FBC Williams Arizona
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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. 
 
HE IS GOD AND I AM NOT! (Aug 19th)
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 amstill learning that lifelong lesson, how about you? 

Pastor Joe

 
HE KEEPS ME SMILING AND SINGING! (Aug 12th)
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 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 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
  
RESIST HIM AND WATCH HIM RUN! (Aug 5th)
THE “R” VERSE: 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 leads 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 crafty and armed with cruel hate.
    The word devil means “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 old 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 Timothy 3:15-16 & Hebrews 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 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
  
GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS! (July 29th) 
    I remember as a young boy being fueled by a passion to be first. First in line, first in board races, first in foot races and first in all other places! I thought the only thing that counted was winning. I hated to lose. I would complain, argue and sulk whenever I lost. Looking back over those years I am now greatly embarrassed. I had bought into Satan’s lie that to have worth you must always be the best rather than simply doing your best. I am relieved to tell you that I am maturing in that area and am continually learning God’s way of living. One day Jesus was walking with his disciples and when they arrived at a home, he asked them—“What were you arguing about on the road?” Mark 9:33. These men, who were normally more than willing to speak up, decided to shut up. Verse 34 says—“But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” Have you ever had an argument like that? Jesus pulled no punches in his response to their misunderstanding of God’s way of doing things. He simply said—“If anyone wants to be first, he must be very last and servant of all.” Mark 9:35. God’s formula for success and happiness is the opposite of how many view it.
  •  J—JESUS must be first and foremost in our lives. The apostle Paul had the right mission statement for his life when he said—“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21. Jesus promised us that if we would seek His kingdom first, everything we need in life would be given to us as well—see Matthew 6:33. Where is He on your priority list? In the Lord’s Prayer, before we ask for our daily bread, we are encouraged to hallow His name and pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done-see Matthew 6:9-10. Am I more concerned about building my kingdom or His
  • O—OTHERS must come before our own interests. Those who experience deep joy and peace in their lives are concerned and considerate of other people. Philippians 2:3 challenges us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Whose interests do you normally consider first? In God’s game of life, the greatest are those who seek to serve! I Corinthians 16:14 says we are to “do everything in love.” Love has not I in it! The longer I live the more I believe the truth of what Jesus said in Acts 10:35—“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The heart is happiest when it beats for others!
  • Y—YOU come last on the list! The Bible has a great promise that is also a paradox. The way up is down and if you choose to lose you will ultimately win! In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus described where true personal fulfillment is found. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Missionary Jim Elliot who literally gave his life in trying to reach the violent Waodani tribe in Ecuador with the gospel once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 
    God is looking for givers rather than getters, contributors rather than consumers, and people who influence more than they seek to impress. If God were to evaluate your life right now, would He declare you a winner or loser in His kingdom?
Pastor Joe
 
WHERE IS YOUR STRENGTH AND SECURITY?
The “Q” Verse: Isaiah 30:15—“In quietness and trust is your strength…” (July 22nd)
     I remember hearing a story about a man who reluctantly went on his first plane ride. He was not excited at all, instead he was very nervous and afraid. He made it through the experience, but not in flying colors. A friend asked him about the experience to which the man replied, “I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I never could get myself to sit peacefully in my seat the entire flight. I was a bundle of nerves.” Does that describe your earthly flight dear one?
    Are you confidently resting in God’s abiding presence, almighty power and His amazing purpose for your life? Or are you anxiously sitting on the edge of your seat so to speak, wondering whether you are going to crash or not? 
    Our memory verse reminds us where lasting strength and security can be found. We can find strength to face any test in life and peace to calm our harried hearts if we will keep our mind stayed on the Lord. Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord is everlasting strength.” (New King James Version) 
    This all makes me think of a beautiful hymn of the faith called “LIKE A RIVER GLORIOUS”. The Chorus very pointedly and powerfully reminds us that, “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.” Verse two states, “Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand, never foe can follow, never traitor stand; Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care, not a blast of hurry, touch the Spirit there.”
   Dear One, have you forgotten that you are in the hollow of His blessed hand? He will never squash you or let go of you! Why do we struggle so much with resting in the One who will never fail or forsake us? Why do we so often run ahead of Him in foolish self- confidence only to fall flat on our face or drag our feet behind Him kicking and screaming when He leads us through the waters of difficulty? Listen to one more precious and powerful promise from the book of Isaiah;
·  Isaiah 30:18-19—“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you.”
Keeping my heart stayed upon Him, 
Pastor Joe
 
HAVE YOU LOOKED INTO THE MIRROR LATELY? (July 15th)
     Every morning I have the same routine; I get out of bed and pray about the day. I then turn on the coffee pot and make my way into the bathroom. There, I look into the mirror and begin to make some much needed improvements. First, I deal with gooky eyes. No, I didn’t say goo goo eyes! I wash away the sleepy stuff that cakes in on the corner of my eyes. I put on deodorant and cologne, brush my teeth, and comb what little hair is up there! All of these home improvements help me to become non offensive to those who have to look at me. I thank God for my mirror. I am even more thankful to the Lord for the mirror of His Word!
  • James 1:21-25- “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like the man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”
    In a world that is very much focused on outward appearance, we all need to be reminded of what God looks at. In I Samuel 16:7 the Bible declares, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The reason for this is that our body is decaying and will eventually be turned into dust. I thank God that He has promised to give us a new body in Heaven one day. (For further study read Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, I Corinthians 15 and Philippians 3:20-21) Our inward man, which constitutes our soul and spirit, will endure forever and can be renewed daily. II Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 
    If this is the case, then why do we buy into the lie that our bodies need more care than our souls? The physical mirror will help us all maintain a presentable appearance, but only the life changing Word of God can help us become spiritually fit and attractive. We need to read the Word, reflect on what it is saying, remember it and respond to it with faith and obedience. Here is what God wants to see as we look into the spiritual mirror- II Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
POINT TO PONDER: OUR GOAL IS TO BE LIKE THE MOON—TO REFLECT THE SUN. ONLY THE SON I AM TALKING ABOUT IS JESUS CHRIST! WHO ARE YOU REFLECTING?
PASTOR JOE
 
PRAYER-DON’T live life WITHOUT IT! (July 8th)
THE “P” VERSE: I Thessalonians 5:17—“Pray without ceasing.”
     Charles Spurgeon, who has been described by many as the “Prince of Preachers”, once said, “I always feel that there is something wrong if I go without prayer for even a half an hour in the day. I could as soon think of living without eating or living without breathing, as living without prayer.” His ministry touched throngs of people in his day and even now though he has long been in Heaven, his writings deeply impact many people. Spurgeon was a man who made prayer a priority for his life and ministry. Hundreds of people gathered in the lower level of his church and prayed persistently for lives to be touched during the services that were attended in the sanctuary above.
     Do you remember that old commercial about the American Express Card? It simply said, “American Express, don’t leave home without it!” I would like to make a spiritual spin off of that one. How about if we would daily say and obey the motto “PRAYER, DON’T LIVE LIFE WITHOUT IT!” Where is prayer on your priority list? Is it your first or last resort? Jesus Christ taught us in Luke 18:1-“Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” The early Church was described in the book of Acts as people who “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”—Acts 2:42. Because of this commitment to prayer they turned the known world upset down with the good news of Jesus Christ! 
     What can we do to really make an impact on others? Do we really want to see our country change for the better? The answer is not so much in the power of our politicians but in the amazing power of prayer. God did promise us in
II Chronicles 7:14- “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 
     What is the best agent of change and blessing for our America? PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! Do you want to see your home become more of a haven of rest and renewal? PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! Do you want to see your church revived? Do you want a better Pastor? PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! Do you want to experience lasting change in your own life? PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! Alfred Lord Tennyson was a famous poet who had a wonderful quote on the power of our prayers—“MORE THINGS ARE WROUGHT BY PRAYER THAN THIS WORLD EVER DREAMS OF.” 
     Will you from this day forward make prayer your passion, practice and purpose? Will you consistently seek God’s face and grace? Remember, a day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel! Victor Hugo said, “Those who always pray are necessary to those who never pray.” 
Pastor Joe