FBC Williams Arizona
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Changing Hearts, Changing Lives, One Soul at a Time

Pastor's Heart & Hand

 This is just a sampling of some of the Devotions that Pastor Joe has written.  Check out his book "From A Pastor's Heart and Hand" for more devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
The “G” verse: Psalm 46:1—“God is our refuge and strength, an ever- present help in trouble.”
    The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long!
    In this life filled with dangerous threats like terrorism, violence, cancer, Aids, natural disasters like tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods, and fleeting finances, isn’t it wonderful to remember that our God and Father is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? God is the best first responder in the world!  He is there before anyone else! And He doesn’t lack the wisdom and skill to pull us out of the messes we continually find ourselves in!
   I remember when 13 of us from our Church went on a mission trip to Galeana, Mexico. On our drive there, we came upon the scene of a horrible accident. The truck in front of our lead SUV was clipped by a vehicle coming from the opposite direction. It sent the older truck with two grandparents and their 3 year old grandson into a ravine down below. My brother in Christ, Corey Drury, immediately called 911. We all got out of our vehicles and were the hands and feet of Jesus to this family in need.
   One of our ladies immediately held and comforted the little boy who was ejected from vehicle, but amazingly was unhurt. We gave him a soccer ball to hold and then moved on to his grandparents who were pinned inside their truck which was turned upside down. By God’s grace we were able to pull them out, bandage their wounds and hydrate them in the over 100 degree heat. One hour later the emergency paramedics arrived on the scene and took over. We were not near a town so it took them longer than normal to get there. But God was already on the scene doing what He does best!  Looking back on that situation now 13 years ago, I thank God for His constantly available presence and help.
    The Hebrew word for refuge means a “shelter, fortress, and place of trust and hope.” The word for strength means “might, power and even boldness.” Isn’t that encouraging? We have a safe and secure place of strength and power to withstand any storm in life. A Mighty Fortress is our God! Why don’t we turn to Him first instead of as a last resort? Before we seek everyone else’s advice on our problems, let’s learn to turn to the Wonderful Counselor who has the best advice and His office hours are 24/7 and you don’t need a lot of money or great insurance to see Him. We have not because we ask not! Charles Spurgeon said on this subject, “Believer, you do not make use of Christ as you ought to. There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make a show of Him and not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. The more burdens we put on His shoulders, the more precious he will be to us.”
Thankful for the One who is always there,
Pastor Joe
“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 
     W.E. Sangster in his book “The Craft of Sermon Illustrations” tells the true account of a frightened woman on the Titanic who was on a lifeboat that was about to be dropped into the raging North Atlantic. She thought suddenly of something she needed in light of death that was breathing down her neck. She asked for permission to go into her state room. She was granted just a few minutes or they would have to leave without her. She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She ran through the gambling room that had money pushed aside in one corner ankle deep. She came to her room and pushed aside her jewelry and reached above her bed and grabbed three small oranges and found her way back to the lifeboat and got in.
     Death had boarded the Titanic. One blast of its awful breath had transformed all values. Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. Who or what is the most important thing to you dear one? For the apostle Paul, he had one pure and powerful passion—knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ! Please take a moment to slowly and meditatively read our “F” memory verse.  If you were to fill in the blank FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS __________________.  What is your honest answer?
      What is your main priority in life? What do you give the majority of your time, talent or treasure to? Will it count for eternity? Will it enable you to face the ugly hideous monster called death? For the first seventeen years of my earthly life I lived for pleasure, sports, great food and family and friends. But after seeing some tragic things happen to some young people in my school and then seriously thinking about life beyond High School and not having any real clue of what to do, I reevaluated my life focus.
     God graciously allowed my government teacher Abe Hoogenboom to tell me about Jesus Christ- who truly is the way, the truth and the life! On December 7, 1981 I made the most significant decision of my life—to give my heart and soul to Jesus Christ! I have never been disappointed with Him even though I am sure there have been many times I have disappointed Him. 
     The Word of God clearly teaches us that Jesus Christ is the only source of our salvation, significance, satisfaction, strength and security.” He is the pearl of great price that is worth giving our all for! Jesus Christ made some pointed and powerful promises for us to believe and receive:  John 6:35—“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 8:12—“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

     Jesus Christ will never let us down in life or even when facing death. Isn’t He worthy of your love, trust and obedience? Again I want you to evaluate the use of your time, talent and treasure. What do these things reveal about your main purpose and passion in life? If you have crowded Christ out, remember Revelation 3:20 says that He patiently and persistently knocks at our hearts door waiting to be invited into all we do! It is always a great thing to say “Yes” to Jesus!! 

Pastor Joe
ALPHABET MEMORY VERSE: The “E” Verse—“Encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11
    In a cartoon some years ago, a little guy was taking heat from his sister and friends for a newly found “calling”—patting little birds on the head. The distressed little birds would approach, lower their little feathered heads to be patted, sigh deeply, and walk away satisfied. It brought him no end of fulfillment—in spite of the teasing he took from others. “What’s wrong with patting birds on the head?” he wanted to know. “What’s wrong with it?” His embarrassed friends replied. “No one else is doing it!” How often do you receive genuine encouragement in life? More importantly, how often do you give it to others, especially to those nearest and dearest to you? Mark Twain said that he could go three weeks on a sincere compliment! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Correction does much, but encouragement does much more.” God’s word is filled with exhortations and examples of the need for this life giving exercise. Slowly meditate on a few for now:
·         Proverbs 12:18-“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise
brings healing.”
·         Proverbs 12:25-“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
·         Ephesians 4:29-“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
·         Hebrews 3:13-“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
  Wouldn’t you agree with me that now is the time to offer this healing to everyone we come across? I have heard somewhere that for every negative put down we receive, we need nine positive affirmations to equal it out! When our youngest daughter Sierra was in Kindergarten, she came home more than once a little discouraged because some of her classmates were making fun of her last name Oswald. I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, Lee Harvey Oswald lived and died way before their time! They must have been teasing her because she has the same name as a big blue cartoon guy named “Oswald” who has a dog named Weeny!
    But seriously, dear one, we have to be very careful with our words and actions! They have such an impacting affect. Let’s choose in this world where many people want to play judge and jury and often trash talk others, instead to be the greatest encouragers and cheerleaders! God will be greatly honored and you will see others filled with new courage to make a huge difference in this short journey here on earth. One final thought, God is our greatest encourager in life and aren’t we called to represent Him in all we do and say?
Pastor Joe
ALPHABET MEMORY VERSE: THE “D” VERSE—“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your
heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
    I thoroughly enjoy my family, work, studying God’s Word, ministering to people, watching football, eating pizza and hiking in the mountains. There are many more things I enjoy doing and I am grateful to God who according to Scripture “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (I Timothy 6:17) 
    Do you believe God is truly a good God or One who is a cosmic kill joy so to speak? When I was much younger and didn’t know the Lord like I do today, I would often feel guilty if I was having fun. I was much more tense and serious about everything. I am still a passionate guy about everything I do, but I am by God’s grace learning to enjoy this journey called life and more importantly, I am learning to really delight in and enjoy my wonderful Lord and Savior and Friend! Our “D” verse for this week is such an encouragement to me. I do enjoy being in God’s presence, not just in a worship service, but even while working, walking, taking care of the yard or just hanging with my family.
    Take some time to really meditate on the following Scriptures and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the life changing truth in them:
·         Psalm 16:11—“You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
·         Psalm 100:1-2—“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness: come before Him with joyful songs.”
·         Psalm 147:1—“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!” 
     Isn’t God a true delight and joy to be with? I mean come on now! Who else is like Him? He alone is never moody or grumpy, but full of unconditional love and faithfulness for His people. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us He is absolutely crazy about us and desires our company all the time—even when we are not so delightful to be with! Listen to these precious words from our faithful Father: 
·         Zephaniah 3:17—“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
    Charles Spurgeon, one of my heroes of the faith said, “My happiest moments are when I am worshiping God, really adoring the Lord Jesus Christ, and having fellowship with the ever-blessed Spirit. In that worship I forget the cares of the church and everything else. To me it is the nearest approach to what it will be in Heaven.” AMEN to that! Dear One, delight in Him today and every day and you will enjoy this journey like never before.
Pastor Joe
ALPHABET MEMORY VERSE—THE “C” VERSE—I Peter 5:7—“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Our culture has been called the “Age of Anxiety.” People pop pills and stress over unpaid bills.
·    Plato said, “Nothing in the affairs of men is worth worrying about.”
·    Earl Riney in the book Church Management said, “Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry in
the daytime, and too sleepy at night.”
·   Charles Mayo said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous            system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt.”
·   Jesus Christ, our wonderful Savior and Lord said in Matthew 6:25-27—“Therefore I tell        you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body,          what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more                  important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or                store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much            more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
    If worry really accomplishes nothing and greatly affects our health and well-being, then why do we struggle with it so much? What causes you the most anxiety? Bishop Fulton Sheen very pointedly said, “All worry is atheism, because it is want of trust in God.” I agree wholeheartedly with him. Do we believe that God cares more about us than He does about little birds that He takes such tender care of? 
   In our “C” alphabet memory verse we are told to “cast” all our anxiety on the Lord. The word cast means to “throw upon.” Have you ever carried a backpack full of stuff and after a long walk or hike you eagerly threw it on the ground when you found a resting spot? That is the idea here and yet God doesn’t ask you to take your load back up, instead, He carries you and your pack too!!!
    Do we really believe that what concerns us is of great interest and concern to our loving Father? The Message translates I Peter 5:7 this way, “LIVE CAREFREE BEFORE GOD; HE IS MOST CAREFUL WITH YOU.” I don’t know about you, but I think it is a wise thing to let God have all our worries and anxieties because He neither slumbers nor sleeps!
·  “The Devil would have us continually crossing streams that do not exist. “
·   “Take plenty of time to count your blessings, but never spend a minute in worry.” 
Pastor Joe

Proverbs 29:18— “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Jeremiah 29:11—“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
    Helen Keller was once asked what would be worse than being born blind. She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.” You may have 20/20 physical vision, but what kind of vision do you have for your life’s purpose? The above verse in Proverbs warns us that when people lack vision for their life, they cease to thrive and barely survive. People without hope and vision for the future lack power in the present! Jesus Christ came to give us life more abundantly (See John 10:10). Do you have a vision for your marriage? Your family? Your job? Your health? Your finances? If not, why not?
   Do you realize God has a great plan and vision for your life? In Jeremiah 33:3 God gives us a challenge. He declares, “Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” William Carey was an ordinary man who took hold of God’s plan for his life and shared the good news of Jesus Christ in the land of India. He is considered by many to be the father of modern missions. His motto for living was based upon that challenge in the book of Jeremiah. He was often quoted as saying “Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God."
    Vision is looking at life through the lens of God’s eyes. You and I by nature are shortsighted in this department. We all too often sell ourselves short. We tend to leap molehills instead of mountains. When was the last time you asked the Lord to give you his vision for your life? The rest of your life could be the best of your life! Do you have God-sized dreams and goals or are you allowing your past and other people to diminish your dreams? Do you see only problems or do you see endless possibilities for Him to be glorified and others to be impacted? It all depends if you have His vision or not! 
    Research shows that 95 percent of people do not write down their goals, but those who do, complete over 90 percent of them! Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” When David had vision he could take on a nine foot giant, when he lost sight of his vision, he couldn’t conquer his own lust. When Elijah the prophet had vision, he took on 450 false prophets, when he lost his vision he ran for his life and wanted to die. Research also shows that what enables people to live longer and healthier lives is not so much diet and exercise as it is having a vision and purpose for your life. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
     Some people look at things as they are and ask “Why?” There are others, however, who look at what could be and ask “Why not?” What camp are you in? Can I encourage you to put on God’s glasses and begin to see what He dreams for you to be! God’s kaleidoscope of promises is found in his Holy Word the Bible. Adoniram Judson, a missionary to then the country of Burma said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” Why don’t you begin to read it regularly and develop His vision for your life. 
Pastor Joe
    Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? How many do you plan to keep? Will you forget about them or really follow through on them? I remember hearing a preacher share that 62% of people makes resolutions and 25% will fail in the first week! Guess what the number one resolution is? You bet, to lose weight. Why do so many of us fail to succeed in keeping the ones we make? Is it because we really don’t understand the nature of a resolution? I am seeking to grasp the meaning of words that we often use, but fail to fully understand and apply. God told the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.  I looked up the word resolution in my Roget’s Thesaurus this morning and here is what I learned; “A resolution is a determined decision, made from strength of mind, steadfastness, and back-bone. It is done with devotion.”
    Are we sincere and serious about our goals and resolutions or do we make them because it is the cool thing to do? The Lord expects us to be people of our word! Jesus Christ said something very powerful and thought provoking in Matthew’s Gospel—“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)   
 Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? If we say we are going to do something—God expects us to follow through with it! God is a promise maker and keeper. Satan is called the father of lies. Who are we going to imitate and follow? Can I suggest we seriously consider making some Biblical Resolutions this year?
     Let us resolve to live for God’s glory and not our own selfish gain— “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” ( I Corinthians 10:31)
   Let us resolve to seek the good of others more than our own comfort—“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” ( I Corinthians 10:24)
    Let us resolve to learn the truth, love the truth, and live the truth—“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
     Let us resolve to watch for, wait for, and work until the coming of Christ—“So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44)
   I truly believe if we will learn to be dedicated, determined, disciplined and more decisive in 2018, we will greatly glorify our Father in Heaven! 
Pastor  Joe