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: November 2021 (Page 1 of 4)

November 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake up with a peaceful heart and anticipation of a new day. What is the hardest thing for you to hold on to with faith at this time? 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We must never give up! As God’s children we will win if we fight and don’t give up. As we look around us in the world today there is so much evil and destruction; the enemy wants to do us in and is using all his tactics to destroy us. But the bottom line is his time is short and almost over; if we hang in there and lean into the Lord, we win!
I read what Heidi Baker wrote about how God’s Got This, and we are to hold on by faith. She and her husband have a ministry in Mozambique and have seen evil so rampant. Christians have lost homes, family and friends, and been tortured because of their faith; whole villages have been wiped out. But she says to us that love wins, and when we share His love, loss and grief are not the end of the story. We overcome as we lean into the Lord and commune with Him and make our life one of prayer and worship. Every day we can live in His presence as we go about our work and give thanks for His sustaining power.
Most of us are not going through anything like those in Mozambique but we also must continually realize that we are not in control. Then we can place our life in God’s secure hands and practice what Paul said to the people who are being persecuted in Thessalonica.  He tells them in I Thess. 5:16-18 (God’s Word), “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” We are not thanking God for the terrible things happening to us or our loved ones but we are giving thanks to the Lord in the situation. Even when we feel pain and loss, we remember that He is enough, He is sufficient.  As we go through suffering, our lives can be transformed as we learn things we never would have known otherwise. So let us not give up hope and throw in the towel, but rise up stronger as we go forth in the strength of the Lord.
Challenge for today: Refuse to give up when going through rough times, and listen to the Lord as you draw closer to Him.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
 

November 29, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! We enjoyed our time in Mora yesterday as Al preached and we got to see old friends and go out with several couples for lunch. We came home very spiritually blessed. This morning I went to Exercise class and this afternoon we are having  Trim the Tree and cider and cookies!
I have a prayer request for my cousin’s son, Jeff, who they just found out he has cancer of the brain, lungs, pancreas, and liver. He is single but has a girlfriend and needs a miracle! 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Our home is with the Lord and that is the very best place to be. It is a place of safety and rest and blessing. How quickly we can stray and get caught up in so much busyness that we miss our intimacy time with the Lord.
Today I was reading from Psalm 84 that was written by a Levite who served in the temple as a singer. I became aware of how much joy he found in being in God’s house (temple) and praising the Lord. From the message translation, he says that I have “always dreamed of a room in your house, where I could sing for joy to God-alive! …And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel…One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.”
The writer is wanting to get away from a bustling life and meet the Lord in a place of prayer. He desires to quiet his mind and just spend time with Him. What better way to experience peace and freedom from stress, when we go apart to bask in His presence?
The Psalmist mentions going through the valley of Bacca which symbolized hard times of barrenness and struggle; yet for one who finds a home in the Lord, it can become a peaceful place of cool springs. Just as with him, we can actually grow in the tough places we must walk through, if we spend time in God’s presence and draw our strength from Him. When we try to go it alone, we fail and often get discouraged. But when we take time with Him in prayer and worship and reading the word, we feel at home with Him who holds us tightly in His love.
The Psalmist goes on to say in closing that the Lord does not hold back any blessings from those who live uprightly. When we put Him first in our lives, He blesses us more than we can imagine and we are in our true home.  
Challenge for today: Instead of spending time with your phone today, spend time with the Lord. 
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Fathers Found Guilty

The prophet Hosea was called to live out a parable of God’s persistent love in the midst of Israel’s betrayal.  God commanded Hosea to marry a common whore and have children with her (Ch. 1-3). God “goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love” (Message). 

God wants us to identify with Gomer in her wretched state to understand how spiritual adultery offends God. We can see the heart of God as He calls us back to himself. God does not give up on us. In our day both spiritual and moral idolatry keep us from relationship with Him.

Who is responsible for this spiritual condition of our culture?  Hosea 4: 14 gives us a clue: It is fathers who have not set the example in taking the lead in spiritual and moral fidelity. Hosea calls the fathers out for their failure: “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves slip away with prostitutes, and they offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes [who give their bodies in honor of the idol]…the people without understanding [stumble and fall and] come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14 – Amp.).

To win the favor of the fertility god Baal and the goddess Asherah, the Canaanites engaged in “sacred” prostitution, which involved ritual sexual acts with “sacred” prostitutes. “These rituals took place at special shrines located on hills under the shade of trees and were designed to promote fertility in the land…The Israelites encouraged their daughters to visit the shrines, hoping that their participation in ritual sex with the priests of Baal and Asherah would encourage their gods to give them numerous children. But their fathers were just as guilty, for they too visited the shrines and has sexual relations with the priestesses there…to enhance their own virility” (Chisholm – Handbook on the Prophets).

Israel became so infatuated with idols and sexuality promiscuity that they surrendered to “a spirit of prostitution” in which “the men consort with harlots and… sacrifice with temple prostitutes” v. 14 NET).  “Verse 14 is in fact a landmark in moral history by its refusal to treat a man’s sexual sins more leniently than a woman’s” (Bible Speaks Today). Here Hosea makes clear that the daughters are innocent when compared to the men, who were not setting an example to their daughters, but were going to prostitutes, both religious and secular. 

Verses 12-14 reveal people who had forsaken the Lord and turned to promiscuity. They show how self-indulging and mindless religion is in fact guilty of producing spiritual decadence, which in turn produces a moral breakdown in the culture. God declares they are, “a stupid people, ruined by whores” (v. 14 – Message). 

Men, God’s directive in the sixth commandment is: “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.” Paul exhorts us, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity” (I Thess. 4:3 – Message).

It seems to me that in a sensual and sexually-confused time, Christian men need to step forth and practice sexual purity. We can apply this by resolving to: 1) Be a one-woman man, 2) Live and model a virtuous life of purity, and 3) Acknowledge how much we and other fathers have failed in our culture.  God help us as men and fathers to do that.

 

 

 

November 27, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying the weekend and recovering from lots of feasting at Thanksgiving! We are packing up and will be going to Mora today as Al will be preaching there tomorrow morning. We look forward to seeing old friends too. This morning I have been working more on Christmas cards and only have the ones for friends at church left to do. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
God is good. He is good all the time, even when we may misjudge Him and wonder why certain things are happening. We are familiar with Romans 8:28 (NASB) and may quote it to others, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love, God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But in the midst of trials, we may have to repeat the words often, “God you are good!” I don’t understand why you are allowing this to happen to me, but I still know you are good.” Some things in our lives are very hard, but never more than we can bear when we know the One who loves us and walks with us through those difficult times.
When we were little children, we didn’t always understand why our parents didn’t allow us to do certain things that we had our heart set on. We may have begged and begged but the answer still was no. At the time we might have felt they were the meanest parents in the neighborhood, but later in years we realized how they were protecting us from doing what we were not ready for. What was once viewed as withholding, is now viewed as loving. We won’t always comprehend God’s motives or make sense of what is going on, but we can remember that God is good and He wants His ultimate best for us. The Message translation says God knows us far better than we know ourselves and puts it this way, “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean what is happening right now is good, but that God will weave it into something good in the future; and this is a promise for those who know Him.
When we went through a hard time in one of our churches, I wondered what good could become of it; yet it wasn’t long until I realized how needed it was for us to experience if we were to open a retreat house for wounded pastors and wives. I don’t think I could have identified with their woundedness if we had not gone through it ourselves.
But for all of us who believe, no matter what we go through in this life, it is not worth comparing to what awaits us some day. Yes, like the song goes, “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.”
Challenge for today: The next time you are experiencing a difficult circumstance, thank the Lord for the good He is working out of it!
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

 

November 26, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, overflowing with gratitude! We had a delicious feast with  Ann’s family and time to catch up, play scrabble,  and enjoy the beauty of the lake and warmth of the fire. Today I cleaned and made Al’s favorite cookies and my favorite bars and then did more Christmas cards.  
Devotions from Judy’s heart
I suspect the lights have gone on very early in many households today for it is Black Friday. So many ads announcing fantastic buys for early-bird shoppers, and one can only imagine the mobs of people that will be encountered. I wonder if the person in the guestroom above our bedroom is one such person, as noises started after midnight! 
It is almost hard to comprehend the change that comes from spending Thanksgiving Day remembering to be grateful for our many blessings to transitioning to Black Friday, which seems more like a day of greed! I read today the story of a man who got up at 3 A.M. to avoid the holiday rush on Black Friday. As he drove along on the freeway, he was making good time but suddenly noticed a long line of traffic ahead. He thought there must be an accident but as he got closer, he discovered something hard for his eyes to believe. Cars were literally stopping on the freeway to let passengers out that would jump the guardrail and climb a small hill to get to a nearby outlet mall! We can only imagine the pushing and shoving to get to those super sales first.
I thought of how different it is when celebrating the first Sunday of Advent in the church year. It is all about quietly waiting and what a contrast!  Instead of rushing and getting to be first, we slow down and quiet ourselves to wait and contemplate the coming of Jesus. Advent is a time of preparation and helps our hearts get ready for Christmas. We take time for reflection and focus on what Jesus has done. As it says in Psalm 62:5 (NRSV), “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from Him.”
The church displays the color purple or dark blue, not only colors of royalty but of colors to signify repentance. It is good to let God search our hearts and remove all those things that separate us from Him. We wait quietly to not only contemplate His first coming but also of His coming again. Advent is a time to draw closer to the One whose birth we celebrate and to share His love with others. 
Let us not focus on being the first one in line, the first one to get a discounted item, but the first to humble ourselves and prepare our hearts for His coming.
Challenge for today: Spend some time in quiet reflection and ask the Lord to prepare your heart for Christmas.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

November 25, 2021

Dear Ones,
A blessed Thanksgiving Day to you all! We have so much to be grateful for and last night at church we were asked to share many of those things publicly. Two men also shared their stories of how they came to personally know the Lord and it was very moving. 
Today we are going to Ann’s at the lake and looking forward to time with them and enjoying a feast together. Mark and Kurt’s families have a house full of relatives from the other side as well. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Thanksgiving Day is here and perhaps many feel it is a struggle to be thankful and give praise since circumstances are less than ideal. Some have lost jobs, others are sick, some are just plain weary with all the demands on their lives. But like Debbie McDaniel writes we have a choice to be thankful and it is a powerful way to live. Even when our circumstances may not change, our hearts will be changed. I want to give you her words today on the blessings of being thankful.
.    “It gets our eyes off ourselves, and helps us to focus back on God.
•         It reminds us we’re not in control, but that we serve a Mighty God who is. It keeps us in a place of humility and dependency on Him, as we recognize how much we need Him.
•         It helps us to recognize we have so much to be thankful for, even all the little things, which often we may forget to thank Him for. It takes our attention off our problems and helps us instead to reflect on the goodness of His many blessings.
•         It reminds us that God is the Giver of all good gifts. We were never intended to be fully self-sufficient in this life. A grateful heart reminds us that ultimately God is our Provider, that all blessings and gifts are graciously given to us by His hand.
•         A heart of gratitude leaves no room for complaining. For it is impossible to be truly thankful and filled with negativity and ungratefulness at the same time.
•         It makes the enemy flee. The forces of darkness can’t stand to be around hearts that give thanks and honor to God. Our praise and thanksgiving will make them flee.
•         It opens the door for continued blessings. It invites His presence. God loves to give good gifts to His children. He delights in our thankfulness and pours out His Spirit and favor over those who give honor and gratitude to Him.”
May we choose to focus on the Lord and let our hearts overflow with thankfulness and praise!
Challenge for today: Try on this day not to give words of complaint but only praise and gratitude.
Blessings to you on this Thanksgiving Day. Love, Judy

 

November 24, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a grateful day! So many kitchens busy as we prepare for Thanksgiving. I have made most of the dishes I am bringing and just have the salad left to put together tomorrow. We are looking forward to a scrumptious feast at Ann’s. This morning I went to exercise class and this afternoon is crafts and tonight is Thanksgiving service and then pie following! Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We were made for God and when we choose to follow His plan for our lives, we experience great joy and a deep-down peace. But when we choose to ignore Him and go our own way, we feel unfulfilled and things do not go well; in fact, we can sure make a mess of things.
I was reading a devotional by Billy Graham and he gives the example of a man driving along the road in his Ford when something goes wrong. He gets out of his car and looks under the hood to see if he can figure out what happened but he is left mystified. Soon he sees another car coming down the road and waves it down, asking for help. A friendly man steps out of his new Lincoln and asks him what the trouble is. He shares how he cannot get his Ford to move. This kind tall stranger looks under the hood and makes a few adjustments and tells him to try to start his car now. Lo and behold it starts right up and the owner is so grateful. He tells him who he is and asks the stranger’s name. He said, “My name is Henry Ford.” He was the very one who made the Ford and of course knew exactly how to make it run.
Billy Graham goes on to say how God made us and only He knows how to run our life. When we give Him the control, life goes well and is exciting. We sometimes think we know where He is taking us but other times, we can be very surprised.
Perhaps we feel like we are in a winding mountainous road right now and we wonder when we are going to get on a smooth highway again. He knows! Or maybe it seems like we are on a dark road at night and we ask when the morning light will come. He knows!
Our part is to trust Him and let Him lead us for after all He made us. It says in Psalm 100:3a(God’s Word), “Realize that the Lord alone is God. He made us, and we are His.” If He knows us, He also knows what is best for us. David says in Psalm 139 that the Lord knows him and “You alone know when I sit down and when I get up. You read my thoughts from far away. You watch me when I travel and when I rest. You are familiar with all my ways.” Yes, God knows everything!  David closes the Psalm with asking the Lord to lead him on the everlasting path. Let us also ask the Lord to lead us but then to follow, knowing He knows best.
Challenge for today: Choose to follow where the Lord would take you today.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

November 23, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a day full of promise and peace. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How grateful are we as God’s children? Are we content and thankful or do we complain that we lack something or that someone has more than we do? Perhaps we all need a reality check each day to help us see if we have attitudes of ingratitude or envy in our hearts.
I sit at my desk in a warm apartment as I write, with a healthy body, a loving husband, plenty of food, and in a cozy robe. Quite different from the early pilgrims who suffered so much loss, hunger, cold, and sickness, and yet they paused to give thanks under less-than-ideal conditions; but were they perhaps filled with more gratitude than many of us? We must remember that we are not entitled but rather to receive what comes to us as a gift from the Lord.
The Lord loves to bless us but He also wants to know that we receive it from a grateful heart, just as we desire that from our own children. I hear so many grandparents say that they rarely get a thankyou from their grandkids, and one even gave their grandchild a nice van!
We can show our gratitude in many ways as described in Psalm 105 (Message), “Thank God! Pray to Him by name! Tell everyone you meet what He has done! Sing Him songs, belt out hymns, translate His wonders into music!..Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works; be alert for signs of His presence.”
I read what Jim Robison wrote of what theologian Tadeusz Dajczer said, “A gift should be accepted with such detachment that at any given moment you could return it.”  This is a paradox and telling us that each time we receive a gift from God we are to be ready to return it. We are to hold it loosely and be willing to give it back to God at a moment’s notice. When we think of it, everything belongs to Him anyway.
I am reminded of a song, “Give thanks with a grateful heart/ Give thanks to the Holy One/ Give thanks because He has given Jesus Christ, His Son/ And now let the weak say, ‘I am strong’/ Let the poor say, ‘I am rich/ Because of what the Lord has done for us.’”
No matter what our present circumstances are and how much or how little we have, let us give thanks, especially for our spiritual blessings.
Challenge for today: Spend time throughout your day, lifting up prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

November 22, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. We enjoyed going to our son-in-law’s installation as the Pastor of St. Paul’s church in Hackensack. The bishop came and there was a yummy brunch afterwards and good to see old friends. 
Today I have been busy busy in the kitchen and also got to my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
As Thanksgiving approaches, we might try something new this year and not only thank the Lord for our many blessings but to thank and pray for those who we are not grateful for….you know, the difficult people, the selfish ones, the users, complainers, and those that have hurt us. I was reading an article by Pastor Brad Russell who challenges us to be grateful for those we would not naturally want to invite to our Thanksgiving dinners. God loves them and sees their deepest needs and tells us how to treat them in Luke 6:27-28(ESV), “But I say to you who hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” That seems like a tall order but we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us when we are sinful and ungrateful and undeserving of His love and mercy. I will share some of Pastor Russell’s words:
“Thank God that these people are being used to make you more and more like Jesus. Difficult people are used by God to produce patience. Difficult people are used by God to take you to the end of your own strength; to take you to your need for supernatural love, patience, and forbearance. And, according to Colossians 3, the supernatural patience, love, and forbearance that comes from the Holy Spirit can and will produce peace, joy, and thankfulness. The more God uses people to produce patience, love, joy, and peace in you, the more grace you will experience as He makes you more and more like Jesus. Praise God that these difficult people are part of God’s plan to bring you peace and joy.
This Thanksgiving consider starting a new tradition. Bring the most difficult people in your life before the Father. You and your family will always have to deal with difficult people. Embrace the work of God being done in your own hearts through them. And then, by God’s love, mercy, and grace produced in you, find ways to embrace them in prayer and service. Those difficult people may just be the greatest hidden blessings of God in your life.”
Challenge for today: At this Thanksgiving time, thank the Lord for a person who God is using to make you more like Him.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy
 

Old School

Are you old school?  I ask that question as I watch pro football games. Commentators use the term as they discuss a player’s talent, attitude, and contribution to his team. When you tune into sports talk radio, you will hear intense dialogue, men sharing passionately about the play of their favorite players and teams. They often refer to players as old school. Could it be evoking memories of players of old, stirring a longing for the past, especially their youth?

As an NFL sports fan, I know enough to keep informed and to converse with others. I’m even in a fantasy football league with some of the guys in our building. For some it borders on idolatry. But I try to keep it in perspective; it is simply a pastime for me. Even so, I wonder why these die-hard fans use the term old school so often. Do certain players model character that is missing in our day?

Gary Sheffield wrote that Green Packers wide receiver Davante Adams is old school for this comment: “I hate everyone that I play against.” “Although it’s overblown how buddy-buddy athletics are today, “notes Sheffield, “[Adams] is having none of that culture. He spoke this morning about how much he hates everyone he plays against…We’d like to see more quotes like these from everyone so we can get back to believing players take losing as personal as we do.”

If I’m understanding this correctly, Sheffield would like to see more passion in football players that verges on hatred of the opponent, rather than the “buddy-buddy” mentality he encounters on his sports beat. For him, though, old school carries more of a negative connotation.

I identify somehow with old school, but primarily as a positive longing in the hearts of men admiring the exceptional performance in a man competing with other men. Pro scouts talk about a prospect as “a character person.” This is more the exception then the rule. To get a positive grade for “character” is seen as an achievement. 

So, what exactly is old school? It certainly points to a player being exceptional and even unique. I would like to be considered old school when it comes to my walk with Jesus. I know that I am “surrounded by…a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) who are definitely old school.  They all followed Jesus, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”  So as followers of Jesus, we might want to be called old school.

First, if hating your enemy is old school, as Sheffield seems to believe, I don’t want to be identified with that attitude. The old can become the new. The old has died, and I am a new man in Christ. He gives me grace to compete but also care.

Second, old school refers to the exceptional character of a person. It seems to highlight the attitude of one who “marches to the beat of a different drummer.”  I want to be that way. “Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).

Third, old school can refer to the admired performance of a player. He might not be the most talented, but he works hard at his game – like a “blue collar guy.”  I want to be “all in” for Jesus, not necessarily polished, but sincere.

Fourth, while being old school, I sincerely pray that God will give me the discernment and wisdom to be relevant in sharing the good news of Jesus.

If that’s what old school means, I’m in. How about you?

 

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