Canaans 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.

Month: April 2010 (page 1 of 3)

May 1st

Devotions from Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

“We know that if we really want to love, we must first learn to forgive before anything else.” We are all sinners needing forgiveness and we must be forgiven in order to be able to forgive others.  “Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin.” Confession is a place where we allow Jesus to take away from us everything that divides, that destroys. It is humility in action! Even our failures can be offered up to Him, and His mercy is greater than our sins as He forgives us.  Our souls should be like a transparent crystal through which God can be perceived. Sometimes our crystal is covered with dirt and we need to examine our conscience and ask Him to give us a clean heart.
We need knowledge of ourselves to see our faults and then to turn to Him in confession. What we considered a stumbling block in our lives can then become a rock we can step on, and this knowledge of our sin can help us to rise.
How wonderful to receive communion and know He washes our sins away and cleanses us. This is a tangible way He comes to us and we are united in love to Him.

April 30th

Devotions from Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

“God has not created poverty; it is we who have created it. Before God, all of us are poor.”  Poverty is not just being hungry for food, but hungry for human dignity.  This is the hunger to be loved, to be wanted, and to feel the presence of Christ. So many are lonely, discouraged, and lack meaning in life.  Even among the rich are the very spiritually poor.  It is easier to satisfy physical hunger than the hunger from being spiritually deprived. 
Riches can choke us if we don’t use them fairly. Not even God can put anything in a heart that is already full.  Poverty is freedom in the fact that what we possess doesn’t own us, doesn’t hold us down or keep us from sharing of ourselves. Jesus wants us to remain as empty as possible that God can fill us up.

“Our poverty is our humble recognition and acceptance of our sinfulness, helplessness, and utter nothingness, and the acknowledgment of our neediness before Him.”  Jesus said, ”Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 5:3

“Our lives, to be fruitful, must be full of Christ; to be able to bring His peace, joy, and love we must have it ourselves, for we cannot give what we have not got.”

April 29th

Devotions from Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

“Don’t pass by the cross; it is a place of grace.”  All of us have to carry our own cross, all of us have to accompany Jesus in His ascent to Calvary if we want to reach the summit with Him.  This means we have to empty ourselves of self.

Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.  Renouncing self means to offer our free will, our reason, our life, in an attitude of faith.  We shouldn’t allow anything to interfere with our love for Him. He is our joy and our strength. Temptations and trials will come, but nothing can separate us from His love.  All He wants of us is to give ourselves to Him in all our poverty and nothingness. We can  lean on Him in complete trust even when all goes wrong and we feel like we have lost our way.  He can us use to accomplish great things on the condition that we believe much more in His love than our weakness.  We can have absolute confidence in Him because He is Jesus.  His hand is in all our happenings and He desires our undivided love.

April 28th

Devotions from Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

How do we work and keep our attention fully on the Lord?  It seems impossible but the important thing is that our it is our intention and the desire of our heart that our work be done with Jesus and for Him.  It is what He wants…our will and desire to be for Him!

When we think of electricity, we are like the wires and He is the current. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, to produce the light for the world.  Or we can refuse to be used and allow the darkness to spread.

Sometimes what we do for others may seem insignificant but everything we do is important to God.  God won’t ask how many books we read or how many sermons we preached, but if we have done our best for the love of Him..

“Unless our work is interwoven with love it is useless. To work without love is slavery.” No matter how small or insignificant our work may be, let us make it Christ’s love in action. The fruit of love is service. Love leads us to say, “I want to serve”.  Let’s not forget that as we serve the poor around us we are doing something beautiful for God.

Crossing the Thershold

In previous blogs I have referred to a threshold that men need to cross in their journey with the Lord.  The threshold experience is not just a once and for all event.  There will be many thresholds to cross.  By faith we are being asked to cross over the threshold. It will bring darkness.  Isaiah tells us, “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?  Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Is50:10).  Crossing over will mean  a new level of trust. It is at this point that the words of Isaiah 12:2 become real, “I will trust and not be afraid.”  Each threshold confronts us men with the truth that we are not in control, we do not know it all, and that we can not fix our spiritual life. 

You can name crossing  the threshold many things.  I like to call it “the Dark night of the Soul.”  The dark night is the classic explanation for crossing the threshold, given to us by John of the Cross in the 16th century.  So how do you know you are being lead and ask by the gentle voice of the Good Shepherd to go with him to a better place, even though it bring fear and insecurity.  There are three well recognized signs.  Gerald May describes them this way.  First, “the drying up of gratifications and the powerlessness to do anything about it.”  Things are not working the way they used to work in your spiritual life.  Secondly, “lack of deep-down motivation to return to the old ways.”  A person senses that there is more to the spiritual life.  Thirdly, the surest sign.  “There is a deep heartfelt desire to be alone with God in fellowship with him.”   There is unrest in the heart, yet a sense of peace that this is the way to go. 

The great encouragement that I got from reviewing May’s book is the awareness that the dark night is a good thing, even a joyful experience.  The dark night happens to us all.  The reason we don’t recognize what is going on, is due to the fact that we have not been taught the truth of the dark night.  This was true for me, when I first encountered this teaching over 20 years ago.  Since then I have had to cross the threshold many times.  In our culture we want to know and be in control.  This easy spills over into our spiritual life, especially as men.  But in the dark night we are not in control and we have to live with “obscurity.” 

Listen to these encouraging words fromMay. The dark night, “is a deep transformation, a movement toward indescribable freedom and joy.  And in truth it doesn’t always have to be unpleasant….The dark night is a profoundly good thing.  It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live and love more freely.”  He further points out that John of the Cross has been seriously misinterpreted and misunderstood.  The dark night is not a sinister or negative experience.  “It is, instead, a deeply encouraging vision of the joys and pains we all experience in life.”  So be encouraged, men.  Beyond the darkness is the braking of the dawn and new life.  But first we need to go in trust through the threshold and be lead into the darkness.

April 27th

Devotions from Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

Holiness is meant for all of us  and the first step to becoming holy is to will it. Holiness consists in carrying out God’s will with joy, it is renouncing our own will, it is running toward Him!  TO become holy we need humility and prayer as we lift our hearts to Him and let His light enlighten us.  As we experience His love it should cause us to spend ourselves for others. Since we can’t see Christ to express our love, we can see our neighbor, and do for him what we would do for Christ. Let us put love into action! He wants to do great things through us if we let Him and don’t try to interfere with Him. “We interfere with God’s plan when we push in someone or something else not suitable for us. People may come with wonderful ideas, with beautiful things, but anything that takes us away from the reality of what we have given to God must remain outside.”  Let us totally rely on our Father with the spontaneous abandonment of little children.

As we are so loved by Him, let us, as an act of gratitude, determine to be holy because He is holy.

April 26th

 Devotions based on Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

Mother Teresa said “Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” She emphasizes the importance of giving of ourselves as we give to others…not just money or goods, but the love we put into our giving. Ours is not to pass judgment on others but see the good in others.  That means we must be patient with each other’s faults and failures.  We tell people about how forgiving and kind God is, but can they see this kindness and forgiveness alive in us?   Each one of us is created in the image of God and we must accept each other as we are. Let us use our tongues for the good of others for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.  May we remember that we must possess His love within us before we can give it out to others.  All over the world people are hungry and thirsty for God’s love.

April 24th

Devotions based on Mother Teresa/No Greater Love

It has been very convicting  to read Mother Teresa’s thoughts on love as it shows me my  “anemic” love for the Lord. I pray she inspires you as she does me to open myself more to His love and to show that love to others.

She says for us not to think that love has to be extraordinary to be genuine.  Often it is just the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting.  Isn’t it wonderful that He uses us to be His love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties?

It is the intensity of love we put in to our gestures that makes them beautiful for God. Let us conquer the world with our love.  That means starting at home within our families.  Fro there, love spreads toward whoever may need us.

“IT does not matter how much we give, but how much love we put into our giving.”  Even when we cannot  give much,  we can always give joy that springs from a heart that is in love with God.   The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.  “A joyful heart is a normal result of a heart burning with love. “

April 23rd

Devotions from a book on Mother Teresa /No Greater Love

Mother Teresa is known for her immense compassion and openness and her service to the poor. Though she was small in stature, she was great in spirit and cared for those the world neglects.  She didn’t depend on her own strength but relied on the Lord. She said that praying to Him is loving Him. “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself.”  She spoke often of being humble and childlike with simplicity. She felt that you learn humility only by accepting humiliations. Of course we meet humiliations all our lives and the greatest one is to know that we are nothing.

 She believed in silence as the way to hear God speak. If we do not listen in silence we cannot hear His voice as He speaks to our soul. Then from the fullness of our hearts, our mouth will speak.

She says not to seek extraordinary experiences in our lives but do our day –to-day tasks with extraordinary love and devotion. “Our life of contemplation simply put is to realize God’s constant presence and His tender love for us in the least little things of life. “ May we walk in His presence and see God in all the persons we meet today, and to live our prayer throughout the day!

April 22nd

Devotions based on an article by Diana Murphy

Time!! Do we ever have enough hours in a day?  Do we somehow think we can keep up with our frenzied lifestyle indefinitely? What do we do when everything we want to accomplish consumes our time to the point of exhaustion?
Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly.  He was very busy but He made stops along the way to heal the sick to raise the dead etc but He also withdrew to pray. 
Is withdrawing from our busyness and taking time to pray the way to get more done?   Yes!  If we thought of our schedule as our service to Him and that every deed can become worship, our attitude can change from “I have to do this” to “I am using my gifts to serve others.”  We can then rejoice in what we did get done not what didn’t get done. Our focus changes from doing things to being God’s servant.  Even while we do things we can saturate our day with prayer.  We can pray for our family as we serve them. God has placed us in the world at this particular time to serve Him.
May we not live our lives so wrapped up in our schedules that we miss the sunsets, the rainbows, the embrace of family etc. We all have 24 hours every day. Will someone be more aware of God’s work in the world because of us?  Let us frame our calendar with eternal values?

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