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 2012 (page 1 of 4)

May 1st

 Devotions from Judy’s heart,

We all make mistakes and I made one the other day that was so disappointing. I was excited as I wrote several devotionals after I came back from a prayer walk and felt “inspired.”  But I’m not sure where in the process of copying, pasting and printing it happened, but the next day there were all gone! I couldn’t believe the boo-boo I made. I was in too big of a hurry. Sometimes in our rush through life, we make mistakes or miss what is before us. I know I need to slow down at times and focus on what is happening right now. It is easy to miss something important or even things that the Lord has spoken that we need to just ponder.  As I was reading from Deut. 4:9 and 15, Moses says to the people,  “Only take care, and keep  your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life…  Therefore watch yourselves very carefully.”   Let us purpose to slow down and absorb into our hearts, those things that He speaks to us.

April 30th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We’ve all heard that laughter is good for the soul and haven’t you felt “lighter” after you have had a good laugh?  It says in Prov. 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine.”  When I was reading The Ultimate Gift, Jim Stovall said that, “It’s impossible to experience fear, hate, or defeat when we are laughing.”  Now those are things we definitely want to eliminate from our lives. He also said that a life without laughter is not worth living and it is a universal language. Potential laughter is everywhere to find and to share. We have just had a friend here at Canaan that makes laughter just roll from our very bellies. Al’s sister ( who is also here) and I greeted him, dressed as Senoritas and did a hot Tamale dance. Laughter filled our house the rest of the day.  Ecc. 3:4 says “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh.”  I remember tne time in Des Moines, we met to pray for a friend who was in ministry. We gathered in the chapel and the Lord just filled us with holy laughter.   It was a surprise to all of us, but we went home feeling so much lighter and full of joy. It’s not that we don’t take life serious enough but rather we know that it is His hand we have placed our lives.

The Tunnel of Darkness

I want to start this blog with a prayer by Thomas Merton.  It is from his book “Thoughts in Solitude.”  I have now come across several other sources quoting this prayer.  I will mention my reasons for reflecting with you on this prayer after you read the prayer and reflect on its meaning for you. “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I cannot see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But, I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

There could be possibly three responses to this prayer among the men who read this blog.  The first one would be one of dismay, that a man such as Merton would be praying a prayer which seems to reflect such doubt and uncertainty in the midst of desire to know God.  A second response would be, “Wow.”  He is describing the condition of my soul at this stage in my journey.  A third response is that of someone who has gone through “the tunnel of darkness.”  The man is saying “Yes I know what he is talking about.  I’ve been there and have learned the blessing of the “dark night.” 

I have a thought for each of these responses.  For the first response I have a concern.  Why!  That is where I was in the early days of my journey.  It was at a time when I had “God in a box.”  Things needed to be black and white.  I wanted to have a solution and an answer.  There were plenty of people who could offer their solutions.  The result was I would get “stuck in the familiar.”  I wanted some control.  If this is you, I strongly encourage you to let God out of your box.  You will not grow in maturity when you are in charge of your spiritual self improvement projects.  I know – I was there and can still slip into that pattern.

As for the second response.  Merton’s prayer will bring you hope and encouragement.  There is no answers or solutions to where you are on the journey.  You know you are in a tunnel where there seems to be no light.  What is critical is the desire of our heart.  That is what God sees.  You know in your heart is your desire is for God.  That was Merton’s prayer.  “I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.”  So I encourage the man that is in that dark place.  Hang on to Jesus with the faith He has given you, no matter what.  I promise you that you will see light at the other end of the tunnel.

The third response.  One of praise and thanksgiving.  There are men who can say “yes.”  They have been in those dark times.  There was stress, anxiety and even doubt.  But they hung unto Jesus and came through the tunnel.  I like to think of the words of Ps 18:19, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”  This is a God created space, that bring more authenticity, peace, joy and freedom.  I know because I have come through several tunnels of darkness.  I know it will happen again.  But I believe I have learned that this is the way the God grows the male soul.  There does not seem to be another way, except through “tunnel of darkness.”

April 28th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Here at Canaan we live in such peaceful surroundings. The other day, I woke up to the sunrise over the quiet lake that was like a mirror and birds singing. We can be in quiet places but still be stirred up inside. Peace is such a gift that is offered to us and it is not dependent on wonderful circumstances or peaceful surroundings but rather whom we put our trust in.  Anxious thoughts can quickly fill our minds and we forget that He is there for us all the time.  He is our peace!  Some days when there are white caps on the lake, I think of Jesus word to the waves of he sea: “ Peace be still.”  And it was calm. He says that to our hearts too.  As I read from Ps. 85:8 today, “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people to His saints.”  May His words strike a peaceful chord in our hearts.

April 27th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Early this morning I went downstairs to get some potatoes as we were having Kurt and buddies for dinner. Much to my surprise when I opened the lid to the potato bin, an awful odor hit me. As you can guess there were a few rotten ones in the bag and they had also “infected” a few others. I quickly got rid of them and saved the rest. I wish I would have looked at them sooner and been aware of what was happening.

Sometimes there are things in our lives like habits, attitudes, relationships etc. that are not good, but we don’t realize what it is doing to our hearts. It happens gradually and we find we are no longer are exuding the fragrance of Christ, but rather an offensive odor. We need to be aware of things that cause damage to our spirit and get rid of them as I did the rotten potatoes. As Paul says to the Galatians in 5:16, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  If we do that the aroma of the wonderful fruit of the Spirit will be evidenced in our lives…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

April 26th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We have new lamps in both of our upstairs bedrooms and what a difference it has made. I had a short lamp in the shape of a pump from my childhood days that gave only minimal light. With this higher lamp, it gives so much more light and I can see so much better. Light is very important in our spiritual lives too and we are to bask in the light of His presence daily.  That takes letting go and just resting in Him and enjoying Him. I read in Sarah Young’s book today  that it is gratitude that enables us to see the Light of His presence shining on all our circumstances. Again it goes back to trust and letting go of our controls. What a great place to be to just lay back in Him and trust. He will shine light on our path and show us the way to go and fill us with His light as we journey.

April 25th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

In my kitchen I have a small sunflower shaped vase given me by a special friend that holds an actual sunflower. It sits by my sink and is a constant reminder of my friend, making me smile and giving me a boost in my faith. It is also prompts me to pray for her.  I thought of how the Lord fills our surroundings of reminders of Him but so often we miss them. We are so busy into our mundane lives  that these special things escape our notice and we wonder where God is in our situations. But He is always there and He is always surrounding us with evidences of His presence.  Sometimes we need to just be quiet and still and slow down to receive what He is sending to our hearts. Haven’t we at some time had a friend give us a gift that has tremendous spiritual significance but they weren’t even aware?  That is God! Or maybe someone gives us a word that 2 unrelated others have already told us? Do you think God is saying something He wants us to hear?  Or He may put before us a beautiful sunset that takes our breath away?
Let us be alert and open to all the reminders He sends our way to let us know He is right there with us every moment.

April 24th

Devotions from Judy’s heart

God works good even if we are not aware at the time!  Last week I went to a meeting where two people who are in charge did not show up. So the 3 of us that came just visited a while and went home. But that day I went a little earlier, and discovering an unexpected sale I  bought a couple things before the store closed. Two days later I went back and bought 12 sweatshirts, 7 t-shirts, a man’s flannel shirt, and a bathing suit top all for $32. Can you believe? While I was in town I bumped into the head of the committee and she apologized profusely for missing the meeting. I told her how glad I was that I had gone to town that day or I never would have known about the hot sale. Sometimes when we are disappointed that something doesn’t work out, God is at work and preparing us for something else He has in mind. We can trust Him and know that He has our best in mind and will work all things out for His plan for us. TRUST!

April 23rd

Devotions from Judy’s heart

We all have flaws and idiosyncrasies that may be evident to others but unaware to ourselves. Shortly after Easter I put away all the decorations but the one on the door that escaped me said, “The Easter Bunny Stops Here!”  Now I went through that door many many times and failed to notice that it was still up. Others that came over never mentioned it either.  I thought of all the things in our lives that need changing and may be seen by others but they are waiting for us to take notice. The Lord knows us inside and out and sees the changes He wants to bring into our lives, but waits our permission. When we acknowledge our need for Him and allow Him to do His work, we become more like Him.  As it says in the Message translation in II Cor. 3:19, “And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him.”  May we sparkle and bring glory to Him!

April 21st

Devotions from Judy’s heart

Have you ever had a bad dream and you wake up and feel you have worked all night long? I had a dream that others were attacking me and shunning me etc. It was a difficult time and I kept asking the Lord for help. All of sudden I spoke up to someone near by and said, “God is good all the time.  I don’t like what is happening to me right now but God is good!”  Isn’t that really the bottom line to know that our Father is good and wants the best for us. Yes, we go through hard times but it is important to let our hearts stay open in faith to know that He intends good for us. We can trust His purpose in whatever we go through.

Our part is to place ourselves in His care and be surprised at how He may minister to our deep needs. In my dream I didn’t know how I was going to get out of the situation, but He would go with me through it.
As the song goes, “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow… Strength for today is mine always and all I need for tomorrow.”

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