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: February 2012 (page 1 of 3)

Find Happiness Within

While we were visiting with our daughter’s family in Charleston, S.C., I had the opportunity to take one of my grandsons, Lars for a treat and just to chat man to man.  We went to one of those famous ice cream places, called Marble Slab Creamery.  I guess they are mostly in the south.  Well, the ice cream is worth dying for.  When we got our cup of ice cream I noticed the slogan on the cup.  It read, “find happiness within.”  I wrote the slogan on a piece of paper and told Lars that my next blob would be on this slogan.

So here you have it.  First of all, how trival to think that we can find happiness within by enjoying a cup of ice cream.  It is great ice cream, but, come on, it will not bring happiness.  Could it be that this is a sutle appeal to our physical cravings to find satisfaction in ice cream among other things.  While every man knows that the physical sensations of our bodily cravings will never satisfy us, if we are not careful,  we can allow these sensations to give us temporary satisfaction, if our soul is not at rest with God.  Jesus warns us in Luke 21:34, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkedness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap.”  The world will continually tempt you to find satisfaction through physical cravings.  In living a soulful life, men need to be in tune with their bodies and the carvings of our bodies.

One spiritual writer has observed that, “In the biblical story of creation man is presented, first of all, as a hungry being, and the whole world as his food….Behind all the hunger of our life is God.  All desire is finally for him”  The psalmist helps us to remember this.  Our appetites proper object is God. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).  God is to be the proper object of our spiritual appetite. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps 42:1-2).  Only God can satisfy. “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Ps 107:9).  “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirst for you like a parched land” (Ps 143:6).  Only God can satisfy, no matter how great the ice cream tastes.

As for finding happiness within.  To that I would have to say yes and no.  First of all no, because that is the great trap of western culture.  Especially in this age of self consciousness, we are trained to look within for happiness.  This is what Leanne Payne calls “the disease of intropection.”  I have suffered from this disease for years.  I finally came to realize that this was pride that puts the focus squarely on me.  It was not till I came to the realization that God in Christ lived within me, that I could begin the practice the presence of Jesus.  Yes, happiness is found within, because that is where God dwells.  He dwells in the deepest parts of my being.  But it is not my task to go rummaging around in my soul, trying to find a happy state of existence.  My focus is on Jesus.  In Him and through Him I find life abundantly.

So one more word.  Happiness is not something we can achieve or find on our own effort.  Happiness if found in a person. It is the result of being a humble, loving follower of Jesus.  Jesus came to give us a full life. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).   Jesus never talked about happiness.  But he did say that in him we would have joy.  In his high priestly prayer he prayed for us. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them” (John 17:13).  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  As we surrender and let go, joy will come into our consciousness awareness.  I am finally learning something about joy in my life through letting go.

Feb.29th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We don’t always get to choose if we are to be the giver or the receiver but a balance is good for us all. I would rather be the giver, but these past days, it has not been hard to be the receiver as I have had no energy at all. It has felt so good to have all my needs taken care of and the nursing care here has been wonderful. We need to just where God wants us each moment, sometimes the giver and sometimes the receiver. I have been in no shape to get up and serve the nursing staff so for now I am receiving. But if my life is focused on receiving all the time, it makes for one spoiled egocentric Judy, and that is not good!!  I wonder if even in our receiving we can be giving back to the giver in hidden ways. I think we have all said at one time or another,” I received more than I gave”, after helping someone.  I have enjoyed listening to the life stories of the nurses and nursing assistants as they care for me, and maybe they just need someone to listen to them too. But most important we must listen to the Lord as it is up to Him. So let us not miss the opportunities He puts before us…either to give or to receive.

Feb. 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

When I went to the clinic yesterday, I felt quite weak and sick. I prayed the Dr. would have wisdom to help me but never dreamed I would be put in the hospital. I slept almost continually once in my hospital room and noticed very little of my surroundings. But today when I woke up, I looked out my window that faces the courtyard and has several beautiful pines. Kids were playing there this afternoon and it was delightful. I also noticed for the first time that on my wall was a big picture of the woods with bright light shining through the trees. God has used a similar picture years ago in my life to make me more aware of His presence. I just meditated on it today as it felt like His healing light coming into my being. I also thought of how we all want to be whole and transformed more like Christ. Sometimes it takes a crises but in our heart of hearts, isn’t that what we all want?  I wish it was instant and transformation occurred overnight. But more often it is a long journey of many ups and downs. Just like I wished that the Dr. could have given me a powerful antibiotic and sent me home yesterday ( actually that was what I was expecting) but I can see this is going to be a longer process. Let us not be impatient with the Lord’s ways as He has so many things to gradually unfold before us as we look to Him. “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all he has made.” Ps. 145:17

Feb. 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Words! Words! Words! On our way to my brother’s we were at organic soup restaurant. A lady came in and cornered two young men who were there to get soup too. She talked incessantly for over an hour while they held their soup tray and it got cold. After having it warmed up she kept on while they finally got to their table. She stopped by our table too but ended up back at their table again. Their patience was amazing!  We talked to them after she finally left and they said they had never met her before. I don’t think they ever had a chance to utter a word as she talked the whole time. I thought of the scripture “Let everyone be quick to hear, SLOW to SPEAK and slow to anger. The lady said she talked too much but it didn’t change anything, as she just kept on. Sometimes we see things in exaggeration so God can make a point with us. Later that day I read from Prov 13:3 “He who guards his lips guards his life but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”  May we be good listeners and keep our words few.

Feb. 25th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

This morning as we went to the continental breakfast at our hotel there was only one other person there at 6 am. He was a man from India and engaged us in conversation. It wasn’t long before we found out he was the son of a Church of God pastor and grew up in India. What impressed me was his warm and sweet spirit. He wasn’t overbearing but so full of love. When I got back to our room I read from Colossians and several phrases stood out from chapter 3 and 4…”Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts….Be thankful….Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father….Be watchful and thankful…Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace seasoned with salt.”

I felt like this man uses the opportunities God gives and does so with grace. As we said good–bye to him, it isn’t his words so much that will stay with me but his grateful, humble spirit and the aroma of Christ that he exuded. Let us make the most of every opportunity to share Him with others and do it with gentleness and grace.

Feb. 24th

 

 Devotions from Judy’s heart

I love when I see acts of unexpected kindnesses and it makes my heart leap with joy. A couple days ago I had just made 2 kinds of cookies and Ann asked me to go for a walk before I cleaned up the dishes. I left the mess and went for the walk and when I came home the kitchen was all cleaned up and the dishwasher emptied. Paul ( age 13) had surprised me and I couldn’t help but give him a big hug. If I was made glad by a simple act of kindness, how must the Lord feel when we think of things to do for Him out of gratitude and love.   I must confess I have often done things out of obedience rather than a full heart of gratitude….especially when I have had to do public speaking! Just like I had not asked Paul to do the dishes etc, his act meant even more to me.  As I read in Deut. 11:12 “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love Him to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

A House Divided

When we were at our son Kurt’s place in Kansas City, his neighbor across the street had a large stone on the front lawn that read “a house divided.”  One half was for the jayhawks and the other for the wildcats.  In that part of Kansas, sports fans are divided between the Kansas jayhawks and the Kansas State wildcats.  Evidently the husband and wife were divided in their loyalty.  It was interesting to me that they were so public about their divided loyalties.  The thought of divided loyalties within a household got me to ponder the reality of homes divided spiritually.  I got to thinking about the men who read this blog.  Are there divided homes spiritually.  I thought of Joshua’s words as the people of Israel were being asked to recommit themselves to the covenant relationship with God as they moved into the promised land.  Joshua declared, “But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

So the question for us men is this, “Is our house united or divided spiritually?”   Another way of saying the same thing is to ask, “Is Jesus, Lord of our home?”  Do husband and wife, who are also mom and dad, ” give first place to Jesus in their lives,” or is their loyalty divided.  Jesus warns us in Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”   One simple test as to Lordship in the home is to ask  “to what we give our time, talent and energy?”  Through word and deed is there evidence that the Lord Jesus is acknowledged as Lord in the home.

Men, I cannot stress the importance of having your home under the Lordship of Jesus.  We are to take the lead in this matter.  This does not mean domination or control, but rather sacrifical servanthood in which we demonstrate our love for our wives and children.  Listen to Paul’s exhortation to us husband.  “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting.  Christ’s love makes the church whole” (Eph 5:25 – The Message).  Going all out means giving to our wives and not expecting anything in return.  This kind of giving will create an envirorment  for  wholeness or unity of spirit.  Why take about this kind of unity?  Because Satan wants to divide your home spiritually. Jesus spoke very clearly that there in no neutral ground.  “This is war, and there is no neutral ground.  If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse” ( Matt. 12:30 – The Message). 

My strong exhortation to each of you men is that you be a priest of your home.  You set the tempo or the spiritual climate in your home.  Don’t expect your wife to take the lead.  As a matter of fact, there might be some men reading this blog who know their wives and even their children do not share with them in their commitment to Jesus.  I strongly encourage you to put yourself under the Lordship of Jesus.  Whether your house is divided or united, our stance is to be under the Lordship of Jesus.  We are to cry out to him for mercy and protection, asking Jesus come and do battle for us against the spiritual forces that want to bring division to our homes

You might think I am being little radical in what I am saying.  I respond with two comments.  First, I have tried to practice what I exhorting the rest of you men do for years.  Many times I have cried out to God for mercy, asking him to come a do battle against the forces that would divided my home.   Second, I believe that the Christian homes of our nation are under attack from forces of darkness.  Listen to the these words from I John 2:18 “Children, time is just about up.  You heard that Antichrist is coming.  Well, they’re all over the place, antichrists everywhere you look.  That’s how we know that we’re close to the end'” (The Message).  Again men this is a time to humble ouselves and to do battle against the force of evil that want to divide, with prayers that implore God to come and do battle for us.

Feb. 23rd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Today is the first day of Lent early this morning I read from Ruth Barton’s e-mail and wanted to share a few of her quotes with you.

“Yet even now, says the Lord, repent and return to me with all your heart.” –Joel 2:13  

Today is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday ushers us into a space in time in which we engage very intentionally into the disciplines of prayer, self-examination and repentance. But these disciplines—as significant as they are—are not ends in themselves. They are a means to an end and that end is that we would return to God with all our hearts….

 Lenten disciplines help us to abstain from the daily distractions that prevent us from seeing and naming reality correctly. As we allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away, we can return to a truer sense of ourselves and a deeper pursuit of God. We acknowledge the subtle temptations to which we are prone rather than pretending that we are beyond temptation…

The disciplines of fasting and other kinds of abstinence help us to abstain from that which distracts us and numbs our awareness so that we can become more finely attuned to what is going on in our lives spiritually-speaking. We allow ourselves to experience the necessary grief that leads to repentance and we ask God to lead us in a new and everlasting way.”

I like to give up something for Lent but it is not to be an end in itself as Ruth shares. Let begin this Lenten season returning to the Lord with all our hearts.

Feb. 22nd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Our three grandsons just found out that they have Convergence Insufficiency which is an eye problem. Their eyes don’t focus and work together all the time. There have been some symptoms, now when put together, explains some things we have wondered about. It is good news because now they have help by one of the 6 Specialists in the country. He will give them exercises that will help and it is so great that something can be done. It is also good news when God shows us things in our lives that have been holding us back. Yes, it can be something that needs correction and that news can change us if we are willing to acknowledge it in our lives. Jer. 15:19  “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me.” When we acknowledge our faults, our sin patterns, our bad attitudes, etc and repent ( 180 degree turn)) we are changed and He sets us free. Let us welcome the things He reveals to us!

Feb. 21st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

While here at our daughter’s I played Bowling on their Wii game system and was thinking I was doing pretty good with the score of 224. But virtual reality and actual reality are two different things. Later the following day we actually went bowling on Base and I must say, I did not do as well.  My best game was only 124 and my bowling pro- dad would have been disappointed in my score. Sometimes we are so good at pretending that we start believing it ourselves. But the Lord sees us as we really are and knows us through and through!  We may fool others and ourselves for a time but reality will hit.
In Rom. 12:3 “Do not think of yourself more highly than you aught, but think of sober of yourself with sober judgment.”  Let us be real!

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