FBC Williams Arizona
Monday, January 27, 2020
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. 
 
BURY YOUR CAN’T AND BELIEVE IN HIS CAN! (Jan 26th)
    I remember reading about a teacher who made a profound impact on her students with the following exercise. She had them all make up a list of things that they felt they “can’t” do. She then led them outside the classroom where they took turns digging a hole in the ground. Finally, she asked them all to “bury” their cant’s in the ground forever. How often do you use that word can’t? I challenge you to carefully consider the way you use it. “I just can’t seem to love my difficult neighbor. I can’t give up this addictive and annoying habit. I can’t seem to find the time to exercise, read my Bible or go to church.” A better word to use in those instances’ is won’t. It helps us own up to our responsibility for good behavior and it has the power to get us unstuck from our rut. In reality, what we are truly saying is “I just won’t love my difficult neighbor. I won’t exercise, read my Bible or go to church.”
    The Bible declares that without Jesus Christ we are not able to do certain things. He said in John 15:5- “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Any person who doesn’t have Christ living within them will struggle to consistently do what is right-especially for all the right reasons. That is why we need Him as Savior and Lord of our lives!  However, if you are a Christian, you have access to the almighty power of God to handle your problems. Carefully chew upon the following promises of God:
  • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
  • “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
  • “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
  • “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
  • “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
    Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China during the 1800’s. He was an ordinary man who served an extraordinary God. By God’s strength and grace working through him he founded the China Inland Mission (Now called Overseas Missionary Fellowship) and when he retired, eight hundred missionaries from several denominations were serving there sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. His writings have greatly inspired believers to enjoy the “exchanged life” where it no longer I but Christ! He once said, “All God’s giants have been weak people who did great things because they believed that God would be with them.”  Can I encourage you to go and “bury” your cant’s and instead chose to believe that He can.  Thankful that even though I can’t, I know that He can!
Pastor Joe 
 
BEING WISE IN GOD’S EYES (Jan 19th)
James 1:5—“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
      Someone said “a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Nobody lives long enough to make them all himself.” In a similar vein, Theodore Levitt from the Harvard Business School said “Experience comes from what we have done; wisdom comes from what we have done badly.” Can you relate? I have learned a lot from the school of hard knocks, but isn’t there a better way to gain wisdom? Do you struggle with making really good decisions? Is it sometimes really difficult to discern between right and wrong and what is best over what is just good or okay?
    Solomon became King of Israel after his father David. He had huge shoes to fill so to speak. His father is described in Scripture as a “man after God’s own heart.”(Acts 13:22) Solomon had never killed any giants like his father David or fought battles like he did, and yet he was called by God to lead the nation of Israel. He wisely admitted his need for God’s insight and wisdom in I Kings 3:7—“I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.” Have you ever felt that way? I sure have!! The above passage of Scripture in James 1:5 tells us that if we have a shortfall and a great deficit of wisdom, we can approach God for it! Do you struggle with seeing the big picture? Our every day decisions have far reaching consequences. They not only affect us but others around us now and even into the future! We often are so short sighted. Pride and prejudice blind us from seeing life and others through God’s perspective. I really like how Chuck Swindoll described wisdom. He said “Wisdom is the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability.” Would you like to live like that? I sure do.
    First and foremost, we need to admit we can’t really see things the way God does. Proverbs 3:5 says “Do not lean on your own understanding.” Verse 7 goes on to say “Do not be wise in your own eyes…” God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours—see Isaiah 55:8-9. He wants so desperately to share His vision and wisdom with us. The passage in James tells us that the Lord gives generously, bountifully and abundantly to those who ask Him for wisdom! He even commands us to ask for it!!! Why is it so hard to ask our loving Father for this special insight for living? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
    Dear friend, God will not scold us or shame us when we ask Him for daily wisdom. In contrast, He will shower us with blessings! Ask Him right now for wisdom with finances, relationship issues, work challenges and how to live with eternity in mind every day. Don’t forget to listen to the wisdom found in His Holy Word- the Bible. Proverbs 9:10 states “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Vance Havner, a simple and yet wise country preacher, hit it on the head when he said “If I could stand for five minutes at His vantage point and see the entire scheme of things as He sees it, how absurd would be my dreads, how ridiculous my fears and tears.”    
Pastor Joe
 
BE RESOLUTE OR DESTITUTE!
     Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? How many do you plan to keep? Will you forget about them or really follow through on them? I remember hearing a preacher share that 62% of people make resolutions and 25% will fail in the first week! Guess what the number one resolution is? You bet, to lose weight. Why do so many of us fail to succeed in keeping the ones we make? Is it because we really don’t understand the nature of a resolution? I am seeking to grasp the meaning of words that we often use but fail to fully understand and apply. God told the prophet Hosea “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. I looked up the word resolution in my Roget’s Thesaurus this morning and here is what I learned; “A resolution is a determined decision, made from strength of mind, steadfastness, and back-bone. It is done with devotion.” 
     Are we sincere and serious about our goals and resolutions or do we make them because it is the cool or cultural thing to do? The Lord expects us to be people of our word! Jesus Christ said something very powerful and thought provoking in Matthew’s Gospel— “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? If we say we are going to do something—God expects us to follow through with it! God is a promise maker and keeper. Satan is called the father of lies. Who are we going to imitate and follow? Can I suggest we seriously consider making some Biblical Resolutions this year?
 Let us resolve to live for God’s glory and not our own selfish gain— “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)
 Let us resolve to seek the good of others more than our own comfort—“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” ( I Corinthians 10:24) 
 Let us resolve to learn the truth, love the truth and live the truth—“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
 Let us resolve to watch for, wait for, and work until the coming of Christ—“So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:44) 
     I truly believe if we will learn to be dedicated, determined, disciplined and more decisive in 2020, we will greatly glorify our Father in Heaven!
Pastor  Joe
 A REALLY GOOD QUESTION! (Jan 5th)
THE “W” VERSE:  Luke 6:46—“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
     Questions are excellent prompters in helping us become more informed and transformed. Teacher and parents are great at asking questions, but no one is better than God in this arena! After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden and they were “trying” to hide from the Lord, He came and asked “Where are you?” In the next chapter of Genesis, God asked Cain two pointed questions—“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” (If you have more time, read Genesis chapters 3 & 4) I really believe that if Cain and all of us for that matter would honestly answer those questions when frustrated, we all would make less messes along the way!
    In the last book of the Old Testament- Malachi,God asked backslidden Israel: “A son honors his father and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” (Malachi 1:6) Again what good thought provoking questions God asks in order to test and transform our character!
     In our alphabet memory verse for today, Jesus Christ asks another powerful and yet very practical question—“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” The Greek word for Lord is Kurios. It is used several hundred times in the New Testament. It means “supreme one in authority, controller and master.” In a day and age where it seems so many are questioning authority, we all would do well to heed the Sovereign Authority of the Universe. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father-see Philippians 2:9-11. Many will be forced to do this and then have to spend eternity in Hell because of their stubborn refusal to surrender to the One who gave Himself for all of us! Jesus Christ conquered sin, Satan, death and Hell, why don’t we let Him conquer our stubborn hearts as well? Surrender is not good in most areas of life, but surrendering our all to God is where real life begins. Someone wisely said “Surrender to Christ or you will surrender to chaos.” One final thought here—IF YOU GO AGAINST THE GRAIN OF THE UNIVERSE YOU WILL GET SPLINTERS! Are you tired of the chaos and the splinters? So am I! Lord, I am waving my white flag now! Help me keep waving it all through the day.
Pastor Joe   
 
GOD WANTS VICTORS NOT VICTIMS (Dec 8th)
THE “V” VERSE: I John 5:4-“This is the victory that has overcome the world—even our faith.”
     Do you like losing? I remember there was the TV show called the Biggest Loser, yet that was really about winning the battle with weight loss. As a child I absolutely hated to lose at anything! In fact, sometimes I would storm out of the room or place of competition in a rage of anger or even tears! I am much older now and still don’t like to lose in competition, but am learning to be more of a gracious loser. Yet, in the game of life—I definitely don’t want to lose—I have a holy passion to be a winner in His name! Don’t you desire the same?
     God deeply desires to bless His people and make us victors rather than discouraged victims.  Take time to slowly read the following promises from our loving God and Father:
 Joshua 1:9—“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
 Psalm 108:13—“With God we will gain the victory and He will trample down our enemies.”
 Romans 8:37—“Despite all these things (verses 35-36 mention trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, cold and even death), overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (NLT)
     Dear one, God wants to give us victory over sin and self, over Satan and every obstacle we face. He wants to give victory in our hearts and homes, in our churches, communities and in this great country of ours. He wants Christians to be world changers! Are we? Do you want to be? Do you wonder how? One simple word—FAITH! God wants our complete confidence and trust. Are we willing to lean more fully on Him instead of some much on ourselves and others?
     May we find great courage and comfort in His presence, power and promises! May we choose
to be holy victors in His mighty name instead of helpless victims living in constant pain and
shame!
Pastor Joe
 
 THE HAVES OR HAVE NOTS? (Dec 1st)
Philippians 4:12-13—“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
      Is your cup half empty or half full? Do you thank God for what you have or complain about what you don’t have? Do you tend to focus on what isn’t right rather than what is? A fictitious tale that teaches  a transforming truth if we will learn it. A man was wandering through the woods when he noticed an
abandoned barn. Curiosity got the best of him, so he decided to enter the barn and check things out. This barn belonged to Satan and inside it were all types of seeds-seeds of DOUBT  , , ,DISCOURAGEMENT, DESPAIR & DISCONTENT. The Devil explained that these were his tools of the trade for trashing people’s lives. He said he could get these seeds to grow almost anywhere. The man then asked, “Is there some place where they cannot grow?” Satan hesitantly replied, “Yes, in the heart of a thankful person.”
          Are you focusing more on who your spouse is not rather than on who God made them to be? Does God make junk? Is He finished with us yet? Are you unhappy with your current job or role in life? Discontent leads to a huge disconnect! We are unable to be really close to God and others when we have the mumbles and grumbles! Thank you Therapy is a class we should all take daily to deal with the bummers and burdens of life. Did God ever say it would be easy? Quite the contrary! Slowly chew on the following verses;
·         Job 14:1—“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”
·         Psalm 34:19—“A righteous man may have many troubles…”
·         John 16:33—“In this world you will have trouble…”
           Aren’t those encouraging verses? Maybe not, but they are true and explain reality. Dr. Randy Carlson often says “EXPECTATION PLUS REALITY EQUALS DISAPPOINTMENT.” Do you have unrealistic expectations for your life? God did promise a rose garden so to speak, but roses have thorns don’t they? The key is our focus; the choice of our attitude toward life. Abe Lincoln said “Most people are about as happy as they choose to be!”   Instead of grumbling about your difficulties and asking God to deliver you from them, why not instead ask Him “Lord, what do you want me to get out of these struggles?”
     Philippians 2:14 challenges us to “Do all things without complaining and arguing.” Wow! Is that really possible? Yes, but only by the grace of God and a teachable spirit. Paul said he learned to be content in any and every situation. Remember where he was writing from? He was under house arrest for preaching the good news about Jesus Christ. Yet this wonderful book is all about a joyful and positive outlook in life. OUR OUTLOOK DETERMINES OUR OUTCOME! Paul said the secret was this “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.” (Philippians 4:13 New King James Version)
      I want to leave us all with a closing quote to chew on and a challenge to take: I believe it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said “Those who have stopped being thankful have fallen asleep in life.” Ask God to shake your spiritual slumber and make you wide awake to His countless blessings in your life! Write a thank you note to your loved ones or friends and list several things you love and appreciate about them. We all if we are honest people have much more than we realize in life. God’s mercies are new every day and His faithfulness never fails!
Pastor Joe