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: September 2011 (page 1 of 3)

Sept. 30th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

“From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, ’”says the Lord.

As we watch sunrises over the mountains it is a reminder of the end of night and hope bursting into being. If we have lost our hope in what seems like an impossible situation, we may feel daybreak will never come. But in the Lord, no situation is hopeless, for we can cast every care on our all-powerful God who will sustain us and never let us fall.( Ps. 55:22).  We can have hope ( not merely wishful thinking) but deep down trust in Him who will hold us fast in what may seem to the world to be hopeless. “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (Mal 4:2). With healing comes hope bursting with peace, knowing all is well with our souls.

Sept. 29th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

On our trip we have seen such beautiful scenery each day and sometimes it is just breath taking. But most of the time we are not looking out our rear view mirror but straight ahead out our spacious windshield. We will miss all that God has for us if we keep looking back. There is a song that goes something like this: “I look not back, God knows the fruitless efforts, the wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets. I leave them all with Him who blots the record, and graciously forgives and then forgets.”  If we keep looking back through our rear view mirror, just think of how much we miss.  It says in Isaiah 43:1 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!”  It is good to reflect on our past, just as it is good sometimes to use that rear view mirror. But let us not dwell there and open our eyes to the new.

Sept. 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart,
Yesterday when we were traveling on mountain roads, a big logging truck was right on our tail. He was so close to our back end and started to make us nervous. The speed limit for trucks was set slower than that of cars but he was reckless and going way over the speed limit. All of a sudden he passed us and we felt very relieved to not have him breathing down on us. I thought of how uncomfortable it is when we feel pushed by others on our spiritual journey? Maybe they expect so much out of us before we were ready?  Or maybe we recall pushing someone else in their Christian walk to be in the same place we are or to see things our way?  I know pastors are vulnerable to parishioners pushing something they want for the whole church.  Maybe it is a concern to them but they think the whole church should move that way. We must guard against pressuring others rather than letting the Holy Spirit do the wooing and prompting. He is gentle and guides us, but doesn’t push us. He also knows when we are ready for His next move in our lives.

Velcro or Teflon Personality

Last sunday the gospel text that I preached on was from Matt 18:21-35.  It is the parable of the unforgiving debtor.  I sensed the urgency of communicating the joy and freedom of living “a lifestyle of forgiveness.”  After over forty years of being a pastor among Lutheran folks, I know there are many who live in a deep, dark cave of their own making, because of unforgiveness.  Church people can be some of the most unforgiving people on the planet, because they think their good behavior can cover their dark side.  My greatest challenge has been forgiving church people. But at the ripe, old age of 70 I sense that I have been able to embrace a lifestyle of forgiveness.  It has not been easy. I know I will be tested in the future.  There were years when I lived in the “far country” of anger and resentment because of my unforgiving spirit.  But by the grace of God I have tasted something of the freedom and joy of living in forgiveness.  I pray that each man who is reading this blog today will know the freedom of forgiveness.

We have the choice, says Father Albert Haase, of either being “a velcro personality” to which all hurts stick or “a teflon personality to which all hurts slide right off.   For the velcro personality, “treasured emotional wounds and scars become like fish bones stuck in the throat.  Even the smallest bones can be excruciating,” observes Father Haase.  The teflon personality might not forget, but they choose to forgive.  They decide it is better to stop picking and nursing the scab.

Father Haase paints a sad picture of the velcro personality. “It takes a lot of emotional and psychological energy to keep a wound open, to keep a grudge alive.  And the more we work to keep it alive, the more emotionally drained we become as the grudge saps us of our strength.  The longer we allow a wound to fester, or the longer we keep picking its scab, the more bitterness, anger and self-pity poison our blood and eat at our hearts.”  I personally identify with the experience of Ann Lamott when she describes her experience. “I went around saying for a long time that I am not one of the Christians who is heavily into forgiveness – that I am one of the other kind.  But even though it was funny and actually true, it started to be too painful to stay this way… In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”  I had a hard time admitting that I was drinking rat poison.  I had to come to the place of humility and repentance before the cross.

Why do I say before the cross.  When I look up at the Lord Jesus on the cross, I see him taking into his body my sin, opening the way for my forgiveness.  “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:14).  Granting me forgive, was very costly.  But Jesus did it all so that I might be set free from my sin.  He paved the way so that I might have a forgiving heart.  Paul tells us in Ephesians, “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32).  When Jesus lives in my heart, he is the one who is forgiving others through me.  He gives me the ability to have a telfon personality.

Sept. 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

I thought of this verse many times today…“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12. As we have been traveling we have seen many different kinds of mountains and I just happen to love the ones covered with many trees and lots of green. The mountains by Edmonds are gorgeous with so many tall trees but when we went over the pass it was like huge sand dunes with very little vegetation.  I thought of how we all have preferences and especially in spiritual rituals and traditions.  When we were at the Vineyard, it was very casual and yet we received lots from the service. But my preference is a little more formality. I like some liturgy, especially before communion etc but that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the Vineyard service. It is just my preference.  Sometimes we miss what God has for us as we are so stuck in our traditions and miss the richness of other ways. We loved the people at the Vineyard and the pastors and felt richer because of being there. Next Sunday we will be at a Covenant church and we love going there as well. Let us not stay in our small boxes but let the Lord expand us!

Sept 26th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

When we were at Grace and Tom’s house, I got up at 5 a.m. and went to the kitchen where I found a note saying the coffee was already to go. What a welcome sight!  All I had to do was push a button and it was exactly what I was hungering for. It just hit the spot!  I was reminded of how the Lord is waiting for us with just what we need for the day. All we have to do is connect. “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.”  ( Matt,5:6)  I love having my devotional time when it is still and quiet for it is just what my soul is hungering for. It is my jump start for the day!   Later when everyone got up we had devotions together as there is also a need to gather with the Body of Christ . As we shared from the scriptures, we got more viewpoints and new ways of seeing things. It was a great way to start the day and my taste buds were satisfied.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good!….Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”. Ps. 34:8 & 10

May we take time each day  to receive what the Lord is waiting to give us!

Sept. 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

On our trip here,when I was swimming in the hotel pool, there was no one else there so I just prayed as I swam and enjoyed the freedom. I thought I was alone but I looked up and there was a security camera. I thought of the verse from Luke 8, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”  Little did I know that someone was indeed watching me.  I thought of times when we feel like we are going through things alone and wonder where God is in all of it. The words of a song came to mind …” Why should I be discouraged, why should the shadows fall, why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home. Since Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me!

He has promised to always be with us, for “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.” ( I Peter 3:12)

Sept. 23rd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecc 3:1.   Are we in the season God would have us in?  Living up north, it seems the weather can change drastically from one day to the next. Just recently I was home and down on the dock in my bathing suit and water bottle near by, with my feet dangling in the water. It was hot!  The next day it turned cold and windy and we were in danger of frost.  It was hard to switch over but things had changed. I had to put on warm clothes and cover the garden as well. Are we paying attention when the seasons change and we are in a new one spiritually, or do we hang on to what once was?  We can miss what the Lord has for us in the present if we are not willing to change and move into the new. Let us not be dressed for summer when winter has come and refuse to welcome the new season the Lord has for us.  Daniel says in Daniel 2:20 -21 “Blessed be the name of the God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons…”  It’s all up to Him and we need to make the adjustments and not hang on to what was!

Sept. 22nd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Isn’t it wonderful when we are received with open arms and know the other person truly welcomes us into their life?  Each time I go to my friend Julie’s, her dog Molly get so excited and gives me the most wonderful greeting. Her tail almost wags off and she runs to me, licks me if I let her, and when I sit down she plops on my lap. When I go there, I never wonder if Molly will receive me, I already know she will!  When we have Best friends in our lives,we can be quite sure they would welcome us too, day or night. But even if we didn’t have such friends, the Lord is waiting for us each morning to just welcome us into the new day and wants to spend it with us in all we do. But do we always believe that or do we sometimes rather hide from Him when we have blown it or feel guilty over something? No, like Molly, He is always there for us and just as the Father of the prodigal, He waits for us with open arms no matter what! His love is not conditional or based on our performance.  Let us open our hearts to that love and welcome and in turn receive others in the same way..

Sept 21st

Devotions from Judy’s heart
We have been enjoying the beautiful mountains and the verse came to mind from Matt. 17:20 “IF you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you.” Sometimes it seems our mountain is standing still, like our life is on hold. Sometimes the period of our waiting is like a mountain. God’s timing is a mystery but it is perfect and we can rest in the knowledge that He is in control.  Bill Hybels shares in his book, how to pray a prayer so filled with faith that it can move a mountain?  He said to shift the focus from the size of our mountain to the sufficiency of the Mountain Mover, and to step forward in obedience. We don’t have to spend a lot of time describing our mountain to the Lord for He knows all about it.  Instead we need our focus on the faithfulness and power of the Mountain Mover. Let us walk in faith and follow Him, and watch our mountain move!

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