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: January 2024 (Page 1 of 4)

January 31, 2024

Dear Ones,
Blessings on this new day and may you live in forgiveness. Today 3 people here that are celebrating birthdays, and their doors will be plastered with cards! I have exercise class, crafts and Bible Study.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We have all done things we regret, but have we received not only forgiveness from the Lord, but gone on to forgive ourselves? That may take a longer time. I read James Smith’s book, “Embracing the Love of God”, and he stresses how we may accept God’s forgiveness but somehow lack courage to forgive ourselves, and experience self-hatred. We hear the voice within us that condemns us for the enemy plays back the tapes of what we have done. Some are so use to feeling depressed about their past that they choose to live with the familiar guilt feelings rather than to be set free.

Some don’t forgive themselves because they are afraid, afraid they will only do it again, but Smith says this is really a fear of freedom. To say we are forgiven means to be set free from our past and we suspect we may repeat our past behavior. But the truth is what we have done in the past does not determine what we will do again when we forgive ourselves.

How do we forgive ourselves? First to believe that God has forgiven us. He sees it all and He declares us forgiven if we confess what we have done. David said in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us.” God forgives all our sins and he doesn’t measure sins as some being greater and others lesser as we often do. The truth is we are all sinful beings, broken and should not be shocked when we fail because we are fallen. God knows who we are, but we need to forgive and be reconciled with ourselves.

Smith says the first stage is to be honest and tell the truth to ourselves of what we have done and then humbly acknowledge we are not perfect. We need to go in faith to rely on what Jesus has done for us and then rest in the promise of His forgiveness. Then we have the opportunity to reconcile with the person we may be angry with, which is ourselves. We can say, “I forgive you. I am sorry I have spent all of this time trying to hurt you. All of that is over now. I forgive you.” Then celebrate our freedom. God will never bring up our past sins, so if memories of our sin come up, view them through His forgiveness, define ourselves by who we are in Him, and rewrite our script. Who we are is not tied with what we have done in the past. We are now free to be who God created us to be.  We will know we have forgiven ourselves when we can love freely and be able to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

Challenge for today: Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything of your life that you have not forgiven yourself and begin the process of reconciliation.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

January 30, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a day of joy and listening! I have Al’s favorite cookies ready to go in the oven and soon the house will be filled with aroma. This afternoon we are invited to friends for coffee and fellowship. Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How well to we hear the voice of the Lord? Do we anticipate that He will speak to us each day or do we go about our day without expectation that He may have something specific for us to hear? We might say, of course I want to hear Him, but do we?

  One example might be when we attend church, do we sit in anticipation of something the Lord will speak to our hearts; that He may have a new word for us? Or when the gospel is read, are we thinking of how many sermons we have heard on that portion and then tune out? If the latter is true of us, we can change that. Like one pastor writes, we can take notes on what we hear in the sermon and then be alert to any specific word that the Lord may have for us through the text or illustrations. The Lord may surprise us with fresh revelation of His presence and power.

  I am reading Song of Songs right now and it is so full of love and intimacy with the Lord. As He says in Son of Songs 2:13, “Arise, my love, my beautiful companion, and run with time to the higher place. For now is the time to arise and come away with me.” Now is the time to draw close to the Lord, to hear His voice as he speaks. It will be peaceful and clear not condemning or forceful and it will never violate scripture. Even when He calls us to repentance, it is our choice to respond. When we give up going our own way and doing our own thing, wonderful peace will flood our hearts. He wants to speak His words of love to us in a myriad of ways. Just like with my relationship with Al, I never tire of him telling me he loves me, even if it is every day!

  May we ask the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives and cause us to hear clearly and be changed by His love.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

Challenge for today: Quiet your heart and listen to the Lord and respond in love.

A Cold Man

I have been reading a book on prayer by Fr. Donald Haggerty. In a chapter entitled “the desert of deeper prayer” he shares a quote from Saint Augustine.  “Give me a man in love: he knows what I mean, give me one who yearn; give me one who is hungry; give me one far away in this desert, who is thirsty and sighs for the spring of the Eternal country.  Give me that sort of man: he knows what I mean.  But if I speak to a cold man, he just does not know what I am talking about.”  

This quote is both inspiring and convicting for me.  I confess there are times when my relationship with God as that of a “cold man“.  I am not sure about my love for God, I lack passion for the cause of Christ, my thirst  for God is not very apparent, and I go through the motions without the vital energy of the Spirit.  I still struggle with my sexual fantasies. I want to desire “one thing”; that is being a passionate lover of God.  Yes, Augustine, I am that man, thirsting in a dry and thirsty culture.

I am a man continually crying out to God,  “Have mercy on me a sinner.”  I am like blind Bartimaeus, sitting by the roadside begging, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47).  He was desperate, knowing this was his only opportunity to connect with Jesus.  When Jesus called him, Bartimaeus responded. Without hesitation he  throw of his cloak, jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  When Jesus asked what he wanted, he was honest,  “Rabbi, I want to see” (Mark 10:51).  Jesus tells him, “Go your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52).

David cries out to God in a parched and weary land.  “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirst for you; My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is not water” (Ps. 63:1).  I can somewhat identify with David.  It has been a long, winding path in becoming a man who desires to be a lover of God – “a man in love.”  It has meant a lot of unlearning about what a man is, my past spiritual journey and my theological framework.  I finally can say, “I want to be a man in love with God.”

What has this meant for me?  I have had to become more honest about my spiritual condition. David was honest when he prayed, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me? (Ps 42:5).  First, it has meant becoming a soulful man. St. John of the Cross calls the soul, the region of deep caverns .  It is vast, unknown and deep.  I have to become willing to go deep. This in not introspection for Jesus is already there waiting for me.  

Secondly, I have to admit my need.  I am a beggar like Bartimaeus, who can’t fix himself spiritually.  David prayed, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps 51:17).  He admitted his great need. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God” (Ps 42:2).  I come to God in all my nakedness and emptiness.

Thirdly, God will rescue me from myself.  “I sink in the miry depths where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me” (Ps 69:2).  God will rescue me.  “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Ps 18:19).  


January 29, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! We were so excited that the Chiefs won yesterday as we will be going to our son’s family in KS for the Super Bowl! Today I plan to do lots of cooking and go to Aldi’s and Exercise class.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Our lives were never meant to be divided between the secular and the sacred; for if we do our tasks for the Lord, could we not say they becomes sacred? Most of us think of the sacred as reading the Word, praying, singing songs of praise, going to church etc.; and secular may be our normal activities of eating, sleeping, doing our work, taking care of our bodily needs etc. Sometimes we my hurry through our tasks, thinking we should get on to more important things like the spiritual world. There is no need to walk a tight rope between the two kingdoms if our motive is to do it for the Lord whatever we are about. It’s our total life that counts and doing it with thankfulness to the Lord.

  I was reading from Pursuit of God, “Do little things as if they were great because of the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, who dwells in you; and do great things as if there were little and easy because of His omnipotence.” (Blaise Pascal) We have Jesus’ example of doing whatever pleased His Father. Some things were small like helping in the carpenter shop to huge things like willingness to die for us. He was only about doing what His Father said.

  Paul also tells us “Whether you eat, or drink, or whatever we do, do all to the glory of God.” I Cor. 10:31. That means all that we do each day can be for His glory, whether it is doing dishes or preaching a sermon. Each act can be an act of worship when done for Him. An unknown author said, “Lord, turn the routines of work into celebrations of love. “

  As we surrender all, we can live every day to bring much glory to Him. The real question is not what we do but why we do it.  Let us do even the most simplistic acts of service for the Lord and find that He is present there.
 Challenge for today:  Honor the Lord doing a humble task, remembering it can be an act of worship when done for His glory.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

January 27, 2024

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend to you! Hope you have time to get refueled and rested. This morning Ann Marie and Paul are coming, and we are going to celebrate Paul’s birthday early. I am making a breakfast meal with pumpkin pancakes and bacon, fruit, etc. as Paul is just getting off work from the night shift. We will have cake too!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  After we come to know the Lord’s forgiveness of all we have ever done, we must learn to forgive others. Of course, we have all been wounded by others and often our first reaction is to desire that they suffer and feel the hurt we feel and are punished. But forgiveness is not justice and fairness, but about healing and the way to freedom. If we refuse to forgive it only prolongs our hurt but when we forgive, we are the prisoner that is set free.
  In James Smith book he tells of a boy, Stan, who was raped as a young boy, and later tried to commit suicide. But he went for help and was counseled and prayed for by Smith and came to know the Lord, he wanted to forgive the man who had done this to him. He found the man and   told him God had forgiven him and he forgave him also. It resulted that this man wanted to know more about the Lord’s forgiveness and Stan experienced a new freedom.
  Just as we have been forgiven, we are to forgive one another. (Eph. 4;23) If we refuse to forgive then we don’t realize how much we have been forgiven. Yes, they have hurt us, but forgiveness is all about relinquishing them from the debt. They may never seek our forgiveness, but we forgive without strings attached. Just like Stan who forgave the man who raped him before his perpetrator felt remorse or wanted to change.
 Smith also speaks of forgiveness as allowing God to use whatever has happened to us to be a means of growth. We know only He can take what is evil and bring something good of it. We have so many examples in scripture and for one, just think how Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers.  Even though they intended him harm God worked it for good as Joseph saved them all during the famine.
  We would all love that our offender would feel bad at how he had wounded us, but even if he doesn’t desire to be forgiven, we need to forgive so that we can be set free. We are releasing the debt and sometimes we may not be sure if we have truly forgiven them. One indicator is that we don’t get all upset when we remember the memory of what they did to us. Or another sign is if we can actually wish them well. Like Smith writes, “Love for one another leads us to cover their sins.” And what follows is that we are set free!
Challenge for today: If a hurtful memory comes to mind, ask the Lord for grace to forgive and release the person from the hurt they caused us.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

January 26, 2024

Dear Ones,
Happy weekend! Today is party day here and we have 11 birthdays to celebrate. Al and I will be going to Costco to get the cake this morning. Tomorrow we will also be celebrating Paul’s birthday a little early but when our schedules allow. Birthdays are special and every day is a gift given to us.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Would we say we are a conduit of God’s love and that we accept others in the same way God receives us? We may be fortunate to have such a friend who welcomes us even when we fall short, and still communicates acceptance to us.  But the majority of people who focus on their own pain and problems, have trouble doing that. The secret is that we must receive how God accepts us before we can really extend that to others.

  I read James Smith’s book, Embracing the Love of God, and he shows how we love others is a reflection of how we love ourselves. If we truly have come to know God’s acceptance of us, then we will be able to deal with others. We love others as we are loved!  As a child I remember memorizing John 13:35, “By this will everyone know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” When we do not accept others, perhaps it is because there are parts of ourselves that we also don’t accept. God never gives up on us and we should not give up on ourselves or on others either, no matter what.

  We need to open our hearts to receive His love and then be a conduit that lets His love flow out of us to others. But we can’t give out what we have not received. Until we open our hearts to Him, we have nothing to give. Just exercising our will power will not be enough to love those that are hard to love. But as we open our heart to the Holy Spirit’s work, we will come to know God’s love for ourselves, and He will love others through us. We can then accept and love them in their own uniqueness and not who we want them to be.
  God’s love never ever runs out and the measure we receive is the measure we can give it away.
Challenge for today: Open your heart to see areas where you have not accepted yourself and ask God to bring healing and wholeness so you can be a conduit of His love and grace.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

January 25, 2024

Dear Ones,
May you wake to a day filled with love! Al will soon be off to men’s group, and I have cinnamon/ craisin bread in the oven that he can sample when he gets home; later we have Bible Study.
 Devotions from Judy’s heart
  When we commit our lives to the Lord, it is just the beginning of a lifetime relationship of growing to know Him and love Him more. There is so much more awaiting us, and we need to keep responding to the Spirit who desires to draw us closer into His presence.  Instead of thinking it is the end, and I am going to heaven, it is rather the beginning of a lifelong pursuit to know and love Him more.

  It made me think of the marriage relationship. When we become man and wife, it is the beginning of a life to be lived together in oneness, as we get to know each other in deep ways. We want to know our spouse’s heart, their mind, what they are thinking and feeling.  It is not like well, now I am married and just function independently as before, but now we are blessed to get to know one another in intimacy. That is what the Lord also wants of us. He wants us to sit in His presence, to have an intimate fellowship together. He wants us to choose Him above all others. His love is perfect, unlike ours, and it is unconditional so we can rest in knowing He will always love us, even when we fail.

 King David prayed in Psalm 27:4 (Passion translation), “Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else; I want the privilege of living with Him every moment in His house, finding the sweet loveliness of His face, filled with awe, delighting in His glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to Him that He takes pleasure in my every prayer.” When we have come to know the Lord, He our One thing, our top priority? God is with us but are we with Him?!  Just as in marriage, Al and I make each other our priority, next to the Lord who is first, and we spend time daily sharing and praying together; and even after 58 years of marriage, there are still new things I am learning about him. Let us press on to know the Lord and to enjoy His presence daily.
  Challenge for today: Spend time alone with the Lord and receive His love that He desires to pour into you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

January 24, 2024

Dear Ones,
May your day be filled with joy! The house is filled with a pleasing aroma as I am baking, and Al is only too happy to lick the bowls. Today I have Exercise, Crafts and Bible Study.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Going to church and saying the right words is a lot easier than living a life of love and having a life of prayer and walk in obedience. Anyone can put on an outward appearance of living for the Lord but yet be lacking in substance and fail to walk with Him. Just like the marriage ceremony- it is easy to look good and say the right words but difficult to live out sacrificial love and patience in the marriage in the years that follow. We must embrace God if we are to be able to express daily love to others from our hearts and live in meaningful ways.

  I am reading a book about Jeremiah and God had a call on his life before he was born to be a prophet and call the people to live in relation to God. He didn’t feel qualified or ready, but God said he would be with him and tell him where to go and what to say by putting His words in his mouth. He gave him a big job to do, and Jeremiah didn’t compromise but spoke boldly. The people went to the temple and offered sacrifices, but they didn’t live out God’s ways and chased after other gods. Jeremiah told them what God had to say in Jer. 7:3-4, “Clean up your act –the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here, ‘This is God’s temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!’”

   Could God also be saying to us, “Clean up your act, live no longer for yourself but for Me and God’s kingdom!” We can lift our hands to praise the Lord in church, recite the Lord’s prayer and then go out and live just like the world and take advantage of others etc. We are not to live on the basis of our outward image and appearances but be people of substance and truth. Just like in a healthy marriage, let us live in love and tenderness and listen carefully and walk in God’s love.

Challenge for today: Watch what you say today and then ask yourself if that is just something that sounds good or is it truth coming from your heart.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

January 23, 2024

Dear Ones,
I am writing early and hope you wake to a heart that is prepared to enjoy the day. As I have written of freedom my question for you this week is: How free are you? What things keep you from living in freedom?
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  It seems like each day in scripture and my devotional readings, it is all about freedom as we focus on the Lord and not on self. Today I read from Romans 8:6-8 (Message), “Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open into a spacious free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self, ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what He is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.”

  Over and over again in scripture we find that to live freely and well, we need to think more of God and less of self. Paul goes on to say that we need to welcome the Holy Spirit and as He takes up residence in our hearts, we become alive and free from our dead-end lives of self. As we do this, life becomes adventurous and exciting, as we never know how He will lead us. We are also free from worry about what others think and trying to live up to their expectations, as our desire is now to please the Lord first. Instead of trying to please those around us, we trust the Holy Spirit to direct our lives and to tell us what answers to give.

  We have a friend who is full of the Spirit and prays daily that the Lord will use her. Her life is spent helping others in so many ways, often by checking on them, praying for them, and encouraging them. The Lord wants to use each of us and as I read this morning from Isaiah, He desires that we be open to the Spirit. When we do this, we can trust that He will fill our mouths with His words. As it says in Isaiah 50:4, “The Almighty Lord will teach me what to say, so I know how to encourage weary people. Morning by morning He will wake me to listen like a student.” Let us be free and open to listen to the Spirit that He can use us to bless others and bring glory to the Lord.
  Challenge for today: Start the day with asking the Lord to show you what things block you from living freely and give them over to Him.
  Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

To Be a Holy Man

Trevin Wax is becoming one of my favorite younger spiritual writers.  He writes about men, many of whom seem lost and lonely in our culture.  His recent blog titled “To Be a Holy Man” caught my attention: “Many today seem to view masculinity as a problem rather than a gift,” he notes.  “How does it make sense to push back against toxic expressions of masculinity without a clear picture of actual manliness, a positive vision that shatters the caricature.”  He then refers to an article by Jeremy Schurke listing 18 characteristic of a man who abides in Christ. 

“We are all acting as first responders,” observes Schurke, “to the scene of a masculinity crisis.”  Men are suffering from “ontological insecurity.”  Schurke believes we need exemplars: “As for the ideal man, I have been really interested in the concept of a Holy Man.”  He sees this as a “first step for a generation of men who are experiencing ontological insecurity.”  Below are Schurke’s descriptors of a Holy Man.  The list is rather long, but I trust you will find it stimulating.  Think of it as a “glorified” bull session on masculinity:

  1. He possesses wild eyes.  He’s not satisfied with the status quo but takes initiative as a difference maker.  He’s a citizen of another world.
  2. He moves mysteriously.  Dallas Willard talked about living  “in another time zone.”  This is the life of a practical mystic.
  3. He revers the sacred everywhere.   He is an everyday mystic, seeing his life as a spiritual adventure.
  4. He establishes rituals, disciplines, and traditions.  He recognizes how habits shape life and character.
  5. He walks a spiritual pilgrimage.  Life is a growing relational process in which one never arrives.
  6. He abides in God.  He desires a consistent and transformative friendship with God.
  7. He seeks a spiritual father.  He chooses close friends and a mentor – for soul care.
  8. He lives for a life mission.  He seeks to know God’s calling and walk in it.
  9. He wants to leave a legacy.  He invests time, talent, and treasure in and for others, seeing life in the larger story of God’s kingdom.
  10. He seeks kindred spirits, and knows he needs to be surrounded by men who will encourage him.
  11. He belongs to a tribe, and realizes he cannot be a “lone ranger.” 
  12. He is a savage servant.  A Holy Man is committed to the team concept of leadership, organization and mission.
  13. He fosters emotional intelligence.  With others, he learns self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal sensitivity.
  14. He burns with the fire of a poet and walks with a limp.  Being honest about his failings, he leads from a place of love and suffering.
  15. He is a perpetual student.  He is a student of scripture and other spiritual books so as to grow both in mind and heart.
  16. He takes his body seriously.  He appreciates his body, being comfortable in his own skin.  He understands his own sexuality and is committed to the virtue of chastity.
  17. He is consciously countercultural.  He appreciates the goodness of creation and mourns the distortion of sin.
  18. He becomes a saint.  He is committed to a lifelong process of growth, formation, and development, while being consciously set apart for God as a poet, warrior and monk.  He visualizes becoming like Jesus by being Jesus’ apprentice – to walk in his ways and love as he loves.

This is a long list for a short blog.  But these suggestions cast a vision that resonates with my heart.  As Schurke notes, “These steps to being a Holy Man are not easy.  Each requires more thought and reflection to be able to apply them well.”  

« Older posts

© 2024 Canaan's Rest

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑