A Matter of the Heart

Jan 27 2015

Verse for the Day: Matthew 7:13-14 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (NIV)

One of many things I love is being outdoors especially in the high country or other remote areas where the trails are few, the wildlife is abundant, the streams and lakes are full of fish, and God’s amazing beauty is all around me. For those of you who love to hunt, hike, adventure and spend time in the great outdoors you have probably experienced a few of those moments when you find or discover a trail that very few people have discovered or traveled. Or maybe they do know about it but feel they would have to put out too much effort to follow it. So they stay on the wide, easy, well beaten path and never discover or realize the amazing beauty and majesty that awaits them if only they had chosen the narrow path.   

Just above our cabin in Colorado there are many different types and kinds of trails and roads people like to travel. There are those that are wide and can be traveled with two wheel drive vehicles and many people throughout the summer follow them. There are roads that are slightly narrower but require a four wheel drive vehicle but are still easily traveled by many. Then you have restricted trails that limit the width of a vehicle to less than 50” in order to travel on them; but still many will follow them. Then you have the hiking trails which can only be traveled afoot so the number of people becomes even fewer.  And the last and least traveled trails are those that go unnoticed by most. They are narrow and sometimes even hidden paths that go un-noticed to the untrained eye. But once found and discovered they lead to some of the most amazing beauty you will ever find.

As I think and reflect on today’s scripture from Matthew I am once again reminded that there is only one road and one way home and that road leads us to the cross were Jesus paid it all; that we might have a way back to our final home with Him. John 14:6 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I believe with all my heart, soul and mind there is only one way Home and Jesus is that way Home. But too often in life, like the roads, trails and paths above our cabin, we find ourselves choosing the easier path or passing up and missing the real hidden treasures found on the narrow path. 

There is no doubt that you can find beauty, peace, happiness and many other amazing things in life regardless of what road you travel; but are they the best? And will they last? Are they the path and purpose God truly wants for your life? In one of Oswald Chambers’s devotions he states it like this: “Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it—something good, but not what is best.” 

In my early years growing up in the outdoors hunting I usually stayed on the well-traveled trails and known roads, because of my uncertainty and lack of knowledge of the best way to hunt. The problem with that was many other hunters also traveled those same trails and the hunting wasn’t always that good. As I grew older and spent more time in the outdoors, I learned what to look for. I found those hidden signs and unnoticed trails missed by most and they lead me to the best hunting opportunities and greater success. 

The same is true with my spiritual walk with the Lord. As I have grown wiser and more mature in my walk with the Lord, I have learned to find, seek and travel those paths that help me to be draw closer to God and, in turn, He draws closer to me. I have a saying written on my white board at work that says: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Like my early days growing up in the outdoors hunting, I was alright with any road or path as long as I was hunting, but I soon learned it wasn’t the best way to hunt. And the same was true with my spiritual walk with the Lord. I thought as long as I was doing anything religious I was doing ok. But that has changed now that I know there is something better than just the status quo.   

So what kind of roads or paths are you currently traveling or seeking today? Is it a path called success, self-indulgent, greed, lust, self-centeredness, apathy, impatience or something else? You see any path that takes our eyes off Christ and our final Home called Heaven is a path that could and will “lead to destruction” if we don’t correct our course. We have to be diligent in our search for God’s narrow road for our life. Satan wants you to believe that “any road will get you there.” That’s why we must be equipped, prepared and trained to know the difference between the easy widely traveled roads and God’s narrow road that “leads to life”. 

If you have never discovered God’s path for your life I pray you will seek Him today. If you need help getting started on the right path, let us help by calling the church office at (505) 334-6524 or find a church home close to you and allow them to come along side you in your walk Home as you travel this journey called life.

Jan 15 2015

Verse for the Day: 1 Peter 3:13-18 1 .. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready (prepared) to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God… . It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God. (The Meaasge)

As I head into this New Year I have many questions, thoughts, and plans to consider and ask myself. One of the biggest being as to whether I will retire this year or work a few more? Questions like have I planned well enough to afford to retire, where will we live - our home in New Mexico or our cabin in Colorado? What about our parents and their need for help getting around and our grandkids - who we help take care of on a regular basis?

While life can be confusing and even down right hard at times and we want to know exactly what tomorrows holds. I'm so thankful God hasn't allowed me to see or know all the exact details for my tomorrows, I'm not sure I could handle it. It might cause me to live a life of fear or live a life of over or under confidence. That's why we are told not to worry tomorrow. Matthew 6:25-34  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—… Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? … Did you know this life we all now live here on this earth is only temporary? Yep! It’s true no one will escape it--death will come to everyone here on this earth (at least until the Lord returns) and life as we now know it will end. While none us know when that day will come we can be prepared for it and have confidence where we will spend eternity.     I love this saying I heard some time back: “While we (I) may not know what tomorrow holds, we (I) know Who holds our tomorrows”. For those of us who call ourselves Christian and have a relationship with the Lord these are words we need to live by every day. With that said it doesn't mean we sit back and do nothing. God gave each one of us a brain to think with and to use in order to be prepared for our tomorrows. Philippians 2:12 ..  continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. This does not mean that we can earn our way to heaven through works, but it does mean there are things we need to be doing in order to be prepared to meet the Lord when we take our last breath. So, how sure are you of your future? If you were to die tonight or the Lord came back today, do you know where you will spend eternity? 

Like a lot of people now-a-days I didn't understand the impact of what these questions were truly asking. I grew up in a church, attended when it was convenient, put a little money in the offering plate, acknowledged there was a God and felt I was being an ok Christian. I thought I was doing enough to earn my way to heaven. It wasn't until I was 45 years old while attending a spiritual retreat called "Walk to Emmaus” that my life took an amazing turn. For the first time in my life I could say without stutter, stammer or any doubt where I would spend eternity. That weekend I went from knowing there was a God to having a true love relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I went from head knowledge of God to a heart relationship of love, honor and reverence for the only Person Who could truly save me from my sins. For the first time I realized that sitting in pew, putting money in the offering plate, serving on a church committees, and a lot the other religious acts would not save me from my sin, if I didn't have a relationship with Christ.

Last week I shared a thought with you that I believe is why so many people struggle to know if their salvation is real. It is the fact that too many people have replaced the word surrender with the word commitment. When we commit to something we still have some control over what, when, and where something will be happen. To be totally surrendered means you give up all rights and put them in someone’s else control, that being Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers states it like this: "the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God's ministry to others." Commitment without total surrender to the Lord is like my life prior to my Emmaus Walk. I was just going through some of the religious motions, but my relationship with the Lord was based on my terms, my wants and my desires. While I might have been committed to some religious actions and duties I had never truly surrender my life to the Lord. Now don't get me wrong or think I never fall back into my old ways because I still find myself from time to time letting my flesh affect my walk with the Lord. But thank God- His mercy, grace and love is made new every day.

Don't forget this life we live is a journey and we are still a work in progress. And by living a life that is surrendered to the Lord we can be prepared, equipped and ready for whatever tomorrows holds. Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. The best way I know to be prepared for my tomorrows is by allowing the Lord to have my todays. So let’s be prepared for our tomorrows by surrendering each new day to the Lord.