Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: December 2023 (Page 1 of 4)

December 30, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Soon we will be entering a new year and may we prepare our hearts for all that God has for us. I plan to go to Aldi’s and clean the apartment and also write down some goals for the New Year.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
A New Year is just on the horizon, and we have likely read authors who share the importance of setting goals so that we can better get our focus on the Lord and His plan for our lives. I personally like to end the year by reflecting on what God has been working in me this past year and praying for what He has for me in the New Year and setting goals. Jennifer Slattery shares that it’s important to pray before even writing down goals so that we seek the Lord’s will and not our own. Sometimes our circumstances have radically changed since our goals were set last year, like a move or a new job or a baby, and we need to reset them.

Our goals should be doable and not so big that we will get discouraged when we don’t meet them. Instead of writing down that we will have devotions every morning for 1 hour, write that we will take ½ hour twice this week to devote; if successful, after that we can increase it. Or instead of setting the goal to go to the gym every day, simply programing that we will exercise by taking a brisk walk a couple times a week.

It may be helpful to write down some negative habits we have that want we want to replace with good ones, like eating healthily, more sleep, a set time with the Lord etc. We might even put in some rewards if we reach our goal. We need to seek the Lord as we make all our decisions for what is right for others may not be right for us at this time. As we ring in 2024 let us remember II Cor. 5:17 for we are in the transformational process: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone the new is here!” May we release the old and welcome the new!

Join me in the prayer by Hope Bolinger: “Lord, I want to dedicate this year to you. I know it hasn’t begun yet, but I want it to have a wonderful start. Let your will be done, not mine. I would be lying if I said I haven’t already paved some plans for myself this next year. But if they do not align with your will, I ask that you do not allow them to happen. You know what is best for me. You know me far better than I know even myself. I ask that this be your year. I surrender myself as an empty vessel. Fill me with your joy and love, so that I may outpour it onto others. Amen.”

Challenge for today: Take some time to reflect on your life in 2023 and then surrender to what the Lord has for you in 2024.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

December 29, 2023

Dear Ones,
Blessings on your weekend! Today we have two celebrations as we celebrate the birthdays of several friends here at Northern Lakes but also the celebration of life of one who was here since the beginning when Northern Lakes was built. We will miss him but comforted that he is celebrating in glory.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when we have received forgiveness and given a new slate which is sparkling clean with no marks against us. It reminds me of the song by James Nicholson in 1872, “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole/ I want Thee forever to live in my soul;/ Break down every idol, cast out every foe-/ Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. /Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow/ Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” When we repent and ask forgiveness of the wrongs we have done, it is a wonderful feeling to be totally forgiven and washed clean. It is the best gift ever, and we can daily seek forgiveness because if you are like me, we sin every day; not necessarily seen in outwards actions, but in our attitudes and matters of the heart.

Recently we had our kitchen floor replaced and in the process the workers had to remove our stove, frig, washer/dryer and dish washer out while working on the floor. We were to be gone while this took place and when we came back it was all beautifully done. But I was surprised at some items they put on the counter like dryer balls, masks, dusting cloths that must have dropped behind the dryer and even a broiling pan that was stuck between the stove and frig. When I saw them, it was if the Lord was saying that we have many hidden sins that don’t show for most people to see but He knows they are there. Sometimes it is willful sins of which we are aware and want to remain hidden to the eyes of others, but other times it may be sins of omission when we have neglected to do something He has spoken to our hearts to do.

We daily need to confess our sins for as it says in I John 1:9, “If we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—He won’t let us down; he’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.“ May He wrap us in His white robe of righteousness!

Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to show you your hidden sins and to deal with them, and then to cleanse you and clothe you in His righteousness.

Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

December 28, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope your Christmas was a time of joy! Our hearts are full as we had a wonderful time together with family. Today will be catch up and the house is already full of aroma as I started a meal in the oven.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  When I read the book, Forgive and Forget by Professor Lewis Smedes, I found he goes deeper into what true forgiveness really is and what it is not. It doesn’t seem fair that we should forgive someone that has done something so horrible as a Jewish man who was asked to forgive a Polish soldier. He was in a concentration camp and taken to the bedside of one of the German wounded soldiers who was dying. The soldier wanted to ask forgiveness of a Jew before he died, for he had crowded 200 Jews into a house and then blew it up and shot all who tried to escape. It doesn’t seem fair for someone to happily kill so many people and then simply ask for forgiveness so he can die in peace.  We may ask ourselves, why do we have to forgive someone and then suffer again by also blessing the person?
  But the alternative to forgiving is when we refuse to forgive and want revenge, to get even in some way. We want them to experience the pain they caused us. But the truth is we can never really even the score. When we retaliate, we may think we evened the score but the other person feels his pain is greater and so it never balances out. When we harbor hate it will sap our strength and energy and leave us weak and in pain.

   Smedes goes on to say that forgiveness gives the power to move us away from the past pain, and to free us from the endless chain of reactions, thereby creating a new situation where both the wrong doer and the one wronged can begin a new way. They have an opportunity to be reconciled and end the cycle of hate. Yes, forgiveness seems unfair to the people doing the forgiving, but we lose when we play the “get even” game, the game that will only cause the hurt to stay with us longer. Redemptive remembering is a healing way. We keep a clear picture in our mind of the past, but it then shifts our focus on love emerging from the ashes and hope for the future. Jesus said in Luke 6:37, Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

Challenge for today: Forgive without weighing the scales but out of gratitude for what the Lord has
 forgiven you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 27, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope your Christmas was full of joy. We are just home now from the cities where we stayed at a hotel 2 nights with almost 40 relatives. It was a wonderful time, and we all ate lots, shared much, played games, shopped, swam etc. The best thing was that my brother’s son, shared how he found the Lord after all these years of trying to distance himself from God. What a wonderful first Christmas as His child.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Is the Lord real to us? I mean we say we believe but then do we go on to really know Him and want to live for Him? Do we actually experience God and have we “tasted and seen that the Lord is good…and that if we seek Him, we won’t lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34: 8 &10) It’s so easy to mouth the words that we believe in God, but do we go on to really know Him in a personal way? He wants to be known by us, just as we want to be known by a friend or a spouse.

  He wants our receptivity to listen to Him as He speaks, to let Him love us and also love others through us. If we are His sheep, we should be listening for His voice but often we have unbelief that blocks His voice to us. Perhaps we find ourselves cold or aloof to the sound of His voice because we are listening to the music of the world in our ears. We miss out on so much of what the Lord desires to give to us.

  I’m sure we have all had times we are sharing our hearts with a close friend or spouse and find that they are not really listening. Their mind is off somewhere else, and they are missing what we are trying to communicate. Think of how often the Lord is wanting to pour out His love on us and we disregard what He is saying because we are not really listening. There is a whole spiritual world about us and we often choose to ignore it. I read today a quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Christian faith is a grand cathedral, with divinely pictured windows. Standing without, you see no glory, nor can imagine any. But standing within, every ray of light reveals a harmony of unspeakable splendors. “

  Let us not stay aloof but draw close to the Lord and experience the reality and splendor of His presence. As it says in James 4:8, “Draw close to God and He will draw close to you; Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Challenge for today:  Take the first step towards God and He will come close to you!
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 25, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy Christmas morning. We will be packing up the car to go to the hotel in the cities for 2 days to be with a host of relatives (last year it was 40 plus!) We come from several states and have a feast for supper and then each family shares about the blessings of the past year in their families. Some go swimming afterwards and the rest of us eat some more and enjoy catching up. I won’t be writing again until Wednesday as my computer is staying home!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Today is Christmas morning and may you have incredible joy as you celebrate the birth of our King and Savior. Whether we are with lots of family or alone today, we worship and celebrate the One who came, who died, and rose again and now is preparing a place for us in glory. Receiving Him and knowing Him is the most important decision we will ever make, and no matter what happens here in life, when we know Him, we have everything.

  A prayer I read recently from writer Ashley Moor as she wrote about joy as she shared from Psalm 16:11, which is one of my favorite Psalms. “You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.”

  Dear Lord,

Thank you that in your presence, we experience joy to the max! Thank you for making that available to us through the birth of your Son, Jesus! His birth is the reason we seek out experiences that bring us joy during this season, even if it’s only temporary joy! I pray we use this Christmas season to prompt us to acknowledge and engage with our true source of joy–your presence. Thank you for making lasting joy available to us. Thank you for every good gift! Lord let us spend time abiding in your presence, and, Lord, let us be evidence to unbelievers that you are their only hope for true, lasting joy! Let it be undeniable that we have been with you and thank you for being with us! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Challenge for today: Share the Lord with someone who may not know Him.
Blessings on your Christmas Day and prayers and love, Judy


The Coming Darkness

While worshiping on the first Sunday of Advent, I attentively listened to my pastor read from John 1:1-18 as I followed along in my CSB.  I paid particular attention to John 1:5: “That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.”  Afterwards I reread these familiar words of John’s gospel, which have been shared so often during the Advent season.  A footnote to John 1:5 in my CBS Bible notes that “overcome” can also mean “grasp, or comprehend, or overtake.”  

The NET Bible translates John 1:5 this way: “And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.”  Phillips says, “The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.”  The NET Bible notes “shines” as being in the present tense: “The light continually shines…expresses the timeless truth that the light of the world never ceases to shine” (NET).  

The Amplified Bible reads, “The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].  Continuing, it notes, “Although Satan and his forces resist the light, they cannot thwart its power.  In short, Jesus is life and light; those who accept Him are ‘sons of light’ (12:35-36).  As the creation of light was the beginning of the original creation, so, when believers receive the light, they become part of the new creation (II Cor. 4:3-6).” 

My thoughts often drift to focus on challenges men face.  On this particular Sunday, I sensed I should blog on John 1:5 and our battle with the ever-increasing darkness.  Jesus’ warning from John 12:35 seems very appropriate to 21st century believers: “You are going to have the light just a little while longer.  Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.”   

Here’s how two cultural observers describe our society:  “There is a creeping sense that our society has turned upside-down.  Healthy debate is replaced by activist hysterics.  Speech is declared violence; violence is excused as speech.  Masculinity is condemned as ‘toxic,’ while men in dresses are celebrated in the public square.  It feels as if we are in the midst of a society-wide mental breakdown” (Christopher F. Rufo).  “There is something deeply unwell in our society right now… I’m sure social media, economic malaise, Covid lockdowns, fentanyl, and every other reason we hear about factor into it… in aggregate, (it) still feels insufficient” (Robert Sterling).  Sterling goes on to suggest that something “metaphysical” seems to have shifted.

In other words, something in the spiritual realm has changed.  Psalm 88:5 reminds us that the “gods” of this age walk in darkness. They cause earth’s foundations to shake. “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.  They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken” (Ps. 82:5).  Yes, there is a major shift taking place.  The “gods” of darkness have been loosed, causing a type of metaphysical “mental breakdown.” This has produced an unhealthy spiritual vacuum.  Paul warns, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (II Thess. 2:11).

But remember, men: Jesus, the light of world, has come.  His light will not go out.  Darkness will not overcome, grasp, comprehend or put out that light.  In the future, AI may deceive many while claiming to bring light. We know better. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.”  We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like those who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (I Thess. 5:5-6).

December 24, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy Christmas eve day! I don’t usually write on Sundays but want to wish you a blessed Christmas! We are heading to the Lake to worship at our son-in-law’s church, and plan to stop and see a friend in Assisted living on the way. Tomorrow we will go to the cities and I’m not taking my computer along, so you won’t get a devotion for the 26th and a late one on the 27th.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Christmas is a holy time, a time to remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth. Yes, it is going to church, singing carols, feasting and gathering with family, but most of all it is a time to worship and thank God for sending His Son to earth for us. When I think of the contrast of Jesus leaving the glories of heaven amongst angels and then being born in a cold dirty earthly stable, it grips my heart! How could Someone love us that much and yet Jesus does!

  Perhaps O Holy Night will be sung at your church service on Christmas eve or perhaps we have it playing on our phones, but may the words written in the 1800’s penetrate our hearts at this Christmas time:

“O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
“Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary word rejoices
  For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
  Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
  O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!”

As a result of His coming we can, like the shepherds and wisemen, bow low before Him in beholding our King. He breaks our chains and lifts our oppression and forgives our sins and is our friend, and Savior and King. He teaches us to love one another and to proclaim His glory and power to all. “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” II Cor 9:15. Let us share the good news!

Challenge for today: Receive God’s Love gift and tell others every chance you get.
Blessings on your Christmas, whether you are with family or alone, He is there with you, sees you and loves you! Love, Judy

December 23, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you are having a peaceful weekend as you prepare for Christmas. I spent much of yesterday in the kitchen and today I am going to clean and pack. We will be celebrating tomorrow by going to Church in Hackensack and then to Ann’s for Christmas dinner. We plan to be home for the Christmas service at our church at 4. May each of us have a fresh awareness of the wonderful gift given us in Jesus!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are all loved and wanted beyond what we can ever comprehend. Even the one who was raised in a home without earthly fatherly love can glory in the fact that he is eternally loved by a Heavenly Father who gave His all for him.

I was reading a devotional by Rick Renner on, who reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas. We first think of the manger and celebrate Jesus coming as a baby…but there is much more. We need to include the cross, for Jesus’ purpose in coming was to die for each of us that we might have salvation. Paul writes in Philippians 2 how Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross for that is why the Father sent him. Paul also says that Jesus was found in fashion as a man and Renner goes on to tell us that the Greek word for fashion is used to describe a king who for a brief time exchanged kingly robes for the clothing of a beggar. It was part of God’s plan for Jesus to do this and He willingly obeyed His Father and stepped down to earth and suffered the most excruciating death for us.

After reading this devotional I was left with a new awareness of Christmas and the tremendous gift given to me and all of mankind who will receive. Yes, Jesus came as a baby but ultimately to die for me and each of you reading this. I will close with the prayer by Renner:

Lord, I thank You for coming to earth so You could redeem me. When I think of the extent to which You were willing to go in order to save me, it makes me want to shout, to celebrate, and to cry with thankfulness. You love me so much, and I am so grateful for that love. Without You, I would still be lost and in sin. But because of everything You have done for me, today I am free; my life is blessed; Jesus is my Lord; Heaven is my home; and Satan has no right to control me. I will be eternally thankful to You for everything You did to save me                                                     I pray this in Jesus’ name!”

Challenge for today: Put a cross somewhere near the nativity as a reminder of the cost of Jesus coming to earth.

December 22, 2023

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! Yesterday we spent in the cities at our son-in-law’s mother’s funeral. It was a beautiful service and a powerful sermon by the pastor, who outlined Shirley’s influence on so many people who were touched by her.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  When we gather for Christmas with family, are we united with those who view life just like us or is there quite a variety of opinions. It is not likely we all believe exactly the same and have the same viewpoints on our government, the church, the coming of the Lord again etc.  How good are we at opening our arms and hearts to those who don’t see things exactly like we do. Paul had a lot to say to the early Christians about cultivating good relationships even when we may have strong opinions on things. Back then it was often on what they could eat or not eat, what days should be set aside as holy days etc. But simply put, Paul says “So tend to your own knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God. (Rom. 14:12)

   Well, that says it pretty plainly. We don’t have to play Holy Spirit for others, but carefully listen to what the Lord may be speaking to us. Paul says to welcome even those who we don’t agree with and not to refuse our association with them. As in verse 4 he says, “If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.” (Message translation)

  It is so sad to see families split over differences of opinions, and it is a win for the enemy who loves to see Christians divided. We need to respect one another enough to let each one have their own opinions and not insist they see things the same way we do. One day Paul says, we are going to kneel side by side in the place of judgment, facing God and give account for our critical and condescending ways.
I like to read up on things from sources I trust, and ask the Lord for direction. Of course, the best source is the Word, but we may not always see the exact solution to the situation we are involved in; but we can pray and see that we have the right kind of attitude and respond in love, no matter what. So let us all tend to our own knitting!

  Challenge for today: Read Romans 14 in your favorite translation and then in the Message translation also as you let God speak to your heart.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

December 21, 2023

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a day filled with His love. Soon we will be going this morning to the cities for the funeral for Leif’s mom. She was ready to go and is spending Christmas in glory and for that we rejoice, but hard for family as she is missed. Another funeral next week for a friend from our church too.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  So often as I read the Word, something really stands out that I want to give more thought and pray over, and let the Holy Spirit search my own heart. As I write to all of you each day, I want it to come from a heart that is in tune with the Lord and not just words. Today I was in Romans 12 which is very familiar but instead of the ESV translation, I read it from the Message. Often it grabs me in its everyday words and brings conviction. Verse 10 to 19 says a lot about loving from the center of our being and not pretending or faking. Since Christmas is a time of being with friends and relatives and groups of people from work etc., maybe this passage is good for all of us as it is full of ways of how to handle ourselves.

  “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.  Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. l’ll do the judging,’ says God. I’ll take care of it.’”

  A word to us is that we are not to push our self-importance but be willing to be secondd as we love deeply and show honor to one another. We need to be full of the Spirit as we serve one another as unto the Lord. If someone gets under our skin, we don’t give up but pray harder and exercise patience even as the Lord is patient with us. We are to help provide for their needs and show warm hospitality…not how long are you going to stay?!!! Even if they are sarcastic towards us, bless them and don’t curse them. Share their joy and also their griefs as some will come with heavy hearts. We are to try our best to live in harmony and not be exclusive but include them. Even if they speak against us, let us not respond back or try to get the upper hand…pray for them and leave the judging up to the Lord.  Ask God to show us beauty in them, and to help us get along with them. Let us do our part to live in harmony with one another.

  Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to help you to be a humble, loving, caring servant and to express his love in words and actions.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy
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