FBC Williams Arizona
Monday, July 22, 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 more devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
 
HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD! (July 21st)
Jeremiah 10:6-7—“No one is like You, O LORD; You are great, and Your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere You, O King of the nations?” 
    I remember when I was a little boy my friends and I would argue and debate over whose dad was the greatest. We would take turns giving our reasons and feeling smug with confidence until someone else got up on their soap box and made huge boasts about their dad. I am not going to brag about my earthly father today, but I am going to boast about our Father in Heaven. First of all, He created everything we see and don’t see simply by speaking and breathing it into existence! Psalm 33:8-9 says—“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the earth revere him. For He spoke, and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm.” The next time you look at a star, the moon, the sun or a majestic mountain, remember our Heavenly Father simply spoke those things into existence—and He didn’t even break into a sweat doing it!
    Next, my Heavenly Father is awesome beyond description because He not only created everything, but He sustains and upholds it all by His mighty power. Did God create this universe and then leave it to chance and happenstance? Some people may think so. I believe history and the Bible give us many reasons to trust in our Father who provides and guides for His creation. Benjamin Franklin said, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men.”  Do you think it is by accident that the nation of Israel is still around after 3,700 years despite the many attempts by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans and even Hitler and Nazi Germany to get rid of them. God promised Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.” Genesis 12:2-3.  
     Even though our planet spins on its axis and orbits the sun at speeds of around 67,000 miles per hour, we somehow manage to stay intact and avoid collisions with other planets and stars. Could there be an unseen hand behind all of this? Hebrew 1:3 reminds us that Jesus Christ “upholds all things by his powerful Word.” He said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge—see Matthew 10:29. Yes, dear friends, our God is not a distant Father, He is one who is closely connected with His creation! Isaiah 40:10-11 states—“See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him. He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those who have young.”  If God cares so much about the stars and the birds of air, won’t He care much more about us? Is your life in His hands? Are you willing to trust Him completely with all of your life? He wants you! He waits for you. He went all the way for you by dying on the cross to forgive your sin and then He rose from the dead to conquer all fear of death. He offers an abundant life here on earth and an amazing future in Heaven one day. How great is our God!!!! Yes, I will never stop boasting about my Heavenly Father. I pray that you won’t either.
Pastor Joe 
 

LOVE ALL BUT WORSHIP ONE! (July 14th) 

THE “L” VERSE: Deuteronomy 6:5—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
    Several years ago we bought a Eureka vacuum after comparing prices with other products. We weren’t for sure if it was the best one out there for the money, but it definitely worked better than the one we retired. I wanted to shout, “I’ve found it!” That is what the word Eureka means. Have you found it dear one? Have you found the main thing in life? Is there a peace in your heart and soul? Our “L” verse gives us the most important commandment in all of Scripture. We are to love God supremely in life—more than anyone or anything!
    In Jewish Teaching this is called the Shema. It is the core of Judaism and really Christianity as well. The word means “to hear.” God wants us as human beings to listen and learn what life really is all about—LOVE! In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus is confronted by the religious leaders of His day called the Sadducees and Pharisees. They were trying to trap Him. They wanted to see if He would disregard the “Law” of God in any way. Yet they missed the main point of it all. It’s not just what we do that matters but why we do it. We can know and do a lot of right things, but if they are not done in love it means nothing according to I Corinthians 13. 
    Do I really love the Lord with all that is within me? Are there any other gods before Him? Do I love created things more than our blessed Creator? Isn’t it funny that we need to be commanded to love Him? You would think it would be natural right? After all, in Him we live and move and have our being-see Acts 17:24-28. What do we have that we did not receive? Didn’t Christ “so” love us that He left the unceasing praise and adoration of Heaven to humbly come to this sin stained earth to suffer and die so we could live forever with Him on high?
      God loves us with an unconditional and unfailing love. He loved us before we even thought of Him or knew Him. He loved us despite our consistent failings and falling short of His amazing grace and glory. I John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” How should this love affect us? Verses 11 & 19 give us the answer. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We love Him because He first loved us.” Have you received this great love? Do you daily rely on it? Are you reciprocating it to our gracious Lord? The thing the Lord most desires from all of us is a genuine, passionate, and faithful love for Him. Ephesians 6:24 says, “Grace to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” 
Pastor Joe
 
NO GREATER LOVE (July 7th)
John 3:16-17—“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (New King James Version) 
      During the time Martin Luther was having the Bible printed in the German language, a printer’s daughter encountered God’s love in an amazing way. No one had taught or told her of His great love. Toward Him she felt no emotion, save only fear. One day she gathered pieces of fallen Scripture from the floor near her father’s printing press. On one piece were the words “For God so loved the world that He gave…” The rest of the verse had not yet been printed. Still, what she saw was enough to move her. The thought that God would give anything moved her from fear to joy. Her mother noted the change in her attitude and asked her the reason for it. The young girl produced the crumpled piece of partial Scripture. The mother read it and asked “What did He give?” The child was perplexed and then answered “I don’t know. But if He loved us enough to give us anything we should not be afraid of Him.”
    I truly believe that God’s love is utterly amazing and life changing! I John 4:8 simply says, “God is love.” His love is so much different than ours. Ours is selfishly motivated—His is totally sacrificial and selfless. Ours is partial and prejudiced—His love includes every human being - no matter what race or creed. He so loved the world that He gave His very best — The Lord Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. He is the bright and morning star, the light of the world, the good shepherd and the greatest lover of our souls! His love alone is perfect and can cast away all our fears and can dry our stinging tears. 
    When we were at our worst, God was at His best! Scripture teaches us that we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God — Romans 3:23. We all have horribly missed the mark of living for His glory and instead have lived for selfish gain.  The penalty for this nonsense and insanity? Death! Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The great Hymn of the faith titled “The Love of God” is worth noting here. Verse one says, “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.”  
    The only hope for all of us is found in Jesus Christ. He loved us so passionately that He suffered more than tongue or pen could ever tell! He died in our place so we could receive His amazing grace and one day see His Holy face! Many are wondering if God truly loves them and can forgive all the horrible things they have done? Is there hope for those who appear hopeless? Romans 5:6-8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might
possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Have you received this great love? Are you relying on it and rejoicing in it? Are you sharing it with the many who don’t realize how good God really is? If not, what are you waiting for? 
Pastor Joe
 
STAY COOL AND DON’T BE A FOOL! (June 30th)
THE “K” VERSE: II Timothy 4:5—“Keep your head in all situations…” 
    Thomas Jefferson said, “When angry count to ten, if very angry count to a hundred.” Mark Twain in stark contrast said on the same subject, “When angry count to four, if very angry swear.” How do you respond to difficult circumstances and people? Do you think before you speak and act or do you react in fear, frustration and fury? Someone wisely said, “When you fly into a rage you always make a bad landing.”
    Our verse for today was originally written by the great apostle Paul to a younger man Timothy whom he mentored and served with in ministry. Timothy had the daunting responsibility of being a Pastor of the world’s largest church at that time, the church at Ephesus. In the verses preceding our key verse, Paul encouraged Timothy to be faithful in preaching the Word of God in season and out of season, even though many in their day and age often wanted to turn away from truth and instead chose to listen to whatever would suit their own desires. The challenge to Timothy was not to give into angry frustration, but to calmly and soberly keep his head in all situations. The New Living Translation words it this way—“Keep a clear mind in every situation.”
    Are you able to make good decisions when you are controlled and clouded by anger? Is it better to be proactive or reactive? Are you currently jarred and jolted by someone or something? Who or what is causing you to lose your head or to lose your bearings? So much of life is lumpy, messy and challenging. Very seldom do we drive through life without any potholes or detours to deal with. Jesus Christ said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have
overcome the world.” Life has so many obstacles to face, but we can overcome them in His strength
and grace, especially when we are controlled by joy and patience rather than anger.
    We so desperately need the sound mind the Lord promised to give us in II Timothy 1:7 in order to live faithfully and fruitfully in this life which is often called a race or fight in Scripture. Let’s learn to ask the Lord how He sees that situation or person we are struggling with. Let’s remember that one day we will all stand before the Lord Almighty to give an account for our lives! Let’s not allow the tyranny of the urgent to crowd out the eternal and meaningful things like the fruit of God’s Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (See Gal 5:22-23)  
Pastor Joe
  
ARE YOU LIVING LIFE IN YOUR SWEET SPOT? (June 9th)
    If you have played baseball or golf you probably know what the “sweet spot” is. It is the part of the bat or club that sends the ball sailing if you connect with it there. You could swing as hard as possible and not hit the ball far because you did not hit the sweet spot. On the other hand, a person could swing with less force and out drive you because they did hit the sweet spot!
    Are you living life in your sweet spot? Romans 12:6says—“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” Just as there are no two snowflakes alike, there are no two human beings alike. Everyone has great potential for success in life because we have been made in the image of God. The trouble comes when we try to force the issue and be and do something we are not gifted to do! Research has estimated that over 60% of people in the work place are not satisfied with their jobs. Could it be because many people that God created to be people persons are trying to be project persons? Perhaps money has been the driving force behind the decisions made rather than truly seeking God’s plan and purpose for their lives.
    I spent over ten years doing something that was definitely not living in my sweet spot. God did not make me mechanically inclined. I can use a hammer and screw driver and do some easy fix it projects, but to be able to design and build things does not come naturally. That is why when I spent around 10 years in the Construction trade of Air Conditioning Sheet Metal work, I often felt frustrated and unfulfilled. I did the best I could, but that was not where my real strengths lie. The Lord has gifted me in written and vocal communication and I love people. Therefore, I find great satisfaction in being a Pastor.
   Are you doing what you were created to do? Do you enjoy your work? Are you trying to be like someone else? If you are a natural introvert, don’t envy those who are extroverts. If everyone was that way, no one would get a word in edge wise! God made no mistake when He made you. In Psalm 139:14, King David was filled with gratefulness to God when he said, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are a unique creation of God with a special plan for His glory and the good of others. You have great potential for satisfaction and success in life if you will seek to trust, follow and obey Your Lord and Creator. When we consult Him and let Him lead our lives everything starts to make sense! Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10 
  It is okay to seek the advice of your peers and parents but our Heavenly Father knows us best. In Psalm 32:8 the Lord says, “I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with my eye.” God knows the big picture and how we can make the greatest impact in life. Can we trust Him completely with this? Be who God called you to be! Leadership experts say we should spend 80% of our time operating in our areas of strength and learn to delegate and recruit help in the other 20% if we want to be truly effective. May we all learn to live the abundant life Christ offers us by living it in our sweet spot! 
Pastor Joe
 
KEEPING MY OWN YARD CLEAN (June 2nd) 
THE “J” VERSE: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1
     We live in a day and age where we have Judge Joe, Judge Judy, judges on shows like “American Idol” “The Voice”, and “Dancing with the Stars.” There are judges at the Olympic games and in our judicial court systems. I believe there is a place for these types of judges, but when it comes to judging and criticizing other people’s motives and even actions, we must be very cautious. Jesus said very simply that we are not to judge others. The Greek word means to “habitually and hastily criticize and condemn in a harsh manner.”
    In a day where trash talking, TV Tabloids, cyber bullying, and just plain ole “glorified gossip” are always epidemic, I want to challenge us to consider carefully what God truly expects of us in this area.
·         Luke 6:37—“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
·         Philippians 2:14—“Do all things without complaining and arguing.”
·         I Corinthians 4:3-4—“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not ever judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
   Someone wisely said, “When you throw dirt you always lose ground.” Amen to that! We are called to deal with the plank in our eyes before we even consider trying to help our brother with the little speck in his eye. I don’t know about you, I have enough issues in my own life to work on. But to be brutally honest, I don’t have the time to gossip and criticize others even if I wanted to! 
Ghandi said very wisely, “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.”
    I humbly follow Christ and truly live in a godly and compassionate way, my impact will be greater than trying to play judge and jury all the time. How often do you judge and criticize others dear one? Can I give all of us a godly challenge? When you are tempted to say something negative about someone—don’t say it—pray it! James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Do you want a better President, Pastor, Teacher, spouse, child or neighbor? Instead of doing what comes naturally, do something supernatural. Call to the Lord and watch Him do immeasurably more than all you could ever ask or imagine!
    One final thought here if you will allow me the pleasure. Why don’t we let God do all the judging because He alone has all the facts! He alone is the perfect and impartial Judge.
Pastor Joe
 
HOW WE MAKE A REAL LIVING (May 26th) 
Matthew 20:28- Jesus Christ said “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” 
    John F. Kennedy said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” In a similar vein, Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” On this Memorial Day weekend it would be good for all of us to ponder the importance of sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of others. 
  Nearly 500,000 military personnel died during the Civil War. That’s almost half of all Americans who have died during wartime and more than a hundred times more than died during the American Revolution, according to estimates from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs- May 24, 2015. Whether we agree with War or not, one truth remains—many individuals and families have been greatly affected by acts of sacrifice and service. We can either live a selfish and shallow life viewing things by how they affect our comfort and interests or we can choose to follow our Savior’s great example. In our key verse Jesus described how He lived and died and how His followers are to live and die as well. We live the most fruitful lives when we serve and sacrifice our time, talents and treasure to honor God and to help others. Christ lived His whole life serving, healing and helping others. He even raised some from the dead! His ultimate act of love and sacrifice was when He suffered the most intense physical, emotional and spiritual agony by dying on a cruel Cross to save us from endless and eternal loss.
   Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There has never been a greater act of sacrifice and love than what God the Son made on behalf of mankind. How many are truly aware of this truth and how many even truly care? One of our very own here at FBC made a great sacrifice in behalf of his country, family, friends and many others in other parts of this world. LCpl. Matthew Broehm gave his life on November 4, 2010 while on duty in Afghanistan. He made a powerful statement that I personally have been challenged by. I want to close with it here: “Jesus made the sacrifice so that He can make your life better, not make your life easier, but worth living! A purposeful life, one of servant hood. I live to serve, to serve the Most High God! What do you live for?” 
   I am truly grateful for the sacrifice of the many amazing men and women through the years, but especially for the sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 
Pastor Joe