A Matter of the Heart

May 22 2015

Verse for the Day: John 6:39-40 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Throughout our lives there are times, events, days, even moments that are marked as milestones in our lives. Some of these milestones are the beginning of something new while others are the end of a long journey. And whether your milestones are just starting or the last day is near just remember you are never alone when you have the Lord in your life. During my life I have experienced mountain top highs where everything seemed so perfect and valleys so low I wondered if the light would ever shine again. And, as I look back on this journey called life, there is one thing I am certain of and that is that God’s prevenient love, mercy and grace has never left me. Whether I find myself starting a new journey or ending another, He has always been there for me and blessed me more than I ever imagine or deserve.  

For me personally I have or will be celebrating 3 new milestones in my life. The first is that I just turned 60 years old this week and next month I will celebrate 40 years of marriage with the most amazing, beautiful woman I know - my wife Joetta. But the newest and third milestone in my life ends and starts today as this is my last day working for my company after 18 years of service. So as one chapter ends a new one begins and that’s how life works. 

Over the last several weeks I started preparing for my last day in the office by slowly removing some personal items and taking them home. Each week someone would comment about my office looking different. And yesterday as I prepared to remove the remaining items one thing became very noticeable to me, the only things left to remove was family photographs and items that represented and reminded me of my faith.  Without really realizing it or actually planning it my office was telling a story of the things that are important in my life.

As I think about my journey over the last few weeks I can’t help but think that that is what was on Christ’s mind as He hung on the cross for our sins. John 19:25-27 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. During His last days on earth prior to His crucifixion Jesus spent time with His family and closest friends and His faith in God gave Him the ability to finish what He came to do here. John 19:30 …..When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

Every beginning here on earth will have a last day at some point in the future. The question is what will your last days be or look like. For me, while this is my last day of work with my company, it’s really the first day of the rest of my life. A life that I pray will only be a starting point full of many new milestones for serving the Lord. 

Whether you just are starting a new chapter in your life or it’s the last day of a long journey, ask yourself this question: What story do I want to tell? Or what will someone else tell about me? While we don’t know what our tomorrows hold we can know what our last day on this earth holds when we put our trust in the Lord. You can decide today where you will spend eternity. While the complete plan of getting to that last day may not be clear, the path is clear as we see in John 4:6 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. And look again at today scripture and God’s promise when we put our trust in Jesus “I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 

Jesus knew exactly what story He wanted to tell and where He would find Himself on his last day as a man on earth long before it ever happened. I pray you have prepared for your last day and chosen wisely where you will find yourself when you take your last breath on this earth, because your last day will last throughout eternity. 

May 04 2015

Verse for the Day: Genesis 32:24-30 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

One of the sports I participated in during my school years was wrestling. I didn’t try out for the team until I was a sophomore in high school, so there were many others more experienced than myself and, needless to say, it took me a while to win my first wrestle off during practice in order to compete in an actual wrestling match against another school. As a junior in high school I had gotten much better and even managed to make the varsity team several times and ended the year with a winning record.  During my senior year I managed to win a several tournaments and eventually went on to compete in the state tournament. In three years I went from knowing nothing about wrestling and only winning a few matches to a record of 20 wins and 3 losses and received a 2nd place metal in the New Mexico State Tournament in the 112 pound class. 

Earlier this year my 7 year old grandson Isaias decided to try out for the wrestling team and I got to watch him compete in several tournaments over the last couple of months. And just like me he struggled to win any matches as most of the kids he wrestled against had been wrestling for some time. But each week you could see Isaias getting better and better and while he still wasn’t winning you could see his determination, perseverance and the will to fight hard. And that determination and perseverance to not give up or quit paid off at the last tournament of the year when he won his first match of the year and ended up taking home a 3rd place metal. Wow! You couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face if you tried.

You know, life can feel like a wrestling match a lot of the time. There are times we feel like we’re in a wrestling match competing against someone or something stronger and more experienced than us. Sometimes our wrestling matches are even against our self and our self-image. We let doubts, fear, pride, our looks or lack of self-worth come into our thinking.  And just like Isaias and myself when we first started out wrestling you can feel stuck or trapped, beaten up, broken down and maybe even pinned to the mat and possibly ready to give up.

There is no doubt we will all end up in different kinds of wrestling matches throughout our life time. Some will be physical battles where we will have to fight sickness, cancer or some other attack on our body. Some will be emotional battles like the death of a loved one, a break-up in a friendship or marriage or some other attack on our emotional wellbeing. But the biggest wrestling matches we all face at times come’s in our spiritual lives. And we are not alone or the first to wrestle with our spiritual faith, as a matter of fact we are in good company. From Adam and Eve to Moses and the disciples they all wrestled with their faith at times, especially in their earlier years when they were just starting out. 

So here is the Good News I want to leave with you today. Regardless of what kind of wrestling match you find yourself in today there is always hope, rewards and blessings to come like we see in today’s scripture when Jacob physically wrestled God and was eventually blessed through his perseverance of not willing to give up. Or like my wrestling journey in high school as well as my grandson’s, Isaias, 1st year of wrestling what started out pretty ugly ended up as a blessing as metals were hung around our necks.  And the same will be true for everyone who wrestles throughout their life and feel they’ll never win. When you give your heart to the Lord and trust in Him, regardless whether you win anything here on earth, you will win the final tournament of life. But instead of a metal around your neck you will receive a crown of glory that will last throughout all eternity. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait till the day that the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords calls me home and says “Well done” welcome home. I’m pretty sure when that day happens I’ll be just like Isaias when he won his first match, you won’t be able to wipe the smile off my face. If you need some coaching tip for your current or next wrestling match call the church office at (505) 334-6524 and let us help you grow in your spiritual game plan and strength.

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