FBC Williams Arizona
Thursday, September 19, 2019
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 devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
 
MORE IS CAUGHT THAN TAUGHT (Sep 15th)
Proverbs 27:17—“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Philippians 2:14-15—“Do everything without complaining or 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…” 
    Do you realize others are watching you? No person is an island to himself. We all are influencing others on a regular basis in either a positive or negative way! We are stepping stones or stumbling blocks, blessings or burdens, encouragers or discouragers. What kind of examples are we?
     I was reminded of this truth several years ago when I was in the kitchen with my daughter Ashley. She was jumping up and down while swinging her arms. I just thought she was excited, but then it dawned on me that she was trying to jump rope. She had seen me do it the day before on the back patio. Now she is able to jump rope much better than I can!!! Later that evening while I was cooking hamburgers on the grill, I was looking over the yard for things to deal with, when I looked over at this precious little one, and there she was with her hands on her hips just like mine were, helping me to inspect the yard. God gently and firmly reminded me of how important my daily example is to all of my loved ones! The apostle Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1. Are we following Jesus Christ in our daily lives or are we blazing our own trails? If we really want to make a lasting impression on our family, friends and even our foes, than we need to follow the greatest example of all—the Lord Jesus Christ! Consider His example in the following passages of Scripture: 
·         John 4:34—“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.” We learn here that our greatest purpose in life is not doing our will but His will. In that same passage Christ reached out to a woman who had seriously lost her way in life. He made a special stop at a well to offer her “living water.” (See John 4)
·         After meeting Jesus this woman found pardon, peace and a purpose for living! Christ still offers the same today. Our goal as believers is to point others to Him, who alone is the “way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
·         Matthew 4:19—Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” When we faithfully follow Christ in our daily lives, people will be drawn like a magnet to the only One who gives real meaning in life!
·         Luke 23:34—Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Here our Lord teaches us how to deal with difficult people and tough circumstances. He was dying on the cross for the sins of humanity and instead of standing in awe of that, most people there were sneering at Him, mocking and insulting Him. What did Jesus do? Instead
of retaliating and getting even, He overcame evil with good by praying for His persecutors! I wonder what would happen in our daily lives if we did that more often?  Seeking to be a blessing rather than a burden, a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block,
Pastor Joe
 
WHAT AM I WEARING? (Sep 8th)
THE “P” VERSE: Ephesians 6:11—“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
    The New York Times reported on a survey that the Barna research group had done. They randomly surveyed over 1000 people from around the country and asked this question—“Do you believe Satan is only a symbol of evil and not actually a living being?” 62% of those surveyed agreed with that statement! Isn’t any wonder so many people are being beat up the Prince of Darkness. Satan is called a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, a liar and murderer, and a thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy-see I Peter 5:8, John 8:44, & 10:10. Can we fight this enemy who is crafty and armed with cruel hate in just normal Christian clothing? Two times in Ephesians 6 we are told to put on the full armor of God-verse 11 & 13. Are we daily wearing this armor or do we just admire it and talk about it when the pastor or Bible Study leader discusses it at church? If we were asked to go out into actual battle would we take the uniform and armor supplied or would we be content to go out against the enemy in shorts, tennis shoes and a tee shirt?
    We are told to “stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around our waist”- verse 14. The belt held everything in place for the Roman soldier and for the Christian soldier it is no different. Jesus Christ said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”(John 8:31-32) Are our lives immersed in truth or are we believing and living in the lies of the enemy? We are to know the truth, live the truth and speak the truth in love. Our lives are to be transparent and full of integrity!  Next, we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness-verse 14b. Just as the breastplate protected the vital organs of the soldier, God’s righteousness protects our hearts from serious damage from Satan’s onslaught. In Revelation 12:9 he is called the accuser of the brethren who accuses us day and night! Have you ever doubted that God loved you and that you are truly a child of God? I have! Who is behind those accusations most of the time? The Bible promises us something spectacular in II Corinthians 5:21—“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Did you get that? God sees you as righteous as His holy Son because of His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins! Satan has no grounds for prosecution in God’s holy high court of heaven because “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) We have the best defense attorney in the universe in Jesus Christ. Can it get any better than this? Are we allowing our beliefs to affect our behavior? God sees us as a radiant church without spot or wrinkle-see Ephesians 5:25. Why don’t we learn to hunger and thirst for righteousness and ask the Lord to guide us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake-see Matthew 5:6 & Psalm 23:3.
    Next, we are told that God has provided special shoes for His soldier to wear. Our feet are to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace-verse 15. Baseball and football players wear cleats or spikes to give them good traction so they can cut and make quick moves with their feet. A bigger reason is to avoid slipping and falling. The gospel or good news about Jesus Christ is what we are to be anchored in. The apostle Paul said he was eager to preach the gospel and was not ashamed of it because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes-see Romans 1:15-16. Research shows that 90% of Christians do not share their faith on a regular basis! Do we really believe what Jesus said in Matthew 9:37—“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”   Billy Graham once said “The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear the full responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation.” When was the last time you told someone about our wonderful Savior and what He did for them and will do in them when they give Him their hearts? Aren’t you glad someone told you?
Pastor Joe
 
HE IS GOD AND I AM NOT! (Sunday Sep 1st)
Jeremiah 32:27- “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”  
Someone once said, “There are only two things we need to know;
1. There is a God. 2. It’s not you or me.” The Bible begins with these words—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)  Have we as human beings committed mutiny and treason? Have we usurped God’s rightful place and authority? Are we trying to take His job from Him? Isaiah 45:18 says—“I am the Lord and there is no other.” If God created and sustains everything, doesn’t He deserve all the glory and credit? Are we intentionally or unintentionally trying to steal the honor from the only truly worthy One? Scripture challenges us with many thought provoking questions that we all would do well to seriously consider. For example, in I Corinthians 4:7 it says—“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it why do you boast as though you did not?” History always has been and always will be HIS-STORY. Why don’t we once and for all settle it in our hearts that He alone deserves all the glory?
 Do you remember what the acrostic for Ego is? Edging God Out! Do we really want to do that? 
     If God is God and I am not, then why do we so often try to seize the control? I truly believe that one of the most deep seated issues we have concerns this issue of control! When we experience great frustration, anxiety and anger, isn’t it usually because things don’t go according to our plan? James 3:16 says “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Humanity by nature wants to control people and the outcome of things, but if we are brutally honest—only God can rule and reign righteously! He alone has pure and perfect motives. He alone knows what is best for His creation—after all He created us remember? Isaiah 48:17 says “I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” How much can we truly control anyway?
    Are you currently all bent out of shape? Are your insides all tied up in knots? Do you desire great peace and sweet release for your soul and spirit? Surrender! LET GO AND LET GOD. Someone once said, “You either surrender to Christ or to chaos!” Are you trying to be what only He can be? The Bible tells us in Isaiah 9:6 that “The government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Can you honestly handle the weight of the world? I am learning that I can’t, but He sure can. Psalm 55:22 gives us some very good counsel here—“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” When I get out of the way and learn to work with Him and not against Him, things go much more smoothly for everyone involved.
   Right now dear friend, why don’t you join me in taking our rightful place—riding shot gun instead of the driver’s seat. If we give Jesus the wheel like Carrie Underwood sings about, we will enjoy the ride of our lives!!! After all He did say—“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10. I am still learning that lifelong lesson, how about you. 
Pastor Joe
 
GOOD TRUMPS EVIL EVERY TIME! (Aug 25th)
THE “O” VERSE: Romans 12:21—“Overcome evil with good.”
    In many card games there are certain suits or cards that trump, overcome or supersede the others. In this game of life, we are often dealt cards of debt, discouragement, deception, division and even death. There are many other evils we daily face, but God’s goodness and grace are always more than enough for anything we face!
    We can trump evil with good by being people committed to prayer! E.M. Bounds said “The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere.” James 5:16 boldly promises “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I believe we need to have a strong Homeland Security program here in the U.S., but I often wonder what would happen if more of God’s people persistently prayed for the world’s leaders and the many challenges they face. After all, is anything too hard for the Lord?
   Next, we must remember that God made us in His image and created us to do good works. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Jesus said that when we do good works God’s light shines through us and our Father in Heaven is glorified-see Matthew 5:16. Someone stated that the way evil triumphs in this life is for good people to do nothing! Dear ones, God has great plans for us every day to overcome evil with good. We can have good thoughts, good attitudes and actions, as well as a forgiving spirit toward those who hurt us. Remember, relationships flourish at the fountain of forgiveness and a bitter root will always produces bitter fruit. We are never more like God than when we forgive. Beloved, let the forgiving begin in Jesus mighty name and let’s watch Him work wonders tearing down pain and shame!
    Our greatest example in overcoming evil with good is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was misunderstood, maligned and mocked throughout His earthly, yet as Luke writes in the book of Acts, “He went around doing good.” (Acts 10:38) He gave His final trump card against Satan by willing laying down His life for us on the cross. He endured physical, emotional and spiritual pain on the cross as He was “crushed for iniquities.” He then turned the tables on our ancient adversary by rising from the dead on the third day to prove to the world that He is “the way, the truth and the life.” Anyone who comes to the Father through Him will find an abundant life here on earth and an incredible and indescribable life in Heaven above—see John 10:10 & 14:1-6.
Seeking to trump evil with good each and every day,
Pastor Joe
 
HIS LOVE IS LIKE AN OCEAN! (Aug 18th) 
Psalm 36:7—“How priceless is your unfailing love!”
    A poor woman had never been to the ocean before. She had never viewed its vastness and beauty. When some kind wealthy friends brought her on a vacation to the beach, she cried at her first sight of it. They asked her the reason for her tears and she responded, “This is the only thing I have seen that there is enough of.”As vast and abundant as the ocean is, the love of God is more immense and incredible. The apostle Paul prayed for believers to be able to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:17-18.
    First, God’s love is wide. It reaches out to all people—the poor, middle class and wealthy, Democrats and Republicans, Jews and Gentiles, Americans and every other ethnic group on earth. John 3:16 says “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.” Human love tends to be exclusive, while Divine love is all inclusive. No one is beyond the scope of God’s love! 
    Second, God’s love is long. It will never cease. Human love may start out strong, but finish weak. Many relationships that began in love end in hurt and even hate. In Jeremiah 31:3 God promised us “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” God loves me passionately today at age 55, but I am really grateful that He will love me just as much if I live to be 100! Isaiah 46:4 says, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.”  
    Third, His love is high. There is no love that compares to it! I John 4:18 reminds us that God’s love is perfect and because of that truth, it has the power to cast out all our fear. His love also can tower above all our failures. And if we are honest, we know that we have a mountain size pile of mistakes in our lifetime. Psalm 57:10 states—“For great is your love, reaching to the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” His love can satisfy us more than any earthly high or thing that money can buy!  Finally, His love is deep. His love alone can dive deep into our pit of pain and heal the scars sin has left in our souls. Psalm 147 tells us that our God, who determines the number of the stars and calls them by name, also “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. When we have been battered, bruised and burned by others, the Lord alone is willing and able to heal and help us if we will cry out to Him. 
    Can I encourage you to take a refreshing dip into the crystal clear healing waters of God’s lavish and limitless love? You will never be the same. You will never need to go looking again for love in all the wrong places. Your heart will find a permanent resting place—in God’s amazing love and grace! I pray that you will begin to understand that no matter where you go, His perfect love will pursue you and never cease to chase you. Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  
Pastor Joe 
 
 NEVER ALONE! (Aug 11th)
THE “N” VERSE: Hebrews 13:5—“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 
    I remember recently hearing about a young woman who spent the summer working in a Ugandan orphanage. On the final day of her internship, she went to the children to tell each one goodbye. One little girl responded by saying “Tomorrow you leave us, and the next week the older aunties leave, but God will be with us, so we won’t be all empty.”
    We live in a day and age when many children and even adults suffer from what is called “separation anxiety” or “abandonment issues.” I truly believe God created all of us with the deep need for love and companionship. Remember God did say in Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for man to be alone.” We all struggle with having loved ones leave, move away or die. Even when we are with other people we may struggle with loneliness. Marilyn Monroe was noted as saying that she felt terribly alone and that the only people who really listened to her were the ones she hired!
    Our memory verse is a great promise from our faithful Father in Heaven. The Amplified Bible puts it this way—“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down. Assuredly not!” Isn’t that amazing and incredibly encouraging? Dear one, maybe you lost your parents when you were young due to death or divorce. Maybe you have had several heartaches in your relationships with others. Maybe you have experienced a lot of rejection from others during your lifetime. One thing forever remains true—God will never leave or forsake you!
    You may forget about Him on several occasions, but the Lord God Almighty is always thinking of you and walks ahead of you, with you and He has your back too!!! Can anyone else make that promise to you? Let’s stop putting too much unrealistic pressure of weak fellow beings and instead place our complete confidence in the Lord. I want to encourage you with one more passage of Scripture on this all important matter. Joshua 1:9 says “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.” John Wesley was noted as saying on his deathbed “Best of all, God is with us.” Even so, if God is with and for us, what do we need to ever fear with our Lord ever near?
Pastor Joe
 
BEYOND BELIEF! (August 4th)
James 1:21—“Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says!” Joshua 24:15- “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
    Dr. Todd Linaman makes a very powerful point about marriage that is crucial if we want strong homes. He said “We need to live our lives according to what we value and believe…even when it isn’t popular.” Several years ago I was visiting with a lady at a nursing home.  This dear lady had been a school teacher for several years. She shared with me that she was telling some of the nurses who helped to care for her that she believed we should live by a moral code. One of the younger nurses asked, ‘What is a moral code?’
    This is the day and age we are living in dear friends! There used to be a day when marriage was viewed as a sacred and very special thing, but today it is just one of many options for people! God still cares about how we live and so should we. If we truly believe something than it should affect the way we live right? James 2:14 says “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” I truly believe we are saved by grace through faith alone and not by our good deeds. It is a gift from God that we receive, but genuine faith is also living and active.  It leads to a new creation in Christ! (If you have some time look up Ephesians 2:8-10 & II Corinthians 5:17) Are we living according to our beliefs dear ones? Or are we being deceived?
    Maybe your family and personal life is not what it could be because of being lazy when it comes to really living for the Lord. Nothing is easier than saying words and nothing is harder than living them every day! Joshua said publicly before the people he was leading that he and his family made a committed decision. There was no falling back or wavering. He and his family were going to love and serve the Lord! Can you think of a better purpose for living? Many Christians may say they are living for God, but what do our actions, attitudes, priorities and words tell God and others? Will you recommit yourself to the Lord today? How about covenanting with your spouse to really pray for and with each other beyond meal times? How about serving together in a ministry of the church or an outreach in the community? I truly believe the heart is happiest when it beats for others! Jesus Christ said in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In a similar vein Proverbs 11:25 says “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
    How about dealing more seriously with the sin in our lives, instead of excusing it? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:29-30 “If you right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If you right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” I remember seeing something on the news a few years ago where a little toddler was strangled to death by their pet boa constrictor! We need to take Billy Sunday’s words to heart here-“The reason sin flourishes so much is because we treat it as a cream puff rather than a rattlesnake!” The word sin may not be politically correct, but God takes it very seriously and so should we! It is good to have a home security system, but how about having a heart security system? Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Do you want a healthy heart and home? I sure do! Let us all start living according to God’s Holy Word rather than the cheap values of Hollywood! May our beliefs affect our behavior and may our walk match our talk! 
 Pastor Joe