Canaan's Rest

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.

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April 6, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying another beautiful spring day! I made salmon today (and set off the fire alarm for a minute!), and made choc bars and egg dishes. Al and I went downstairs for coffee and choc covered raspberries and celebration for the winner of the brackets and the one who got the booby prize. Emoji
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Sometimes we just know it is the Lord! No doubts! Something happens and we see God’s hand and we know it is Him! One of our friends recently e-mailed me that she had a God incidence and was excited. They wanted to sell one of their cars and her husband listed it. Only 10 minutes later they got a call and it is sold and to guess who? It was their former realtor, a young couple from church. The wife had totaled her car in December and wanted to replace it with a car like her parents had, which just happened to be the same as our friends. Only 10 minutes and their car was sold! Our friend wrote that she learned a new word that day and it was a God incidence! Perhaps we can all think of times like that when we don’t feel like it is a co-incidence but definitely the Lord. I was reading for my devotions today about John who had such an experience. We remember that after Jesus rose from the dead, He revealed Himself to His disciples and others. Peter announced he was going to go fishing and a half dozen other disciples present said they were also going to go with him, including John. They caught nothing all night so must have been discouraged. All of a sudden, they hear a voice from shore telling them to fish on the other side of the boat and to see what would happen. They didn’t recognize who it was but followed His advice; and all of a sudden so many fish filled their nets that they couldn’t pull it all in. John knew right away that it was a God incident and in John 21:7 (NRSV) it says, “That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” He knew it was not just a coincidence! When Peter heard the news, he couldn’t wait and quickly put on his outer tunic and sprang into the sea to see Jesus. Jesus had breakfast waiting for all of them and after they had eaten Jesus asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him; that was the same number of times Peter denied Jesus. The God incident changed the disciples lives as they now had a new commission and instead of fishermen wanting to catch fish, they were now to be evangelists who wanted to catch souls. John recognized Jesus first but in sharing it, the rest of them also knew. Let us be like John who points others to the Lord and when God incidents occur, let us respond as John and Peter and the other disciples did.
Challenge for today: Recall a God incidence in your life and share with someone.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

April 5, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you had a blessed wonderful Easter weekend. We enjoyed time with Ann’s family, worshipping at our church together, a feast for dinner at the lake, games, time in nature and seeing friends. You can read more about it in my devotion today!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Haven’t we all wondered why certain people have smooth sailing through life and seem to have it made? They win all the contests and have no burdens and struggles like we have, at least outwardly seen. We can end up feeling envious and we are warned against that as envy saps us of our peace; the Bible says it even rots our bones. (Prov. 14:30). Not pretty!  Yesterday on Easter when we were at the lake and gathered with family and friends, I had a game planned ahead of time. At the close of our dinner, I brought out plastic Easter eggs that had slips of paper inside with things we had to do; quite a few eggs also had money inside and if they didn’t, we could choose from a pile of wrapped prizes. One of our grandsons was especially eager to get the money and even texted me ahead of time about getting rich. It was unbelievable but people on both sides of him and around the table would open up eggs with money and never him; not once! One person sang Jesus Love Me for $5 and another got candy plus the money in his egg etc.  It didn’t seem fair that others got money but not him. I asked our grandson what he learned through all of it and he said, “You  have to earn your own way”, but of course the others hadn’t really earned it either. In our hearts we may question the Lord as to why He is so good to others who do not seem deserving but forgetting about us. In my devotions today I read of Asaph who felt sorry for himself as he was envious of the wicked and arrogant people who seemed to prosper and didn’t have troubles. That was, until he saw the whole picture. It says in Psalm 73:16-17 (ESV). “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” He also saw his own bitter heart of wanting all that they had, and then realized, that what is most important was being near God. It’s not money, it’s not comfort and it’s not prestige: he went on to say that it was that God was with him and guided him and he would spend eternity with Him. When he came to this awareness, he could finally say that there was nothing on earth that he desired besides God and that God was the strength of his heart and his portion forever. If we find ourselves being envious of others, let us remember that with the Lord we have all that we need and so much more.
Challenge for today: Read and meditate on Psalm 73 when you feel jealous and envious.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

Say, I Won’t

I appreciate the music of “MercyMe.”  I believe the band can relate to men with both lyrics and style, and their music affects me deeply.  They have a new song out entitled, “Say I Won’t.”  When I saw the word “rocket” in the lyrics and heard the song, the rest was history. Please listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2IHibLEYdI

The song opens with, “Today / It all begins / I’m seeing my life for the very first time / Through a different lens / Yesterday / I didn’t understand / Driving 35 with the rocket inside / Didn’t know what I had.”  My interpretation: this guy is seeing his life with Jesus in a new way.  He has a rocket inside.

The song goes on, “While I’ve been waiting to live / My life’s been waiting on me.”  But now the guy is learning to fly spiritually.  He dares others, “Say, I won’t” … “Not enough / Is what I’ve been told / But it must be a lie / ‘Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more / So let them say what they want / Oh, I dare them to try.” 

Men, there comes a time in your spiritual life when you need to come to terms with the rocket within you.  It’s your deepest longings for God. It’s your passions and desires. Yes, it even involves your sexual energy.  Visualize all this as “the tiger in your tank.”  Conservative, biblical guys like me sometimes have difficulty pointing the rocket heavenward and taming the tiger.  Like the song says, “Not enough / Is what I’ve been told / But it must be a lie.”

I must confess that I’m reluctant even to write about sexual passions and passion for God.  Why? Because of some of my own struggles, plus misconceptions Christian men tend to have about their own desires and fantasies.  For me, however, only love can tame the tiger.  I am coming to peace with this energy as I experience more of God’s deep love for me. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1).   Like the song, “’Cause the Spirit inside says I’m so much more / So let them say what the want / Oh, I dare them to try…” 

You and I have sexual energy in our souls that is mingled with our spiritual desire for God.  Yes, passions have eros (erotic) energy.  But can you believe that God’s agape is able to come into your heart and redeem eros, purify it with resurrection power, and untwist all the distorted images?  “This is how God showed his love among us.  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (I John 4:9 cf. Luke 4:4 MSG).  

Christopher West in his book “Fill These Hearts” has helped.  We have three choices:  1) Starvation diet: Pleasure is an evil to reject.  I have lived under this cloud for years, 2) Fast food diet: Pleasure is an idol to indulge.  Simply let the tiger roar.  3) Banquet: Pleasure is a beacon that points to heaven.  For me this has meant allowing Jesus to transform my soul, using agape love to direct eros.  

As I get older, I find more and more that my deepest desires are for God.  The more I die with Jesus to distorted eros, the more his agape purifies the eros: “While I’ve been waiting to live/ My life’s been waiting on me.”      

April 3, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope your weekend is very meaningful. This morning I was busy in the kitchen with preparations to take with tomorrow to Ann’s when we are all together. Tomorrow we will be celebrating that Jesus is alive, He conquered death, lives and reigns forever and ever. Today I would like to share a prayer by Debbie McDaniels that you can use tomorrow when you are with family if you would like. Debbie reminds us that whatever uncertainties we face, Jesus is our hope and makes all things new
“Dear God,
Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for the Victory and Power in your Name. Thank you that you hold the keys over death, and that by your might, Christ was raised from the grave, paving the way for us to live free. Thank you that you had a plan, thank you that you made a way. 
We praise you for your great strength, we praise you for your lavish love. We praise you for you are Conqueror, Victor, Redeemer, and Friend. We praise you that you alone are our Deliverer, you are Worthy, you are our everlasting Father, our great and awesome God. We confess our need for you. We ask that you would renew our hearts, minds, and lives, for the days ahead. We pray for your spirit of refreshing to fill us again.
Keep your words of truth planted firmly within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us of where we have been, whispering his lies and hurling attacks our way, may he be reminded again of his future. For we have a future and a hope in You. We’ve been set free, redeemed, the old has lost its grip, the new has come.
Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set your way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.
Thanks be to you God, for your indescribable gift!
To you be glory and honor, on this Resurrection Day, and forever.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Blessings on your Easter and prayers and love, Judy

April 2, 2021

Dear Ones,
A blessed Good Friday to you! May we each celebrate this Holy day in some special way. I just read that in Bermuda they fly kites to symbolize Jesus Ascension, in London they enact the Passion Play in Trafalgar Square, in Israel they walk the same path Jesus did to Calvary etc. So many ways to remember. We will be going to a Good Friday communion service at our church tonight. 
This morning I studied and cleaned the apt. and this afternoon we are invited to friends for coffee and fellowship. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we give in when pressured by others and fail to do what we know is right? I was reading about Pilate who wanted to let Jesus go free, but he listened to the crowd instead and caved into their demands. It’s not easy to stand up for truth when the majority may be against it, and it takes courage. Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea and had power to release Jesus but he was more concerned about his political future and the possibility of being removed if there was unrest. So he gave in to the pressure and condemned an innocent man of whom had done nothing wrong. I wonder how he slept that night? Pilot rinsed his hands before the angry crowd trying to show he was not responsible, but if he had not weakened, he could have made a difference. What about us? How quickly do we give in to the pressures in our world and settle for something comfortable rather than truthful? Afterwards we have regrets but at the time we sadly weakened. We see this happening today as adults can get caught up in the roar of the crowd and do things they would never do on their own or want their children to see. But let us remember who we are in the Lord. He has promised us grace and courage when we are willing to stand up for what is true, right and good, even though it may be hard and costly for us. Today more than ever we need a holy boldness. Let us not buckle under and cave in to peer pressure but listen to the voice of Him who is truth. Peter and John were arrested for preaching and ordered not to teach about Jesus. But they responded by saying that they could not keep from speaking about Jesus. When they gathered again with fellow believers, they prayed for more boldness to speak the word and heal in Jesus name. Notice they didn’t ask to be removed from the problem but do deal in boldness about the problem. The Lord will give us courage and boldness and has promised not to abandon us. As it says in Heb.13:6 (NRSV), “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” Let us go in the strength of the Lord and stand in boldness.
Challenge for today: When in compromising situations, pray for courage to boldly stand.
Blessings on this Holy Day. Prayers and love, Judy

April 1, 2021

 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Do we hide our faith from those whom we may be unsure of their relationship to the Lord or do we come out and take a stand for Him? Jesus went through so much, even death on the cross, to identify with us and bring us into close relationship with Him. Each of us must decide what we will do in response to Jesus. Pilate asked the angry crowd in Matt. 27:22 (NRSV), “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah.” They wanted Him crucified and Pilate gave into their demands, thinking more of maintaining the peace rather than risking a riot, and ultimately his position.  But in a sense, we are all asked that question in our hearts? What will we do with the One who gave everything for us? Our answer to that affects not only our life here on earth but also our eternal destiny. If we come to accept Him as our Lord, then whether we live or die, we are together with Him forever. When we truly believe in Him then it affects how we live and influences all of our relationships. This will be especially evident in our family relationships. Do we quickly ask forgiveness when we are irritable and maybe even unreasonable with our mates? Do we share our faith with our children and encourage them to follow the Lord?  It is also good to ask ourselves if our fellow workers would know by what we say and how we live, that we are followers of Christ. In the days ahead, and even now, it is becoming more costly to identify with Him; some have lost their businesses, their positions, and some even their lives. Are we willing to come out of hiding and let others know where we stand? I read today how Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who first came to Jesus by night, both risked their positions as members of the Jewish council to take away Jesus body and give Him a burial. The women also came out of hiding the next day to bring spices and perfumes for Jesus body but ended up being the first ones to announce His resurrection. Let us also be witnesses and commit ourselves to serving Him and sharing Him with others. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is in us today and let us be bole in proclaiming Him no matter what the cost.
Challenge for today: Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you to be a bold witness for Him.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy

 

March 31, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are finding Holy week meaningful for you.  This morning I made choc covered raspberries, went to my exercise class and shopped for prizes for our North Carolina grandsons. We are going there in April!!!!
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How free are we? Hopefully we are on the road to more and more freedom in our lives. I have been reading about the Israelites, leaving their bondage of Egypt and gaining freedom as they went towards Canaan, the land of milk and honey. They had to leave behind their routines, security, and slave life to go towards a life of faith and dependency on the Lord. Isn’t it a picture of all of us who were once in bondage to our selfish sinful nature and then freed to walk the new way in the Lord? The 10 commandments were given to help them and us to live under God’s protective hand and to preserve a free life. Just as it took them a while to experience how to live free, so it is with us. We all have to get free of our slave mentality to and to learn how to live by faith in our God we can’t see physically with our eyes just yet. Pastor Eugene Peterson writes about what that must have been like for the people when Moses climbed up to Mt. Sinai to receive instructions from the Lord and was gone a long time. The people were used to working hard every day as slaves, and now they had time to fill as they waited for Moses to come down again. They got tired of waiting with so much empty space to fill and demanded Aaron to make them a god of their own that they could see, a golden calf. Big mistake! They just couldn’t wait and were bored and tried to fill it with the way of the world. God was very angry because of their sin and Moses pleaded to God for mercy. Before we are quick to judge them, we have only to look at ourselves and the many times we rebel and blow it and deserve His wrath. Maybe we get anxious or bored or rebellious and gravitate to the gods of this world. How much we need His grace and that the new will take hold in our lives, as it says in II Cor. 5:17 (ESV), “Therefore, it anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Just as the Israelites had to get accustomed to a life of freedom and get over their old slave habits, so do we, and it takes time. We have only to ask for help and grace to live as His free sons and daughters.
Challenge for today: Be willing to give up old habits that enslave and enter into the new life God has for you.
Blessings on your day and prayers and love, Judy

March 30, 2021

Dear Ones,
Hope you are enjoying this day. It is cold and windy and even a few snowflakes today! Emoji This morning I made a two layer choc cake and went downstairs for coffee and Rice Krispie bars. This afternoon I plan to make bread. Please continue prayers for Gen. Her dad and sister are flying out to see her again at Easter; hospice told them they should  come soon as she’s been given one week to a month. Prayers for the whole family appreciated. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
We are told to walk by faith, not by sight and the life of faith is not dull; it is full of exciting surprises as we never know what the Lord is up to. I must admit I like comfort and safety, and especially to be toasty warm. Just imagining my cousin who is walking across America and spending some cold nights outside in her little tent, sends shivers up my spine. But I know it is an adventure for her and she will have so much to share of all that she and her daughter and son-in-law are learning. The life of faith is one of action and enables us to trust God for everything, even for a warm place to pitch our tent, out of the wind! We have to put our faith into action and act on the faith we have. I woke up this morning after experiencing a dream of people coming to our place. The first few were invited and I had made food for them but more and more kept coming and I was finding tables and chairs and trying to seat them all. I woke before I realized I would never have enough food for all of those, but they were given a place to rest and to be with others. We especially need faith in this day when everything is changing and many of our liberties are being taken away. Our faith may waver at times, but it is strengthened as we are bound together with others and we are given courage to act. When we exercise our faith, we show that we have complete trust and confidence in the Lord. We may not know how things are going to turn out but we trust Him. Jesus said in Mark 11:24 (ESV), “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” People of faith need to come together and to encourage one another and listen to what the Lord is saying. Just yesterday as we were out on the trail we stopped to visit with new friends. We shared pleasantries and then they shared their grief of how they lost their son just last month and were going through all their son’s belongings.  Sometimes we are simply to be quiet and listen and to pray. Let us live by faith, walk by faith and share our faith!
Challenge for today: Ask forgiveness for any unbelief and pray for courage to act in faith.
Blessings on  your Holy Week and prayers and love, Judy

March 29, 2021

Dear Ones,
A blessed Holy Week to you! I’m sure many of you waved palm branches yesterday, as we did, while Pastor and the children went down the aisles at church. The sun is shining but so windy. This morning I made egg dishes and went to Aldi’s and my exercise class. 
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How present are we with others? Are we fully present or are we distracted as we seek to check our phones and devices every few minutes? I was reading Richard Foster’s book, Sanctuary of the Soul, and he writes how distraction is one of the biggest problems today as there is so much visual stimuli, texting, e-mailing; saying more and more about less and less. He shares how when he travels and goes to speak, he is focused on the moment and the people he is with and does not multitask but is fully present. That spoke to me as I am so often multitasking and even when I am at my exercise class, I am planning menus as I dance and lift weights etc. But I notice those times I am just focused on what I am doing in the present, how enjoyable that is. Sometimes it is just good for all of us to unplug from our noisy world, and take in all that we observe and is happening right then. I love to walk in nature and especially like to notice the wild flowers, the wind in the trees, the little animals scurrying about etc. It can be for all of us, a time to listen and to hear what the Lord is wanting to say to us since we are not bombarded by other stimuli. We have noisy hearts and wondering minds and need to gear down at times to refocus, instead of being so wired. It feels right and good when we can be joyfully present to others and enter into their lives. Instead of rushing on into the next thing, let us wait and enjoy the moment we are in. David said in Ps. 27:14 (God’s Word), “Wait with hope for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the Lord.” When we pause and wait, rather than being distracted by all that is going on about us, we find it can be a time of refreshing and renewal.
Let us ask the Lord to help us lay aside distractions and be present where He has placed us each moment.
Challenge for today: Ask the Lord to give you a quiet heart, and to be fully present throughout your day. 
Blessings on your Holy Week and prayers and love, Judy

Peace, Peace – and no Peace

Watching and reading the media’s narrative on the state of our nation, I often visualize bandages being applied to deep cultural wounds.  These wounds fester beneath the surface, producing enormous amounts of pent-up anger and frustration that will one day boil over in lawlessness.  I feel I’m being force-fed a false sense of peace when spiritually I can see the dark clouds on the horizon.  I want to shout, “Wake up America!! You’re being fed a lie!”

Twice Jeremiah warned the prophets and priests of his day about covering up their sins with bandages.  “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.  ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). They were giving people false assurances that everything was well. It was like putting bandages on cancer and declaring people healed.  As a nation we can ignore the reality of having strayed from God for only so long.  Bandages only create an illusion of wellness.

Later Jeremiah complains to God about the prophets, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well – no war or famine will come.  The Lord will surely send you peace’” (Jer. 14:13 NLT).  God responded, “These prophets are telling lies in my name.  I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts” (Jer. 14:14 NLT).   

Even more indicting are the words of Jer. 23:17, “They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’  And those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!'” (Jer. 23:17 NLT).   

“It is a terrible thing to mislead God’s people into falsehood, complacency and immorality, to be chaplains to the unrepentant and to collude in the culture of lies” (Bible Speaks Today).  Through the mainstream media we are witnessing a massive spiritual coverup.  We are told all will be well, while we are becoming more decadent each year.  Men: don’t fall for this propaganda.

I must warn you that things are only going to get worse in society.  Here are a few convictions we must diligently live out if we are going to weather the storm that is already upon us. We don’t want to be caught believing the lie.  

First: ultimate reality is found in a loving Creator God, who has given us his Word of truth in scripture.  Here we find God’s view of reality; a worldview to live by.  Every other view of reality needs to be (and can be) measured against scripture.

Second: total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus (Joshua 24:23 NIV, James 4:7-8). No secrets, no compromises, no half-hearted commitment.  Ask continually, “Lord, what is the next right thing?”  Seek his counsels diligently and do what he prompts you to do. He will see us through the coming storm. The propaganda will only get louder and more convincing.  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20).

Third: commitment to kingdom living.  I am part of Jesus’ reign on the earth.  No earthly rule will last. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).  And later in Revelation: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he will reign for ever and ever” (11:15).  

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