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 2020 (Page 1 of 4)

December 31, 2020

Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are about to begin a New Year and 2020 was quite a year, full of the unexpected. None of us could have predicted the pandemic and all that has happened in our country. As we go into the New Year, we need God’s wisdom and strength, remembering that he is in control and we are not. Today I am sharing Alisha Headley’s prayer and may we make it our prayer on this last day of 2020.
“Dear God,
We thank you for being faithful, for giving us the courage to push through another day in 2020. Despite this year, you promise that you will never “leave us nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:8). You are a faithful God. You tell us that “those who put our trust and faith in you cannot be shaken” (Psalm 125:1). Thank you that even when our world was shaken in 2020, we serve an unshakeable God. We ask that in times of doubt and questioning, you would remind us to “lean not on our own understanding, but trust in you, and you will direct our paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) We ask that you would remind us to rely on your wisdom, which is far greater than our own. As James 1:5 says, “if any of you lacks wisdom, ask you and you will graciously give it to us.”  We ask that in all our decisions you would give us wisdom to end 2020 the way you desire us to. We ask that you give us wisdom in the coming year in all that we do. We trust that you are in control and that even if we don’t see the end of this world pandemic in the near future, that you are working and that you know exactly what’s to come. Thank you that you have gone before us, that you are with us, and you go behind us. Thank you for being the only source of security in this insecure world we experienced in 2020.In Jesus mighty name, we love you and ask these things, Amen.”
Challenge for today: Memorize a scripture to carry with you into the New Year.
Blessings in the New Year and prayers and love, Judy

December 30, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the day and the fresh snow. I think we got about 4″. Al was still able to get out to early morning men’s group and while he was gone I put away our Christmas decorations. This afternoon Ann and grandson Paul are stopping by as they are shopping in Brainerd today. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are all on a spiritual journey that is unique and not like anyone else. We go through many stages on our journeys and one would think that everything would get easier but that is not the case.  Often it seems to get harder and Teresa of Avila once said after being tossed from her carriage into a mud puddle, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder they are so few!” Our progress isn’t linear but there are times we may feel like we are going backwards or stuck somewhere on the sidelines. God doesn’t force us to move on for we all have free will, but He patiently waits to shower us with His grace. My cousin has a labyrinth and when I walk it, it often seems like I am going back in the same direction I have just come from. But actually, if I keep going on the winding path, I finding I am getting closer to the center. I love to sit on the rock in the center and look out at the path I have come from with all its twists and turns. Sometimes I look out at my cousin’s lovely flower garden in the summer, another turn takes in the view of the woods or raspberry bushes. Our journeys get more difficult as we have to continually say good by to our false self, our ego, and as Jesus said in Matt. 16:24, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.“ When our false self wins out, we feel like we are back to square one and must humbly accept God’s grace to get up and get going again. Sometimes we experience an awakening where we know we are not in control and we are led back to see our need for the Lord and experience His grace. This may happen on a retreat or maybe after we have had a loss or are going through a midlife crisis. We suddenly realize life is not just about us but about Him and we return to trust and to begin to live in the present moment with Him. He is our friend, our companion, and our true self comes forth. We find acts of kindness seem to flow out of us, not as obligations but natural responses. Our life changes and becomes rich for it is all about Him and not about us. Let us walk the journey with open hands and hearts!
Challenge for today: Commit to keep going on your journey and awake to what God has for you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 29, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is going well. I did a Bible Study this morning and went to Aldi’s and brought choc covered raspberries downstairs for coffee. Emoji We love our afternoon walks in nature and get “aired out” too. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Soon we will begin another new fresh year, and it’s good to put down any burdens of the past year that have weighed us down. We don’t have to carry with us a heavy bag of regrets, hurts, and worries, but can just put it down and leave it at Jesus feet. I’m sure we all have things that we wish we could do over in 2020 or hurtful happenings that caused us pain; but no matter what is in the bag, we are not meant to carry it around another year or another day. The apostle Paul could have lived with terrible guilt feelings when he came to the Lord, for he persecuted Christians and wanted to destroy them. But, the Lord spoke to him, shone a bright light, forgave him, and gave him a big assignment to bring His name to nations and to kings and to His people. He experienced forgiveness and laid down the heavy load of guilt or he certainly would have been slowed down! As I was reading this morning about Paul in Acts 9, I noticed Luke wrote in verse 9 (God’s Word), “The number of people increased as people lived in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.” And The Message went on to say, “The people prospered wonderfully.” What a great way to live! Yes, Jesus is our personal friend but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we should have a deep reverence for Him. He is the One who gives us our assignment for 2021 and His plans for us trump our own plans! We may be surprised at all that He has for us in the coming year. The people lived also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit with them. Likewise we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us on our journey. We can call on Him any time to get our direction and He desires to help us in whatever situations we are in. We don’t have to carry around a bag of worries wondering how things are going to work out in 2021 for we are not the One in charge. Let us live carefree in the assurance that He is with us, will direct us and will prosper us wonderfully.
Challenge for the day: Make a list of worries you may have, put the list in a bag and put it in the garbage!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 28,2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend and feel blessed by your Christmas celebrations. This morning I made S.F. cookies and then made what I hope is, my last call to the Geeks. Right now some of my info is in the icloud being “thawed out” and then things should work well, I hope. This afternoon I plan to go to Kohl’s to spend my Kohl’s free dollars and that is always fun. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How obedient are we as Christ followers? Do we listen and obey the Lord or do we do partial obedience at best? When we have a problem and we don’t see God answering as quickly as we would like, do we get in there and help and take over or do we wait and let Him take control.  I had a dream that I was at the bottom of a very big hill (almost mountain sized) and I called to a child that was nearly at the top to tell her to come down. At first, she began to obey and would walk down a bit but then stop and go on with what she was doing? I would call again and she would go a bit farther and this went on and on. It was rather frustrating and I woke up before I knew if she ever reached the bottom. I wonder how much we are like this child in telling the Lord we will obey and do whatever He wants us to for a time, and then going back to doing our own thing. God is so worthy of our trust and can handle everything that concerns our lives. Just like little ones who don’t always know why their parents require them to stop their fun and come in the house or down the mountainous hill, they fail to see the coming storm and God’s way of protecting them. So it is with us. We need to trust and obey even when we don’t understand. I reflected on Prov. 3:5-6 (The Message) where it says, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the One who will keep you on track.” It seems like obedience is a matter of trusting God and letting Him be in charge, not us. It’s having faith that He will come through in our situations and doing it His way. Partial obedience is not really obedience and we need to guard against going only part way. Let us trust the Lord and fully obey!
Challenge for today: The next time you are tempted to jump in and take control, ask for God’s help.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

“They” and Lies

Merriam-Webster announced “they” as their Word of the Year.  The word increased 313% in 2019 over the previous year.  The pronoun “they” may now be used as a singular pronoun.  Merriam-Webster explained that “they” should be used for individuals who are “gender-nonconforming” or “nonbinary” and prefer the plural pronoun to refer to themselves, instead of “he” or “she.”

The company maintains it is important to use the correct pronouns in communicating with nonbinary individuals.  “They” as a singular pronoun is needed because English lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun “to correspond neatly with pronouns like ‘everyone,’ ‘someone’ and ‘anyone.'” For example, “No one has to come if they don’t want to.”   

Merriam-Webster’s choice of “they” is a surrender to “gender ideology” which maintains there are multiple genders rather than two sexes. Persons are able to shift from one sex to become the other.   Gender is understood as an internal sense of identity, rather than a biological reality.  As a result, more individuals and groups are demanding a change in language. 

Several years ago, when a transgender person was Time’s person of the year,  society was suddenly confronted with the quandary of “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” These radical changes in human identity and behavior are already in the mainstream of culture.  To oppose this evolution is to be accused of “hate speech.”  For example, in New York City you can be fined for not using a person’s preferred pronouns.  

George Orwell wrote of political groups and activists revising language to change the way we think about ideas and even reality, conditioning people to  believe a lie.  Orwell said in “1984,” “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.”   Scripture warns us about believing a lie. “So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies.  Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth (II Thess. 2:11 NLT).  

The redefining of “they” will only produce more confusion. Orwell talked of “Newspeak” as a means of controlling the categories in which people think and “Doublespeak” as holding two contradictory concepts and then accepting both.  This is happening today.

Men, I have been convicted of living a lie, when I  believe “gender ideology” to be a lie,  yet remain silent as if to be giving consent.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has called us to “live not by lies.”  By this he meant, “accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm – or at least not to oppose – to get along peaceably under totalitarianism.”  

When tempted to believe a lie, do the following:  First,  live surrendered to Jesus. He will keep you free from captivity to cultural lies.  “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Celebrate your freedom in humility and servanthood to those captive to lies.  

Secondly,  continually cry out for discernment.  Jesus warns us, “So be on our guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” ( Mark 13:23).  This we know: Jesus is Lord of history; We have his Word; He has given us His Spirit (the Spirit of truth); and we are part of the body of Christ.  We have a firm place to stand.    

Thirdly,  remember Jesus words, “Be as shrewd as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Matt 10:16 MSG).  We must be vigilant at all times, practicing His presence.  Don’t take time off.

Fourthly,  above all, practice the admonition of Isaiah 2:5, “let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  The father of lies works best in darkness.  We live as “warriors of the light.”

 

 

 

December 26, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and it probably wasn’t celebrated in the same way as last Christmas…but hopefully very meaningful. Today I cleaned the apt and got 2 spaghetti squash pies made and now we are going to be off to Costco.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord continually blesses us but I wonder how many blessings go unnoticed as we go about our lives often on autopilot. The Lord has to remind me to be present, and as I do this more and more, I find life to be richer. I remember at our Bible study Christmas gathering, I took a moment to stop and just praise Him for His presence. And on Christmas eve day at our daughter’s home, I paused to savor the time while we opened gifts and visited etc. Later on the way home, I found my heart was full up to the brim! Maybe we are sometimes on empty because we aren’t living in the present moment and simply trudging along without noticing God’s hand of blessing. Jesus often does things in unassuming ways and we have to be awake and alert to catch that it is Him. I think of the wedding at Cana when He told the servants to fill the water jugs when the wine ran out. The guests at the wedding knew the wine was exceptional but did they know why? Jesus doesn’t always choose people of status and power but often comes to the least and those who feel left out. We don’t need to feel excluded for God came to the shepherds who had no status in that culture and revealed the most wonderful news of Jesus coming. He also chose to spend time training unlearned fisherman to catch souls for the kingdom. I personally remember one Sunday when I was kneeling at the altar rail for communion, before COVID time. When Pastor gave me the communion wine, I felt something like electricity go through me. I’m sure Pastor didn’t know that it happened, and I was taken by surprise and wished to just stay there. Then this week I was awakened in the night as I heard the singing of Silent Night. I wondered at first if I was dreaming but I got up and went to the window to see if there were carolers outside. Of course weren’t at 2 am.! I asked Al in the morning if he had heard the music but it was only for my ears. I was later reminded to think of the words of the song and take the message to heart for when we spend time with the Lord in silence and quiet, all becomes calm within. We have Emmanuel, God with us, and we need to be present for He makes Himself known to us in so many different ways. John said in I John 5:20 (The Message), “And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God-what a gift!- and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.”
Challenge for today: Before you go to sleep, think over your day and where you saw the Lord at work.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

December 25, 2020

Dear Ones,
A blessed Christmas day to each of you and may you keep Christmas well. We had a wonderful  time of celebration yesterday with Ann’s family at the lake and saw how much they have done on the house. We had a delicious dinner of leg of lamb plus so many side dishes. We opened gifts and visited and got home in time for Christmas Eve candle light service. Today Al and I are going to have a steak dinner, time to reflect, a brisk walk, and watch the Vikings win, we hope.Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As Christmas Day is here my heart is full of gratitude that Jesus would leave His heavenly dwelling to come as a helpless baby born in a cold dirty stable It is hard to imagine and wrap our minds around that and yet He did. Perhaps this year we have had more time to contemplate the greatness of this gift for we have not been rushing to get to Christmas parties and programs since most of them have been canceled. Christmas baking is at an all time low as there are so few celebrations. But just maybe Christmas will mean more than ever and we can grasp more of its real significance. Life seems to be more simple now and we can take time to savor Christmas cards and calls and listen to the carols. I didn’t have to make dozens of sweet rolls for the relative gathering or little gifts for each family but remember the best Gift ever given. When Jesus was born the world then was not a peaceful place just as our world today. But we are not without hope for that Baby grew up and defeated the powers of sin and death and is now preparing a place for all who believe in Him. Like the shepherds who worshiped Him and gave praise, we rejoice and humbly bow before Him and say as the angel choir in Luke 2:11 (The Message), “Glory to God in the Heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please Him.” He is so worthy of our praise and one day everyone will bow before Him, as it says in Phil 2:9-10 (God’s Word), “This is why God has given Him an exceptional honor—the name above all other names—So that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” He is at this time preparing a place for all of us who believe and no matter what goes on around us, we are people of hope for He is coming again. On this Christmas day may we prepare room for Him in our hearts, spend silent time in His presence, acknowledge the wondrous gifts He has given, and go tell others that Jesus Christ is born!

 

December 24, 2020

 
A joyful Christmas eve day to you! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Perhaps the most beloved Christmas carol of all times is Silent Night by Fanz Xaver Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr. Most church services seem to have this carol sung on Christmas eve at the close of the candle light service and we hear it sung in many Christmas programs and movies etc. Father Mohr actually wrote the poem in 1816 when he was an assistant priest in Mariapfarr. It was first sung at mass in his small village church in Oberndorf, Austria in 1818. There had been damage to the organ from flooding and so they needed a simple song that could be accompanied by guitar. Father brought the words to Gruber on Christmas eve and asked him to compose a melody with guitar accompaniment for the mass that evening. Karl Mauracher, an organ builder who had tried to fix the organ, loved the song and took it home with him. Thereafter, two families of traveling folk singers, The Strassers and the Rainers, sang it in their shows and the message of the song reached around the world. I read on Crosswalk. com that it was also sung in 1914 during WWI in a very unusual circumstance. There seemed to be a break between battles as the English, French and German soldiers were waiting for the next round of gunfire. But they were surprised as there was an unexpected cease fire, and in some places, they crossed the enemy lines and played games, smoked cigarettes and even exchanged gifts with one another. But even as they celebrated together, they also knew in a short time they would be fighting one another again. But for now, they sang the carols and the words seem to especially resonate with the soldiers as they sang, “Silent night! Holy night. All is calm; all is bright. Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.”  The soldiers must have hoped and prayed even in the midst of the bloody war, that there would be another silent night, a time of peace. Our world seems to be in such chaos right now and we must also make it our prayer for His peace to reign. The answer came 2000 years ago when the shepherd’s quiet night was interrupted by an angel message of our Savior being born and angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom He favors!” Luke 2:14 (NRSV)
Challenge for today: Spend some time in quiet worship of the Prince of Peace
Blessings on your Christmas and prayers and love, Judy

 

December 23, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day of preparation for Christmas. It is very blustery out and we are choosing to stay in today as it continues to snow and blow. Emoji I was busy in the kitchen this morning making pie, cauliflower potatoes, egg dishes and 2 kinds of cookies. Tomorrow we are going to Canaan to be with Ann’s family for Christmas celebration. We plan to get home again in time for the Christmas service at church. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we see the world around us from God’s perspective or our own limited one? Could it be that  our own way of seeing things gets clouded by our attitudes of negative thinking, anger, jealousy, and unfulfilled desires? Maybe we evaluate ourselves better than we ought! Paul said in Romans 12:3 (NRSV), “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than  you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned to  you.” It’s good to have healthy self-esteem as our identity is in the Lord, but we must not overestimate ourselves by using worldly standards. You may have seen online, the comic strip of the woman sitting by her husband and looking out their window. She notices that her neighbor’s wash hanging on the line looked dirty. (That was back in the days when women hung their wash outside to dry in the fresh breeze) She wondered if her neighbor didn’t know how to wash clothes or if she needed a different laundry detergent as her wash always looked gray. But one day she noticed a big change as her neighbor’s wash looked sparkling clean and she wondered what happened. Her husband solved the mystery and piped up to say that he had gotten up early and cleaned their window! What a revelation! What we see in others is dependent on the clarity of our own windows through which we look, and we must be careful not to judge. Perhaps what we see in others doesn’t define them as much as it defines us. What is in our own hearts is what we need to deal with. The closer we draw to the Lord, the more we will see things from His perspective and not our own limited one that is distorted by the things that we need to take care of. When the Lord shows us things in our own lives that need to change, let us be quick to repent and let Him cleanse us so His light can shine through us.
Challenge for today: Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He shows you what needs to change in your life.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

December 22, 2020

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a peace filled day. Al and I left early this morning and I visited a friend in Hackensack and then went on to my former Bible Study group while Al visited a friend. We had a great video, singing of carols, and a luncheon; it was a wonderful time of fellowship.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
God puts others in our lives to help mentor us and show us a way that draws us closer to Him. Some have a spiritual director who knows just the right questions to ask to help us know the direction the Lord may be leading us. Sometimes we read a book that seems to be exactly where we are in our walk with the Lord and it gives us the courage to take the next step on our journey. As we observe the lives of those that have a close relationship with the Lord, we learn from them as we see their deep faith walked out in their lives. I love to read the lives of saints who have gone through so much and found joy in the midst of their suffering, and experiencing that Jesus is more than enough. From them we learn the importance of seeking God for Himself alone and not what we can get from Him. Prayer is a way of life and their whole day is one of being present to the Lord and receiving His love, not trying to earn it or achieve something. It’s not about what we do but trusting what He has done for us. Our part is to surrender to Him our will and plans and to receive what He has for us. St Therese of Lisieux lived close to God and saw her poverty and nothingness. She looked for opportunities for self-giving and wanted to please God. She died of Tuberculosis before she reached 25 but left behind a way of love for others to follow. I also read about Saint Elisabeth who was a Carmelite  at 21 but died at 26 of Addison’s disease. Her life was one of surrender to God and letting God love her. She knew the importance of removing obstacles to God’s love and being attentive to His will. She wrote of how we are holy as we let God love us and desire to do everything with Him. We are all a unique creation of His love so there is no place for competition but only the desire to receive and express His love and beauty in our own unique way. Let us not be so concerned about praying the right words or saying a lot but rather loving much.  James 4:8 (God’s Word) says, “Come close to God, and He will come close to you.” Our Heavenly Father desires that we come to really know His love so let us draw close.
Challenge for today: Spend some time just enjoying His presence and with few words.
Blessings on the rest of your day and prayers and love, Judy
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