FBC Williams Arizona
Sunday, February 23, 2020
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. 
Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Jeremiah 29:11—“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
    Helen Keller was once asked what would be worse than being born blind. She quickly replied, “To have sight and no vision.” You may have 20/20 physical vision, but what kind of vision do you have for your life’s purpose? The above verse in Proverbs warns us that when people lack vision for their life, they cease to thrive and barely survive. People without hope and vision for the future lack power in the present! Jesus Christ came to give us life more abundantly (See John 10:10). Do you have a vision for your marriage? Your family? Your job? Your health? Your finances? If not, why not?
    Do you realize God has a great plan and vision for your life? In Jeremiah 33:3 God gives us all a challenge. He declares, “Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” William Carey was an ordinary man who took hold of God’s plan for his life and shared the good news of Jesus Christ in the land of India. He is considered by many to be the father of modern missions. His motto for living was based upon that challenge in the book of Jeremiah. He was often quoted as saying “Attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” Vision is looking at life through the lens of God’s eyes. You and I by nature are shortsighted in this department. We all too often sell ourselves short. We tend to leap molehills instead of mountains. When was the last time you asked the Lord to give you His vision for your life? The rest of your life could be the best of your life! Do you have God-sized dreams and goals or are you allowing your past and other people to diminish your dreams? Do you see only problems or do you see endless possibilities for Him to be glorified and others to be impacted? It all depends if you have His vision or not!
    Research shows that 95 percent of people do not write down their goals, but those who do complete around 90 percent of them! Habakkuk 2:2 says “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run who reads it.” When David had vision he could take on a nine foot giant, when he lost sight of his vision, he couldn’t conquer his own lust. When Elijah the prophet had vision, he took on 450 false prophets, when he lost his vision he ran for his life and wanted to die. Research also shows that what enables people to live longer and healthier lives is not so much diet and exercise as it is having a vision and purpose for your life. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
     Some people look at things as they are and ask “Why?” There are others, however, who look at what could be and ask “Why not?” What camp are you in? Can I encourage you to put on God’s glasses and begin to see what He dreams for you to be! Adoniram Judson a missionary to then the country of Burma said “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” Peter Marshall was a Pastor, author and chaplain to the Senate. He once prayed “Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” 
Pastor Joe
THE “X” VERSE: “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy mountain…”
    Someone thought provokingly said “We worship our work, work at our play and play at our worship.” Hmmm… In in a similar vein the Lord rebuked his people when He said in Isaiah 29:13- “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Today I want us to consider what real worship of the Lord entails.
    First, genuine worship occurs when we lift God high and honor Him in our thoughts, words, attitudes and actions. What do you think about when you think about the Lord? Is He a high, holy, awesome and extraordinary God or is He just cool and chill? Is our view of Him biblical or is it a cultural thing? Psalm 145:17 states “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.” Similarly, I John 1:5 tells us that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” How utterly amazing and refreshing! God alone has no issues or inconsistencies. He alone is perfect and totally worthy of our worship. In our daily lives whether we are in private or in public, our goal should be to lift up and exalt the Lord our God. David exhorts all true believers in Psalm 34:3 when he said “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”
    Second, we truly worship God when we learn to humble ourselves in His presence. Psalm 95:6 says “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…” The Hebrew word for worship means to bow down and prostrate oneself. We can’t elevate and exalt the Lord properly if we are to preoccupied with others and ourselves. A basketball icon and legend tragically was killed last Sunday in a helicopter crash. Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter “GiGi” and 7 other precious people perished in that awful tragedy. Kobe was definitely one of the greatest players ever. He seemed to really love his wife and his 4 daughters. Thousands of people in the sports world including players, coaches and fans adored him. One of his closest friends is a fellow former NBA star named Tracy McGrady. I saw him in an interview the other day and he said that Kobe said on more than one occasion that he wanted to die young and be immortalized. That statement shook the interviewer and it has caused me to ponder it. I am very sad that this tragedy occurred, but may we all take heed to this unchanging truth—ONLY GOD CAN NEVER DIE AND HE ALONE IS TO BE IMMORTALIZED! Micah 6:8 challenges us all with what God expects from each of us. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
     Finally, when we genuinely worship God in spirit and in truth we will experience a joy, peace and happiness that is lasting and fulfilling. Colossians 1:16 says “All things were created by Him and for Him.” Psalm 16:11 states “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” When we daily exalt and honor Him in all our ways we will go to heights and elevations that truly satisfy our souls. A.W. Tozer said “Worship acceptable to God is the missing crown jewel in evangelical Christianity. I would rather worship God than do any other thing I know of in all this wide world.” Is that our desire?
    I remember reading about a teacher who made a profound impact on her students with the following exercise. She had them all make up a list of things that they felt they “can’t” do. She then led them outside the classroom where they took turns digging a hole in the ground. Finally, she asked them all to “bury” their cant’s in the ground forever. How often do you use that word can’t? I challenge you to carefully consider the way you use it. “I just can’t seem to love my difficult neighbor. I can’t give up this addictive and annoying habit. I can’t seem to find the time to exercise, read my Bible or go to church.” A better word to use in those instances’ is won’t. It helps us own up to our responsibility for good behavior and it has the power to get us unstuck from our rut. In reality, what we are truly saying is “I just won’t love my difficult neighbor. I won’t exercise, read my Bible or go to church.”
    The Bible declares that without Jesus Christ we are not able to do certain things. He said in John 15:5- “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Any person who doesn’t have Christ living within them will struggle to consistently do what is right-especially for all the right reasons. That is why we need Him as Savior and Lord of our lives!  However, if you are a Christian, you have access to the almighty power of God to handle your problems. Carefully chew upon the following promises of God:
  • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
  • “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
  • “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
  • “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
  • “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
    Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China during the 1800’s. He was an ordinary man who served an extraordinary God. By God’s strength and grace working through him he founded the China Inland Mission (Now called Overseas Missionary Fellowship) and when he retired, eight hundred missionaries from several denominations were serving there sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. His writings have greatly inspired believers to enjoy the “exchanged life” where it no longer I but Christ! He once said, “All God’s giants have been weak people who did great things because they believed that God would be with them.”  Can I encourage you to go and “bury” your cant’s and instead chose to believe that He can.  Thankful that even though I can’t, I know that He can!
Pastor Joe 
James 1:5—“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
      Someone said “a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Nobody lives long enough to make them all himself.” In a similar vein, Theodore Levitt from the Harvard Business School said “Experience comes from what we have done; wisdom comes from what we have done badly.” Can you relate? I have learned a lot from the school of hard knocks, but isn’t there a better way to gain wisdom? Do you struggle with making really good decisions? Is it sometimes really difficult to discern between right and wrong and what is best over what is just good or okay?
    Solomon became King of Israel after his father David. He had huge shoes to fill so to speak. His father is described in Scripture as a “man after God’s own heart.”(Acts 13:22) Solomon had never killed any giants like his father David or fought battles like he did, and yet he was called by God to lead the nation of Israel. He wisely admitted his need for God’s insight and wisdom in I Kings 3:7—“I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.” Have you ever felt that way? I sure have!! The above passage of Scripture in James 1:5 tells us that if we have a shortfall and a great deficit of wisdom, we can approach God for it! Do you struggle with seeing the big picture? Our every day decisions have far reaching consequences. They not only affect us but others around us now and even into the future! We often are so short sighted. Pride and prejudice blind us from seeing life and others through God’s perspective. I really like how Chuck Swindoll described wisdom. He said “Wisdom is the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability.” Would you like to live like that? I sure do.
    First and foremost, we need to admit we can’t really see things the way God does. Proverbs 3:5 says “Do not lean on your own understanding.” Verse 7 goes on to say “Do not be wise in your own eyes…” God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours—see Isaiah 55:8-9. He wants so desperately to share His vision and wisdom with us. The passage in James tells us that the Lord gives generously, bountifully and abundantly to those who ask Him for wisdom! He even commands us to ask for it!!! Why is it so hard to ask our loving Father for this special insight for living? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
    Dear friend, God will not scold us or shame us when we ask Him for daily wisdom. In contrast, He will shower us with blessings! Ask Him right now for wisdom with finances, relationship issues, work challenges and how to live with eternity in mind every day. Don’t forget to listen to the wisdom found in His Holy Word- the Bible. Proverbs 9:10 states “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Vance Havner, a simple and yet wise country preacher, hit it on the head when he said “If I could stand for five minutes at His vantage point and see the entire scheme of things as He sees it, how absurd would be my dreads, how ridiculous my fears and tears.”    
Pastor Joe
     Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? How many do you plan to keep? Will you forget about them or really follow through on them? I remember hearing a preacher share that 62% of people make resolutions and 25% will fail in the first week! Guess what the number one resolution is? You bet, to lose weight. Why do so many of us fail to succeed in keeping the ones we make? Is it because we really don’t understand the nature of a resolution? I am seeking to grasp the meaning of words that we often use but fail to fully understand and apply. God told the prophet Hosea “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. I looked up the word resolution in my Roget’s Thesaurus this morning and here is what I learned; “A resolution is a determined decision, made from strength of mind, steadfastness, and back-bone. It is done with devotion.” 
     Are we sincere and serious about our goals and resolutions or do we make them because it is the cool or cultural thing to do? The Lord expects us to be people of our word! Jesus Christ said something very powerful and thought provoking in Matthew’s Gospel— “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? If we say we are going to do something—God expects us to follow through with it! God is a promise maker and keeper. Satan is called the father of lies. Who are we going to imitate and follow? Can I suggest we seriously consider making some Biblical Resolutions this year?
 Let us resolve to live for God’s glory and not our own selfish gain— “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
 Let us resolve to seek the good of others more than our own comfort—“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” ( I Corinthians 10:24) 
 Let us resolve to learn the truth, love the truth and live the truth—“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
 Let us resolve to watch for, wait for, and work until the coming of Christ—“So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44) 
     I truly believe if we will learn to be dedicated, determined, disciplined and more decisive in 2020, we will greatly glorify our Father in Heaven!
Pastor  Joe
THE “W” VERSE:  Luke 6:46—“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
     Questions are excellent prompters in helping us become more informed and transformed. Teacher and parents are great at asking questions, but no one is better than God in this arena! After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and they were “trying” to hide from the Lord, He came and asked “Where are you?” In the next chapter of Genesis, God asked Cain two pointed questions—“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” (If you have more time, read Genesis chapters 3 & 4) I really believe that if Cain and all of us for that matter would honestly answer those questions when frustrated, we all would make less messes along the way!
    In the last book of the Old Testament- Malachi,God asked backslidden Israel: “A son honors his father and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” (Malachi 1:6) Again what good thought provoking questions God asks in order to test and transform our character!
     In our alphabet memory verse for today, Jesus Christ asks another powerful and yet very practical question—“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” The Greek word for Lord is Kurios. It is used several hundred times in the New Testament. It means “supreme one in authority, controller and master.” In a day and age where it seems so many are questioning authority, we all would do well to heed the Sovereign Authority of the Universe. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father-see Philippians 2:9-11. Many will be forced to do this and then have to spend eternity in Hell because of their stubborn refusal to surrender to the One who gave Himself for all of us! Jesus Christ conquered sin, Satan, death and Hell, why don’t we let Him conquer our stubborn hearts as well? Surrender is not good in most areas of life, but surrendering our all to God is where real life begins. Someone wisely said “Surrender to Christ or you will surrender to chaos.” One final thought here—IF YOU GO AGAINST THE GRAIN OF THE UNIVERSE YOU WILL GET SPLINTERS! Are you tired of the chaos and the splinters? So am I! Lord, I am waving my white flag now! Help me keep waving it all through the day.
Pastor Joe