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 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.

July 29, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Why do bad things happen to us when we are trying to serve the Lord? Why doesn’t He quickly rescue us out of difficult situations rather than let it go on and on? I’m sure we have all asked this question a time or two in our walk with the Lord. Gideon asked the angel this question in Judges 6:13, (The Message), “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” He had been through 7 years of trying to avoid the enemy’s attacks and hiding in caves etc.  God answered by telling him to go in the strength of the Lord and He would be with him.  Lori Hatcher writes about the reasons God may choose not to rescue us. Maybe like Gideon, we lack faith to believe He can work it all out. Or we may be going our own way, rather than His, and the Lord does not want to reward our disobedience. Do you suppose He could be trying to teach us to trust and become more confident in His power and not our own? Those are times our faith muscle gets exercised and rescue may not be the best thing in the long term, even though we wish for instant relief. God may be developing a character quality in us and we can ask ourselves, what He is trying to teach us in our present circumstances.  He may be doing something amazing deep within us, even though we can’t see it yet. But it’s in those hard-pressed times that we seek Him and pray for wisdom, strength, and His discernment. It could be that God is building our faith story so we can share and help others in the future also. But the bottom line is that He wants us to learn that a close relationship with Him is far more precious than a life that is trouble-free. May we be more like David that said in Ps. 119:71, “My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn your ways.” May our troubles draw us all the more closely to the Lord, knowing He is with us in all of our circumstances.

Challenge for today: Ask God what you are to learn in each hard circumstance you go through.

 

July 25, 2020

 

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Whose approval matters most in our lives?  Do we care more about what others think than what God thinks? I read some quotes from actor Denzel Washington, who said, “You don’t have to be approved by man if you are approved by God.”  It’s what God thinks of us that is important and not what we have or what others think of us: not even the awards we may have received or titles we have been given. Denzel’s mom told him that “Man give awards but God gives the reward.” Some of the people in the Bible were successes in God’s eye but not necessarily in the eyes of others around them. Think of poor Jeremiah. He was so faithful to do what God asked of him, preaching a message that others did not want to hear or respond to, and yet he was faithful in God’s sight. Whose approval do we seek when we begin each day? Are we diligent to want to know what God has on His agenda for us, or are we more concerned with how we will look before others? The Pharisees loved the approval of men and liked to parade around being seen in the best light. But often what God asks of us, may not be seen by others or approved by them. Our eyes are to be on the Lord and do our best for Him. Paul says in Rom. 14:7-8 (The Message), “It’s God we are answerable to-all the way from life to death and everything in between— each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He cold be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.”  When it doesn’t matter to us what others think, but only what God thinks, we will be carefree in His love and find true freedom. May we do our best to be approved by God, for one day God will examine what kind of lives we lived.  May He say, “Well done!”

Challenge for today: Seek to listen to the Lord to know what His desire is for you.

                                

 

July 16, 2020

What does it mean to give our all to the Lord…to be willing to do whatever He asks of us?  
 
I have been reading about Matthew, the tax collector, who walked away from everything, leaving his lucrative career, and went with Jesus when he said to him, “Come follow Me.” And James and John who left their nets and answered the call from Jesus to join Him. And the other disciples who who didn’t look back, and their lives were radically changed from time with Jesus.
 
When we give our all, it means we do what Jesus asks of us, like the disciples who were dogged tired after fishing all night and got skunked. But because Jesus told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, they caught more than they could handle! All because they did what Jesus said.
 
This week we had Taylor for dinner and she is the one we all prayed for when she was on her mission to Africa and Thailand for 9 months.  As we shared together, it was evident that Taylor spends time listening to the Lord and wanting to do whatever He asks of her. Recently she was enjoying some friends and they walking near a playground. On the other side she noticed a 15 year-old-boy and felt like God was impressing her with a message to give him.  She didn’t hesitate even when asked by another guy who doesn’t yet acknowledge God, why she would do that. She just walked over to the teenager and told him who she was and that she felt God wanted him to know something. She told him God had forgiven him. He said thank you and left and that was that. But later he looked her up on Facebook and asked if she was the one who had spoken to him. He then told her how he had been tearing around in his car in an open field when the car overturned. His girlfriend got killed and he wondered if God had forgiven him.
 
How important it was that he heard the message of God’s forgiveness, especially from a stranger that knew nothing about it. God wants to use us and we can be like his hands and feet  when we are willing. He says in Matt. 25:40 (The Message), “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was Me—you did it to me.”
 
Challenge for today: Don’t hold back from the Lord but give Him your all. 
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