is the variable and much like our souls. Bottom line is that when our soul is closed it is death and if it is open and receptive it is life! The first soil mentioned is the hardened soil, much like where people and animals walk and it becomes hard and dry. The seed will not survive, much like people who have hardened souls with a protective shell around them, often out of fear. Next the shallow soil (like the shallow soul) is rocky and has only a thin layer of topsoil; chances are the seed will wither when the sun come out as the soil is not deep enough for the roots. If our lives are centered on ourselves, our soul becomes shallow and we lack empathy for others. We have depth only when connected to the Lord. The third soil is one with thorns much like cluttered souls. The seed gets choked out by desiring things of this world and becoming busy with the wrong things. It is like those who don’t recognize they are dead inside, since they are so preoccupied with activity and busyness of the world. But the good soil is one that is soft and has depth and will produce much fruit. That is what our soul longs for, that deep connection to the Lord. Ortberg writes that God designed us so that our thoughts, desires and behavior would be in harmony with each other, and this happens as we live in unbroken connection with God. Let us not live superficially but give time to our soul that is the deepest part of us and lasts forever.
Challenge for today: Confess any known sin that keeps you from deeply connecting with the Lord.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 15, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! We hope to go out tomorrow to celebrate! This morning I made a pot of stew, and egg dishes, went to Aldi’s and then to my exercise class. Ann may stop by this afternoon and then we will walk inside again.
When we come to know the Lord, it is a wonderful beginning of a life to be lived for Him. It isn’t like we have arrived but rather the start of our journey to become more like Him. One might think that everything will be easy and comfortable but much of the journey is difficult with troubles; these are not to trip us up but to help us grow and become strong. But it isn’t all about us either, for we are called to serve Him in the world in which we live. He has given everything for us, what will we do for Him? How will we live and serve others is an indicator of a life given to God. Jesus said we would be known by the fruit in our lives. Our whole lives should be involved with Him—our marriage, our children, our schedules, our relationships, our jobs and money. He wants all of us and our whole life.  Some seek a long and comfortable and prosperous life but it is more important to have a full live lived for God. I have been reading the lives of people who gave everything for the cause of Christ; people like William Carey, Jim Elliot, David Brainerd, Mary Slessor and a host of others who sacrificed their lives but experienced the joy of saying yes, to what God called them to do. Jim Elliot and wife went to minister among the Auca Indians of Ecuador and Jim was martyred, along with four other missionaries. When his wife later read his journal he had written, “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I my burn up for Thee. Consume my life, my God for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one, like you Lord Jesus.” When we were young my mom read us missionary stories and at various times missionaries stayed at our home. We prayed for them and heard their stories as they loved to share what God was doing in the country they were called to. They gave up a comfortable life and yet experienced incredible joy. Our lives are full when we surrender our own plans and live to serve the Lord out of hearts of love. In Eph. 5:2 (The Message) it says, “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” Are we willing to give up all for Him?
Challenge for today: Ask yourself the question, how can I best give of my life for Him?
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
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