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: December 2010 (page 1 of 3)

New Year 2011

Devotions based on Michael Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythms

We all crave balance in our lives but need Rhythm.  Spiritually there are times for soaring, times for walking and times for trying not to faint. There are seasons when we feel Jesus calls us to keep going when we really want to quit.  All this needs rhythm and learning to pace ourselves. Part of rhythm is knowing what gives us life. A lot of our energy can be squandered in chasing things that we’ll never catch, pining for gifts we’ll never receive. Meanwhile the things we excel at and do with ease and effectiveness, we may devalue. If we pursue God passionately, we will find that we are refilled and replenished when we pour ourselves out for the things He has created us for.  We need to chase what matters. Too often “we gain things that perish only to lose things meant to endure…example we get a big house, but are children are estranged from us.  WE are to seek Him and press into the hope of His kingdom.  It’s really not about finding balance but finding a rhythm to tilt us toward the Light!

Dec. 31st

Devotions based on Mark Buchanan’s book Spiritual Rhythm

Sometimes we work so hard but there is little fruit in our lives.  The author mentions the cause of this can be idols in our lives. Our Baal is “whatever it is in our lives which we believe holds ultimate power over our future, and so which keeps us from trusting God.”  In other words it is that which we believe secures our future. It could be a job, a position, relationship, a pension plan etc.  These things are good in their proper places but they must be in the subservient role.  If they rule us they will lure us away from radical trust in God and obedience to him. Almost anything can become idolatrous if we cherish it at the expense of what God desires. We need to be suspicious of anything that rivals our devotion to God and distracts us from pursuing His kingdom. Let us live in freedom and remember to walk in the authority and inheritance of true sons and daughters of the King.

Dec. 30th

Devotions based on Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm
What are the spiritual harvests that we can look for in the Fall season of our spiritual lives?  The author mentions 3 of them: a harvest of souls, a harvest of prosperity, and a harvest of Righteousness.

The harvest of souls is ripe and we need to look, pray and go. People all around us are hungry for something bigger than themselves.  We must not miss the moment but seize the opportunities the Lord puts before us and pray and go.

There is also the harvest of prosperity.  Paul says to sow generously and we will reap generously. It is good for our souls and makes us more like Jesus. “True prosperity is not measured by how much anyone has. It’s measured by how much they give.”  When we are generous in material things it creates bounty in spiritual things. And generosity in spiritual things invites generosity in material things. Each reinforces the other.

There is also the harvest of righteousness  or Christlikeness. When we sow to the spirit our thoughts, desires, attitudes, actions, and character are more conformed to His.  But this harvest requires that we submit to God’s discipline and that we seek His peace.  When we endure hardships it is an opportunity to grow and be more like Him. God allows these times for our good and to form his character in us.  James also says to seek peace and pursue it and sometimes that means risking our comfort for the sake of real peace. We may have to go through a storm in order to get there.

The Fall season is complete only when we deeply thank Him.  One day we may see that the worst things in our lives God has used as raw material for some of the best things in our lives.

Dec. 29th

Devotions based on Mark Buckanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

As we are in the spiritual Fall season let us be careful how we sow and not do it sparingly.  When we sow generously we will reap generously and “enlarge the harvest of our righteousness. ”And this results with much thanksgiving to God.

When surveys are done about spiritual growth, it’s always those that give the most who grow the most.  Those who give of their time, talents, and money have more satisfaction in their lives and in their experience with the Lord.  Those that give the least complain the most and are often in a state of disappointment. “The churches loudest critics are usually the lowest donors and the least committed volunteers”  Giving in all forms to the church is not so much a consequence of being happy with everything going on in the church.  “People don’t’ give because they love the church so much; but love the church so much because they give.”
Jesus said where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Heart follows treasure. Let us take care how we sow and do it generously! More tomorrow

Dec. 28th

Devotions based on Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

We are now on to the Fall season which is a time of harvest. Spiritually it is a time for thanksgiving, a time to acknowledge God’s provision and faithfulness. Like the author wrote it is a time to reap what we’ve sown.

When we prepare well it is an expectant time since we have sown and planted and now wait in hope.  If we have not prepared well it is a time of disappointment.  Just as a farmer sows a certain kind of seed and expects that kind of a crop, so we should expect to reap what we have sown.  We either sow to please our sinful nature or we sow to please the Spirit. We have the choice. We can nurture the little seedlings of the Spirit’s promptings-prompting us to be a person of peace, gentleness, self-control, love etc.  Or we can sow to the flesh. .we are tempted every day ….every interruption, every criticism, every irritating person we meet etc. Our spirits and our flesh are at war. What we sow is what we grow! 

Let us go the way of the Spirit and sow the seed that will conquer evil and overcome it with good.  More tomorrow

Dec. 27th

Devotions based on Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

The season of summer is one spiritually of enjoying God and others without reserve. It is a time of warmth and rest and pleasure. We are not hurried, worried and it abounds in fruit.  We feel deeply alive and full of peace. God’ seems most visible and available to us.

It is a time to quiet our spirits and relax and become freshly present to God. “Endless busyness is earwax against God’s voice and a blindfold to God’s presence.”   But stillness reawakens our wonder and attunes us to His voice.

We’re not in a hurry and trying to prove any thing. In fact, it is a time when we might try new ways of meeting God…example a new place to have our devotions etc.

In summer season we see that God is good, near and for us. It is a time when we relish the abundance of God’s provision. We delight in the abundance we have rather than looking for more bounty. That is so far from the world’s way that chases what they lack rather than enjoy what they have.  The abundance that we do have is increased as we give it away. ( Like the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish)  Wealth is only wealth when enjoyed and shared. Let us live in the mode of giving and thanksgiving!  In summer we must guard against dehydration. We dry out quickly and need the continuous inpouring of the Spirit and a deep saturation in the Word. We need to drink often or we get into spiritual complacency.  Let us give God the best of us and then we will reap His best for us.

Being Known

During this Christmas season as believers we spend extra time reflecting on the meaning of God become a human being.  This is the greatest miracle of our faith and the story that we have to tell to a dying world.  God became human flesh in the baby Jesus. We read in Gal 4:4, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.”  God allowed himself to be fully known in human form.  Through the gospel story we experience Jesus going through all of the same issues of life that we face.  “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Heb 2:18).  This is how we come to know God.  We see him in the face of Jesus.  “If you know me, you would also know my Father” (John 8:18) Jesus tells us.

But what about our being known by God.  Is that a strange and even unsettling concept for you.  I know for us men, who are more secure in our “control tower of reason” we struggle with being known, especially by God. In a new book entitled “Anatony of the Soul,”  Curt Thompson, M.D. talks about being known by God.  He points out that we spend much more emphasis on the ways and the degree to which we know God or things about God.   Most of the time we reflect on what or how much you know or know about God.  We seldom ask the question, “What is my experience of being know by God? 

Because of the enlightenment focus on thinking, “knowing things” has held first place in our culture.  We place value on the facts, knowing the “truth” and knowing that we are right.  Thompson observes, “….not just any way of knowing.  We have most valued knowing facts, knowing the “truth” and knowing that we are right.  Right about the way things work, the way to behave, and the way to think about issues of faith…..We even subject our experience of faith to research scrutiny in ordr to give it more weight apologically.”  But an over emphasis on this way of knowing can prevent us from the experience of being known, of loving and being loved.  This relates back to something that I blog about often; the ability of men to simply receive from God.  By that I mean, being about to hear the still, small voice of God declaring our belovedness.

Our “knowing about” gives us the illusion that we are secure and in charge.  This is something that seems to be built into the DNA of  men.  But we fear being know for who we are.  We don’t like to think of being found out.  We especially don’t like to be brought to the edge of deepening relationship with God and significant others.  For then in our understanding of reality we have to enter into the “chaos and mystery” of relationships.  But this will need to happen if we are to be known by God.  We have to let go of our understanding and having to be in control.  It is in those intimate times of vulnerability that we are able to hear the voice of God, calling us his beloved.  It is once again the call to childlike surrender.  Paul reminds us that we don’t have to always have the answer.  “We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions – but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.  We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all”  ( I Cor 8:3 – The Message).  So let us listen with a humble heart, not with a proud mind.

Christmas

Devotions from Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

I have always liked summer season best and spiritually it is a season of  warmth, fruit, light, rest, wonder, joy. It is a time of sheer delight in God and what He’s made. It is so opposite of winter and is a time when God and others are so intimately near, light and life surround us, and mourning seems to flee away.  Life seems effortless, and joy and light shine everywhere. We have energy to spare. It’s very much like when we first come to the Lord and everything seems right, bright, new etc. God is at the center.  But we have to guard our heart in summer against the wiles of nostalgia .  We may try to cling to summer’s beauty and resent when it fades.  And we all know that the past was never as clean and bright as we remembered it.  We can get wistful and bitter when the past won’t return.  The past is actually only reconciled through thankfulness, forgiveness, acceptance and repentance. Christians can be especially nostalgic about the church of our first summertime season. We think of it a holier and truer than wherever we are now. We remember the former glory most vividly and may want it to return. Memory is a gift to tell us where we are, and where we need to go but it can also be a trap where we can get stuck. Let us be quiet and ask Him to search our hearts for any places we are stuck or hurts that need His healing so we can move on.

Dec. 24th

Devotions based on Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

The first activity of Spring is to wake up, to get loose, and to leap forth. Let the winter’s losses and sorrows break down into something useful and life-giving. Once awakened Spring demands of us to plow, plant and clean. We need to do our part and to break up the hard soil of our hearts and take advantage of God’s renewing work. An unplowed field is a wasted field and we must not miss an opportunity for a crop.  Plowing represents attentive listening to the Lord in order to obey and to bear fruit in season. It is good to have holy habits like prayer and reading the Word.  We also have a role to play in sowing and planting. We need to plant our seed and establish disciplines that help us grow.  Spring is the best season for launching new things!  That may mean a new ministry for us.  And finally we need to clean and air those spaces that have become cluttered and dirty.  This may mean getting rid of the old and the things that clutter our lives.  He can help us distinguish the habitual from the purposeful, busyness from real productiveness, fruitless from the fruitful etc. One way is by a prayer practice called the Examen which is like a personal inventory.  A simple version of questions is to ask yourself at the end of the day, “When was I most alive, most present, most filled and fulfilled today? And when was I most taxed, stressed, distracted and depleted today?”  The examen can help us sort out and discover how to use our time and energy.  So let us go ahead and plow, plant, and clean!

Dec. 23rd

Devotions from Mark Buchanan’s book, Spiritual Rhythm

After we have been through the bleak Winter season, the cold lifts and God changes everything, bringing us into Spring.  Where death has reigned, life triumphs and we live in hope.  It could happen suddenly and we may feel joyful and experience emotional renewal, physical renewal, and moral renewal.  In our new found emotional renewal  we find our confidence in God is restored and our mood is one of cheer. The wounds we took are healed and it seems the Lord vindicates us. As we are renewed physically we may find our energy returns and we can focus with clarity. Often times we may be experience healing of a lingering illness that overflows from our emotional renewal. In spring we may also have a time of moral renewal.  It’s like God gives our hearts and lives a thorough cleaning and takes away bitter roots, areas of compromise etc. In Springtime God renews our spirit and the road that used to be hard and lonely now seems quick and easy.  We find delight in reading the Word, pray with a sense of intimacy, and experience the joy of the Spirit.  More tomorrow…..

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