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.

July 1, 2022

  
Dear Ones,
Happy 4th of July weekend and hope you have a time of refreshment and fun. We plan to go to the lake for a picnic with a gathering of relatives. This morning I studied and made a veggie stir fry and did food prep and later we plan to walk the trail as it is a beautiful day. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
    Yesterday about a dozen-and-a-half residents where we live, gathered in the community room for Bible Study. We had quite a variety of churches represented and also a big age span. But the Lord unites our hearts as one and we have the desire for others to also enter into a personal relationship with the Lord. There is especially a concern for our children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren to know Him. As we become more cognizant that our time on this earth will one day be over, it seems to become a burning desire that our loved ones become part of the family of God. So, do we then try to help God in that pursuit and actually get in the way or do we pray much and ask the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts?
  I was sitting near Al during the Bible Study and all of a sudden, I noticed that one of gals had dropped her keys on the floor; when I bent over to pick them up it was if the Lord spoke to me and said that He only has the key to the hearts of all. In our zealousness for others to know the Lord, at times we may come across to them very strong and turn them off. Or maybe we pray at others in the sense of telling God what He needs to do to change them. We may try to pressure them into reading the Bible or certain books that we just happen to leave out on the bedside table…  but it often causes them to go farther the other direction.
   But God knows the key to each one’s heart and we need not try every key we can think of to coerce them; it is not only a waste time but can result in harm as the door is more tightly shut. God loves them even more than we do and it is important to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings if he wants us to be part of their journey into the Kingdom.  A song that can be our prayer:
“Holy Spirit Come,
Make My Ears To Hear,
Make My Eyes To See,
Make My Mouth To Speak,
My Heart To Seek.
And My Hands To Reach Out,
And Touch The World,With Your Love”
Challenge for today: Pray much for others to know the Lord but make room for the Holy Spirit to work in His way.
Blessings on your Holiday weekend and prayers and love, Judy

June 30, 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the day the Lord has made! This morning I made meatloaf, and cleaned the apartment and went downstairs for donuts. Al had Men’s group and this afternoon will lead Bible study here. We have friends from Remer coming after that and we look forward to a time of catching up. 
  Devotions from Judy’s heart 
  How many times have we had high expectations, only to have them dashed by reality? When this happens, we have to regroup or recalculate and go forward with what is.
  I smile as I think of the family that some time ago, went fishing a short distance from our dock when we lived by the lake. The couple had a small child and a dog in the boat, and likely had dreams of catching fish and enjoying the quiet evening. But it wasn’t long before we heard a terrible commotion as the dad hooked a loon with his bait and the loon was loudly squawking. Not only that, but the dog was franticly barking and trying to jump up which started the little child crying and also the mom. The dad tried to shut everyone up and although this went on for some time, we were never sure how the problem got solved. All their good expectations went down the drain.
   I’m sure we have all had experiences when we anticipated something good but turned out to be disappointing.  Of course, such things are   not a surprise to the Lord and He has things to teach us even through adverse things.  We may even see how He as prepared us ahead of time, although we were not aware at the time. Like me, maybe you also had things in your schedule that you were not anticipating, perhaps dreading, and yet it turned out to be a great blessing. God sees the whole picture and we have peace as we depend on Him and trust all our moments of each day into His hands. We will experience sunny good times but there are also dark cloudy times and He is with us in all of them.
    Sometimes He also sprinkles little surprises along the way! One day when Al and I walked with dear friends on the Paul Bunyan trail a deer appeared right near the path. He did not seem the least bit afraid of us. So, what did we do?  We stopped and were moved to serenade him with the song, Jesus Loves Me. Our friend said that God used His creation to bring out the child in each of us that day. As the song goes, “Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way. Thou hast bled and died for me, I will henceforth live for Thee.”
  Let us live for the Lord, whether or not we think He has met our expectations for this day, and rest in that assurance He knows best.
  Challenge for today: Give your expectations to the Lord and in faith, let Him direct you each day.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

June 29, 2022

Dear Ones,
  Hope you are enjoying this beautiful sunny day. This morning I made cherry cheese cake and did food prep, and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. Craft class is canceled for the summer but love our walk each afternoon, and tonight we  have Bible study at church. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Do we truly know that we are forgiven, no matter what we have done in our past? Or do we let our sinful past drag us down and rob us of our joy in the Lord in the present. We are told over and over again that when we repent and confess our sins we are truly forgiven and set free.  It says in I John 1:9 NRSV), “If we confess our sins, He who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is nothing too big for God to forgive That includes forgiveness for an abortion, for robbing, for dealing drugs, for adultery and anything else. All means everything if we are willing to repent and confess our sins.
   May our pride not stand in the way of truly seeing how sinful we are but be willing to confess our sins and ask for power to overcome.
We heard a good sermon from a layman at our church who shared the story about the Pharisee and tax collector who went to the temple to pray. The tax collector wouldn’t even look up for he knew he was sinful and pleaded for God’s mercy. The Pharisee, on the other hand, stood by himself and was prideful, thanking God he wasn’t like others, especially the tax collector. Only the tax collector went home justified that day.
  Have we ever compared ourselves to others, thinking, “I would never do that! I am not as sinful as so and so!” Sounds like the Pharisee, doesn’t it? We need to daily humble ourselves before the Lord and deal with our own sinfulness. When He shows us our sin, let us agree with Him and seek His forgiveness. 
  But even though we are forgiven we may have to suffer natural consequences at the time. Let us remember that the Lord is there to help us walk that out in humility and we will be given His grace and strength.
  Challenge for today: Thank the Lord that He has forgiven you every sin from the past and humbly confess any sin that comes to your awareness throughout the day. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 28, 2022

Dear Ones,
   Hope you wake to the joy of a new day of grace. The question for today is: Have you ever experienced God’s love flowing through you to give to someone that you did not love in your own strength? If you have, you also know it is not your love but His! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
   How many of us like to be stretched and taken out of our comfort zone?  Would we rather want to be comfortable and live our life as we please without a lot of effort?  But life lived with the Lord is not same old, same old but one of change and transformation as we decrease and He increases. That means often a change in how we think and how we behave and what our priorities are.
   It seems Jesus summed it up in a double commandment to love God with all our hearts souls and minds and our neighbor as ourself (Deut. 6:5) which is vertical and horizontal love. I am reading another book by Michael Casey, who writes of the importance of putting nothing before the love of Christ and loving others but we cannot do this in our own power. If you think you can, try loving an unlovable person in your own power, you will fail. I know that from experience.
   The law cannot force us to have a positive loving attitude towards someone else, but it may keep us from killing them. It cannot force us to reverence them. We can only receive freedom to love God and others by the Spirit.
   This love is a gift of God who pours His love into us and not something we can conjure up; we can only open ourselves to the receiving of His love in the core of our being. As it says in Rom 5:5, “For the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” He helps us see others through a lens of love that is past their weaknesses and failings. This only comes from Him as we draw near to Him.
   Don’t beat yourself up when you lack love for someone else who may even be close to you, but draw closer to the Lord and let Him pour his agape love into your heart. As we receive His unconditional love deep within, we desire to return that love and also to love others. Like Casey says, we learn to love by accepting love. His love is measureless and will never run out. Let us quit struggling to love in our own power, with our own puny love, and be transformed as we receive the fullness of the love He is desiring to pour into us. Then we will have to give to others out of the overflow.
  Challenge for today: Open your heart in a new way to receive His love and let Him transform you from the inside out.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

June 27, 2022

 Dear Ones,                                                                                                                                                                Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Today is sunny and nice and able to have the windows open and no A.C.  I baked brownies, cleaned my spice cupboard, and went to Exersize class this morning.                                                                                                          Devotions from Judy’s heart                                                                                                                           Don’t we love to be around grateful people as they are upbeat and positive and exude joy. It’s not that they deny they have struggles but they focus on the good and are thankful.                                                                                                                                                        I have been reading what Pastor Mark Roberts from Fuller Seminary had to say about Colossians 3 as it is a chapter that I memorized a long time ago. He points out things I have missed as he takes it word by word in verses 12-17. I see that Paul tells us in 3 consecutive verses to be thankful (verse 13), to have gratitude in our hearts (verse 15) and to give thanks to God. (verse17). He does not want us to take things for granted or be known to be complainers. That is not becoming to a child of God. Christians should be the most joyful people of all for we have been forgiven and set free and have eternity with the Lord awaiting us. Paul must have focused on that for when he writes about being grateful, he is in a cold prison in Rome and was not surrounded by any comforts.                                                                                 But sometimes we all need reminders periodically to be thankful and to remember that all our gifts and blessings are from the Lord. That helps us not only to be joyful but healthier as well.  Some situations we may not feel grateful for at all when going through it, but we can thank the Lord He is with us in it. Often later we can give him thanks from a grateful heart, as we see the good He has been working in our hearts through the hard experience.                                                                             We need the power of the Holy Spirit to keep our focus on the positive and not give in to complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves. Let us live each day expressing gratitude, and giving thanks to the One who gave us all things! Today I am especially thanking the Lord for my husband and for each day He gives us to love and to serve the Lord together.                                                                                            Challenge for today: What are you most grateful for today? Thank Him!                               Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

Deep People

As a young pastor back in 1978, I read Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.”  It was a kind of spiritual awakening for me.  I felt like I was breathing “fresh spiritual air.”  I was concerned about matters of the heart and soul, but there were few evangelical leaders speaking to the issues of “soul care.”  Foster opened new doors for me. 

I was captivated by the opening words of Foster’s book: “Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.   Foster went on to say, “the spiritual life calls us to move beyond surface living into the depths.”  He was talking about soul life.

Recently I watched a video of Foster giving a presentation in 2018 at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of his book.  What was true then is true today: “The need for the growth of the soul.”  In Foster’s view, “The most lasting work is accomplished in the depth of the heart.”  All real spiritual formation is “heart work.”  The focus is on the purity of the heart (Proverbs 4:23).  “We must not neglect this work,” he warns, “Spiritual formation is not a tool kit to fix things.”

When Foster looks at our culture, he listed four areas of concern:

First, information technology.  We are all wired to the information age.  The changes have been rapid and all pervasive.  The demands on each of us can be a spiritual drain.  The inner life can easily be neglected.  Soul care takes time and attention.  Foster cautions us with one word: distraction.  “We need,” he maintains, “a discerning, life-giving ascetism.”  We need practices to help us “unplug” so we can listen and learn to just be.

Second, the loss of Christian consciousness.  The Christian story and culture are being lost in the collective consciousness of our nation.  How do we minister to people who have no roots in Christianity?  We need to focus on spiritual formation and the growth of the soul.  The inner life of many is an empty, confused spiritual space that needs to be addressed.

Third,  learning to live courageously through dark times.  We live in what Foster calls, “a wilderness of cultural unbelief.”  We may be witnessing “the beginnings of a new dark age.”  Evangelicals in our day are considered “hypocrites.”  How are we to sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?  Foster’s advice is stark: “Shut up” and “listen.” Talk less. Listen more.

Fourth, narcissism is the spirit of the age.  Culture has changed in this regard over the last 40 years.   We live in the age of “expressive individualism” (Carl Trueman).  It is the very air that we breathe.  Only inner transformation of the soul can help us to be “other-centered” rather than “self-centered.”  Jesus is our model in a life of surrender. 

Recently I came across a review written by Foster.  He mentioned a prayer that he was using in his devotional life.  I have memorized it and use it both in prayer and during the day.  “Lord Jesus, please/Purify my heart/Renew my mind/Sanctify my imagination/Enlarge my soul/Amen.”  This is a prayer that helps us focus on our inner life.  

Notice: a purified heart comes first, then the renewal of the mind.  I continue to need much sanctifying of my imagination.  Recently, I have become aware of the Spirit enlarging my soul as I focus on Jesus at the center.  May the Lord help us all to do this (Hebrews 12:1-3).

 

 

June 25, 2025

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good weekend. It is raining out now but not storming. This morning I baked cookies on a stick and cleaned the apartment before Kurt stopped by on his way home from the lake. Was so good to catch up.
. Devotions from Judy’s heart
  I’m quite sure we have all be in situations where one person does all the talking. We listen and listen and get weary of what may seem to be empty words and no chance to interject comments. Al and I remarked to each other, after getting together with a couple we hadn’t seen for a couple years… they never asked us one question but only talked about their own family. They went home never knowing more than what they came with.
   In talking we all must be careful that what we say and to guard our mouths for Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6:45 (ESV), “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” By our speech, others see what is hidden inside us…it spills out in our words, as well as, our actions. Our words should be truthful and humble and gentle and uplifting and not full of empty words and gossip. Let us not fall in love with the sound of our own voice!             
    I was reading what Michael Casey, a monk from Australia had to say of what a good conversationalist is. He doesn’t do all the talking but draws others out; he listens with empathy to what is said and appreciates where the other person comes from. He practices self-restraint and respects the one who is speaking. We may be surprised of what God can teach us through others, if we stop talking and listen.
    How about at church are we good listeners when the gospel is read or the pastor is preaching, are we really paying attention or is our mind elsewhere?
    If we are honest most of us need to listen more and speak less; perhaps that is why we have two ears and one mouth! We can hear what is being said when we stop talking and make room to welcome what others are saying.
 David said in Psalm 39:2-3 that he would guard his mouth with a muzzle so he would not sin with his tongue.
 Challenge for today: Be aware of when you interrupt others and listen to them with an open heart.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

June 24, 2022

Dear Ones,
  More rain and thunder this morning  and now it is starting to clear up for the weekend fishermen. We saw a beautiful rainbow  about 6 am.Emoji I studied this morning, made soup and Al and I went to Costco for the Birthday cake. I have the tables set up and decorated for the 4th of July and soon we will have the party. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
   Sometimes we just know it is the Lord! Maybe we walk out of a meeting or a service and we have such a vivid awareness that the Lord was present and we are filled with a sense of awe.
 I felt that way yesterday as we had our weekly Bible study here at Northern Living. We had only 11 residents present as some were out of town and others that had engagements; so we closely gathered around a long table and Al began our study. We had left off in John 17:20 as Jesus had just prayed to His Father before He leaves this world. But then He goes on to pray for us to be one as He and His Father are one. The Message translation says, “The goal is for all of them to becomes one heart and mind-just as you Father, are in me and I in you, so that they might be one heart and mind with us… The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me.”
   Isn’t Jesus’ picture of unity beautiful as He desires for us to have one heart and mind and not to be divided? That is what He prayed and what He longs for all of us. Al went on to ask each of us to share our individual beginnings with the Lord and what churches we grew up in and where we are at now. It was interesting how diverse we all are and even ages varied from 63 to 94! None of us are in the same church as the others present, and even though we may have started out as a Baptist, we may have ended up Methodist etc. But since we all have the same Heavenly Father, we are family, and are accepted and loved. We can be who He created us to be not try to change one another. Denominations and age are not important, but only that we worship the same Lord and walk together in oneness.
   After Bible Study as I walked back to our apaartment, I felt like surely the presence of the Lord filled the community room we were in. It made me think of the song by Lanny Wolfe: “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place/ I can feel His mighty power and His grace/ I can hear the brush of angel’s wings/ I can see glory on each face/ Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”
   Each time we gather together in unity with other Christians may we recognize His presence in our midst!
   Challenge for today: Seek to be in oneness with other Christian brothers and sisters!
Blessings on  your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

June 23 2022

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a peacefilled day. This morning I made cookies for Al and a veggie stir fry and went down for donuts. This afternoon we have Bible study here and we will soon be through the book of John. It’s another beautiful day for a walk on the trail and the wild flowers are so pretty.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Haven’t we all heard people say that they wished they had the life of someone who outwardly seemed to have a golden life…no big problems or setbacks but just rather a life of ease. It is very unlikely that it is true of another for we only perceive from afar. Life is not all happiness and peace but it is also about sadness and suffering. In fact, there are coffee cups that are imprinted with the words, “Life is hard and then you die!”
   It is true that life can be very hard and right now the people in Ukraine have had their lives turned upside down and have nowhere to call home. There is suffering all over the world and it is the most universal human experience. Just because we know the Lord doesn’t mean we get a pass from sufferings but rather a way to go through them with the Good Shepherd by our side.
   When we walk through the worst times of our lives, we may discover what is most important in our lives, and Who is most important. It can be a time of cleansing as we ask the Lord to remove those things within us that are pulling us down and putting distance between us. We become more aware of God’s grace to us and realize how dependent we are on Him. Even when we fall, we fall into His hands, so even our hard experience can draw us closer.
   God is not absent or removed when the worst happens to us, but rather this can become a time we experience Him in a closer deeper way. We share in His sufferings and know what it means to endure the cross as Jesus did. For all who know the Lord, we have Someone to walk with us through those times and then look forward to an eternity with Him.
  Like Saint Bernard said in 1134, “If sadness were our continual state, who could bear it? If, on the other hand, things always went well, then who would not think little of them?” When we experience both, he said the joys are more appreciated and difficulties more readily endured.
  No matter what happens in our lives, let us say, as with the Psalmist in Ps. 71:14 (Amplified). “But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.”
   Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to help you hope and rejoice in Him in all of life circumstances.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

June 21, 2022

Dear Ones,
Yesterday I wrote some personal e-mails and forgot to put this one on the webs site. Some of you will get this for the second time but others of you got nothing yesterday. Sorry.
 
Hope you  wake with your eyes wide open to what the Lord has to teach you today? The question for today is: What lessons have you learned in the past, from His creation? 
This morning I am going to study and go downstairs for coffee and choc covered raspberries and this afternoon we are having friends come over for fellowship and prayer. 
Dd you have a Father’s day celebration?
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  The Lord has so much to teach us through all that He has made and we can learn much if our hearts are open and teachable. I remember when we lived at the lake and I often went berry picking, how many lessons the Lord taught me as I picked raspberries and blackberries. I would go home and write it all down and often more insights would come.
  Recently, I read what Steve Porter, founder of Refuge Ministries and Deeper Life press, learned as he asked the Lord what lessons he could glean from the Blue Jay. He had a special love for birds, passed down from his grandma, and his yard was full of bird feeders, bird houses, and bird baths. Now Blue Jays have never been my favorite birds as I often looked at them as noisy, squawking birds that chase away others. But as it says in Gen 1:21, “He created all the many living things in the sea and every kind of bird that flies in the air. And God saw that it was good.
   I never knew before all the good qualities of the resourceful Blue Jay. They are highly intelligent and know how to solve problems, can mimic the calls of other birds like the hawk, know how to store food and can recall where they have placed thousands of seeds and retrieve them. They know just the right place to build their nests in a safe location etc.
   Porter writes how they are brave, aggressive fearless warriors and will attack their enemies without hesitating. They even dive bomb if an enemy tries to invade their territory and will do anything to protect their young and won’t retreat. The Lord wants us to be strong like that and not back down or be afraid of the enemy. He will give us courage to fight for He is with us to defeat the enem
   Blue Jays also are like an alarm that warns other birds and animals of any threats, so they have time to get to safety. We also are to sound the alarm when we foresee an attack of the enemy coming and warn those in the Body of Christ. Together we can stand strong and be encouraged.
  These birds are very intelligent problem solvers and resourceful. They can recall every location of their hiding places. We too, as Christ’s Bride, can ask God for wisdom and He will give it to us generously to help us know what actions to take, and how to stand strong. 
   Blue Jays are curious and attentive and may follow us where we go, as a welcoming sign. We are also to be interested in others and compassionate, with our focus on God. Our lives are to display His love and to help the needy, giving loving care to them. Porter goes on to write how the Lord is raising up a Bride who cares what He cares about and who will overcome the enemy and stand together. May we become just like that learn from the Blue Jay.
  Challenge for today: Ask God to teach you something through His creation and write down the lessons you learn.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

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