FBC Williams Arizona
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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. 

 
IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO! (Oct 15th)
Titus 2:11-12—“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
     Back when Lyndon Johnson was president, he struggled to keep weight off. His wife lovingly rebuked him by saying “How can you run the country if you can’t run yourself?” Ouch!!! Instead of getting defensive, this dear man took her counsel to heart and lost twenty-three pounds!  If you go to a book store you will find a huge self-help section; Self-awareness, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-defense, etc.… but what about self-control? I am sure that section is small if even present at all! Someone said “Everyone thinks of conquering the world, but no one thinks of conquering himself.” Let’s consider carefully what God has to say on this touchy subject:
 ·  Proverbs 25:28—“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”
·  I Peter 4:7—“The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”
    If we lack self- control we put ourselves and others in a very vulnerable position and are more open to enemy attack. If we don’t learn to say no to our fleshly desires and temptations we might catch ourselves and others on fire! Alexander the Great conquered the world quicker than any other military leader and yet he couldn’t conquer alcohol! In despair after having no more kingdoms to conquer, he let alcohol conquer and kill him. Jesus Christ calls us to be His disciples or lifelong learners. In Luke 9:23 He laid out what it takes to truly follow Him closely. Carefully chew upon His truth and let it set you free—“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Wow! Many Christians today want the crown but aren’t willing to carry the cross first. In our day and age, more people are concerned about their rights than the great responsibilities God has given each one of us. Are we willing to give up those selfish and sinful desires in order to experience what abundant life is all about? In Luke 9:24 Jesus goes on to say “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
   God’s grace teaches us to say no to worldly passions and fleshly appetites and it gives us the power to live self-controlled and godly lives in this present world, not just in Heaven one day! If we renew our minds with the Word of God and allow the Spirit of God complete control of our lives, we can live free of the tyranny of self! II Timothy 1:7 says “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” In a similar vein Galatians 5:22-23 promises us that the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” When we surrender the control to God’s Spirit, we experience a wonderful paradox; we no longer live out of control. We are more temperate and disciplined in our thoughts, words and actions. Let us all learn to say no to ourselves and yes to our loving Lord and Master. He alone can master those passions that so often lead to disaster!!!
PASTOR   JOE
 
BLESSED ARE THE BROKEN (Oct 8th)

Psalm 147:3-“He heals the brokenhearted and binds us 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
  
HE IS GOD AND I AM NOT! (Oct 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 you experience great frustration, anxiety and anger, isn’t it usually because things don’t go according to your 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.”
     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
 

READY OR NOT, DEATH WILL COME! (Sep 24th)

    Do you remember playing hide and seek as a child? Do you remember hiding and hoping that the seeker would not find you? I am sure that sometimes you were found and sometimes you were safe. I believe that many people are playing a game with death. They are trying hopelessly to hide or run from it! Deep inside our hearts, we all know that we will die one day, but how many of us actually think about it or better yet, prepare for it? Here is what God says about this subject:
 Hebrews 9:27—“It is appointed to men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
  • Psalm 89:48—“What man can live and not see death?”
  • Ecclesiastes 7:2- “Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.”
     Life is at best brief and death is certain! We all have an appointment with death whether we like it or not. However, unlike other appointments, we cannot cancel this one if we don’t feel like going! The actor Woody Allen once said, “It is not that I am afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Are you afraid of death? Are you ready to face this big bad bully that picks on people of all races, ages and sizes? I used to be fearful of dying as a young boy and teenager. That fear gripped me until I surrendered my heart to the One who slapped death in the face and stripped him of all his power. I am talking about Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 2:9 states that Jesus Christ tasted death for everyone because of God’s love and grace for us! Verses 14-15 go on to say“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” These verses here teach us some powerful things regarding death.
    First, all humans naturally fear death whether they admit it or not. Second, Satan is the real bully behind the fear of death. Third and finally, having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ built upon faith enables us live and die with confidence! He died and rose again for that very reason. In John 11:25-26, Jesus made a statement that only He could back up—“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even if he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” I believe His promise with all my heart. It is my anchor for living and dying. My hope and prayer is that you do too!
     There is a beautiful old hymn called “He Lives.” The chorus of the song goes—“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future! And life is worth the living, just because He lives!” In I Corinthians 15:55-58 the Apostle Paul stated “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.
Pastor Joe

 

THE GOLDEN RULE REALLY WORKS AT HOME! (Sep 17th)

Matthew 7:12—“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    I believe in this great truth from Jesus Christ, we have the key to lasting and fulfilling relationships! Many people around the world have heard of the Golden Rule and maybe even can quote it. Some people know who originally spoke these words, but sadly, very few put them into practice!  I really believe we as human beings make life harder than it is supposed to be! Just think what could happen if we really took these words from our Lord very seriously? Jesus said that in everything we do we are to live by this powerful principle and guiding light. It is really what the Word of God is all about! How are we doing here dear ones? Do you like to be treated with patience after blowing it really bad? Well, don’t you think your spouse and children feel the same way? God’s love is first and foremost, patient. It suffers long and is not easily angered, remember? See I Corinthians 13:4-8 in case you have a case of spiritual amnesia. Maybe if we were more patient with each other’s weaknesses, we would find it easier to kind to them as well!

    Do you enjoy receiving a word of encouragement or thanks from someone else? Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Why not work harder on doing that with your loved ones, especially your spouse if you are married. My wife continues to be my greatest encourager. I only pray she feels the same way about me! What if once a year each of us wrote our loved ones a letter stating all the reasons why we love and appreciate them? It can’t be on their birthday either—possibly when they least expect it or when things are a little rocky in the relationship.

    Do you appreciate help with your daily duties and responsibilities? Have you ever had someone show up just in the nick of time to help you with a difficult task? How did it make you feel? Are we helping everyone else but forgetting the needs of our family members? Remember the challenging words in I Timothy 5:8? “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Wow! We need to really remember this one!

   Someone said love is also spelled “T-I-M-E.  How much quality time are we giving to each other? I am deeply concerned about how much time loved ones actually spend together and then when we do have it, how much is truly quality time?  Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Husbands, are we taking time to really listen to our wives? Wives, are you spending so much time with the children’s needs that when it comes to your husband, you let that one slip by? All I am trying to communicate is this: let’s all work on taking our wonderful Lord and Savior more seriously with this precious Golden Rule for relationships. I truly believe great things are in store for those who want to experience more!

    Someone said “the greatest use of time is to spend it for something that outlasts it. I like that one! Life really is all about loving God and others. God’s royal road for relationships is really pretty simple. Think of others and treat others the way you would like to be treated!

Pastor Joe
 
HE IS MY EVERYTHING! (Sep 10th)

There are 256 names to describe Jesus Christ in Scripture. I took the alphabet and came up with an acrostic that describes who he is to me. May this inspire you to love and adore him more than ever! 

A—HE IS THE AMAZING, ALMIGHTY AND ALL-SUFFICIENT ONE
B—HE IS MY BELOVED AND COMPARED TO THE REST, HE BY FAR IS THE BEST!
C—HE IS MY CAPTAIN AND COMMANDER
D—HE IS MY DESIRE AND DELIGHT
E—HE IS MY EXAMPLE IN EVERYTHING
F—HE IS MY FOREVER FAITHFUL FRIEND
G—HE IS GREAT, GOOD, AND ESPECIALLY GRACIOUS
H—HE IS HOLY
I—HE IS INFINITE AND INDESCRIBABLE
J—HE IS THE JUST ONE WHO GIVES ME REAL JOY
K—HE IS THE KING OF KINGS
L—HE IS THE LORD OF LORDS
M—HE IS MIGHTY, MAGNIFICENT AND MERCIFUL
N—HE HAS A NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES
O—HE IS OUTSTANDING
P—HE IS THE PRINCE WHO GIVES ME PERFECT PEACE
Q—HE IS QUALIFIED TO ANSWER MY EVERY QUESTION
R—HE IS RISEN AND CAN RESCUE AND RESTORE ME FROM MY REBELLION
S—HE IS MY SAVIOR, STRENGTH AND SOURCE OF SECURITY
T—HE IS TOTALLY TRUSTWORTHY AND TRUE
U—HE ALONE TRULY UNDERSTANDS ME
V—HE IS THE VINE WHO MAKES ME VICTORIOUS
W—HE IS WONDERFUL
X—HE IS THE X THAT MARKS THE CENTER OF MY HEART!
Y—HE IS ONE I YEARN TO LEARN FROM
Z—HE INSPIRES MY ZEAL
PASTOR JOE
 
SOMEONE YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON (Sep 3rd)

    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. What is 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