FBC Williams Arizona
Wednesday, November 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. 
 
TIME TO GO SLOW (Nov 25th)
Psalm 37:7, 34-“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…Wait for the Lord and keep His way.” 
     I had hernia surgery around 9 years ago. The post op directives were to take it easy, no lifting anything over 10 pounds for six to eight weeks, no running or biking; only walking! That was one of the most difficult times in my life! I did take it somewhat easy at first, but I remember the wound took longer to heal because I would lift things and do things I wasn’t supposed to out of habit!
     I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the gear called neutral! I love forward and reverse sometimes can be a little interesting, but neutral and what is even worse- park, can cause my engine to run a little warm. Friends and family that know me well will often kid and call me “Joe on the go!” I used to think that meant I was really strong and spiritual. Now, I am not so sure! Micah 6:8 tells us what God wants and requires from us- “To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” What is very interesting to note is that the text doesn’t say run with God, but walk with Him. Adam and Eve before the fall walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the day-see Genesis 3:8. Because of sin we tend to either drag our feet when we could walk with Him or far too often run way ahead of Him!
     Phillips Brooks was a wonderful Pastor in the New England area who is most well-known for writing the touching Christmas Carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” One day he was obviously a little irritated and frustrated, and it was clearly seen on his face. A close friend noticed and remarked, “What is wrong Phillips?” His reply is very insightful into our tendency as humans- “The trouble is, I am in a hurry and God isn’t!” Interesting and a little convicting wouldn’t you say?
     My dear wife Kelly Linn faithfully reminds me as God’s little prophet, “Remember Joe, we are human beings, not human doings.” The Word of God exhorts us in Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God.” Are we going slow enough to enjoy the Lord’s presence with us? Are we enjoying life or running through it so fast we don’t even enjoy the scenery? Let’s all take more time to stop and smell His roses so to speak, literally and figuratively. Lord, help us not to be wild mustangs running ahead of you, teach us how to prance at your pace! Help us all to “Be still and know that
YOU are God.” Thank You Father, for never being late or too early, but always right on time.
    Today and every day help us to walk with You and work with You and walk how You do it. Help us to learn the unforced rhythms of grace of walking at Your perfect pace. I truly believe many marriages and homes are under the tyranny of Satan. Someone said the acrostic for busy means “BEING UNDER SATAN’S YOKE!” Yikes!!! I think “Joe on the go” needs this little reminder again that it is okay to “Go slow!” We might arrive where we need to be a little happier and holier. 

Pastor Joe                     

AM I ALLOWING THE LORD TO REFLECT HIS GLORY THROUGH ME?  THE “Y” VERSE: Matthew 5:14—“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Nov 18th)
    I was rudely reminded around 5-6 years ago of how important light is! I was checking on our above ground pool that had little lights around the canopy. We even had some flood lights that shed a little light near the pool from our patio, yet it was still dark enough for me to accidentally step into a Steeler landmine. For those who don’t know what I am talking about, it was our black lab named “Steeler.” I was having a pretty good evening until that happened!
    Have you ever wondered what our world would be like without light? Think of how vital photosynthesis is to our planet? Think of what electricity does for us? Think of what a blessing a flashlight and camp fire are when you go camping? How about headlights when driving down a dark, narrow and winding road at night? You get the picture don’t you? Jesus Christ powerfully proclaimed in 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.” If we will follow Him we will experience faith instead of fear, fruitfulness instead of frustration and a fantastic future that is beyond our wildest hopes and dreams!
    As followers of Jesus we have a huge impact on others for either good or bad. We are stepping stones or stumbling blocks, blessings or burdens, encouragers or discouragers. What kind of examples are we? After we leave another person’s presence do they have a little more light or do we leave a cloud of darkness for them to muddle through?  Philippians 2:14-15 is a very thought provoking passage of Scripture. It says “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved
generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Wow! What a challenge to us as believers.
    It is so easy to complain about all the darkness around us, but what if instead all of us who name the name of Christ, allow Him to shine His glorious light through us as we live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine! I challenge you to do the same and as a result may many people praise His glorious and mighty name!! 
Pastor Joe
                       
AM I A CRITIC OR CHEELEADER? (Nov 11th)
    On a basketball court or football field, who inspires the team more—the critic in the stands complaining about what has gone wrong or the cheerleaders on the sideline rallying support through their cheers? The answer is obvious. I believe the answer is the same for our homes, places of employment as well as for our churches, communities and even our country! Is it easier for you to complain and criticize than it is for you to encourage and support others in this long distance race called life? Do you tend to dig up dirt and build a mountain of mess? Remember we will always lose ground if we throw dirt!! Do you like to expose the faults of others so as to take the focus off of your own shortcomings? Jesus Christ has some very penetrating words for us all to consider on this subject matter: Matthew 7:1-5—“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye’? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
    Our job in life is not to play judge and jury. The Bible says “There is one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.” James 4:12. I believe it is not referring to Judge Joe, Judge Judy, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Hudson, or Blake Shelton, but to Judge Jesus! Let’s leave the matter of judging to Him, because He alone is all knowing and Almighty. Our duty in life is to love others and to clap and cheer for them. The Scripture challenges us all to “Encourage one another and build each other up”---I Thessalonians 5:11. I have heard that for every negative put down we hear, we need nine positive affirmations to equal it out! No wonder so many hearts and homes are running on low. If someone paid you a dime for every positive thing you said and took a nickel from you for every negative thing you said, would you be rich or poor? Hmm…
    The next time we are tempted to judge someone let’s instead try to truly understand them. I remember hearing a preacher tell the story of a young father who was riding on a subway train with two young sons who were both crying incessantly. One nearby passenger became annoyed and scolded the man by saying, “Why don’t you calm your children down!” The man humbly responded, “I would if I knew how. You see, their mother recently died and they miss her terribly.” I don’t know how the critical and insensitive passenger responded, but hopefully she had a change of heart. How would you act in a similar situation? Mother Theresa said, “When you judge others, you have no time to love them.” I like that! Let’s try to look beyond the annoying deed to the person’s real need 
    We all have a deep need for encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Real encouragement inspires others with courage to face the difficulties and demands of daily living. Back to the title of this little devotional for one more minute. How would your family members, neighbors and work associates describe you--as an encouraging cheerleader or a cranky and complaining critic? Can you imagine what would happen if we cheered as much for our loved ones as we do for our favorite sports team, Dancing with the Stars couple or America’s Got Talent contestant?
PASTOR   JOE
 
THE MOST IMPORTANT TEST TO PASS (Nov 4th)
THE “X” VERSE: II Corinthians 13:5—“Examine yourselves to see whether
you are in the faith.
   Life is full of exams. When we were children we had spelling tests, math tests, and physical fitness tests. When we were teens we needed to do well on our SAT TESTING if we hoped to further our education in college. There is that all important driving test and many more in life, but I believe the most important one is—Am I a genuine believer in Christ or not?
    Can we know this for certain? Many people believe to have this knowledge is arrogance, but God’s Word is very clear on this subject. Read very slowly the following verses:
  • I John 5:13- “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life.”
  • Romans 10:13- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  • John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
    God is very clear in His Word that He wants us to know with certainty that we are truly His children and where we will spend eternity! The Greek word for “know” in I John 5:13 means to “see, understand, be aware and sure of.” Jesus Christ came from Heaven with one primary purpose—to seek and to save that which was lost-see Luke 19:10. All of humanity falls into that category.  Latinos are lost, Caucasians are lost, Asians are lost and so are Africans etc… It doesn’t matter if you are strong, super intelligent and extremely wealthy, there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve salvation, forgiveness and eternal life. It is absolutely unearned. It is a precious gift from God that was purchased by the holy blood of Jesus Christ on the cruel cross. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast.”
    Have you received this gift? Or are you hopelessly trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor? I’m reminded of hearing about a woman who had been a nun for 29 years; she had taught in a Christian school and was even a corrections officer. It was not until she was in her seventies that she believed and received God’s amazing grace. She said, “I finally know that I am not good enough for Jesus, but He is good enough for me!” Amen Sister!!! God doesn’t grade on the curve, but only on the Cross of Christ. Jesus received an A in His matchless life and He shares His grade with all who will humbly receive Him. Dear one, do you pass the test?
Pastor Joe
 
BLESSED ARE THE BROKEN (Oct 28th)
Psalm 147:3-“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
    Do you remember that fun and famous nursery rhyme Humpy Dumpty? “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horsemen and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.” Humpty is not the only one who has had a great fall—if we are honest, so have we all! Humanity is full of brokenness. Scattered throughout this planet there are broken hearts, broken homes, broken promises and broken plans. Countries have experienced the pain of brokenness and so have communities and even churches. Why? Because we all have contributed to mankind’s mess. It is not a political problem, a race or skin problem, but a sin problem. The Bible boldly declares “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23
      The word for sin in this verse means to “miss the mark.” We all have missed the mark of God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Instead of living to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, we have instead sought to love ourselves more than Him and our fellow man. There are many good one liners out there, but one of the best ones is found in the Old Testament Book of Job. It says, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Job 14:1 Life is at best brief and it is often a bummer. And then you die! Is it any wonder so many are asking why? Mankind has definitely made a mess, but the King of Kings has come to heal and to bless! Jesus Christ said, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17
    Our Creator cares infinitely for His creation. His heart is touched by our pain and brokenness. Others may be too busy to notice, but He sees every tear you cry and every sigh you make. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God is at His best when we are at our worst. Someone said, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” I believe that! Matthew 9:36 gives us real insight into the heart of our great and compassionate Savior.
It says “When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Our Lord still has that same heartbeat for hurting humanity because Scripture says He is the same yesterday, today and forever-see Hebrews 4:15-16, 13:8.
     Will you let the Lord heal your aching heart? Will you ask Him to change your heart and to give you a fresh start? Invite Him to take your broken mess and to do what only He can—heal and richly bless. He is a specialist in every area. He can deal with anger and anxiety. He can deliver from drugs and depression. He can take your stubbornness and pride and make you teachable inside! No case is too difficult for Him. Nothing will make Him blush or turn away. Just give Him all the brokenness in your life and watch Him work wonders. After all, He is the One who spoke everything into existence in just six literal days. Is anything too hard for Him? Ephesians 3:20 says that our God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.” The reason? Verse 21 goes on to say so that He will be given glory in the church!

Pastor Joe

 

WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? (Oct 21st)
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
 
AM I TRULY A GOOD STEWARD OF ALL
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