FBC Williams Arizona
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Changing Hearts, Changing Lives, One Soul at a Time

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 devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
 
I AM STILL A MAN IN NEED OF A SAVIOR (Aug 2nd)
Romans 7:24—“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
     One of my favorite all time contemporary Christian songs is “IN THE LIGHT” by DC Talk. It is probably because it so accurately describes the battle we face every day as believers—the battle with our sinful, selfish nature.  One phrase really hits home with me “What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior; this only serves to confirm my suspicions that I am still a man in need of a Savior.”
    The great apostle Paul, whom God used to write half of the New Testament and to plant churches around much of the known world at that time, still said at the end of his life “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (I Timothy 1:15)  Notice Paul in both the above passage in Romans and here in his first epistle to Timothy, used the present tense “I am” not the past tense “I was.” I find great encouragement in that how about you? Are you still a work in progress? I sure am! I don’t sin like I used to before coming to Christ, but daily my flesh fusses and fights for control of my life. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 7:15,18I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” I sincerely desire to love and obey Jesus with all my heart, but the honest truth is that every day I fall short of my intentions! Does this mean I am not a true Christian? Absolutely not! It simply means God is still working on me.
    We have three tenses to our salvation. First, we have been saved from the penalty of sin through the death of Christ. Romans 5:9 states “Since we have now been justified (declared righteous) by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him.” Next,we are being saved from the power of the sin as we learn to yield more every day to the Holy Spirit’s power. Romans 8:13goes on to say “If you live according to the sinful nature you will die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Finally, one day yet future when we see Christ, we will be saved forever from the presence of sin.  I John 3:2 promises us “Dear friends, now we are the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Just think dear friend, one day we will never struggle with sin, but will always love and obey the Lord as He so richly deserves! I can’t wait for this! How about you dear one?
    Are you struggling withdiscouragement and doubt about your failures and human frailties? Don’t give up! This only confirms that you are still a man or woman in need of a Savior! Let Jesus do what He specializes in-saving and setting people free. Remember, we have not because we ask not- see James 4:2. I truly believe God wants us free more than we do ourselves!! Dear one, it is time for you to start walking in the freedom Christ offers you. He said “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) He also wonderfully promised “I have come that you may life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) The enemy of our souls is called the accuser of the brethren (see Revelation 12:10). He wants to degrade and discourage us, but let us never forget that Jesus called him the father of all lies-see John 8:44. I am learning it is much better listening to the One who said “I am the way the truth and the life” (John14:6), rather than that old serpent!!
Still a man in need of a Savior, and grateful I have one in Jesus,
Pastor Joe
 
HOW DO I SEE MY LOVED ONES? (June 26)
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.”
     A middle aged couple was relaxing on the couch reading and relaxing together. The wife then took off her husband’s glasses and said “You know honey, without your glasses on you look like the same handsome man I married years ago.” He responded by saying, “Without my glasses on you look pretty good too!” How do you see your spouse? How about your children and grandchildren if you have any? Those you live near and work with? Often our vision is clouded by our sinful nature and we don’t see things the way the Lord does! We desperately need His eyes as we view one another and life itself. Author Gary Thomas in his book “The Beautiful Fight” said “Without God’s eyes, people become invisible to me. When I realized that I was married to God’s daughter, everything changed about the way I viewed marriage.”
    Dear Ones, do we realize what a precious prize God has given us in our husband or wife? Proverbs 18:22 says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Hebrews 13:4 says “Marriage should be honored by all…” The Greek word for honored means to “prize, value or cherish.” Do we view our spouse that way and do we see Marriage as a great honor and blessing rather than an ideal that became an ordeal? It depends on whose eyes we are looking through! We by nature are either too far-sighted or near-sighted or just plain blind most of the time!! Martin Luther the great German reformation theologian of the sixteenth century married Katherine von Bora. He was seventeen years her elder, yet he knew he was a much better man because of her. He called her “Kitty, my rib” and “Selbander” which is German for “better half.” I truly know I married my better half, how about you? Just imagine what your life would be like without your precious treasure from our loving Father!
    How about those children? Do they know that they are a “heritage from the Lord and a reward from Him?” (See Psalm 127 and ponder their great worth) Moses’ parents “hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Hebrews 11:23). God says our children are fearfully and wonderfully made( Psalm 139:14) and that they were created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He prepared in advance for them to do-Ephesians 2:10. How often do we view them as that old song says-“I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise; with a capital ‘P.’ I am a great big bundle of potentiality.” When was the last time we consciously looked at their future through God’s hopeful and helpful eyes?
   Finally, do we see our loved ones as partners in this gracious gift of life? I Peter 3:7 says “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Your loved ones are on your team! Do they know that? Are they treated as very valuable to the progress of your family? The acrostic for Team is Together Everybody Achieves More! What would happen in our home life if we all played on the same team called WE and US more than on the pitiful losing team called ME, MYSELF AND I?    
Pastor Joe
 
ARE YOU DEPRESSED OR BLESSED? (July 12th)
     Author Henry David Thoreau once said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Research shows that the average person spends three out of ten days working themselves out of a depressed and negative mood. Great people like Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill faced it often in their lives. Charles Spurgeon, noted by many to be the Prince of Preachers said “There are dungeons beneath the castles of despair.” Modern day Psychologist Martin Seligman said “Americans, on average, may be more depressed, and at a younger age, than they have ever been: unprecedented misery in a nation of unprecedented prosperity and material well-being.”    Do you fall into the pit of despair more than you would like to admit? Do you ever wonder what puts you there? Is there a cure or are we helpless victims to this cursed monster? Churchill called depression “that old black dog!” The reason I love the Word of God so much is because of its unique ability to transform our lives no matter what struggle we may face. After all, it came to us straight from our Creator’s loving heart as He used human hands to write it. Jeremiah 15:16 says “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” God gives us the cause and the cure for depression.
    Sin is the main culprit of depression. In the very beginning of time, Adam and Eve’s children Cain and Abel had a little sibling rivalry going on that ended in murder. Cain was very angry and upset with God and his brother because Abel’s offering was accepted and his wasn’t. See Genesis 4:1-12. Before Cain murdered his brother, while he was still fuming with anger, God asked him a very interesting question—“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door: it desires to have you, but you must master it.”(Genesis 4:6-7) I truly believe sin, that comes in all different shapes and sizes, is the main reason so many people are miserable. How do I know? The Bible says so and so does human experience! I have spent many a miserable day trying to go my own way!
    Satan is a mastermind at trying to put people into the pit of despair. John 8:44 says that he is the “Father of lies” and in the same Gospel it says he is a “Thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.”(John 10:10a) The number one weapon he uses on humans is discouragement and depression. Suicide is still one of the leading causes of death among our teens! When we choose to believe his lie rather than God’s truth, we eventually start to sigh and die if we don’t deal with it! D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said on this matter “The devil’s one object is to so depress God’s people that he can go to the man of the world and say: There are God’s people. Do you want to be like that?” God loves to give His children a joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8), but Satan will do everything in his power to try and steal that joy! Let’s be on the alert for that thief and not let him do it!!
    Our Savior Jesus Christ is the Great Physician who can cure all ailments and burdens we human beings face. Isaiah the prophet predicted that Christ would “comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:2-3) He alone offers us amazing grace that is greater than all our sin. He said in John 10:10b—“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” He then went on to say in John 15:11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Jesus gave His life on the cross of Calvary to provide pardon, peace and power for daily living. What He did there truly brought hope from despair! Our outlook determines our outcome. Our attitude determines our altitude! One final quote to consider: Winston Churchill said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Who will we be like?
Pastor Joe
 
LET’S SPREAD THE GREATEST NEWS OF ALL! (June 28th)
Romans 1:16 - “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
      I believe it is pretty safe to say that we live in a world where we read and hear more bad news than good news. There is unrest all around our world. We hear more about people hurting others than helping them. The trillions of dollars that our nation is in debt is not very encouraging right? Is it any wonder that many have called our age the “Age of Anxiety” and the “Age of Cynicism”? The apostle Paul lived in a day and age where there were horrible abuses of power, persecution of believers, slavery, vile immorality and so on and yet he starts his letter to the believers in Rome with our verse for today. He was not ashamed of the gospel! Remember the word gospel means “good news.” What good news is he talking about? God has incredible power to save and deliver people from the penalty and power of sin! And to put the icing on the cake so to speak, this good news is available to everyone who chooses to believe.
    To fully appreciate the good news, we need to truly understand the bad news first. Romans 3:10-12 says “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” We all are inbred with something far worse than Aids or cancer. It is simply called sin. This little word sin is easy to spell, but its corrupting nature can actually send people to an awful place called Hell! 17th century Preacher Thomas Brooks said, “Sin the only thing God truly hates. It brought Christ to the cross, it damns souls, it shuts heaven, it laid the very foundations of Hell.”
    The greatest news of all is just this—when mankind was at our worst, God was at His best! When there was no hope, the God of hope threw us a rope to pull us out of the angry sea of sin. Romans 5:6,8 says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In chapter 10 and verse 13 we then read “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Can it get any better than this? The lost can be found. The blind can now see. Charles Spurgeon said, “That one word saved is enough to make the heart dance as long as life remains. “Saved!” Let us hang out our banners and set the bells ringing. Saved! What a sweet sound it is to the man who is wrecked and sees the vessel going down, but at that moment discovers the lifeboat is near and will rescue him from the sinking ship. But to be rescued from sin and Hell is a greater salvation still and demands a louder joy. We will sing it in life and whisper it in death and chant it throughout eternity—saved by the Lord!”
    Dear one, does that describe you? Have you seen your great need of a Savior and trusted Jesus alone to rescue you from sin’s awful penalty and power? If not, cry out to Him right now and receive the gift of eternal life. Romans 10:11 promises us “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” If you have already received Christ, I have an important question for you as well. How often do you share this good news with others? Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel. Are we? Let’s ask the Lord who said the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few to fill us with His great love and boldness in order to share the gospel with our lips as well as our lives.
Seeking to be a bearer of good news,
Pastor Joe
  
RESIST HIM AND WATCH HIM RUN! (June 21st)
James 4:7—“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
    I remember when I was a little boy around the age of seven or so that one of my relatives said that they had seen the devil three times in their lifetime. He had a red suit and a pitchfork in his hand. I believed this person because they seemed very sincere in sharing it. Is the devil a real person whom we should take seriously? Or is he a make believe character that some people dress up as on Halloween? Two six year olds struggled with the existence of the devil. One boy said “Oh, there isn’t any devil.” The other, rather upset, said “What do you mean there isn’t any devil? It talks about him all the way through the Bible.” The first boy replied, “Oh that’s not true, you know. It’s just like Santa Clause, the devil turns out to be your dad.”
    Satan isn’t mentioned in the first two chapters of the Bible or in the last two chapters, but he is referred to all throughout the rest of it! In Genesis 3, he enters the scene in the beautiful Garden of Eden and he tricked Adam and Eve into doubting God and disobeying His command. In Genesis 4 he creeps into Cain’s heart when he refused to deal with his anger toward God and his brother Abel and it sadly led to the first murder in human history. Later, he set his sights on a man named Job, who is described as an upright man who feared God and shunned evil. There was no one like him on the earth. So Satan attacked him and tried to take everything from him- Read Job chapters 1-2 when you have the time. Our Lord Jesus encountered him throughout His earthly ministry. The early church fought against him and people today face this foe that is so crafty and armed with cruel hate.
    The word devil means “slanderer, one who repetitively throws accusations.” In Revelation 12:9 he is described the accuser of the brethren who accuses us day and night. Jesus called him a “liar and the father of lies” John 8:44. Satan loves to flood our thoughts with lies that God is not good, that He is holding out on us or that He is not pleased with us. If the enemy can drive a wedge between us and the Lord he is smiling in a sinister way! Who should we believe, the father of lies or the One who cannot lie? This helps me when I struggle with thoughts of doubt and despair on occasion. I look to the source of those thoughts, resist them and choose to believe the truth and then an amazing thing happens- joy and peace come in and kick doubt and despair out the door! That is why reading, meditating on and memorizing Scripture is crucial in spiritual warfare-read John 8:31-32, II Tim 3:15-16 & Heb 4:12.
    The Apostle Peter described Satan as a roaring lion. Wow! He is a foe to be taken seriously. We must be alert and keep him at bay. He is seeking to devour people. Jesus said he is a thief who “comes to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10. When we remember his true colors and his cruel intent it is much easier to resist him. The word resist means to “actively oppose.” Are we doing that? Or are we taking it easy on that vile dragon? If a rattlesnake came into your house would you gently pick it up and escort it out of your house or would you look for a shovel to chop its head off? I truly believe many Christians are struggling because we are being more cooperative with the enemy Satan than we are with our loving Savior! Let’s learn to “shut the door and keep out the devil” as that little song says. Ephesians 6:10-11 says “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” When we stand in our Savior’s strength and resist the devil he will turn tail! Tyron Edwards said “The devil has at least one good quality, that he will flee if we resist him. Though cowardly in him, it is safety for us.   
Pastor Joe 
 
SOMEONE YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON (June 14th)
    We live in a world that is constantly changing. Fads come and fads go. Finances can be fine one day and then frustrating the next. Our buddies change and so do our bodies! People change jobs, churches and even the teams they root for. The only thing we can be sure of is that change will eventually come in some form or fashion. Researchers tell us that change is what often causes the most stress in a person’s life. Maybe something has happened in your life that will change things forever. Alvin Toffler said “people look for islands of stability when change becomes overwhelming.” In the midst of all this change we have one immovable Rock of refuge to whom we can cling to—our forever faithful Father in Heaven!
  • Malachi 3:6—“I the Lord do not change.”
  • Hebrews 13:8—“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

    Can we find someone we can always count on? One who will be faithful and true in all they do? Someone who is not fair-weather and fickle, but firm and dependable no matter what happens? God is just that person! He is forever faithful. It may be hard to find consistency among His creatures, but we can always find it in our Creator’s character.

  • Psalm 145:13 —“The Lord will keep all His promises; He is loyal to all He has made.”
  • Psalm 100:5—“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

    Who do you know that always performs what he or she promises? Who do you know that is never moody? Our God will always be righteous, holy, loving, powerful and loyal! He will never change. He will always hate sin but love the sinner. He will always have consequences for our bad behavior, but is always ready to forgive and heal us when we confess our sin and turn from it. God is also faithful to finish what he starts. We all, if we are honest, must admit to projects left undone, books left unread and commitments broken; God, on the other hand, loves and lives to finish what He starts. When a person commits his or her life to Christ, God guarantees their security. We may have homeland security and social security, but I would much rather have eternal security. Meditate on and believe the following promises made to you:

  • Philippians 1:6—“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  • John 10:28—“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

  You and I are a work in progress. Our Creator is the Potter and we are the clay in His hands. He is molding and making us into a masterpiece. The ultimate goal? He is transforming us into our Master’s own image. Romans 8:28-29 tells us that God works in all things for our good and that good goal is conforming us into the likeness of his Son, our Savior. One day yet future, all true believers will experience a complete makeover.

  • I John 3:2—“Dear friends, now we are the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him as He is.”
     Yes, dear friends, our Father is forever faithful. You can count on Him--all the time. He may not come through on your timetable, but He is always on time according to His clock. And His clock never needs batteries!
Pastor Joe
   
ARE YOU A CHARACTER OR DO YOU HAVE CHARACTER? (June 7th)
Romans 5:3-5—“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
     When people think of you, do they see you as a character or as a person with character? I believe it is okay to be humorous and funny, but are we are more concerned about making an impression or leaving a lasting influence on others? I personally believe our American culture is more captivated by people with charisma and comic ability than with people who speak louder by their actions than with their words. Everything seems to be all about entertainment more than setting a good example.
   Our nation’s 30th President, Calvin Coolidge stated, “We do not need more knowledge, we need more character.” Amen to that!! For several years I had the wonderful blessing of coaching children of all ages in Physical Education with Athletes In Training. I was privileged to work with public and charter school children as well as home schooled children. I took great care in teaching them conditioning and coordination, but most importantly in emphasizing character development. The six pillars of character I covered were from the Character Counts curriculum- trustworthiness, respect, caring, responsibility, fairness and citizenship.  Character really does count! It is not just a curriculum that is taught in some school districts, it should be modeled in our homes and hearts on a daily basis!  I sincerely believe that God is more concerned about the content of our character than our knowledge, strength and achievements. I Samuel 16:7 powerfully points out, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
    John Wooden is undoubtedly the most successful college basketball coach in the history of the game. He led UCLA to four undefeated seasons and ten NCAA championships, including seven in a row. What made this man amazing was his emphasis on character. He said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is who you really are—while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” God’s great goal for us is character-Christ like character. The passage above reminds us that God will go to any measure to develop who we are. Who we are is more important than what we do! Yet how contrary that is to what we are taught in society. It is win at all costs, take steroids if that helps you succeed—just don’t get caught! Climb the corporate ladder of success and it doesn’t matter how many people you crush along the way as long as you make it to the top, right?
    Do we dare to be different? Do we really want to make a difference? Then we need to be a people of character. Ask God to use whatever it takes to make you like His dear Son-see Romans 8:28-30. The Holy Spirit is willing and able to make us like Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Our job is to live by the Spirit and to keep in step with the Spirit-see verse 16 & 25.
 Billy Graham made a powerful statement about the value of character: “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity in tact; when wealth is lost, little is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Pastor Joe
    
THE KINDEST THING I COULD EVER DO FOR YOU!
(May 31st) 
    I remember reading somewhere about a study that was done at a particular college campus that revealed that our students today are more self-centered than previous generations. They may have more confidence and self-esteem but are less likely to help someone in need. God warned us in His Word that in the latter days just prior to His return, many people would be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God (See II Timothy 3:1-5) and Jesus Himself stated that “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) We don’t have to be real observant to notice the ever-increasing sway of society toward selfish living! As Christians, we are called to live in the world, but not to buy into that lie. We are called to be conformed to Christ and not the culture around us. (For more study look up Romans 12:1-2, John 17:14-17 & Romans 8:28-29)
     God encourages us in the Bible to “Do everything in love.” I Corinthians 16:14. It is through His love that others come to know and experience the Lord. We are simply His channels! What is the best thing that we can do for others? During this pandemic it has allowed families the priceless treasure of more time together. In our day and age people are fighting loneliness more than ever. Making a phone call, writing a card are still invaluable ways to touch others in love.  But is there one thing we can do that will really make a huge eternal difference in the lives of others? It may not be the most exciting thing on earth. It may be downright difficult to do at times. In fact, some people might say it is a waste of time and it really doesn’t work. However, our Father in Heaven promises that “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my  face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)
     Do we want to see others experience physical, emotional, and spiritual healing? Do we want others to come to know the Lord? Do we want to see our culture changed? Do we really want to see our marriage and family life revitalized? It is not going to happen by criticizing and complaining. I believe if we consistently call upon that matchless name—the name of Jesus Christ, we will see God do amazing things in our midst. Our Lord promised us in John 14:12-13- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may glory to the Father.” 
    Oh, that we more often had the attitude of the Prophet Samuel when he said, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” I Samuel 12:23
There is a chorus of a song that says, “Got any rivers you can’t cross? Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible. He does what others cannot do!” Do we dare to be a mountain mover? Do we dare to help set people free? Do we want to make a difference to those truly in need? Then, will you join me at the throne of grace where we can always intercede? Let us be a people who daily PUSH-Pray Until Something Happens! 
Pastor Joe