FBC Williams Arizona
Friday, July 03, 2020
Changing Hearts, Changing Lives, One Soul at a Time

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. 
 
LET’S SPREAD THE GREATEST NEWS OF ALL! (June 28th)
Romans 1:16 - “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
      I believe it is pretty safe to say that we live in a world where we read and hear more bad news than good news. There is unrest all around our world. We hear more about people hurting others than helping them. The trillions of dollars that our nation is in debt is not very encouraging right? Is it any wonder that many have called our age the “Age of Anxiety” and the “Age of Cynicism”? The apostle Paul lived in a day and age where there were horrible abuses of power, persecution of believers, slavery, vile immorality and so on and yet he starts his letter to the believers in Rome with our verse for today. He was not ashamed of the gospel! Remember the word gospel means “good news.” What good news is he talking about? God has incredible power to save and deliver people from the penalty and power of sin! And to put the icing on the cake so to speak, this good news is available to everyone who chooses to believe.
    To fully appreciate the good news, we need to truly understand the bad news first. Romans 3:10-12 says “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” We all are inbred with something far worse than Aids or cancer. It is simply called sin. This little word sin is easy to spell, but its corrupting nature can actually send people to an awful place called Hell! 17th century Preacher Thomas Brooks said, “Sin the only thing God truly hates. It brought Christ to the cross, it damns souls, it shuts heaven, it laid the very foundations of Hell.”
    The greatest news of all is just this—when mankind was at our worst, God was at His best! When there was no hope, the God of hope threw us a rope to pull us out of the angry sea of sin. Romans 5:6,8 says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In chapter 10 and verse 13 we then read “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Can it get any better than this? The lost can be found. The blind can now see. Charles Spurgeon said, “That one word saved is enough to make the heart dance as long as life remains. “Saved!” Let us hang out our banners and set the bells ringing. Saved! What a sweet sound it is to the man who is wrecked and sees the vessel going down, but at that moment discovers the lifeboat is near and will rescue him from the sinking ship. But to be rescued from sin and Hell is a greater salvation still and demands a louder joy. We will sing it in life and whisper it in death and chant it throughout eternity—saved by the Lord!”
    Dear one, does that describe you? Have you seen your great need of a Savior and trusted Jesus alone to rescue you from sin’s awful penalty and power? If not, cry out to Him right now and receive the gift of eternal life. Romans 10:11 promises us “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” If you have already received Christ, I have an important question for you as well. How often do you share this good news with others? Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel. Are we? Let’s ask the Lord who said the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few to fill us with His great love and boldness in order to share the gospel with our lips as well as our lives.
Seeking to be a bearer of good news,
Pastor Joe
  
RESIST HIM AND WATCH HIM RUN! (June 21st)
James 4:7—“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
    I remember when I was a little boy around the age of seven or so that one of my relatives said that they had seen the devil three times in their lifetime. He had a red suit and a pitchfork in his hand. I believed this person because they seemed very sincere in sharing it. Is the devil a real person whom we should take seriously? Or is he a make believe character that some people dress up as on Halloween? Two six year olds struggled with the existence of the devil. One boy said “Oh, there isn’t any devil.” The other, rather upset, said “What do you mean there isn’t any devil? It talks about him all the way through the Bible.” The first boy replied, “Oh that’s not true, you know. It’s just like Santa Clause, the devil turns out to be your dad.”
    Satan isn’t mentioned in the first two chapters of the Bible or in the last two chapters, but he is referred to all throughout the rest of it! In Genesis 3, he enters the scene in the beautiful Garden of Eden and he tricked Adam and Eve into doubting God and disobeying His command. In Genesis 4 he creeps into Cain’s heart when he refused to deal with his anger toward God and his brother Abel and it sadly led to the first murder in human history. Later, he set his sights on a man named Job, who is described as an upright man who feared God and shunned evil. There was no one like him on the earth. So Satan attacked him and tried to take everything from him- Read Job chapters 1-2 when you have the time. Our Lord Jesus encountered him throughout His earthly ministry. The early church fought against him and people today face this foe that is so crafty and armed with cruel hate.
    The word devil means “slanderer, one who repetitively throws accusations.” In Revelation 12:9 he is described the accuser of the brethren who accuses us day and night. Jesus called him a “liar and the father of lies” John 8:44. Satan loves to flood our thoughts with lies that God is not good, that He is holding out on us or that He is not pleased with us. If the enemy can drive a wedge between us and the Lord he is smiling in a sinister way! Who should we believe, the father of lies or the One who cannot lie? This helps me when I struggle with thoughts of doubt and despair on occasion. I look to the source of those thoughts, resist them and choose to believe the truth and then an amazing thing happens- joy and peace come in and kick doubt and despair out the door! That is why reading, meditating on and memorizing Scripture is crucial in spiritual warfare-read John 8:31-32, II Tim 3:15-16 & Heb 4:12.
    The Apostle Peter described Satan as a roaring lion. Wow! He is a foe to be taken seriously. We must be alert and keep him at bay. He is seeking to devour people. Jesus said he is a thief who “comes to steal and kill and destroy” John 10:10. When we remember his true colors and his cruel intent it is much easier to resist him. The word resist means to “actively oppose.” Are we doing that? Or are we taking it easy on that vile dragon? If a rattlesnake came into your house would you gently pick it up and escort it out of your house or would you look for a shovel to chop its head off? I truly believe many Christians are struggling because we are being more cooperative with the enemy Satan than we are with our loving Savior! Let’s learn to “shut the door and keep out the devil” as that little song says. Ephesians 6:10-11 says “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” When we stand in our Savior’s strength and resist the devil he will turn tail! Tyron Edwards said “The devil has at least one good quality, that he will flee if we resist him. Though cowardly in him, it is safety for us.   
Pastor Joe 
 
SOMEONE YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON (June 14th)
    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. 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
   
ARE YOU A CHARACTER OR DO YOU HAVE CHARACTER? (June 7th)
Romans 5:3-5—“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
     When people think of you, do they see you as a character or as a person with character? I believe it is okay to be humorous and funny, but are we are more concerned about making an impression or leaving a lasting influence on others? I personally believe our American culture is more captivated by people with charisma and comic ability than with people who speak louder by their actions than with their words. Everything seems to be all about entertainment more than setting a good example.
   Our nation’s 30th President, Calvin Coolidge stated, “We do not need more knowledge, we need more character.” Amen to that!! For several years I had the wonderful blessing of coaching children of all ages in Physical Education with Athletes In Training. I was privileged to work with public and charter school children as well as home schooled children. I took great care in teaching them conditioning and coordination, but most importantly in emphasizing character development. The six pillars of character I covered were from the Character Counts curriculum- trustworthiness, respect, caring, responsibility, fairness and citizenship.  Character really does count! It is not just a curriculum that is taught in some school districts, it should be modeled in our homes and hearts on a daily basis!  I sincerely believe that God is more concerned about the content of our character than our knowledge, strength and achievements. I Samuel 16:7 powerfully points out, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
    John Wooden is undoubtedly the most successful college basketball coach in the history of the game. He led UCLA to four undefeated seasons and ten NCAA championships, including seven in a row. What made this man amazing was his emphasis on character. He said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is who you really are—while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” God’s great goal for us is character-Christ like character. The passage above reminds us that God will go to any measure to develop who we are. Who we are is more important than what we do! Yet how contrary that is to what we are taught in society. It is win at all costs, take steroids if that helps you succeed—just don’t get caught! Climb the corporate ladder of success and it doesn’t matter how many people you crush along the way as long as you make it to the top, right?
    Do we dare to be different? Do we really want to make a difference? Then we need to be a people of character. Ask God to use whatever it takes to make you like His dear Son-see Romans 8:28-30. The Holy Spirit is willing and able to make us like Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Our job is to live by the Spirit and to keep in step with the Spirit-see verse 16 & 25.
 Billy Graham made a powerful statement about the value of character: “Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity in tact; when wealth is lost, little is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
Pastor Joe
    
THE KINDEST THING I COULD EVER DO FOR YOU!
(May 31st) 
    I remember reading somewhere about a study that was done at a particular college campus that revealed that our students today are more self-centered than previous generations. They may have more confidence and self-esteem but are less likely to help someone in need. God warned us in His Word that in the latter days just prior to His return, many people would be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God (See II Timothy 3:1-5) and Jesus Himself stated that “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) We don’t have to be real observant to notice the ever-increasing sway of society toward selfish living! As Christians, we are called to live in the world, but not to buy into that lie. We are called to be conformed to Christ and not the culture around us. (For more study look up Romans 12:1-2, John 17:14-17 & Romans 8:28-29)
     God encourages us in the Bible to “Do everything in love.” I Corinthians 16:14. It is through His love that others come to know and experience the Lord. We are simply His channels! What is the best thing that we can do for others? During this pandemic it has allowed families the priceless treasure of more time together. In our day and age people are fighting loneliness more than ever. Making a phone call, writing a card are still invaluable ways to touch others in love.  But is there one thing we can do that will really make a huge eternal difference in the lives of others? It may not be the most exciting thing on earth. It may be downright difficult to do at times. In fact, some people might say it is a waste of time and it really doesn’t work. However, our Father in Heaven promises that “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my  face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)
     Do we want to see others experience physical, emotional, and spiritual healing? Do we want others to come to know the Lord? Do we want to see our culture changed? Do we really want to see our marriage and family life revitalized? It is not going to happen by criticizing and complaining. I believe if we consistently call upon that matchless name—the name of Jesus Christ, we will see God do amazing things in our midst. Our Lord promised us in John 14:12-13- “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may glory to the Father.” 
    Oh, that we more often had the attitude of the Prophet Samuel when he said, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” I Samuel 12:23
There is a chorus of a song that says, “Got any rivers you can’t cross? Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through? God specializes in things thought impossible. He does what others cannot do!” Do we dare to be a mountain mover? Do we dare to help set people free? Do we want to make a difference to those truly in need? Then, will you join me at the throne of grace where we can always intercede? Let us be a people who daily PUSH-Pray Until Something Happens! 
Pastor Joe
 
HE KEEPS ME SMILING AND SINGING! (May 24th)
Psalm 40:3—“He has put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” 
    Her skating was described by one expert as “one smooth, flowing thread of silk.” In 1971, Janet Lynn became the top figure skater in the United States. During her successful skating career she captured the US Figure Skating Championship five times. What really stood out about her was her warm, joyful smile. When asked about it, she didn’t take credit for it but humbly gave the glory to God. She said, “That joy comes from Jesus Christ. It was not something manufactured. I gave my skating to God.” Not too many people are smiling these days. I see more frowns and grim faces as I go about my daily duties, except among really young children. If anyone should be smiling it is a Christian. The Bible declares “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  Jesus said He came to give us life to the full and more abundantly (See John 10:10). In God’s presence is fullness of joy according to Psalm 16:11. That makes me wonder how many of us are truly walking with the Lord!
    How often do you smile in a typical day? Did you know that we use over 43 muscles when we frown, but not very many at all when we smile? The lesson is—if you don’t want a lot of wrinkles later on in life—learn to smile more! One of the healthiest things we can do is to smile. When we smile it sends a message to our whole body, setting the tone for our lives. Research tells us that when we smile, certain chemicals are released that travel throughout our bodies, relaxing us and helping us stay healthy. Proverbs 15:13 says “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Several verses later in the same chapter it says “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”(Proverbs 15:30)  I would have to say that the researchers are only confirming what our good Lord taught us in His good book!
     Have the joy stealers of fear, anxiety, worry and depression taken the smile off your face? Let the true joy giver—Jesus, put a smile on your face with His amazing grace! He offers us full forgiveness and a total pardon. The Word tells us “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) God’s divine detergent can wash away the toughest sin stains! Next, He offers us a great plan and purpose for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 states “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.” Someone said “When you go against the grain of the universe you will get splinters.” Are you tired of experiencing that? Let Christ have the control of your heart and life and see if you don’t start smiling more often. Finally, our Savior has gone to prepare a place for us that simply is out of this world. Can you imagine living forever where there is no more sin, suffering, sadness or death? Can you imagine seeing God face to face and living to tell about it? Can you imagine having a perfect body and living in fellowship with perfected people who never argue with, discourage or snub you? I think it is safe to say that there will be a lot more smiling in Heaven than here on earth!!! Philippians 3:20-21 says “Our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform these lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” 
Pastor Joe 
 
DO I WANT A FRUITFUL OR FRUSTRATING MARRIAGE? (May 17)
Galatians 5:19-23—“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn you , as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
     I remember hearing about a man who bought a power chain saw when they first came out. He was told it could cut down a tree in several minutes. He tried it out at home and came back the next day utterly frustrated. It had taken him several hours to cut it down. He asked the store owner what was wrong with the saw. The man pulled the cord and started it up and the roar of the motor startled the man who bought the saw. He said, what is that? Apparently he had used the saw without using its power. No wonder he was frustrated! Are we doing that in our marriages? Psalm 127:1 boldly and bluntly reminds us “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders build in vain.  Are you experiencing fruitfulness and fulfillment in your marriage or disappointing frustration? It all depends on whether we are living in the Spirit or under the control of our sinful nature. Jesus Christ said “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing”—John 6:63. The apostle Paul wrote—“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”—Romans 7:18
    The above passage in Galatians 5 gives us an even uglier portrait of what our selfish sinful nature can produce! I see why life can be so frustrating. But notice what the Holy Spirit wants and waits to produce in you and me—Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Which list do you like better? Our flesh is like a leech—it seeks to suck and drain the life out of us! God’s Spirit in contrast gives us dynamic life-giving fruit that leads to a satisfying and strong life. It was around 9 ago in August when we still lived in Surprise Arizona, that some men from a nursery came around 5:30 to plant a dwarf Arizona sweet orange tree in our backyard. It was so cute!!! It took a few years and the right amount of watering before we were be able to enjoy the tasty oranges from that fully matured tree.  I am grateful that the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t take that long to develop. Today at this very moment we can be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit if we yield to His control and ask for His help! Galatians 5:16,25 says “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Since we live, by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
    Again, I want to come back to that question—do you want a fruitful marriage or a frustrating one? What would happen in our marriages if we regularly surrendered the control of our lives totally to the Holy Spirit’s life transforming power? Why do we hold on to our selfish ways? It is time to say with the apostle Paul in Galatians 2:20—“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Are we willing to die daily that we may experience the resurrection power of Christ in our lives? Who truly is the architect of your home? Is it you? Your spouse? Why not let the Master Marriage Maker do what He specializes in doing—provide the power to live a fruitful and fulfilling life for His glory! Where do I need to be more in step with His Spirit? Where am I grieving Him? Am I allowing the poison of a bitter spirit to grow in God’s beautiful garden of my heart? Ask the Lord to remove it from your life and replace it with a patient and forgiving spirit that Christ exhibited while on the cross. Ask the Lord to do an “Extreme Home Makeover” in your marriage.
Pastor Joe