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: February 2024 (Page 1 of 3)

February 29, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a day of prayerfulness. Al will be going to Men’s Group, and I plan to do food prep and make bars. We have Donut DayEmoji and Bible study this afternoon.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Self, self, self! Our whole society has an obsession with ourselves, and selfishness has never been so evident and even violent as everyone wants to do what they want without regard for others. I am reading Eugene Peterson’s book, Earth and Altar that is all about a community of prayer in a self-bound culture. He writes of how we can begin to unself America of being so preoccupied with self and says the answer is prayer. He uses the Psalms to help us learn how to pray in ways that shape our society and nurture our own souls. That would not be selfish prayers, or prayers only in private but prayer in community, and prayer that embraces all the aspects of our lives, including our nation. He says that “far more of our nation’s life is shaped by prayer than is formed by legislation.” I have read Psalm 46 many times but Peterson helped me see how prayer can make a difference in our violent society; and even though we would desire to find a comfortable place that is safe, we cannot control the dangers around us.

Psalm 46 is written in the midst of violence and prayer is what can make a difference. The Psalm itself uses the images of the violence in nature and political violence and military violence; we can see for ourselves that violence is everywhere. But violence is not the main subject in the Psalm but God is. “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psalm 26: 7. God is the head of angelic armies and all powerful and yet personal with us for He is our refuge, our place of protection. We are loved and valued and protected by the Lord. No matter what is going on outwardly, we are loved and listened to by the One who is over all.

In the midst of it all that is happening, God is present, “in the city of God”, and will not be moved. If God is in our midst, we need to have eyes trained to see Him and His actions. The city of God is safe, because He is very present always and ready to help. Now help doesn’t always come like we want or expect that gets us out of the situation, but when we look at what is going on in our lives or in history, some of the greatest revivals have occurred in the midst of upheaval. We have to look deeper if we are to see the mighty works of God and discern what He is doing. His works are everywhere and as Peterson says, “Prayer is looking at the works of the Lord.”

In this Psalm we are told to “Be still and know that I am God.” We need to be quiet and still to discover what God’s will is for the world and for us. We need a deep heart knowing that comes when we are quiet to listen. And out of it, God may give us direction of what He would also have us do.

Challenge for today: Read Psalm 46 slowly and prayerfully open your ears to what God has to say to you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 28, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope the Lord is the center of your day! I am still a little swollen from my trip to the dentist but hoping by church tonight i won’t look lopsided! I plan to go to Aldi’s, and exercise class, and Crafts today.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  I have been in the book of Colossians and Paul’s letter to the people there shows his desire that Jesus be the center of their lives and that they live in peace with one another. They were to forgive each other, be kind and caring and put up with one another and above all be loving. (Col 3) Those words are also for us today and it often means that we do a lot of dying to self as we strive to get along with one another. It takes daily surrender to the Lord that His love and forgiveness would flow through us.

  We make mistakes and sin daily even when we are not aware, and all of us need forgiveness. When I went to our Women’s Bible study the leader was busy getting ready and I told her I would put out the name plaques of card stock on the counter so everyone could claim them when they came. There were two piles but what I didn’t know was that she had them alphabetized and I just haphazardly put them on the counter. I messed up and I wasn’t even aware at the time. It hit me that there must be a multitude of times in my life and maybe your life too, where we are doing maybe even good things but still missing the mark because of doing it the wrong way or a wrong attitude, or wrong timing. God is so merciful and wants us to surrender to Him and to desire to follow His lead.

Paul said in Colossians 3:1-3, “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective.”
 May Jesus be first in our live, the very center of our lives, and may we do all for His glory.
 Challenge for today: Put Jesus in first place in your life each day and be amazed at what He will do through you when you are surrendered.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 27, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a day of sharing with your Best Friend whose ear is always open to your voice!  I plan to bake dessert to bring to church tomorrow and then have another dental appointment this morning and this time for a crown. Yesterday left me with stitches and a swollen cheek and bleeding and today I hope it is just very ordinary!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Perhaps we think when we have a commute to work or spend mega amounts of time taxiing our kids that it is time wasted…but it doesn’t need to be. It can be a time to catch our breath, and actually spend time sharing with the Lord in ways that we don’t always do when we are occupied with chores at home or busy at the office.
   Emma Danzey wrote about some ways we can be more intentional to draw closer to the Lord, even as we go about our commute. First of all, as we buckle our seatbelt, we can thank the Lord He has promised to be with us wherever we go. (Josh. 1:9) Then we can visit with Him as we share any particular concerns we have for the day and ask for His help. I like to visualize the Lord sitting next to me, as my best Friend with whom I can share everything that is weighing on my heart. We are sure to hit traffic lights and it can be a time to refocus as we are stopped by a red light. When it turns yellow and we are getting set to begin to proceed with caution, we practice waiting for His timing. When it is green, we can take action and move forward into what He has planned for our day. As we surrender to His schedule, we can go about our day in freedom for our dependency is on Him.                                                                                                    As it says in Psalm 119:97, & 100-102 (Message), “Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all day long…I’ve become wiser than the wise old sages simply be doing what you tell me. I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil so I can spend all my time keeping your Word. I never make detours from the route you laid out; you gave me such good directions.”
  After giving my concerns to the Lord, I like to just praise Him in song, and if I’m alone I sing at the top of my voice. One mom was singing to the Lord along with praise music she had on in the car, and she looked back in her rearview mirror to see her little toddler with her hands raised and singing too. What a beautiful moment.
  Let us not grumble about time spent commuting but rather use it to be with the Lord and get our directions for the day.
  Challenge for today: Intentionally use your commute time to share your heart with the Lord.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy


The Rage of the Nations

As never before, we as a nation are being confronted by “the raging of the nations.”  There have been riots, violence, and protests in the past, but due to the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, “the rage” has begun to dominate the news cycle daily. We have to ask, “Who actually rules the world and whose purposes will in the end by accomplished?”  The nation of Judah was surrounded by larger nations seeking to dominate it.  But the prophet Isaiah declares it unnecessary to be frightened by the raging of the nations, for they will soon be gone. 

Chapters 13-23 of Isaiah declare God’s judgment on the surrounding nations. Judah was being constantly tempted to look for political and military alliances with surrounding nations for its security.  Isaiah reminds the people who really rules the world. In 17:1-11, the prophet warns his people of relying on the nations with their fortress cities (17:9).  They “will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth.  And all will be desolation” (17:9). The people of Israel had forgotten to make the Lord their fortress. “You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress” (17:10). 

In words reminiscent of Psalm 46, the prophet compares the nations to “the raging sea.”  Isaiah reminds the people that the power of man is helpless before the Lord.  “Hear the roar of many people, roaring like the roaring seas! Hear the surge of mighty nations like the surge of many waters! They may roar like roaring waters, but the Lord has but to speak against them and they are scattered far and wide, driven like chaff before the wind on the mountains, swirling like dust before the storm – terrible to behold in the evening and gone without a trace in the morning!  Such is the fate of those who plunder our goods, such is the lot of those who steal our wealth!” (17:12-14).

This brings to mind Psalm 2, where God “laughs” at the arrogance of earthly rulers. The Psalmist asks, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (Ps. 2:1).  He replies, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.  Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill'” (Ps. 2:6).  As the kings of Assyria consolidate more land and people, with their multi-national armies, the smaller nations such as Judah felt the threatening winds of the conquering armies.  Their agitation is compared to the roaring of waters.  In the Old Testament the image of social and religious chaos is often depicted as roaring waters (Ps. 18:16; 29:3; 32:6).  This is a vivid image of world history as we have come to know it. 

The roaring of the nations in Isaiah 17:12 is in marked contrast with verse 13 where the nations are driven away like chaff by the wind, swirling like the dust in a storm.  The Lord spoke against the nations with all their roaring.  “Woe to the peoples who roar – they roar like the roaring of great waters!” (17:12).  God’s rebuke blows away the tumultuous nations.  As the wind blew, the lighter chaff was blown away.  Chaff is a picture of a speedy and total dispersal involving swift judgment.  There is no hope for the victims.  God’s wind will treat the nations like dust, easily blown away and forgotten. 

God’s judgment comes quickly. It is “terrible to behold in the evening,” but will be” gone without a trace in the morning.” (Is 17:14). I take comfort in the contrast made by Isaiah.  There will be a time when all the rage of nations will be silenced by the Lord of Hosts.


February 26, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a wonderful weekend. We were blessed and enjoyed time with our friend who was here on retreat over the weekend and also went with us to church. Early this morning I have a dental appointment and if all goes well, I will get to my exercise class too.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  Saturday as I quietly went upstairs to the 3rd floor guest room at 6:15 a.m, a thought occurred to me as I put out a tray of bacon and eggs, pancakes, coffee etc. in front of the door of a retreatant. He had come for the weekend and to spend some time with the Lord and also share together with us. He wanted to spend the first hours of the day alone with the Lord and all he had to do was open his door and he would find some nourishment waiting for him. But he had to open up or the food would be left just sitting there and growing cold. God loves to feed us and bless us but we have to take initiative and open our hearts to welcome what he sends.
  Now if the retreatant were here all week, he would get a tray of varied food and not the same menu every day. He may have a preference, but likely some different foods would be welcomed with a taste for something new. I can only imagine how the Lord delights to fill us daily with rich spiritual food that will help us sail through our day and give us energy and strength. If we don’t take time to open the Word but instead give our time to seeing what is new on Facebook or begin texting, we may go into our day without satisfying our spiritual hunger. That is a big mistake for about midmorning our energy may lag and our focus is off, and we don’t accomplish all that we could if we took time to be fed and nourished.
 The Psalmist prays in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle wonders.” A little farther on he says, “My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous! –insatiable for your nourishing commands.”  Each day we have the opportunity to satisfy our spiritual hunger by opening up our hearts to receive whatever the Lord has for us for that day. We are to receive with grateful hearts and not complain we’d rather have something quite different. He knows what we need that will carry us through that day and we can trust Him. Let us come with openness of heart and in faith, gladly receiving whatever He has to give us.
  Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to feed you from His Word today what He knows you need and then give thanks.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy


February 4, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a great weekend. Yesterday we had a day of many emotions as we went from a celebration of life for our neighbor to our monthly Birthday party and to having a friend come for a weekend retreat. Today we will be enjoying time together and some time also in quiet to listen.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
   I was reading along today in my devotions from the book of Philippians in the Message translation and Paul was summing up his letter to the Christians and said in Phil 4:4, “Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”
   What would happen if we truly celebrated God all day long and were aware of His presence with us in all our circumstances. We might think we are exempt from rejoicing during our day if it is a day full of struggles, deadlines and busyness. But think of Paul writing this from a dirty uncomfortable prison, telling us to rejoice in all our circumstances and be gentle with others. We are to be joyous in the Lord even when our circumstances don’t dictate that but rather because our hearts are joined to the Lord. I doubt Paul would feel sympathetic to the guards in the natural, but the Holy Spirit helped him and helps each of us to be kind and considerate to others, no matter who they are. I recently saw on Facebook a man who was angry and put a basket of garbage on his neighbor’s steps and rang his bell. When neighbor saw the mess, he didn’t retaliate but filled the basket with many fresh apples and slowly walked next door, assisted by his cane, and put it on his steps. What a message that sent.
 We might first ask how do I celebrate God all day? We might start by turning off our phone for a short time and get quiet enough to hear His still small voice above all the other distractions. My word for this year was to go deeper with the Lord and I find that the more my focus is on Him during the day and less on myself that His presence seems closer. We might want to talk aloud to Him and sing to Him or whisper a prayer in the midst of our work. We might say it is like taking our best friend with us wherever we go and not leaving Him behind….in fact, we are to let Him lead us. If we can’t take Him some place with us, then we shouldn’t be there either. If He prompts us to do something for others and we do it, we will sense His pleasure and so will the person. It could be as simple as texting someone that you are thinking of them and praying for them, or even offering coffee to someone who needs a lift.
   To revel in the Lord, means to show joy and celebration and be jubilant and happy. What a witness that is to others, like it must have been to Paul’s jailer. May we go about our day, rejoicing in Him who is Lord of our circumstances.
  Challenge for today: Celebrate the Lord today in a new way.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy


February 23, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you have a peace filled weekend! This morning is the celebration of life of our friend who lived in the apartment next to us. We miss her and at the same time rejoice she is now with the Lord. This afternoon we have our monthly birthday party here and then we have a friend coming for the weekend for a time of retreat.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  One night I woke with the song playing in my mind, “I Look Not Back”. Whenever that happens, I often look up the exact words of the song and the author to see what the Lord may be saying to me. I had not been thinking of this song before bedtime, so it came as a surprise.  This song was written by Annie Johnson Flint who was born in 1866 on Christmas eve in N.J. When she was only 3 her mom died when giving birth to her sister; her dad had an incurable disease so willed the children to a Baptist family. Annie’s start in life was not the ideal but she doesn’t focus on the past. It is wise for all of us to leave the past behind with its regrets and mistakes, although learn from it, and focus instead on the One who was with us in our present and will be with us in our future.
  Annie writes, she is not wasting time on sinful things of past but leaving it all with the Lord, who wipes our record clean. She also does not look forward for only God knows what is ahead and will help her, promising to carry her through every trial, bearing her burdens. She goes on to include not looking around her as she could get overcome by fears of the darkness in the world. How true that is also for us today. She also says she is not going to spend her time looking inward either on all her offenses and failures but concludes with the wonderful verse: “But I look up into the face of Jesus, for there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled; and there is joy, and love, and light for darkness, and perfect peace, and ev’ry hope fulfilled.”
  We all have to choose where we will place our focus. We need to sever the cords of our past if we want to live in His peace today. After all, He has forgiven us whatever we have done. If we worry about the future or what is happening around us, we will get anxious and fearful. Or if we are navel gazing, we will only be reminded how we have failed. But if instead we look to the Lord and place our trust in Him, we will abound in peace and light and love. Let us be like Paul who said in Phil 4:13-14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
  Challenge for today: Let go of your past and trust Him for this day and each day to take care of you.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy

February 22, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a new awareness of God’s mercy and His love for you! This morning Al will be going to men’s group, and I will be doing food prep and cleaning. We have Donut Day and Bible study this afternoon.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  I wonder if all of us haven’t been through wilderness times, times we felt we were not in control, and can’t figure out what is going on in our lives. It can be exhilarating and also frightening, but one thing we notice, we also feel more alive, and see things in new ways. The Wilderness is a quiet place for the most part and a place of beauty but also can be dangerous. Some go the wilderness for a week of camping and love the unclutteredness of life and time to ponder. Others are in a hurry to get back to their busy city life with all the conveniences. When we lived at the lake, we had 600 feet of lakeshore but also 40 acres of thick trees, where I could easily get lost. I knew there were bears, bobcats, skunks, fox, wolves etc. but that didn’t hinder me from my daily walks alone. Although I mostly stuck to the gravel road, it was a time for me to pray and ponder.
  When I read in the Word about David, he didn’t just decide one day it would be a nice to have a wilderness experience, but he was chased for his very life there by King Saul and his men. Eugene Peterson writes about what David’s experience could have been like and he actually went to En-Gedi to look at the very country that David hid out in and peeked into caves he could have hidden in etc. He got a feel for the harshness of life that David must have experienced.  There was beauty in the wilderness, but it was also unpredictable. David spent a lot of time on the run from Saul, and there was more than one time he could have killed Saul but he would not touch the Lord’s anointed. He instead he lifts his heart to God in prayer and some of the most beautiful Psalms recorded where his prayers spoken in such times. He used the word refuge many times and found his refuge in the Lord.
  We may feel like we are in a wilderness time and can’t figure out what is happening. May we also seek the Lord and pray as David did from the cave. (Psalm 57:1-2}, “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.”
  Challenge for today: Read the entire Psalm 57 and give thanks to the Lord for where He has you right now.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 21, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope you wake to a day of joy and purpose. I plan to bake, go to Aldi’s and exercise class and later to Crafts and soup supper and Lenten service.  Today is also a special day as it is our grandson Lar’s birthday.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How many of us would say we lived a balanced life? Or would we confess we feel like life is out of control and are being pulled in several directions at once? If we have children to tend while having aging parents that need care, we might be told we are in the Sandwich years and life can seem frantic. We don’t know exactly how many years we will live such a busy life before things slow down, but we also have to live through it now. Catriona Futter writes about how we can respond to things we have no control over and instead control our own responses. It is so important to get our focus on the Lord who is our anchor and solid place, or anxiety and negativity will take over our lives. But we can choose instead to focus on who we know the Lord to be and remember He will give us strength for whatever comes our way, as we trust Him.
  We go through seasons in our lives, and we have to not jump into the next season before it’s time. When we are busy with young children, it is not the best time to go back to school and earn a degree or volunteer for numerous other time-consuming tasks. We might have to postpone things for a time; but God’s timing is perfect, and He will open doors for us according to His time schedule. For the present time, our job may be to care well for those who are in our charge and see them through. We can’t do everything and if we feel like we are getting over our head in busyness and becoming grumpy, we can ask for help from our family and let them lighten the load with us. They too have to learn that they can’t do everything but make choices and saying no until a better time.
  If we don’t pay attention to being overly committed and too busy, we will find that our joy seems to disappear. We may spend less time with the Lord and even the activities we are involved in seem to feel flat. But we can go to the Lord and give Him our burdens and take His easy yoke as it says in Matt. 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you res. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It may help to lighten our burdens to put on praise music as we fold clothes, or sing as we bake, or do something fun for self-care. Let us not get off- balance but live our lives with room to breathe in the strength that He will give us.
  Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to help you live a balanced life and make adjustments as He directs.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

February 20, 2024

Dear Ones,
Hope your day is filled with sunshine and recall of many blessings you have received. This morning, I have women’s Bible study and this afternoon we are having friends over for a time of fellowship.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
  How often do we focus on the negative in life and miss the beautiful things the Lord has for us in the present? Such an attitude can lead us to become self-absorbed and not pleasant company to be around. How can we keep from coming a complaining, griping person that misses the joys in life by our negative attitudes?
  I was reading an article by author Lisa Elliott in “Just Between Us magazine (My favorite), and I read of her how life was radically changed through a simple act of posting her own thankful list. She has seen firsthand what had helped a friend of hers by doing that every day for about a year. So, what can it hurt? She decided to publicly post five things she was thankful for that was honest and simple and centered on the Lord. It helped her begin her day on a positive note than previously, by watching for blessings instead of the negative. She based her new outlook on Psalm 92:1-2 “What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to you, the High God! To announce your love each daybreak, sing your faithful presence all through the night.” When we proclaim His love in the morning and watch during the day for His faithfulness, it’s bound to make an effect on our lives. Most days she named simple things she was thankful for like sunshine, a meaningful chat with a friend, a chance to serve etc. Even those that were reading her daily list were encouraged and inspired to do the same. Not everyone has to put it online, but maybe write in your journal.                                                                  Lisa quickly found that cultivating a grateful heart resulted in her own life spilling over with joy. She started to focus on the Lord and learn from the example of His life and attitude. She began setting her mind on things of a heavenly viewpoint, what is true, pure, lovely etc. She discovered her selfishness was being replaced by a humble spirit. She also reflected back on how God had been faithful in her life, through all the crises she had experienced. She began her day now with thanksgiving and an attitude of gratitude, expecting that God would show up… and looking for Him to reveal Himself. She also challenges us to let others know what we are thankful for; maybe when we gather for coffee or Bible study, just begin with sharing the blessings you have received that day. Some of you reading this may even want to post it on social media.
  The article closes with encouraging us to gear our praise to the Lord Himself for He is the One who has blessed us in more ways than we can ever count. Let us praise the Lord from our inmost being!
Challenge for today: Make a gratitude list of 5 things you are thankful for every day for a week and share as you are prompted by the Spirit.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

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