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 3)

April 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Good morning ! May your weekend be full of sunshine and peace. 
 Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord is close and always with us, and He told us, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He is the closest friend we can ever have and one we can totally rely on and share our lives. Sometimes I wake in the early morning and a song is going through my mind; recently the words to “I Come to the Garden Alone” were playing over. I later looked up the writer who is Charles Austin Miles, a pharmacist who turned to become a gospel song publisher and writer. But in 1912 on a particular day, he had quite an experience. He was in a rather dark room with photo equipment and his organ, and opened his Bible to John 20, a favorite of his. As he read the story of Mary coming to the tomb on resurrection morning, the Holy Spirit touched him in such a way that he felt like he was actually there, standing at the entrance to the garden. It was as if he was part of the story and could see John looking into the tomb and Peter entering it. He visualized Mary there kneeling before Jesus as she cried Rabboni. (means teacher or Master) He was so inspired and overcome that he just wrote down the words that quickly came to him. The following words are exactly as he wrote them that day and you may have sung them.
“I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.”
Let us also become more aware of His presence in us and listen as He speaks. May we find a quiet garden to just be with Him and share together.
Challenge for today: Talk to the Lord as you go about your day and express what is on your heart.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

April 29, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a sunny day. Our house is full of aroma as I roasted a chicken and now making soup. I went to Aldi’s this morning and loaded up as I left a mostly empty frig when we went on our trip. I am catching up on everything today and also got donuts downstairs!Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do you ever feel inadequate and wonder if God can use you? God loves to take ordinary people like you and me to display His glory; for others will recognize that it is not our power or our intellect but the Holy Spirit in us. I have been reading in Acts and the change in the disciples once they were filled with the Spirit is amazing. Peter who had denied Jesus became a bold preacher and his first sermon brought in 3,000 souls. Next, he healed a man crippled from birth and when asked by what power and authority he did the healing, he boldly told them in Acts 4:12(NRSV), “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” He didn’t mince any words. The very learned priests and scribes etc. knew that the disciples were just common men with no education but recognized they had been companions of Jesus. Maybe we don’t feel we are adequate or know enough scripture but the Holy Spirit wants to teach us and use us and empower us. Jesus spent three years with ordinary men who were fishermen and a tax collector etc. and He walked with them and taught them. The enemy loves when we bow out and sit on the sidelines, but what if we say yes to the Lord and place our dependency in Him? We may be surprised at what He can do through us even though we not have titles or experience but are simply open to be used for His glory. We don’t have to be a pastor or a theologian for God can use even the words of a small child to break down the defenses of a sceptic. Or other times God may not use words at all but uses our actions to say it all.  I found this especially true when we are on mission trips to Mexico as our Spanish was minimal and yet we were able to communicate with smiles and motions and broken Spanish. God used the little bit that we knew and got the message across. The important thing is that we are willing and available; and even when we fail, God wants us to get up again and will even use our failures to testify to His grace. We are all unworthy in ourselves but if we humbly know that in our hearts, then we are ready to be used by Him. Let us remember that He uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways!
Challenge for today: Step out in faith when you feel God asking you to do something that seems beyond your capabilities.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

April 28, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying your day. We are home now after traveling over 3100 miles and we praise the Lord for the safe journey and wonderful time with family. Thank you for your prayers. God is so good! Last night we got to see our granddaughter play soccer and the team won in overtime so we went home celebrating. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Where do we place our confidence? In our quickly changing world today, many put their confidence in riches, and feel secure because they have a sizable bank account. Others place confidence in the political realm and having good policies. Some think it is in knowing influential people or having the right position. But all of these things fall short for they can be taken away at any time. No, our confidence is in the person of Jesus Christ and our hope in Him who will never disappoint us or fail us. I have been reading Paul’s letter to Timothy, his spiritual son in the faith. He had a special bond with him and gave him encouragement and instruction. He also gave guidelines about the church and how Christians should live. He warned him of those who fall into temptation by wanting to get rich and to watch out and avoid those who teach false doctrine that strays from what the Bible teaches. Instead, Paul tells him in I Tim 6:11-12a (God’s Word), “But you, man of God, must avoid these things. Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the fight for the Christian faith.” In Paul’s next letter to Timothy, he also warns him that in the last days things will get worse and violent. People will become arrogant and self-absorbed, and have no respect for what is holy. They will be contemptuous of parents, crude, brutal, and have no love for what is good. Further on in II Timothy 4:3-4 Paul says, “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.”  Doesn’t that sound like our world today, and sadly even of our churches? People want to justify their life styles that are contrary to the Word and love pleasure rather than God. But let us wake up, and like Paul said, to pursue God and a life of faith and love. Let us put our confidence in Him that He will keep us even when things in our world seems to be falling apart and evil is rampant; our true security is found in trusting in Him. May we run hard and fast in the faith. 
Challenge for today: Don’t focus on the evil about you but put your trust and confidence in the Lord.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

April 27, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying your day. We arrived safely at Kurt’s in Kansas City last evening and so nice to catch up with them. This morning Al and I went to Panera’s and a bookstore after grandkids went to school. We are so glad we can see  Lily play soccer tonight and then we will head home to MN tomorrow morning, after a wonderful trip. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
The Lord has so much to teach us if we are willing and open. Sometimes we probably have all felt disappointment as things don’t turn out as we would like, but God often moves in mysterious ways. On our trip I have been reading letters that Francis Fenelon wrote to people who had some urgent needs and wanted his wisdom. Francis was a French bishop who lived in 1651-1715 and was a tutor for the King Louis XIV’s grandson as well as serving a Christian community. It was a time of extravagance, struggle for power, and sexual perversion in the culture of that day, not unlike our own culture. Winn Collier, a columnist, considers Fenelon’s letters a spiritual guide to him to help him navigate through such times today, and others are also helped as they walk through deep waters. God is so gracious to give us spiritual guides when we need them and we can learn much if we are quiet and open to listen. It doesn’t have to be a person with degrees but one who walks with the Lord and is receptive to the Holy Spirit. Years ago, I remember reading some of Fenelon’s letters when I was in nurses training and they spoke to me then, but I am finding they again speak to me now even though I am much much older! Fenelon seems to speak truth in a direct but loving way and points us to the way of humility; he encourages us to let go of our demands on God and what we think He should do and accept when He moves in ways we may not understand. That takes abandoning ourselves to God, even when it may not make sense to us. It is much like a parent who often limits our activity but for our own good. We may not understand at the time. God works much of the time in secret but He gifts us with guides that help us learn to listen carefully and challenges us to a deeper journey. The Lord can use many ways to guide us and sometimes it can be a mentor we can actually talk to, or a message by e-mail; it could be an author who seems to speak right to our situation in life. Isaiah said in Isaiah 30:21 (ESV), “And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Our part is to be open, humble, receptive, and willing to die to ourselves and then He will fill us with His love and beauty and grace. What an exchange! Let us trust God, even though we don’t know the details of how He plans to work in our lives.
Challenge for today: Surrender to the Lord and listen as He speaks to you and guides you. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

Is God Hiding?

In Isaiah 45:14-17, the prophet is speaking to God’s people during their exile in Babylon.  Isaiah prophesied this message years before the Babylonians actually captured Judah and took the people into captivity.  In verse 14, he addresses the citizens of Jerusalem, who were destined to be scattered, but also to return to Israel.  This would all be hard to believe at this point in history, since the Babylonians already ruled the world.  But Isaiah says, “Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.” (Isaiah 45:14).

Isaiah says of God in verse 14, “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel.”  God’s plans for his people were hidden from them in their present circumstances. “No one who saw the captives from Judah struggling to rebuild their shattered lives in Babylon would guess their significance.  They were not a nation – scarcely even the remnant of one, since all their national institutions had been destroyed” (Bible Speaks Today – BST).   One day, however, they would be free to go back and rebuild their nation.  

God later anointed the Persian king, Cyrus to defeat the Babylonians.  He called Cyrus “my Shepherd [who] will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid'” (Isaiah 44:28).    All this shows how God controls history.

When Jesus spoke of the kingdom, he spoke of its hiddenness.  “It is like a treasure in a field, or yeast in flour, hidden from view, but destined to dwarf everything else into insignificance” (Matt. 13:33, 44 -BST).  In the political climate of our day, when God is literally being removed from the public space, it is good to remember that the Kingdom of God reigns in our land.  Jesus is Lord of history.  We are part of his kingdom reign.  “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 10:10). 

Today voices opposed to the gospel message, behaving with almost religious zeal, want their view of social good and history to prevail.  God will use these contemporary secular movements for his purpose, just as he used the powerful and wicked Persian king, Cyrus.  God said of Cyrus, “I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me” (Is. 45:4).    

The overcoming church will become smaller in the days to come. Believers might seem to lose their voice and influence.  But remember: God is at work.  His kingdom will prevail.  We have Jesus’ promise to Peter which he meant for us too: “…You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it” (Matt 16:18). 

In days when the Church faces opposition from within and without, it is vital for us to be informed and formed by the message of the gospel, and not be led astray by the dominant cultural narrative.    

These three commitments are vital:  First, total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.  You are going to be challenged regarding your allegiance.  Make Jesus Lord of all your life. 

Second, commit firmly to a biblical worldview.  You will not be able to relax your commitment.  Be a “self-starter” in scripture.  This means thinking through what you believe (and why) according to scripture.

Thirdly, be filled with the Spirit of God.  Continually cry out for God to fill and renew your spirit, so you can be strong in heart and mind for the battles to come.  

 

 

April 26, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a good weekend. We had a wonderful time at Mark’s and Andrea’s in N.C .and enjoyed time with the family. We played lots of games, including nerf gun wars with our grandsons,Emoji steak dinner, sundaes before bed etc. We are in Tennessee now and soon heading out to Kurt’s in Kansas today. We want to be there to see our granddaughter play soccer tomorrow. Appreciate prayers as we were in heavy traffic yesterday especially. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We have probably all belonged to organizations and clubs during our growing up years. Maybe we were on a Debate team, or joined Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or went to Christian Fellowship club. When others wanted us to join, they told us all the advantages of becoming a member and made it sound like we were privileged to get in. But as I was reading scripture, I thought of how opposite it is when we join the family of God. We are not promised that we will be important but rather we may have the status of a slave. We are not told we can look forward to great privileges and be applauded by others but that we will actually have to suffer and even be hated by them. In fact, we may be persecuted for joining and put out of places, sometimes even losing our lives. Now that isn’t exactly the kind of news you would put on a club poster to entice others to join. In John 15 Jesus said that if the world hated Him, they would also hate us; if they persecuted Him, they will also persecute us etc. So why join? Well inside of us is a deep desire for something more than a life of ease; it is a desire to be loved and to be understood and forgiven and to be set free; and only the President of this unusual club can ever offer that. He makes many promises and we can trust Him as not one of them will fail. He has assured us that He will always, always be there for us and never leave us. He has promised us the best future ever, for He is preparing for us a mansion in glory with Him; but in the meantime, it could be that we may live in only a cottage. He will also provide a helper for us as rough times come, and He says in John 14:16-17 (Amplified),” I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Stand-by), that He may remain with you forever—the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you will know and recognize Him, for He lives with you (constantly) and will be in you.” Now that is good news and we are to share that news with others and invite them to make the most important decision ever.  Let us not hold back for all are welcome!
Challenge for today: Be alert for those who are searching and invite them to become a member of the family of God.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

April 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying  your weekend. Rain is forecasted for here all day but we have plenty of fun things to do with family. This morning was full of games, and a nerf war, and the guys are at  Mark’s work now watching a new movie. Tomorrow after church we will head towards Kurt’s in Kansas City, so appreciate continued prayers for our travels. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How great is our desire to hear from God? He speaks in so many ways every day. We think of the disciples and others gathered together after Jesus was resurrected and ascended back to heaven; they closed themselves up in the upper room and waited for the promised Holy Spirit. They weren’t sure when that would happen but no matter how long it took, they were waiting indefinitely. We might ask ourselves if we would have been patient and waited 10 days or would we have gotten impatient and gone back to our regular busy routines. I’m sure the disciples were thankful they waited as the Lord spoke in a spectacular way with tongues of fire and in many languages; but there are other times that God speaks in a very quiet way and it is worth waiting in silence. I am reading a book by Ruth Barton called Invitation to Solitude and Silence. The practice of doing nothing in silence for an extended period of time is difficult for most of us but it is a time we stop making demands on God and seek to just be in His presence and listen. Ruth herself was told by her spiritual director that she was like a jar of river water all shaken up and needing time for the swirling sediment in her soul to settle. Perhaps that is true of most of us for we are all faced with so many distractions that cause our attention to go away from the Lord, and we get bothered by many things. We need to be quiet and go apart and spend time in silence with Him. Ruth discovered the discipline of silence at a time in her life when she was very busy but felt confused and lonely and knew there must be more. Spending 10 minutes alone in quiet with the Lord was very challenging to her but she answered the invitation to spend that time with Him. It’s not a time to talk and tell God all our needs but rather a time to be quiet and notice what surfaces from deep down; it’s a time to let go and to and to know God in a deeper way. We just show up and let God do the rest, whatever is on His agenda. It helps to have a special place to be alone, to set a time when it would work best, and to choose a prayer that expresses our desire for Him…something simple like, Lord have mercy, or Your peace, etc. Then just be and put all your concerns into God’s hands. No matter if God speaks in dramatic ways or in a gentle whisper, let us patiently wait and listen. David said in Psalm 62:1-2 (ESV), “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.”
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
Challenge for today: Spend 10 minutes in silence with the Lord in a quiet place, listening to His voice.

 

April 23, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy Weekend to you! What fun we are having with family here in N.C. We played so many games with the grandkids after arriving yesterday and they help us feel young! Al was so happy to have time with Mark this morning at Panera and Andrea and I had our own time catching up together at home before the 4 of us went out for lunch. Tomorrow rain is expected but I’m sure we will find plenty to do together as the grandkids will not have school. They are fortunate to go to Christian school which has been able to meet all year. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
While riding in the car on our trip to North Carolina I read a book by Pastor John Piper called The Dangerous Duty of Delight. His title rather perked my interest as he wrote about maximizing our joy in the Lord. I love the scripture from Psalm 37:4 (ESV), “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desire of your heart.” I thought about what it means to pursue joy and delight in the Lord; and in case I didn’t really understand that, King David also said in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” I believe the Lord wants us to enjoy Him, to actually pursue joy in Him, and maybe we settle for so much less. I love to observe our grandchildren who have a zest for life and glad they like to spend time with grandpa Al and me. We are in North Carolina now and busy enjoying time with them playing games outdoors and indoors, singing silly songs, winning prizes and ending the night with prayers. We love that they like to be with us and it gives us great pleasure. But then, think how it pleases the Lord when we don’t just seek to obey Him but really enjoy time with Him and savor what He has to say to us.  I learned in our catechism how God created us so we might spend eternity glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever. Pastor Piper wrote that pursing joy in God and praising God are not separate acts. The essence of worship is joy in the Lord. When you think of it, we are going to spend all eternity with Him and enjoy Him forever more so let us pursue joy in Him now. We are to delight in Him and praise that follows and seems to complete our joy.  There are of course, times we don’t feel joyful in obedience to Him as we want our own way. At such times we can confess that to Him and pray for joy of obedience to follow. Let us be greatly satisfied in the Lord, enjoying Him, and let His love overflow in us and then out to others.
Challenge for today: Seek to enjoy the Lord and express in new ways today.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

April 22, 2021

Dear Ones.
Hope your day is going well. We are so happy to be at Mark’s after going about 1500 miles! Thank you for your prayers as we needed them going through lots of traffic. The grandsons will be home very soon and we are excited. Lots of games etc. planned! So great when we can be with family again. God is good! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I’m sure we have all painful experiences in our lives and the way to healing is to embrace our pain. We have Jesus example as He went through so much and spread out His arms on the cross in pain for us; He didn’t run from it, even though He could have called on 10,000 angels! I am reading Stephen Seamands book on “Wounds that Heal,” and he shares how we should not run from our suffering but walk through it and bear it as Jesus did. But the truth is most of us try to avoid pain and bury it, and sadly healing doesn’t happen. We do this when we try to excuse the perpetrator and even feel guilty ourselves for what was done to us: but we need to face the truth before we can feel better. Then we can take steps to healing and break through the denial, which can be painful. Just as a child who was abused, it is especially hard for him or her to uncover the buried memories because it is so painful. God often uses even dreams and nightmares to help the repressed feelings like anger shame and grief to surface. But if we don’t go back to that painful time, it comes out in other hurtful ways and sinful attitudes. We must be allowed to grieve the wounds that have been inflicted as we prepare to forgive. When we face the fact of what happened and connect our feelings with the wound, then we are more ready to let go of the resentment and anger we feel towards the person that hurt us. Instead of demanding that they pay for what they did, we bear the injustice by forgiving and turning them over to God. We let go but release them to the One who determines what justice is for them. By taking this action, we are saying what happened doesn’t define who we are. Sometimes we get reconciled with the person, but not always as it is two sided.  Also, sometimes forgiveness comes slowly as we have layers of what we have repressed. We need God’s grace to forgive and perhaps a prayer Seamands wrote would fit for our need. “Jesus, show me the truth about the nails in my soul. Remove them by your grace. Help me to feel the feeling as you reveal the facts. Give me the grace to admit the resentments I hold. Strengthen me to bear the pain that was directed against me. Move in my heart that I would release to you those who have sinned against me, trusting you completely as the only Righteous Judge. Instill responsibility in me. Show me how to get ‘unstuck’ and to reclaim my identity apart from my pain. May my heart beat with a longing for reconciliation as it accords with your will. Cause me to walk in forgiveness, Lord.”
Challenge for today: Be willing to pray the prayer of forgiveness concerning a hurt in your life, and let the healing can begin. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

April 21, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is going well. We just got to the Staybridge in Knoxville after staying at my brother Paul and Alison’s last night. We had a wonderful time with a steak dinner, 2 games of scrabble, a beautiful walk and time to catch up. Lots of traffic today and we are going for a peaceful walk now before relaxing in our very spacious room that was a gift!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a nap. Maybe we fill bone tired but we keep going, although we’d really like to curl up and just sleep. We often fail to listen to our body and we keep on the busy treadmill until we get exhausted. Somehow, we think it is more spiritual to have constant activity than to experience the natural rhythm of work and rest. Even the Lord took a sabbath day to rest, and why do we think we can skip times of rest and not feel the effects? Ruth Barton writes in her book about how important it is to pay attention to our tiredness and fatigue and learn to rest in Him. Often our tiredness numbs us to our emotions and we don’t feel much of anything. That is not a good place to be. When we still lived on the lake and pastors and other retreatants came to Canaan’s Rest for retreat, so often they would need a good nap before they were ready to spend time opening up to the Lord. Often it was the whole first day that they felt extremely tired and needed to get rejuvenated. We would tell them to sleep until they felt refreshed as that was preparation of dialing down so that they could hear the Lord speak to them. Barton gives the example of Elijah, after his big contest with the 400 prophets of Baal. Afterwards he felt depleted and went to the wilderness and laid down under a boom tree and slept. God just let him sleep and then woke him up to eat and drink and had him sleep some more. Elijah was so worn out that it would have been hard for him to find God until after he got rested. We don’t have to be hard on ourselves when we give in to sleep, but use the opportunity to get rested and be emotionally strong again. Otherwise, we lose touch with who we are in the Lord and what we are called to do. May Elijah’s story help us know how to rest our body, soul and mind and get energized and refreshed and ready to draw near to Him. Jesus invites us and says in Matt. 11:28-29 (The Message), “Get away and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Challenge for today: Take time to notice your weariness and talk to the Lord of how He would have you restored.
Blessings on  your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

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