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 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Be an Influencer

Jeremiah the prophet was called to convince the stubborn people of Judah to repent and turn back to the Lord before it was too late.  Jeremiah complained to God about the assignment: “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?  Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” (Jer. 15:18).  The Message says, “You’re nothing, God, but a mirage, a lovely oasis in the distance – and then nothing.” 

After this complaint God exhorts Jeremiah (v. 15:9-20) to repent and stop uttering worthless words: “…If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesman” (v. 9).  “All Jeremiah’s talk had become negative, destructive and worthless – characteristic of a disillusioned person” (Bible Speaks Today).  Jeremiah had begun parroting the negative narrative of his culture.  God was asking him to change his tune and faithfully proclaim the message God was giving him.      

I need to regularly check my habits of speech if I want to be a truth teller.  I don’t want to be caught complaining about how “anti-God” our culture has become.  Yes, it’s right and proper to complain or protest to God (see the psalms of lament).  But it’s wrong to “stoop to cheap whining” (v. 19 – Message).  I need to refrain from reciting the secular, godless view of life.  I can’t stay in the negative.  “Worthless words” should be eliminated from my speech. 

Men, the more we experience God’s love, the more we can share it in the most difficult situations.  And the more our lives are integrated in this way, the more we can be “influencers.”  The Message says, “Let your words change them.  Don’t change your words to suit them” (v. 19).  The NLT tells us, “You must influence them; do not let them influence you!”  The verb in Hebrew implies turning away from the negative, while turning to the good.  This can renew relationships, especially with God.

After this rebuke, God recommissions Jeremiah: “You will be my spokesman”          (v. 19). God does not reject Jeremiah, but rather repeats the same call and commission Jeremiah heard at the very start of his ministry: “you may serve me…you will be my spokesman…I am with you” (v. 19-20, cf. 1:7-9 – Bible Speaks Today).  Never underestimate your life as an “influencer” – as God’s spokesman.  God isn’t looking for perfect vessels, but rather men who know their calling and are willing to stand for Jesus. 

Beyond this, God promised to protect Jeremiah in his prophetic ministry.  “I’ll turn you into a steel wall, a thick steel wall, impregnable.  They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you because I’m at your side, defending and delivering” (v. 20 – Message).  These words must have been reassuring for Jeremiah in the face of stiff opposition.   

Wow, I need to hear these words about being a “thick steel wall.”  Men, if you are an “influencer” for Jesus, you will need reinforcement in the days to come.  I don’t know what form it will take, but it will come.  But are you willing to take your stand?  You have God’s promise: “I am with you to rescue and save you” (v. 20).  

Let this be a word for you:  “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations'” (Jer. 1:4).  You may not be a prophet, but God has called you to be his man, his influencer, for this time.  

April 17, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful sunny weekend! Kurt and Jeff stopped by this morning. We have been doing some packing and excited to be on our way to N.C tomorrow afternoon. We will spend the first night in the cities with good friends and then the third night we will spend at my brother’s in Indiana and hope to get to our son’s on Thursday. Appreciate prayers for a safe and healthy journey. I will e-mail as I am able. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we sometime feel like we are running on empty? It is often evident when we get frustrated and short tempered in responding to people around us. But just like a car can’t run on an empty gas tank, we cannot either and we need to just let the Lord fill us afresh; this is not a once and for all process, but a something needed on a continual basis. When we dial down and are shown our true condition, we know we cannot change on our own for we need the Holy Spirit to do His work in our hearts. Sometimes it is as if the Lord takes the blinders off of our eyes and lets us see our selfishness, our impure motives, our pride etc. There is no point to make excuses or blame someone else or we will remain in our present messy condition; but instead, if we agree with the Holy Spirit and let Him strip us of all that puts distance between us and the Lord, we will come into a new freedom and fullness. But that means we have to relinquish control and let Him do the work in us, His way. We have no idea how He will bring it about, but that is where trust comes in. We must believe that He has our best in mind and loves us unconditionally. God’s intention towards us is always good! Then as we obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we become sensitive and more aware of God’s presence. We will find that the emptiness of our heart gets filled and we begin to engage with others out of our fullness rather than our emptiness and need. Nothing else will fill us like God’s love and His love transforms us as it brings healing to all those empty places within. Like the song goes, “Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirst of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.” I Cor. 15:58 (Message) says, “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation.”
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to come into those broken places and heal and fill you with His love.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

April 16, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! The sun is shining and it seems spring is here after all. I just finished making a couple spaghetti pies and a stir fry veggie dish and cleaned the apartment. Then the news came that Gen went home to the Lord early this morning. I was awakened at 3 a.m. to pray for her and family and wondered at the time if it was her homecoming time; we rejoice that she is now with the Lord and no more pain but also sadness as we will miss her. She was a bright light for Jesus and so full of love and kindness. Please pray for her family as she leaves behind a husband, a teenage daughter and son, parents and two sisters and so many who loved her. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes we may be very specific in telling the Lord what our need is or a desire we have. But when we do that, often times we may be settling for less than what He wants to give us. I couldn’t help but think of that when I read today about the lame beggar who laid at the Gate Beautiful of the temple entrance. He was hoping for alms, as people passed by to go to prayer, but he got so much more. Our pastor had the children act this out on Easter Sunday in his children’s sermon. Just before the service began, two strong men carried a teen up to the front of the church and laid him on the steps to the altar and put a tin can in his hand. The many children were given alms and held palm branches as they marched around the church. When they came to the teen, each one dropped their alms in the can, and we could hear the loud clink. Then Peter (pastor) came by and when asked for alms told the beggar, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) The boy was slowly helped to his feet and when he realized he could walk, he began jumping and leaping and running around. So much jubilation for all of them.  He got so much more than alms. Do you suppose when we ask the Lord for something, He has much more in mind? He could have something better than we can even imagine. I remember once asking for prayer at an evangelistic meeting, that my sinuses would be healed. The Lord answered but not in the way I expected as He healed my eyes and I no longer needed contacts or glasses. I never even mentioned my eyes but how happy I was for good sight. Maybe we pray for a son to get out of jail and the Lord says for us to wait a little longer as He has more…He wants to free him from sin and give him a whole new life. When we pray, let us have believing hearts but let us not limit how God will answer us. Along  with so many of you, we gave been praying for healing for our friend Gen who has been suffering with pain from cancer in her abdomen. We know God could have healed her of cancer and we desired that, but instead He gave her total healing by ushering her to glory. No more pain or trouble breathing, for now she will have a new body and is in the presence of our Healer, himself. Let us always pray in faith and let the answers come through Him who loves us and knows best.
Challenge for today: Give your requests to God and receive His answers with assurance that He has your best in mind.  
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

April 14, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a good day. This  morning I made 2 Mexican pies and went to my exercise class. This afternoon we are going to a farewell coffee for one of the residents here and then Kurt and Bo are stopping in on their way to the cabin. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
What a change as I look out my window. The ground that was just starting to green up days ago is now covered with a blanket of fresh snow. Everything has changed and just overnight. It was a reminder to me of the difference it makes when we ask forgiveness and our sins are covered over by the blood of Jesus; the result is that we are forgiven and given a white robe to wear that covers us completely. I don’t think I can ever get over how amazing that is! What a transformation! It’s just as Peter spoke in Act. 3:19 (ESV), “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” When we really know in our hearts that we are forgiven it is the most wondrous feeling and like we are given a new lease on life. But sometimes we come with deep wounds that need healing and although we are forgiven and have forgiven the one who hurt us, we have a hard time to experience those times of refreshing. I am reading Stephen Seamands’ book, Wounds that Heal, and he writes about how we are not alone in our suffering when we have been hurt, abused, and rejected by those closest to us. The Lord understands as He experienced excruciating pain and suffering and was rejected Himself; He knows what we have been through and is ready and willing to heal our wounds. If we carry deep wounds from childhood, it affects how we see ourselves and also how we perceive others. We all desire acceptance and affirmation but for some that was not given and may be sought later in life in other unacceptable ways. One child of an alcoholic mother was constantly verbally abused and told she was no good. She felt she could never be loveable and her unhealed rejection left her with feelings of bitterness and inferiority rather than celebrating being a beloved child of God. Another woman had been sexually abused by her father as a child. She was making progress in her healing but later as an adult her father raped her again and she was devastated. Her pastor brought her into the sanctuary and had her look at the cross and told her that the cross was the place she would know the truth about herself. Jesus loved her enough to die for her. She rejected Satan’s lie that she was worthless and left the sanctuary a healed person who knew her worth. Jesus invites us to give Him the hurtful words we have endured, the abuses, the rejections and will bear the brunt of them, for it is by His wounds we are healed.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to show you any lies of Satan you have believed about yourself and take them to the cross and set free
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

April 13, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the day. I am looking out on a white landscape as it has been snowing all morning! Hoping Spring will spring forth soon! This morning I did food prep and made cookies for Al and choc covered raspberries.
This afternoon we have friends coming for coffee! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Have you found that when you want to just be quiet before the Lord that your mind is busy with many thoughts? We want to rest in the Lord but our mind is overactive and hard to focus on Him. We get so distracted that we don’t settle into the peace that the Lord has for us. I have an idea that many of us have that problem. We must remember that it is with our heart that we come to really know the Lord and not by our wordy prayers and lofty thoughts. Rather than talk and try to figure things out with our minds, we need to dial down and listen and let His Spirit speak to our spirit. Ruth Barton writes that “We must let go of everything our mind is holding on to in order to receive the revelation that comes from beyond ourselves.” We may not want to admit it but our minds are limited and when we finally let go, we can receive from God. Like it says in Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.” Barton said the Be still in the Hebrew is translated, “Let go of your grip.” It is like letting our minds go and settle into our hearts, the place where God dwells. I read today that our heart circulates about two thousand gallons of blood each day and creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles a day. It is equivalent to the moon in back in a lifetime. The heart is amazing but if it doesn’t function well, our whole body shuts down. We need healthy hearts and not to neglect them, especially in a spiritual sense. The right diet can slash our risk of cardiovascular disease by 80%, so we must feed on the right things. But after I have my devotions and read the Word, the best thing I can do is just sit in quietness and receive. When I jump into my day before listening carefully, I miss that precious time of hearing and just experiencing Him. We all need to be still and hush from figuring everything out with our minds and make it a priority to be quiet and listen to our hearts.
Challenge for today: Quiet yourself and sit in His presence and just receive.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

April 12, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend! We had more rain but the sun may make it out soon. This morning I wrote letters and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. Then I had good news that a friend that moved away is coming for coffee shortly. It will be fun to catch up!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes we think little things won’t make much difference but they do. Maybe we begin to compromise just a bit, and before we know it, we find our lives distanced from the Lord. God has a path for each of us to be on and it is best not to walk as close to the edge as we can without falling off, but rather to walk down the middle and enjoy the journey. The enemy is always trying to work on us to veer off just a little as he knows it will be easier for us to get on a slippery slope and off the path entirely. We must guard against taking our eyes off the Lord and getting distracted by the world. Maybe we are enamored by flattery and we compromise a bit to fit in. Or at work, we take liberties that are not right and it becomes easier next time. One thing leads to another and we find our time with the Lord diminished, we neglect reading the Word, and we soon withdraw from fellowship. At first it seemed like something small but soon we have a toll to pay. Instead of seeing how close to the edge of the path we can go, David says in Psalm 16:8-9a (God’s Word), “I always keep the Lord in front of me. When He is at my side, I cannot be moved. That is why my heart is glad and my soul rejoices.”  He goes on to say in verse 11 “You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.” What a difference when we purpose not to compromise or get side tracked. We commit to staying on the path God has for us. It is a narrow path less traveled but leads to life.  When we spend time with Him and in His word, we have a sense of peace and rest within and know that we are in a safe and secure place. We need to always set the Lord before us and keep Him in our sight. Then we are not moved by obstacles or storms in life but can rest in the knowledge that He is right by our side. Let us stay firm and calm and walk on the path He has set for us.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to show you when you are getting off the path and get back on quickly.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

 

Don’t Give Up

The prophet Micah was called to prophecy to Israel and Judea, exhorting them to repentance. He called out the disobedience of God’s people, especially in Jerusalem.  In Chapter 7:1-7, we find Micah walking around the city, absorbing, “both the appalling scale of the wickedness and the implications of the doom he has just declared” (Bible Speaks Today).  

Micah is overwhelmed by what he sees, “What misery is mine!” (7:1).  Evil was widespread and the very fabric of life was unravelling. “The faithful have been swept from the land; not one upright person remains” (7:2). The godly had lost influence, while the violent did as they pleased. “The powerful dictate what they desire – they all conspire together” (7:3).  God’s judgement would soon be announced by the watchman on the wall. “Now is the time of your confusion” (7:4).  Interpersonal relationships, even within families, were failing.  

Despite all this, Micah did not lose hope. He continued to pray and wait for God, who would eventually vindicate the remaining remnant. “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (7:6).  In contrast to the unfaithful leaders of the people, he would act like the watchman, “wait for God my Savior.”  Micah began in 7:1 with lament, but in the end expresses quiet confidence that God will act in due time.

What the prophet described in these verses (7:1-7) has a very contemporary feel to it.  Sin has affected government leaders and society in general.  “The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains” (v 2). Deceit and dishonesty have even ruined family life, the core of society.  “A man’s enemies are the members of his own household” (v 6). 

We are witnessing social disintegration in our culture.  Many of us can attest to divisions in our families due to cultural or political divisions.  “Micah would direct us all back to the way we have steadily ignored, and often directly flouted, the requirements of God for our personal, social and working lives, as well as for our nation.  Defiant rejection of God’s revealed truth is the fundamental reason for the social disintegration we see around us” (Bible Speaks).

Micah 7:7 can be an encouragement to us in the midst of cultural decay.  Like Micah, we need to declare that we aren’t giving up.  “But me, I’m not giving up.  I’m sticking around to see what God will do.  I’m waiting for God to make things right.  I’m counting on God to listen to me” (7:7 – Message).  Isaiah also spoke of waiting on the Lord during judgement. “Look, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he has saved us.  This is our God; we have waited for him.  Let us rejoice and be glad is his salvation” (Is 25:9). 

It could be that God wants us to wait for him to make himself known to us during this time. “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt.  And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15).  Isaiah told the remnant, “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by” (Is 26:20).

Could it be that the most important thing we can do at this time is to cry out to God for mercy?  Has his hand of judgment already come to our nation?  Could it be a time to seek God in confession and repentance?   

April 10, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! The sky is still overcast and we look forward to seeing the sun soon! The house is full of aroma as I made a big pot of stew this morning; also made egg dishes and wrote letters.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Today is my mom’s birthday and she would have been 102, but died at the age of 88. As I think of her life, I praise the Lord that I was blessed to have a godly mother who lived what she believed. I woke up today wondering what she would have to say to me if she were here on earth now. I know that she would be appalled by the lack of respect, the absence of truth spoken and lived out, the depletion of love, and the selfish concern of so many. Mom was giving and not one to complain; she wasn’t focused on herself and always spoke truth even if was not popular to the ears of the hearers. I think if she were here, she would tell me not to compromise and to live out and embrace truth. In II Tim 3:15 (God’s Word) ,the apostle Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, when he thought his life was coming to an end, “Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly” In the next chapter Paul also tells him to “continue in what you have learned and found to be true.” In other words, she would tell me to stand firm in my faith and live and speak truth without compromise. If it is in the Bible, it is truth! She was so faithful to read her Bible every day and she would remind me to not neglect the word but to memorize it and hide it in my heart. Mom prayed much and she might tell me how important it is to pray about everything and not to worry whatever is happening in the world. God is in control and to commit everything to Him daily! Mom had a burden for those who didn’t know the Lord, and I think she would tell me to reach out and let my light shine and point others to the Lord. Time is short and to use every opportunity each day. She didn’t hesitate to go to the Work House with a group from church and shared the Lord with women who were incarcerated. I’m sure she would tell me to be generous and to give to the poor, the unsuspecting, the missionaries etc. Most importantly she might tell me how important it is to love all and to love well; also, not to get offended but to forgive quickly. I would be happy if one day my kids could say that their mom would have these same things to say to them and that she tried to live what she believed.
Challenge for today: Live in love and truth that you may be an example to those around you.
Blessings on your weekend. Prayers and love, Judy

April 9, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! It is still raining out and things are looking greener. Yesterday a friend took me out for lunch while Al was gone to the cities. Good fellowship! Today I cleaned, went to the Dollar Store and this afternoon we are having new friends here for coffee. They moved in just a short time ago.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We have probably all experienced times when our expectations were not fulfilled and our dreams shattered; it was painful and disappointing and we were left with questions. Then way down the line in the future, we see how God was moving us into His perfect plan and our own immediate dreams did not fit that. It was actually a blessing that God intervened when He did. Not long ago, I got an e-mail from a heart broken young gal who experienced a breakup with her boyfriend, crushing her long-term dream. It is painful now but some day she may know that God has a better plan for her life and she will see it unfolding before her. I was reading what Pastor Delano Sheffield had to say about how Thomas’s expectations were shattered when Jesus died. Thomas probably thought that Jesus would bring them freedom from the oppressive rule of Rome and now his leader and friend was dead. His hopes were dashed and even after he got the good news about Jesus being alive, he couldn’t believe it at first. It says in John 20:25 (Amplified), “So the other disciples kept telling him, We have seen the Lord! But he said to them, Unless I see in his hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe (it).”  But Jesus arrives 8 days later and shows him the holes in his hands and side and Thomas responds with, “My Lord and my God!”.  Thomas got his wish and Jesus fulfills his expectation. What kind of dreams do we have? Are we disappointed they have not been fulfilled yet? It is not wrong to have dreams and to hold on to them as we are reminded of God’s great power to bring them about. But we are also to hold them loosely if it doesn’t line up with His divine will. Let us respond with grace and with the faith that the Lord is bringing about His perfect will and that is always best.
Challenge for today: Give your dreams and expectations to the Lord in hopeful trust.
Blessings on your weekend. Prayers and love, Judy

April 8, 2021

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes the best thing is to wait. Sometimes we may not know what to do and we jump ahead and really mess things up. When Jesus spoke to his disciples after His resurrection, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I’m sure they must have had questions but they obeyed and gathered together in an upper room and waited. Good thing they did what Jesus asked of them and spent time praying and didn’t run ahead before they received the Holy Spirit. If they had gone out in their own power, they would have quickly become discouraged and probably given up. But after waiting 10 days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit suddenly came like the rush of the wind and tongues of fire and filled them, and they began to speak in different languages. What an awesome experience and time of purifying and empowering them to go and be His witnesses. Peter stood up and began preaching and 3,000 people were saved and baptized that day. Those that knew him as a fisherman must have recognized it could only be the power of God!  From that day on, the disciples went forth and preached and taught and healed; the message reached beyond Jerusalem out to the world. We can say wow, we wish we were present at that time, but that same Holy Spirit power is available to all who know the Lord. Too often we don’t wait for the Holy Spirit to instruct us and we run ahead before He has readied the hearts of others. Our part is to surrender and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power to enable us to do what God wants in our lives and through us. He also begins the work of changing us from the inside out to become more like the Lord. In the days to come, I believe it is going to be harder for all of us as Christians and we will experience persecution. Our need will be great for the Holy Spirit power. Let us be like Peter who quoted David in Acts 2:28 (The Message), “I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; He’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hades; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining, sun-joy all around.”
Challenge for today: Ask for a fresh inflowing of the Holy Spirit and wait for His timing before launching out. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
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