FBC Williams Arizona
Tuesday, November 12, 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 devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
 
 FAITH—YOU CAN’T LIVE LIFE WITHOUT IT! (Nov 10th)
THE “T” VERSE:  Proverbs 3:5—“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”
    Isn’t it amazing how much faith and trust we need to have in this life! We need a lot of faith when we travel sometimes even over 70 miles per hour in a metal box riding on four rubber wheels. We use faith when we take medicine prescribed by our doctor, put together with all kinds of chemicals by a pharmacist we really don’t know that well. We trust the bank with our hard earned money etc… You get the picture don’t you? Faith is vital to everyday living, and yet why is it that we so often struggle with trusting God?
    I remember hearing about a man who flew on an airplane for the first time. He was very nervous as one can fully understand. He never did fully rest in his seat. He seemed to be on its edge most of the time due to his nervous anxiety. Can we trust God with all of our hearts to guide us through the storms of life and bring us safely to our heavenly home? You better believe it!
    Faith has great confidence in the person, power and promises of God. Romans 4:20-21 says regarding Abraham, who is called in Scripture the father of faith that he “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.” Can we trust the One who just spoke and created all that is seen and unseen? Can we trust the One who never lies and always keeps His word? Can we trust the One who is never moody or shady in His character? Can we trust the One who is always full of unfailing love for us? I sure hope so! Someone wisely said “Little faith will bring your soul to Heaven; great faith will bring Heaven to your soul.”
    When we trust the Lord with all our heart God is greatly pleased and He then releases His awesome power in our behalf. Hebrews 11 is a great chapter with faith as the main subject. Hebrews 11:1, 6—“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  Just think, when God’s people had faith, a flood proof ark was built, the Red Sea was crossed on foot, massive walls fell down, barren wombs gave birth, and the mouths of lions were stopped. What might God do in our lives if we trusted Him with all our hearts? Let’s see!
Pastor Joe
 
 A PLACE OF GRACE FOR AN AGE OF ANXIETY (Nov 3rd)
I Peter 5:7-“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
      What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches? A nervous wreck. Someone said that ours is an “Age of Anxiety.” People pop pills, stress over unpaid bills and face all sorts of ills. The top two emotional problems many Americans are facing are anxiety and depression. It is normal to be
concerned about some things, but God would not have us consumed and confused by them! An average person’s anxiety is focused on: 
  • 40%-things that will never happen 
  • 30%- things about the past that can’t be changed 
  • 12%- things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
  • 10%-about health, which gets worse with stress 
  • 8%-about real problems that will be faced
      Anxiety has been said to be the Siamese twin to fear. Arthur Roche stated, “Anxiety is a thin stream trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:27- “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” He also warned us in Luke 21:34—“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life.” How are you doing here dear friend? Are you ever strangled or choked by fear and anxiety? What do you have the most anxiety about right now? How are you going to deal with it? Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo clinic once said that “Worry greatly affects our circulation.” Could it be that many of our health issues stem from allowing the Siamese twins of fear and anxiety to wreak havoc on our souls?
     The above Scripture gives us some sound advice from our loving Father’s heart. God wants us to cast (literally- “throw”) all our anxiety on Him! He alone has shoulders big enough to bear all the weight of our many burdens. Do you ever remember being a little child and growing weary and then asking your mother or father to carry you? God wants us to learn to do the same with Him. Did you ever struggle with not knowing what to do and then asked Mom or Dad and they had the solution? Our Mighty Lord and Savior possesses all power and all knowledge. Nothing is too difficult for Him to handle—we must learn to give it all to Him in prayer and childlike trust. 
  • Deuteronomy 33:25-27—“Your strength will equal your days.  There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
     Do you really enjoy bearing all that weight alone? It is so hard for us humans to say “I can’t” do this. But until we learn to say that to the Lord, we will never learn how big His “can” really is! Jesus Christ gave us some very encouraging advice on how to live daily. This passage of Scripture has given me great comfort and courage to face the daily pressures and problems that come my way. Read them slowly and read them often and I promise you will find a place of grace in an age of anxiety! 
  • Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)—“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn how to live freely and lightly.” Pastor Joe 
 IMPROVING YOUR SERVE (October 27th)
THE “S” VERSE: Galatians 5:13—“Serve one another in love.”
    In the game of tennis, if you have a good serve, you will win a lot more than you lose. In the game of life and in God’s kingdom—serving others well is how we succeed! Jesus Christ is not only our Lord and Savior, but He is also our example in everything. In Matthew 20:28 He said “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
    The night before Jesus went to the cross to die a painful and shameful death to purchase our salvation, He once again demonstrated true servant hood. He humbly did what the lowest slave in the house normally did—he washed the feet of His often self-consumed disciples! How is your serve, dear friend? No, I am not talking about your tennis game, but your walk with God. How do others around you see you? Do they see you as a demanding and controlling person, or as a loving and helpful one? How low are we willing to go to lift God and others up? Do we really understand that in God’s kingdom the way up is down and to be first you must learn to be last?
    Ruth Harms Calkin in TELL ME AGAIN, LORD, I FORGET wrote the following:
You know, Lord, how I serve You with great emotional fervor in the limelight. You know how eagerly I speak for you at the women’s club. You know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group. You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study. But how would I react, I wonder if you pointed to a basin of water and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman; Day after day, month after month, in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew.
    What would happen in our hearts and homes, in our communities and churches and in our country if we took this more seriously? Philippians 2:3-7 encourages us to Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…”
Seeking to improve my serve,
Pastor Joe
 
HIS ENERGY AND MY EFFORT (Oct 13)
II Peter 1:3,5-7—“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness….For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
     I remember reading about an older woman in Ireland who lived during the time when we had no electricity. She used kerosene lamps to light her house and probably had a wood burning stove to heat the home. Then the wonderful time came when electricity was discovered and put to use in homes. She was in such a habit of lighting her kerosene lamp that she would turn on the light switch just long enough to light the lamp and then she turned off the electric lights!
     I believe that story illustrates a powerful point for us as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. We sometimes forget that God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness! Yet, because we are creatures of habit and have a stubborn sinful nature still inside of us, we still try to do things in our own strength. Are you tired of trying to live in a way that you can’t? Come on and be honest with me and yourself for a minute now. Are you naturally filled with faith, goodness, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love? All the time? I don’t know about you, but I sometimes even struggle with wanting to do what is right, and I am a Pastor who is supposed to never struggle right? Wrong!
      I am learning the longer I live to believe more in His power than my own personality, more in His can and less in my can’t! The above passage is a very personal and powerful promise from our loving Father who cannot lie. God asked the prophet Jeremiah a very interesting question that fits in with what we are discussing here. He said, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27) When we really think about that question, our monster struggles are little molehills for the Lord! Why don’t we take Him at His Word and watch Him work wonders!
    Does that mean all we need to do is sit back and go with the flow? We can just float downstream with Jesus and put our hands behind our heads while we soak up all those spiritual rays, right?  No way Jose! Sorry Charlie! Dear one, God wants our cooperation. Peter says we are to “make every effort” to add to our faith that wonderful list of Christ-like character traits. The picture that comes into my mind is riding a tandem bicycle. Have you ever done that? I did it once with my wife as we rode through a busy beach area in San Diego. My wife has never wanted to do that again because of my not so great driving! When I try to take the front seat instead of letting Jesus have it, things are a little scary. But when I let the King lead in everything, life is so much more fulfilling and fruitful. In John 15:5 Jesus Christ powerfully says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The Lord provides the exhaustless energy and my job is simply to peddle with all my heart as we go up hills and through dry valleys in life. When I run out of energy and don’t feel like pedaling, He then says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Learning to enjoy riding with the King,
Pastor Joe
 
I HAVE A CHOICE TO REJOICE! (Oct 6th)
THE “R” VERSE: Philippians 4:4—“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
    Abraham Lincoln once said “Most men about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In the Declaration of Independence we are told that every American has God given rights and among them is the right to pursue happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy right? It is easy to be happy on your birthday, when the bills are paid, you are on vacation, you get a raise, win the game etc… but what about when things don’t go so well? Happiness hops off the train then, but if you know Jesus Christ joy will ride with you all the way to glory!
    The concept of joy or rejoicing is mentioned 16 times in the four chapters of a very personal letter from the apostle Paul to believers in Philippi. He was under house arrest for preaching the good news about Christ. The circumstances were bleak to say the least, yet Paul had joy in Christ. He went on to write four of the New Testament Books while in prison—Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians & Philemon. Those God breathed books have encouraged people through the centuries.
    Paul commanded us to be joyful—always! This tells me that joy is the serious business of a Christian. Meditate carefully on the following passages of Scripture:
·         John 15:11—“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.
·         Romans 12:12—“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

·         I Thessalonians 5:16- “Rejoice always.”

·         Psalm 16:11- “You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”
    Dear one, we can have joy no matter what is going on all around us because joy is an inside job. It has nothing to do with circumstances, but everything to do with Christ. When we look to Him and lean on Him His joy will be our strength. The Lord will never fail or forsake you. He is committed to finish the good work He started in you. One day when He returns He will transform these lowly bodies and make them like His glorious body-read Philippians 3:20-21. He can turn any blunder into a blessing. He has surrounded us with so many wonderful people- called family and friends. Imagine life without them! We have an amazing purpose in life—“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Can it get better than this? The key to experience consistent joy is in our mind and will. We have a daily choice to rejoice! What will you choose today?
Pastor Joe
 
IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO! (September 29th)
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 
 
TAME THAT TEMPER! (Sep 22nd)
 THE “Q” VERSE: Proverbs 14:17— “A quick tempered man does foolish things.”
     Back in 1894 there was a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Two players (one from each team) started to taunt and trash talk each other. Soon it escalated into a fist fight. Not long after that, both teams were on the field brawling. Then a horrible thing occurred, the fans in the stands starting fighting and one angry fan lit the stands on fire and it eventually burned the stadium down! Someone said “Anger is one letter from danger.” In the above passage of Scripture we are told to deal with anger before it leads us into sin. In fact, if we are not really careful, uncontrolled anger opens to the door for the Devil to do his unbelievable dirty work!
    How is your heart dear friend? Are you an angry person? Is your home a haven of rest or one of unrest. Do your loved ones have to walk on eggshells around you? Dr. Tim LaHaye in his book “Spirit Controlled Temperament” believes that most people are either fearful or angry. And some he says are both! The very first murder that ever occurred was because Cain didn’t deal with his anger and jealously toward his brother and he eventually killed Abel as a result. And now, down through the centuries, anger has unleashed its deadly tentacles in every arena of life- homes, churches, politics and even the playground. Proverbs 14:16 says “A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless. When we lose our cool we really act like a fool! When you fly into a rage you will always have a bad landing!
    We must learn to get to the root of our anger and ask God to show us the reason for it. In Genesis 4:6 God asked Cain “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” Do we really have a good reason to be angry most of the time? I sincerely think not. James 4:1-2 tells us that most conflicts start from not getting our way! How many times have we lost it because we were slighted or overlooked or even made fun of? Think of Jesus on the Cross for a minute with me if you will. While He was suffering more than we can imagine for our sins, spit upon, mocked and made fun of, He didn’t retaliate in anger but instead, He overcame evil with good by praying “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
    Ask the Lord to remove that angry spirit from your heart dear one and instead ask Him to fill you with the fruit of His Spirit! Wouldn’t you rather be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and full of self-control? I know I like that list more than the alternative one of strife, envy, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes and factions. (See Galatians 5:16-23) I would like to suggest a few more tips for dealing with anger. Thomas Jefferson said, “When you are angry count to ten and if you are really angry count to one hundred.” Wow! I wonder what would happen in this world if we learned that one. It sounds similar to the counsel in the book of James. James 1:19-20 says “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  Mrs. Fulton Oursler, whose husband wrote that classic book on the life of Christ titled THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD once said that she used to count to ten when provoked. But one day she thought of the first ten words of the Lord’s Prayer. Now instead of counting to ten she slowly says “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
 Well, I don’t know about you, but I have some homework to do!
Pastor Joe