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: June 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

June 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a wonderful day. This morning I did food prep and Al is glad he has choc covered raspberries in the freezer again. I am going to my exercise class now and this afternoon have crafts, friends coming, and tonight is Bible Study.
 Devotions from Judy’s heart
When we come to receive and know the Lord, we become part of the family of God; we are bound together with brothers and sisters of every tribe and nation who also call Him, Father. The family keeps expanding as new members are continually added, and we are blessed and enriched in ways we never dreamed of. We belong, not because we are so good, but because we know the same Father, One who loves us unconditionally and desires that we love Him in return. Not long ago my brother was visited by his adult son, that for many years he never knew he had. Paul was his father but the rest of the family didn’t know he existed either. Well, this weekend he plans to come to our family gathering at the lake, and aunts and uncles and cousins will meet him for the first time. We will open our hearts and will welcome him and include him and get to know him.
In the same way at our church, many new people are coming with the desire to join our church and pastor is starting a second new members class since Covid. We are excited and each person brings along with them their specific gifts that enrich the family. They add something special and unique and an essence of God’s presence in their lives that spills over on all of us. Just as we look forward to being with our extended family this weekend, each time we are with others in our spiritual family, it is a time of blessing. We care for one another and as Apostle Paul said in I Cor. 12:26 (God’s Word), “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering. If one part is praised, all the others share in its happiness.” It is because of the greatness of God’s love that we can become His children and we feel the hurt of other brothers and sisters when they have heartaches and are happy to share in their victories when they flourish. Like Bill Gaither’s song goes,
“From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,\
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!
 I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God.”
Challenge for today: Welcome new people into God’s family with open arms and hearts.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 29, 2021

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Life was meant to be lived fully with joy and grace. As children of God, we are people of hope and can enjoy each day as a gift from the Lord. That doesn’t mean everything in our lives is perfect but that our joy is found in  Him. Our culture is one of pleasure seeking but the results are not good if the pursuit of pleasure is separate from God. If it is sought in drugs, sex, and gluttony etc. we will come up empty. Trying to manufacture joy apart from Him leaves us bored and lacking in meaning. But, when we experience God, we can’t help but experience joy for He is the giver of joy. I have been in fellowship groups where we spent the whole evening laughing and went home refreshed and renewed. One time our church gave us a party on Bear Island and the whole evening was filled with so much joy and laughter that the party group in the next room thought we were all drunk. When they found out it was a Christian group, it must have changed their outlook on dull Christians! But even Christians sometimes have trouble enjoying the gifts that God gives us. I know there are times I remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment, enjoy what is happening right now in the present. Eugene Peterson writes about pleasure and shares how King Solomon was a very wise king and had everything he could possibly imagine and indulge in. But he was also foolish and said in Eccl. 2:1(ESV) “Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.” He pursued pleasure and arranged the world around him and indulged in everything imaginable. Pleasure became an idol and it did not bring joy; instead, King Solomon ended up saying, in Eccl. 2:11, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” None of us can purchase pleasure but simply enjoy the gifts God gives us. Our desire must be for God and then we can enjoy the gifts of life that he gives us, as long as, we don’t make a god out of them. Peterson also says we can’t purchase pleasure for joys are given to us freely by God and our part is to receive them. We can’t earn them or hoard them or accumulate them but rather we can be generous with them. When we share them, our own soul is enlarged as we practice giving them away. If we want to live joyfully let us receive His gifts and give thanks.
Challenge for today: Spend some time thanking the Lord for the joy of the pleasures He has given you. 
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

June 28, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend and time to be refreshed. We got some much needed rain and now the sun is trying to peek out. This morning I made some egg dishes and went to my exercise class but had to postpone going to Aldi’s as it was storming then.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I hope we all have asked the question, “Who am I?”; not who I appear to others on the surface, not who others expect me to be, but the real me.  We live in a very superficial culture today, with so many living shallow lives, presenting only the best side of ourselves that we might put on Facebook. But do we know ourselves, not by looking in the mirror but by being transparent? That means discarding our fig leaves and expressing our authentic selves, rather than living by the expectations of others or how we want ourselves to appear. This self-acceptance also means that we will become aware of the shadows in our lives, the hidden dark things, without having to dress up to look better; that is very humbling.
As I have written in the past, I desire not to be self-conscious but my authentic self, who God made me to be. I like what Thomas Merton said, “Unless we discover this deep self, which is hidden with Christ in God, we will never know ourselves as persons, nor will we know God. For it is by the doors of this deep self that we enter into the spiritual knowledge of God.” It is tempting to just remain superficial but when we play roles like actors, it really is sin for we become alienated from God. How much better to simply be ourselves as we are in God’s sight and be like a window that His light can shine through.  That means that we need to continually die to our false self that wants to be in charge and maintain control without interference from others or even God. But as we get in touch with our true self and are willing to let false self go, we will see our own miserable condition and seek God’s grace and mercy.  God loves us even in our messes and none of it blocks His love from us. But He wants us to be honest, to let go of our superficial ego that wants to live for ourselves, and instead live in the freedom and love that He extends to us. Let our prayer be that of Michael Casey’s in his chapter on The Grace of Self-knowledge, “Loving Father, You have created us in your own image so that we might come to know you and love you. Help us to live in the truth of what you have designed us to be, casting away all falsehood and delusion and living in the freedom that belongs to your children. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen!”
Challenge for today: Ask for God’s grace to die to your own ego and let your true self emerge.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Stiff-necked Presumption

Jeremiah the prophet preached a message of repentance for 40 years without seeing any real change.  He predicted that Judah would be punished because of its sin and disobedience. Finally, in 586 B.C., Jerusalem was destroyed and its leading citizens were deported to Babylon.  Their exile would last for 70 years. 

He accused the people of being “stiff-necked.”  God told them, “From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets.  But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers” (Jer. 7:25-26).  Later Jeremiah stood in the temple, declaring, “Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words” (Jer. 19:15)

The phrase “stiff-necked” may well apply to not only our culture’s response to the gospel, but also to many in the Church today.  When I think of stiff-necked, I can still picture myself resisting the discipline of my mother, who would often accuse me of being stiff-necked. Is it possible that some of us may also be considered stiff-necked by the Lord?   Hebrews 12:10 reminds us, “Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever.”  We need to beware of resisting God’s discipline by being stiff-necked

In Jeremiah 14:7-9, the people plead for God’s help during a drought.  “Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.  For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you” (Jer. 14:7).  God is addressed directly and asked to act for the sake of his own reputation.  There is a presumption that God would show favor. It seems they were almost demanding that God act.  The Message says, “…But do something, God.  Do it for your sake.”  Beware of becoming too familiar (or cozy) with the Lord.  

The Israelites were aware of their wayward spiritual condition, confessing, “For our backsliding is great” (v. 7).  To backslide is “to revert to sin or wrongdoing; to lapse morally or in the practice of religion.  It refers to the lapse of …Israel into paganism and idolatry” (Nelson Bible Dictionary).  Evidently the people expected God to show them favor even though they continually rebelled against him.  Beware of excusing  your sinfulness. 

In the next verses the people accuse God of being like a tourist not available to help, or like a helpless warrior who is unable to intervene. “O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night?  Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save?” (14:8-9).  Beware of making presumptions about how God expresses his will.      

The people end up declaring to God, “You are among us, Lord, and we bear you name; do not forsake us!” (14:9).   This is presumption, pure and simple.  They are trying to manipulate God, expecting his favor even while they continue to backslide.  They had not payed heed to God’s warnings. Now they expect God’s favor because they were his people.  Beware of subtle attempts to manipulate God. 

God waits until 15:6 to respond to their insult.  “‘You have rejected me’, declares the Lord.  You keep on backsliding.  So I will lay hands on you and destroy you; I can no longer show compassion.”  Could this be happening again today?  

June 26, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this weekend and getting refreshed. This  morning I cleaned the apartment, shopped, and wrote letters. This afternoon Al and I are going to Culver’s for flavor of the day! Every two weeks or so, Al takes me there for a treat Emoji !
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We cannot live by our feelings and let our emotions rule but rather do what is right in God’s sight. It seems our culture today is running on feelings and doing whatever it takes to feel good…but look at the fall out! As Christians it is the Lord who has the final say and He won’t ask us to do anything that goes against His word, even if we think it will feel good at the time. Our granddaughter Lily just turned 17 and is passionate about soccer. She is on a traveling team plus varsity team and was named All-Midwest regional High School team and honorable mention All American team. Lily can’t live by her feelings as she has to play soccer in all kinds of weather and adverse conditions. Recently she has had to play in temperatures near 100 degrees and other times it could be in rain, wind and cold. The team doesn’t vote on if they want to go to St. Louis, Arizona, or Florida etc. on the weekend: they go to where ever the game is scheduled. Lily has to watch what she eats before a game and choose the right carbs; after the game her parents reward her with her favorite foods. Lily doesn’t hold back when she plays but has her eye fixed on the goal; that helps her not to get distracted and to do her best in practices and persevere at game time. Sometimes she might be playing with some pain but she doesn’t give in and plays to win. Of course, there are times her team loses, but they can’t let their feelings take over and think of themselves as losers; instead they seek ways they can improve and win next time.
Isn’t our Christian walk like that as we can’t go by our feelings but trust our Coach? He knows best and puts us in the best position for the gifts He has given us. All members on the team are important and need to do the job assigned to them. We are to watch what we consume and not to partake of things that are not healthy for our spiritual lives. We will experience difficult things but we are not to be quitters. We also shouldn’t get so busy doing things we aren’t called to do, or we will not be in the place of importance that God has given us. We are to keep our eyes on the goal and not get distracted. Like Paul said in I Cor. 9:26-27 (The Message), “I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” May all of us listen to our Coach for one day we will spend eternity with Him and the whole team!
Challenge for the day: Ask the Lord to obey His promptings even when you may not feel like it.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

June 25, 2021

Dear Ones,
Happy Weekend! Hope you are enjoying these beautiful summer days. I did some food prep and a veggie stir fry and love the aroma that fills the house. Al and I went to Costco for the Birthday Cake and this afternoon is the monthly Birthday party here. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Are we prepared for the days ahead? No one knows what tomorrow holds but there are ways we can be getting ready now and preparing for the future. I had a dream the other night in which I found myself at church with friends; but I was not dressed well and wished I could go home to change. I didn’t know the car I was riding in was headed to church or I would have taken off my work clothes first and put on something more presentable. I was not prepared! Just a day or so later one of our friends at Northern Lakes reminded Al and me of the birthday party we are in charge of the last Friday of each month that is happening today. It seemed to come early this month and Al and I had to order the cake, do some preparations and pick it up today. We needed to prepare! I felt like the Lord was speaking a word to me in a spiritual sense, that I need to be aware of the times and prepare for what is coming as well.  Of course, the enemy wants us unprepared and will whisper we have all the time in the world. But we don’t and it’s imperative that we be ready. I read this morning from Rev 22:12 (God’s Word), “I’m coming soon! I will bring my reward with me to pay all the people based on what they have done.”  The time seems to be short until His coming and things continue to get worse in our world. We are not to shrink back but rather prepare and seek to become strong in our faith. When Jesus told his disciples he was going to suffer and die, Peter was so confident he would stand with Him. He said he would be willing to go to prison with Him or die for Him, and yet that very night he denied Jesus three times. Our confidence and strength are not in ourselves and our own will power, but in the Lord. Like David prayed in Psalm 18:32 (NIV), “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” We need to let our roots go deep into Him that when hard times come, we won’t fail. Now is preparation time! It is the time to feed on scripture and maybe even put some key verses to memory.  Also, to fill our minds with things that upbuild and encourage us in our faith rather than tear it down… We will find it strengthening to unite with other Christians, and spend time sharing and praying together, knowing we can call on them when we feel weak and need help. Let us be in preparation mode and know that the Lord stands beside us and offers us His strength for whatever is ahead.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to show you in what ways He wants you to prepare for the coming days.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

June 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying another beautiful day!  This morning I baked cookies on a stick and went downstairs for donut time. We have Bible Study this afternoon and I love all the sharing as we come from different churches and backgrounds. Yesterday afternoon I was pleasantly surprised as a friend from our former church in Hackensack surprised us and came for coffee. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
God has a plan for each of our lives and it is a specific road that He made just for us to travel. We don’t have to compare it with others or confer with them, but stick to what He has prepared for us personally. I was reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians this morning and says in Gal. 1:15-16 (God’s Word), “But God, who appointed me before I was born and who called me by His kindness, was pleased to show me His Son. He did this so I would tell people who are not Jewish that His Son is the Good News. When this happened, I didn’t talk it over with any other person.”  God’s plan for Paul was determined before he was born to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He didn’t have to see what Peter, James or John were doing but only to stick to what His calling was. In fact, Paul had to make a U turn in his life of persecuting Christians to one that became a believer and sought to win the Gentiles to the Lord. Quite a change for him. Sometimes we have our own plans for our lives and may even choose our life professions on a job that has prestige and praise of men. But if that isn’t what God has planned for our lives, we may have to make a U turn like Paul. If we choose to keep going, we will miss the deep peace of being in His will and may even make others around us miserable. Or maybe we are on the right road but come to a detour when the Lord calls us apart for a season to deposit within us something needful for our journey. Then before long we are soon back on the main road again. When we live to please the Lord, we will be watching for the sign posts and adjust our lives to His plan. When we align our life to God’s will, that’s when we can really relax, stop striving and really enjoy life to the fullest. We will notice the beauty around us, bask in our peaceful surroundings, and enjoy what the Lord has for us. Some Sundays at our church we have a video played of our missionary of the month. What I notice about their families is the joy they exude of being called to a certain country to share the gospel. It isn’t like “poor me and what a hard road we have to travel” but rather “look what we get to do!” Let us live freely and joyfully in the journey God has us on.
Challenge for today: Ask the Holy Spirit to make you sensitive to God’s will in your journey and to adjust when needed.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

June 22, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day as tomorrow it is going to be in the 90’s again. I made stroganoff and did food prep etc. and soon our grandson is stopping by. This afternoon we are blessed to have friends coming over for coffee and prayer and fellowship.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How grateful are we? Morris West, and Australian novelist writes in his essays titled, A View from the Ridge, about gratitude. He said, “Life has served me as it serves everyone, sometimes well and sometimes ill, but I have learned to be grateful for the gift of it, for the love that began it and other loves with which I have been so richly endowed.” He was around 75 years old at the time and felt that forgiveness follows gratitude; the more we are grateful the more easily we have the strength to forgive. 
Of course, we have all been wounded and hurt by others, treated unfairly and we often close down and struggle to forgive. Henry Nouwen said we can go through life with the posture of paranoia, symbolized by a closed protective fist or one of metanoia (Greek word for above mind… a mind that rises above self-interest) symbolized by open hands and being able to trust. I suspect that we all have times when we are protective and full of self with our hands clinched; and other times when we are open and warm and forgiving with our hands open wide. In fact, on the same day, we can be warm towards someone and after they do something we don’t approve of, we can shut them off. But we need always to keep our eyes on the One that has forgiven us all our failures, mistakes and sins, and forgive others. 
The Lord is like a purifier or filter and takes in our hatred and bitterness and holds it and transforms it and gives back love. Stephen did that as well as he prayed forgiveness for those who were stoning him. Rather than give back in kind how people treat us, like hate for hate, which would seem to be an immediate response, we return love and forgiveness. Only as we are connected to the Lord in gratitude and love, can we do this. Are there people in our life that are waiting for our forgiveness?  I know when my brother was dying, he asked forgiveness of anyone who he thought he may have hurt or offended. It says in Col. 3:13, “The Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Let us also remember that as we have grace to forgive others, we also need grace to forgive ourselves!
Challenge for today: Out of a grateful heart of being forgiven, extend forgiveness to others.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

 

 

June 21, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend. The sun is brightly shining today but cooler weather after the rain. I got 2 Mexican pies made and a cherry cheese cake, and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Let us not let anything hold us back from all that God has for our lives. There are times for all of us when we are asked to leave the old behind so we can embrace the new. Is that easy? Most of the time, probably not. Many of us like familiar routine that is comfortable and dislike when it gets disrupted. But often in scripture we see God’s interruptions when He has something new on the horizon for us…like when he came to Abraham and told him to pack up and go to a place where he would show him. Not much to go on but Abraham obeyed God and at age of 75 went as God directed. He left his home country and found a new nation in the land that later became Canaan.
 Sometimes what we have known has worked for a long time but is suddenly disrupted; the Lord is about to change things and we have to let go in order to step into the new that is waiting. I was reminded of that in church yesterday as we are getting blessed with lots of new people coming to check out our church and many of them joining. One couple had been in their former church actively serving for 22 years and now they are being led to leave as the Word of God is being compromised. Another couple moved to our area from a place they have lived for much of their married life and now are looking for a new church. A change is necessary or it would be a two- hour drive to go to their former church. Our son’s family is selling their house and moving in order to accommodate his in-law’s future needs. More changes!
We don’t have to fear change or become anxious when God brings an end to things but we need to trust Him and recognize His hand. It says in Isaiah 43:19 (NRSV), “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” We have to stop living in the past if we are to welcome into our present the good things the Lord is waiting to usher in. We can cooperate or we can complain.  The choice is ours but if we welcome in the new as a gift from the Lord, and don’t hold back, we will enter into a new place of rest.
 Challenge for today: When you sense God is bringing a change into your life, spend time in prayer and ask Him to release you from the old and free you for the new. 
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Happy Father’s Day from Judy

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.  Psalm 89:15-16 NIV

This blog is written by my bride, Judy. She is the finest Christian I know and walks closely with the Lord.  I call her spirituality a “stream of consciousness” spirituality.  She is aware of God’s presence in all of life, much like the psalmist describes above.  And she writes about it on her blog at whispers@yahoo.com.  Judy’s blogs are practical, full of everyday experiences, and they have encouraged and inspired many people. We often hear reports of how her words were just what someone needed for that day.   

It is amazing to me how the Lord gives Judy something to write each morning.  I listen daily as she shares what she has received from the Lord.  It is simply a “God thing.”  I hope all the men and fathers who read this enjoy what my bride had to say for Father’s Day:

Soon Father’s Day will be upon us, and the stores will be full of shoppers trying to find just the right gift for dad – or at least something he doesn’t already have.  We all had a father, and our hearts remember him on this special day, even if he may no longer be with us.  Today, however, there is a crisis of fatherhood in America as many fathers have opted out of their role and have not been there for their children.  It could have been through divorce, or business pursuits, or occupational challenges, or irresponsibility, etc. 

One of our friends has a 20-year-old son who he has not seen since he was 2, as his ex-wife made sure he can’t locate his son.  Sadly, that son needs to know he has a dad who cares.  We all need the assurance that our dad loves us – and it is especially important in middle school when bullying takes place and we are trying to find out how we fit in.  But it matters at any age that our dad is proud of us, and for so many this is lacking.  That doesn’t mean that dad’s shouldn’t discipline us, for it is also important that dads also set boundaries and have consequences if we go beyond them; it is a way of loving and protecting. 

One man sadly told Al that he remembers the very day his dad gave up on him and no longer disciplined him; he felt lost and that his dad didn’t care.  I was blessed to have a loving father.  I never doubted his love for me; his arms were always open wide to hugs and love.  Al’s dad was absent emotionally and spiritually, although he provided for the physical needs of the family. 

None of us got to choose our dads.  But if you are a dad reading this, you can choose what kind of dad you want your children to remember.  In Eph. 6:4 (ESV), we read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  More than ever today we need fathers who train their children according to God’s ways.  But even when we had (or have) an absent father, we all have a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally, disciplines us when needed, and believes in us.

Challenge for today: Thank your loving Heavenly Father that He is always present, and provides all that you need, even if it was lacking in your earthly father.

 

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