FBC Williams Arizona
Tuesday, October 23, 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 “W” VERSEI Corinthians 10:31—“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
     Someone said if you settle the “why” of what you do or the motivation behind our actions, everything else will fall into its proper place. God’s Word clearly states that we were created by our loving Creator for one main mission—to glorify and honor Him in all our ways. Take a few minutes to carefully chew and digest these amazing passages of truth:
·  Isaiah 43:7—“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
·  Colossians 1:16— “All things were created by Him and for Him.”
·  Revelation 4:11—“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
    Why are so many people miserable in this world where we all have so much more than our fathers and forefathers? Romans 3:23 has the answer for us. It simply says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The Greek word for sin means to “miss the mark.” What mark have we missed? When we live for ourselves and seek to promote our own honor and glory instead of God’s we are falling short of why the Lord formed and fashioned us!
    Why do you do what you do? Does your family honor God? What is the purpose of your work, ministry and daily duties? Our “W” verse covers everything if you think about it.
When we take good care of our bodies, our homes, our neighborhood and community, and His church, God is greatly pleased and glorified. Someone said, “if you can explain what is going on, God didn’t do it.” When people give you a compliment, do you take the time to explain that it is all because of God and His goodness that you are able to do anything praiseworthy? I Corinthians 4:7 says, “What do you have that you did not receive?”
    One time the late A. W. Tozer was being introduced in a flattering way before the congregation he was going to speak to. His response was “All I can say is, dear God, forgive him for what he said—and forgive me for enjoying it so much!” Isaiah 42:8 declares “I am the Lord, that is my name; and my glory I will not give to another.” Dear One, ask the Lord to give you a humble heart that seeks to lift up the Lord in all you do and say. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Pastor Joe
GOD HAS GIVEN ME? (Oct 14th)
I Corinthians 4:2-“In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.” (NASB)
     I recently read something on the Internet about how much we Americans spend at the end of the year. You may want to hold on to your seat. On average, Americans spend 35.4 billion dollars on retail goods and food during the months of October through December! Our country has debt in the trillions now and the average American according to Consumer Credit Counseling Services has 20,000 dollars in credit card debt. Isn’t that a little ironic when “In God We Trust” is written across our money whether it is paper, copper or silver? I really believe the way we handle our money is the truest indicator of the spiritual condition of our heart. Mother Teresa was once asked by a U.S. Senator how she was able to deal with all the hardships of ministering to the sick, poor and dying. She said, “God has not called us to be successful, but faithful.” She is right you know! God one day will call us into account with how faithful we have been with what He has so graciously given us in time, talent and treasure. How are we doing here? Billy Graham said, “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area of his life.” Great counsel!
    I am deeply concerned about our country. We are definitely living in difficult times! My question is- have we brought a lot of this on ourselves? Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” With the average American spending $1.20 for every dollar they make, is it any wonder we are struggling? The Barna research group estimates Americans are spending one fourth of their spendable income on debt and this doesn’t include a mortgage or rent payment! Have we bought into the lie that money buys happiness? One famous politician said in a 1989 US News and World Report article “Whoever says money doesn’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.” Are we going to listen to his advice or take the counsel of the wonderful counselor, Jesus Christ? He said in Luke 12:15-“Watch out! Be on guard against all kinds of greed: a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Can we take any of this material stuff with us? Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U Haul?
   Fanny Crosby was blinded while an infant, yet her gracious spirit soon emerged for all to see. She said when she was only 8 years old, “O what a happy child I am although I cannot see. I have chosen that in this life contented I will be.” I Timothy 6:6 points out that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” All we truly need in life is a strong relationship with the Lord. When He is your Shepherd you will never be in want. Are we wasting our time and money on things that don’t really satisfy? John Rockefeller was quoted as saying, “I have made my millions but none of them brought me any happiness.” Again our Lord’s words come into play here. Jesus Christ said in Acts 20:35-“It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”
     I truly believe our faith will be severely tested in the days to come. Will we live within our means and avoiding the devastation of debt? Will we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves? Will we be like the ant and work hard and save for the future instead of wasting what we make today? Proverbs 6:6-8 warns us “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” One final tidbit of truth to chew on—John Wesley encouraged the people of his day to “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can!
Pastor Joe
THE “V” VERSE: Proverbs 21:31- “Victory rests with the Lord.”
     Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers once said, “Winning isn’t everything: it is the only thing.” His inspiration and discipline helped lead the Packers to being victorious in the very first two Super Bowls. Does God care about how we do in this life? You better believe it! God told Joshua, the leader of Israel who took over for Moses, that He would be prosperous and have good success if he meditated on and obeyed His word day and night. He then said to Him in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
    As we all finish the last three months of 2018 we will continue to face many trials and temptations, but may we never forget that VICTORY RESTS WITH THE LORD! The verse before our key verse states “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” As important as a coach and quarterback are to a football team’s success, no one is more important to our success in life than God almighty! He alone has never known defeat and He alone truly desires to bless and help us every day we live, the question is-will we trust and obey Him?
    Do you want more hope and courage as you face life’s constant challenges? Jesus Christ promised us in John 16:33- “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The beloved apostle John loves this word “overcome.” He used it in a lot of his writings in Scripture. Here are just a few of them. May you find new hope and strength to keep fighting the good fight of faith as you claim these promises for yourself:
·         I John 2:14- “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 
·         I John 5:4- “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
·         Revelation 2:26- “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.”
    Dear one, God calls all of us who know Him to a life of victory-victory over the pressures and problems in this life, victory over sin, Satan, death and hell. This is all possible because of who Jesus Christ is and all He has so graciously done for us on the cross and by rising from the dead. Do you know Him and do you daily trust Him more than yourself and others? That is the key to victory-NOT I BUT CHRIST! I can’t be, He always can!! As we live each day of our lives may we remember we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”-Romans 8:37. 
Pastor Joe
Deuteronomy 8:11—“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…

Deuteronomy 11:16—“Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.”

    When I was coaching children full time one of the things I enjoyed doing that brought laughter onto the field was when I would do my Elmer Fudd impersonation and say, “We gotta be very, very careful…” That light hearted humor almost always enabled me to capture the attention of the children so I could then share something very important with them.  All throughout the book of Deuteronomy God warned His people about being careful not to forget Him and His teachings. Yet, that is what they often did! Isn’t it amazing that we can be so spiritually absent minded? How could we ever forget the Lord? I mean, He is the One who gives us everything! Acts 17:28 says, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”
    The Israelites witnessed many miraculous things in their lifetime—a mighty deliverance from Egypt’s bondage, water and food provided in the difficult journey through a dangerous desert wilderness. Their clothes didn’t wear out nor did their sandals during that forty year journey! Yet God knew our evil tendency to forget the amazing things He has done. That is why He lovingly gives us warnings. We need to be more careful in our relationship with God. I truly believe many times we are sleep walking with Him instead of being truly awake and alert! If you had an audience with an influential leader, famous actor or athlete, would you be fully there when you met with them? I think so. Yet we have the wonderful privilege of calling the King of Kings and Lord of Lords “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
    Deuteronomy 10:12 is a very powerful verse to really ponder today and every day for that matter. It says, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Is God really asking too much from us here? I respect my wife, children, grandchildren, parents, policeman etc… so why is it so difficult sometimes to honor, fear and revere my great God and King? Whenever most people see a policeman, what do they normally do? They slow down and drive more cautiously. Oh that we would do that when we remember our God knows our thoughts before we think them and our words before we say them! Thinking about this makes me want to pray the words King David prayed in Psalm 19:14—“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
    Think of the contrast between the two words careful and careless. If we break them down they speak very pointedly and powerfully to us. To be careful is to be cautious, watchful, alert, living in a wise and attentive way. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be very careful, then how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” In great contrast, to be careless means you really could care less about someone or something! This mindset leads a person to be negligent, unconcerned, thoughtless and inconsiderate in their actions. Have our hearts grown calloused? Are we spiritually sleepwalking? Have we forgotten the great price our Savior paid in buying us out of the slave market of sin? I want to close with some thought provoking words from Charles Spurgeon, noted by many to be the Prince of Preachers. He said on this subject, “Consider whom we profess to worship, and we shall not hurry into His presence as men run into a fire. Moses, the man of God, was warned to put off his shoes from his feet when God only revealed Himself in a bush. How should we prepare ourselves when we come to Him who reveals Himself in Christ Jesus, His dear Son?”
Pastor Joe

THE “U” VERSE: Psalm 127:1—“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

    On November 25, 1895, a cornerstone of ice was laid in Leadville, Colorado -- the beginning of the largest ice palace ever built in America. In an effort to bolster the town's sagging economy, the citizens staged a winter carnival. On New Year's Day of 1896, the town turned out for the grand opening. The immense palace measured 450 x 320 feet. The towers that flanked the entrance were 90 feet high. Inside was a 16,000-square-foot skating rink. But by the end of March the palace was melting away, along with the hopes of Leadville. The thousands of visitors had spent very little.  
    What a powerful illustration of our “U” memory verse! Psalm 127 is one of two Psalms written by King Solomon. He was blessed with amazing wisdom, so much so that people came from all over to hear it. Yet, this man learned as many of us have, that life is futile and vain when we fail to consult and allow the Lord to construct things in our lives. Human pride and ingenuity abound everywhere. It is amazing what man can do. We can make mind blowing machines like space craft, space stations, and sky scrapers. Mankind has made life much more efficient in many aspects due to technological advances, yet can we live truly satisfying and significant lives apart from God’s help? I don’t believe so.
     Unless the Lord lives and reigns in our heart, fear and frustration will gnaw and tear it apart. One ancient Theologian Augustine hit it on the head when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Jesus Christ promised us in John 8:12-“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Has God turned on the lights for you dear friend? Life will always be stumbling in the darkness until we surrender to the One whose powerful light gives significance, satisfaction and security to humble and hurting hearts. 
    Unless the Lord builds and protects our homes, they will experience gnawing pain and no lasting gain in our journey. On the contrary, God gives joy unspeakable and a peace that passes all understanding to the hearts and homes of those who know, love and trust the Lord. Can we be the husbands, fathers, wives, mothers & children we want to be in our own strength and wisdom? Are we allowing God to inspire and empower the construction of our lives? If not, why not? Jesus Christ made a refreshing promise in Matthew 11:28-30—“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn how to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)
 Pastor Joe      
     Would you agree that we are living in very trying and troubling times?  I am deeply saddened when I hear or read about the horrible atrocities that people commit against one another. The daily news is shouting a message to all of us! Do you know what that message is? WE NEED TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS OF LIFE! Life is supposed to be all about love. Jesus Christ said that the greatest commandment of all is to love God supremely, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is similar to it—we are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves—See Matthew 22:37-39. According to these verses, the entire Old Testament could be summarized into one simple purpose--Life is all about love and relationships! Yet our society is becoming more isolated and insensitive to this grand purpose. There is a huge obsession among many for materialism, prosperity, power and pleasure at the awful expense of leaving behind a trail of wounded people along the way.
Are we loving things and using people or are we loving people and using things?
     The New Testament book of II Timothy predicts the troubling times that will precede the return of Jesus Christ to this earth to set up his eternal kingdom. Chapter 3:1-3 states—“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good.” I find it very ironic that although we have an abundance of technology, wealth and prosperity compared to other places in the world, yet our society is severely lacking in social skills. How often do people smile? How often do you say and hear kind and encouraging words? Why are so many ready to retaliate at the drop of a hat? These times are definitely difficult, but will we rise to the occasion by being a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. The challenge before each of us every day is to overcome evil with good! The greatest healing force in the world is the power of love! Dr. Karl Menninger, a Christian Psychiatrist, once said—“Love cures people-those who give it and those who receive it.” 
     I Corinthians 13:3 challenges us—“No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” (The Message) 
Can I ask you a personal question? How is your love account? Where does living a life of love fall into your list of daily duties? Ask the Lord of love to show you how to love others. He is the Author and source of love. In fact, go a step further by asking Him to flood your heart with His perfect love that “never fails” and “drives out all fear.” (If you have time today, look up I Corinthians 13:1-8 & I John 4:7-18) It was the love of Christ that changed the greatest persecutor of the Christian faith into the greatest preacher of the Christian faith. I am talking about the Apostle Paul. His encounter with Jesus totally transformed his life. Christ can do the same for you and me if we will only trust and obey Him! Here is some spiritual food to fuel your love today:
  • “Let love be your greatest aim” I Corinthians 14:1 (Living Bible)
  • “Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples” John 13:35 (Living Bible)
  • “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:14
 Pastor Joe
THE “T” VERSE:  Psalm 34:8—“Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
    Have you ever struggled with trying something new because you didn’t know if you would enjoy it or not? I believe we have all been there and done that! I remember when I was around 17 years of age and went on a ski trip with our youth group. I am pretty athletic and usually not afraid to try new things, but this skiing thing had me a little spooked! I remember reading about some skiers dying because they ran into a tree and I definitely didn’t want that to be me! Long story short, after some encouragement from friends and my Youth Pastor, I took off down the hill and made it safely even after several falls. I was immediately hooked on this sport!
     I believe there is a spiritual parallel here. Many people, believers and non-believers, sometimes struggle with really tasting, trying and trusting God. Somewhere in the back of their minds they buy into Satan’s lie that God isn’t as good as He claims to be! Nothing could be farther from the truth. God encourages us to sample Him if you will. To take Him for a test drive so to speak! He invites to “taste and see” and to “trust and be blessed” as a result. Can I ask you a pointed question dear one? Do you really believe God is good? Or do you question His goodness? How do
we know that God is good? Can we really see His goodness? I wholeheartedly believe so because many people through the centuries have checked Him out and have never been disappointed with Him.
     First, God’s holy and awesome character reveals His goodness. Psalm 100:5 says, “The Lord is good and His love endures forever: His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Paraphrase of this short verse—GOD IS GOOD—ALL THE TIME!!! The apostle John wrote in I John 1:5 that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” We all have a dark side but our gracious and intrinsically good God does not! Next, God’s creation reflects His glory and goodness. Psalm 33:5 declares “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Just take a few minutes daily and truly soak in the goodness of God through all He has made. Christina Rossetti said, “Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank.” A third way we see God’s goodness is in the way He marvelously knits and weaves all of life’s circumstances for the greater good. Romans 8:28 is true whether we can accept it for ourselves or not. It powerfully promises “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Several summers ago, the A/C went out in our church sanctuary and then in our home! What great timing I originally thought in sarcasm. But then I saw God’s goodness in it all because He gently reminded me it was better that week rather than the following one when we would be right in the middle of our biggest outreach—Vacation Bible School! Truly He does all things well. 
     Finally, we best see God’s goodness at the Cross of Christ. Titus 3:3-5 says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Wow! When we were at our worst, God as always, was at His best. Praise His great, glorious and good Name! Why don’t we try and trust Him more? Let’s daily taste and see that the Lord is good and find out how blessed we can be when we fully trust Him.
    In closing I agree with King David when He wrote in Psalm 27:13-“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  Learning to taste and see.
Pastor Joe