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: July 2011 (page 1 of 3)

August 1st

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

We are all motivated to want to have our needs met.  It is easy to be deceived into worldly thinking  that those needs can be met other than in God. We have physical needs like food, clothing, shelter, rest, protection etc but we also have a set of psychological needs that have to do with our sense of self-worth. Everyone needs the security that comes from feeling unconditionally loved and accepted by at least one other individual. Otherwise we feel incomplete and lack a sense of belonging. Because this need is imperfectly met, we can feel rejection that leads to a sense that we must earn acceptance and love. We often go to great lengths to try to win the approval of others.

We also need a sense of personal significance and identification with someone or something greater than ourselves. We need to feel worthwhile and that life is meaningful. But if we have had experiences of personhood rejection we can feel inferior and try to find significance in other ways….like finding the right partner, the right job, the right car, the right friends, the right clothes etc.
Another need is the sense of competence and fulfillment that comes from the belief that our life has made a difference and that we have accomplished something that will last.  If we have experienced performance rejection we can be left with feelings of personal inadequacy. That leads to trying to validate our worth through achievement and performance.

It is deceptive to turn to people, things, and circumstances to meet our needs because none of these will satisfy them fully. Our joy and our peace depend on looking to Him

July 30th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

Our spiritual life is not a matter of trying to do things for Jesus but rather resting in what He has already done for us.  In Gal. 2:20 we see that Christ’s life is our life for this exchange is a work of grace and brings us freedom. In a nutshell our spiritual life is a continual process not a crisis. It is not based on knowledge but obedience. It is not external but internal. It is not automatic but cultivated. It is not the product of energy but of His enablement. It is not a dream but a discipline. It is not an unusual experience but a normal experience. IT is not a list of rules but a life relationship. It is not to be endured but enjoyed. It is not theoretical but intensely practical. When we think of expressing His life in us, it can only happen by the power of the Spirit. We can’t depend on our own efforts but our works flow from the power of the Spirit within us.  He lives His life in us, and we are like branches that receive through our connection with the Vine.  God works in us and our new nature we now have in Him is now our deepest identity. We are new people, and the process of transformation is progressive as we are conformed more and more to His character.  We might say our spiritual life is inside-out rather than outside-in. The Father strengthens us with power through His Spirit in the inner man ( Eph. 3:16-19) that we may work out our salvation. ( Phil.2:12) Let us live in the reality of our new identity and in His power

July 29th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

Prayer is such an important spiritual discipline as we commune with the Lord as an intimate friend.  John Piper said, “Prayer is God’s delight because it shows the reaches of our poverty and the riches of His grace.”  When we neglect prayer or it is just an afterthought, we tend to move away from our dependence on Him and get stuck in self-reliance. The author said that Prayer should be the centerpiece of our spiritual journey! It is not just because we are commanded to pray and follow His example, but prayer makes a big difference in our lives. It enhances our fellowship and intimacy with Him, and helps us understand and accomplish His purposes for our lives. It changes our attitudes and desires, and gives us new perspectives on things. It puts us in touch with His power and helps us to stand firm. We need to come before Him in humility with expectancy.  The time and best place for us differs but as we focus on Him we can release all our concerns and stresses and just rest in His presence. It is good to have balance and not just ask for things, but take time to listen and be quiet before Him. We must not let our ministry become a substitute for prayer. When this happens we are ineffective and become self-dependent. “It is not prayers in addition to work, but prayer simultaneous with work.”

Let us set our hearts on Him and spend time in His presence!

July 28th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

We will be drawn to certain spiritual disciplines, depending on our personalities. It is good though to try some occasionally that we would not normally gravitate to. Since I have written on several of these before I will only highlight a few.

The discipline of journaling is closely related to prayer, meditation and study. “Journaling enhances personal reflection, encourages us to record perspectives we have received from Scripture, and serves as another form of prayer.”  I find it helps clarify things for me as I record my insights, feelings, and experiences on my journey.

The discipline of studying the Word helps us with our priorities and gives us guidance for decision making. It can help us overcome temptation, and enhance our knowledge of God and ourselves. We need to be responsive to what we read and be willing to apply and obey what we learn. It helps to be consistent, and approach reading with the attitude of reverence and receptivity. We do this discipline to meet God and know Him better and this will come as we are humble and teachable and have the mindset of a learner. I think it helps us stay fresh and alive to new insights and not get stuck or hardened. The author suggests reading a Psalm five minutes before going to bed and let the verse speak to us and be our last waking thought. Then the next day read it though again and take it with, letting it be our theme for the day. More tomorrow.

July 27th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

In our spiritual lives we need a balance between dependence and discipline. God works in us by the Holy Spirit but we are also told to work out our salvation (not work for our salvation) Jesus wants to reproduce His life in us and this is not done by human effort but by the power of the Spirit. But there is no growth apart from the spiritual disciplines. Our spirituality is not instantaneous or haphazard but is developed and refined. We are told to obey, walk, fight, hold fast, pursue, draw near, love etc. How much easier it would be if we would wake up one morning and just find ourselves mature and spiritual. But in order to become like Jesus we need to be more than spectators. We need the disciplines that Jesus engaged in such as solitude, silence, simplicity, study, prayer, sacrificial service, and fasting. These are not an end in themselves but a means to know and obey the Father. If we expended the same time and energy in cultivating our spiritual lives as we do in sports or hobbies, how different our lives would be. As we implement spiritual disciplines we will cultivate holy habits and find our character being shaped in such a way that it is more natural for us to live like Christ. Let us work hard but receive everything we are and have by God’s grace. Spiritual transformation is more the process of inner transformation than outward routines. “Spiritual growth is inside out, not outside in.”

July 26th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

Our presuppositions shape our perspective in life and our perspective shapes our priorities and our priorities shape what we do. We all have a set of presuppositions about life, even we are not really aware of it. So often we choose temporal and earthly visible things over the eternal things that are invisible. We think we are in control and tend to seek pleasure, recognition, popularity status and power. But these earthly things lead to emptiness and delusion. But when we seek God and His kingdom we find true fulfillment and wisdom and love. Sometimes God takes away our “toys’’ for a time so that we can find eternal pleasure in Him. When we have a faith presupposition we find that life is about God and not about us: we exist to serve Him and not to persuade God to serve us. Another implication is that we have no higher purpose than to grow in knowledge and grace of God and become like Him. Also, we learn the scriptures and apply them to our lives. God is in control and our obedience flows out of trust in Him. We realize we do not know better than Him. When we have an eternal perspective we realize that our earthly journey is a preparation for life forever with Him. When we travel to another country we must exchange our currency. The currencies of this world will do us no good in the next unless we invest them for His sake in the lives of others.  Let us present Christ to the world and not miss the opportunities He sends us.

Molten Desires

For those who read this blog, you are aware that I owe a great deal to David Benner, for being a spiritual guide, during these latter years of my journey.  Each of his new books are been food for my soul, and enlightenment to my mind.  I highly recommend his insights to you.  In the early years of my spiritual journey, I was aware that there was much more to my walk with Jesus then simply thinking good thoughts based on Scripture ( while important) and doing the right things, much of the time out of obligation.  There was a deep hunger within me that was not being satisfied, along with an inner cauldron of emotions and desires that I was almost afraid to experience.  

Benner has helped me to finally come to peace regarding this cauldron within me, while tasting my desire for God.  I can say now that in my opinion and experience, our deepest desires are from God.  Embracing our desires is vital on our journey with Christ.  Listen to Benner – “Our desires keep us molten, they keep us moving, and they keep us awake…Within  each of us is an unquenchable fire, a restlessness that renders us incapable of ever coming to full peace in this life.  Our longings will always be larger and more persistent than our satisfactions.”  Benner talks about “the inextinguishable burning bush” at the center of our being that he calls “our fundamental life energy.” 

It has been a terrific relief for me to realize that my sense of obligation to serve Jesus will not necessarily help me to become fashioned in the image of God that is intended for me in particular.  “Guilt may be strong enough to motivate religious behavior, but only desire can lead you ahead on the spiritual journey.’  While it has been difficult at times to face what is really going on in my soul, I am slowly learning that the journey inward to become aware of what is there, has given me greater freedom and confidence to be who I am intended to be in Christ. 

So men I encourage you to embrace all of who you are.  This will include the inner journey of going into that cauldron of deep desires and emotions that are from God.  I quote once again from Benner. “Our deepest desires call us to a place of both greater height and greater depth….the restlessness occurs in the depths of our soul, our desires also invite us to attend to these depths.  We are to soar on the winds of the Spirit and be grounded in the realities of body and soul.  They point us toward the self-transcendent but encourage us to us to remain anchored in the mundane and immanent.”  Part of living with reality is to be honest and open about what is within our souls.

July 25th

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

“There is no sin so great that God will not forgive but there is no sin so small that it does not need to be forgiven.”  Because of Jesus death on the cross, we are offered the wonderful gift of forgiveness and a secure relationship in God’s family. His forgiveness erases our sin from existence and removes it as far as the east if from the west. ( Ps. 103:12)  Many of us find it hard to accept God’s unconditional forgiveness and feel we have to earn it or work off the debt. Guilt feelings can cause us to revisit the sin instead of receiving God’s forgiveness. If we think we can outsin the grace of God, it is really our failure to take hold of the depth of his grace and love. But when we have experienced His forgiveness ourselves, we can forgive others, just as we have received. There is a tendency in us to excuse our own faults and to blame others for theirs. But we are to offer grace, rather than justice, to all those who have hurt us.  Lewis Smedes said, “When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover the real prisoner was yourself.”  That does not mean we will forget what others have done but we entrust justice to God rather than seek it ourselves. The author suggests writing down the names of people who have hurt us and betrayed us. Then offer this list to God along with all of the pain, and make a choice to forgive each one. Then crumple the paper and burn it before the Lord who forgave each of us.

July 23rd

Devotions based on Kenneth Boa’s book, Conformed to His Image

As we grow in our awareness of our freedom in Christ, more and more we are able to put others first.  “Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3-4)  It’s not easy to have other-centered concern for people who may reject us or cause us pain.  But it need not destroy us since we look to God alone for our true identity and worth.  “When we are secure in Christ, the rewards of investing our lives in people exceed the pains that people can cause.”  As Christ increases in our lives and we decrease, we will find more joy in serving others than pursuing possessions, power, performance, or prestige. The world system switches the price tags and encourages us to pursue things that will not last. If we value the world first, we will miss out on the joys of knowing Him and quality relationships with others.   Our vertical relationship with the Lord is the key to our horizontal relationships with others. We bring nothing into this world and we can take nothing material out of it. But if we allow Him to accomplish His work in and through us, the results last forever!

July 22nd

Devotions from Kenneth  Boa’s book, Conformed to His image

The more we love God the more we will express His love to others in acts of kindness and goodness. “There is no act that begins with the love of God that does not end with the love of neighbor.”   As we grow in our understanding of His love, we are free from using people to meet our needs.  Our modern world view is so individualistic, autonomous, and self-serving but the biblical view is interdependent, communal, relational, and self-transcending.  Jesus derived his identity from his relationship with His Father and not from the opinions of his family and peers. He knew who He was and this relationship with His father gave him the power and security to love and serve others.  When we find our identity in Him we also will become secure enough to love and serve others without seeking our own interests first. We don’t need to be controlled by the opinions and responses of others. When we know who and whose we are we don’t need to impress others and manipulate people. The more we are concerned with what God thinks of us the less we will be worried about what others will think. How wonderful to not be enslaved to people’s opinions of us and free to love them as Christ loves us- with no strings attached.

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