FBC Williams Arizona
Tuesday, April 07, 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. 
 
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (April 12th) 
Isaiah 53:5-“But he was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.” 
   Do you remember when that blockbuster film “The Passion of the Christ” hit the theatres? I remember the intrigue and excitement that stirred around the world. Mel Gibson’s film focusing on the last twelve hours of Christ was nominated for 3 Academy awards and won 17 awards from various places around the world. I believe it will go down in history as one of the finest Christian films ever!
     This week is called “Holy Week” by Christians. The word “holy” means “that which is sacred, special or unique, set apart from all that is common.” What Jesus accomplished in His last week nearly 2000 years ago is nothing short of amazing and incredible! Many people struggle with believing in a God who allows so much evil and suffering in this world. Does God really care and is He there when a person’s world falls apart? Psalm 34:18tells us“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The Lord does care about the suffering and evil in this world. He did not ignore it; He chose to dive right into it Himself. He sent His perfect Son Jesus Christ into a very imperfect world. Christ took on human flesh and experienced everything that we face in this life—everything with one exception—He never gave in to sin!
     Jesus faced trials and temptations of all sorts! Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Yes, dear friends, the Lord knows what you are going through. He understands better than anyone! He faced ridicule and rejection. His closest friends and followers all forsook him when He needed them the most! He was seriously misunderstood by the politicians and religious leaders of His day. In fact, the religious leaders were the ones who spear headed the campaign to get Jesus crucified. John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was his own, but His own did not receive Him.” 
    The climax of His passion happened just before and while on the cross. He was “scourged” or brutally whipped by very strong soldiers. Isaiah 52:14 predicted the Messiah would be “disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.”Scourging was so severe that sometimes it caused its victims to go unconscious, insane or even to die. I believe that is why our Lord needed Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry the cross. Then Jesus endured six long hours of inhumane torture on the cross. Experiencing shooting pains through all of His body and struggling for every breath, He hung suspended between earth and heaven with His arms wide open! The greatest pain however was the spiritual agony our Lord went through. Isaiah 53:6 says “We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
      Charles Spurgeon commented on this by saying “If God was to lay His finger on any one of us, we should be struck with sickness, paralysis, and even death. Then think of God smiting! So when He saw our sin laid on His Son, He smote with the blows of the cruel One, until Christ said ‘My God, My God why have your forsaken me.”
     In the movie the Passion of the Christ, during the part where the Roman soldier was to drive the spikes into Jesus’ hands, Mel Gibson asked the actor to step aside so his hand would be the one nailing Jesus to the cross. He then explained “It was me who put Him on the cross. It was my sins.” It was not only Mel Gibson that put Christ on the cross; it was you and me as well! I Peter 2:24 says “He carried our sins in His own body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.” Why did our God hang on a Cross? What kept Him there? The message is clear and concise—He would rather give up His own Son before He would ever give up on you and me! OH HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME! I John 4:10 says “This is what real love is: it is not our love for God; It is God’s love for us in sending His Son to be the way to take away our sins.” (New Century Version) His passion brings us peace with God, others and even with our own troubled souls! By His wounds we are healed! We have great reason to be thankful and truly humble. 
Pastor Joe 
 
DO I LIFT UP OR TEAR DOWN OTHERS? (April 5th)
ALPHABET MEMORY VERSE: The “E” Verse—“Encourage one another and build each other up.” I Thessalonians 5:11
    In a cartoon some years ago a little guy was taking heat from his sister and friends for a newly found “calling”—patting little birds on the head. The distressed little birds would approach, lower their little feathered heads to be patted, sigh deeply, and walk away satisfied. It brought him no end of fulfillment—in spite of the teasing he took from others. “What’s wrong with patting birds on the head?” he wanted to know. “What’s wrong with it?” His embarrassed friends replied. “No one else is doing it!” How often do you receive genuine encouragement in life? More importantly, how often do you give it to others, especially to those nearest and dearest to you? Mark Twain said that he could go three weeks on a sincere compliment! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said “Correction does much, but encouragement does much more.” God’s word is filled with exhortations and examples of the need for this life giving exercise. Slowly meditate on a few for now:
·       Proverbs 12:18—“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
·       Proverbs 12:25—“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”
·       Ephesians 4:29—“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
·       Hebrews 3:13—“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
    Wouldn’t you agree with me that now is the time to offer this healing to everyone we come across. I have heard somewhere that for every negative put down we receive, we need nine positive affirmations to equal it out! Several years ago when our youngest daughter Sierra was in Kindergarten, She came home more than once a little discouraged because some of her classmates were making fun of her last name Oswald. I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, Lee Harvey Oswald lived and died way before their time! They must have been teasing her because she has the same name as a big blue cartoon guy named “Oswald” who has a dog named Weeny! But seriously, dear one, we have to be very careful with our words and actions! They have such an impacting affect. Let’s choose in this world where many people want to play judge and jury and often trash talk others, instead to be the greatest encouragers and cheerleaders! God will be greatly honored and you will see others filled with new courage to make a huge difference in this short journey here on earth. One final thought, God is our greatest encourager in life and aren’t we called to represent Him in all we do and say? Reach out today and encourage someone with a call or card and build them up in these very trying times. You will be lifted up as well!
Pastor Joe
  
IF IT MATTERS TO YOU—IT MATTERS TO HIM! ( March 29th)
ALPHABET MEMORY VERSE—THE “C” VERSE—I Peter 5:7—“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
    Our culture has been called the “Age of Anxiety.” People pop pills and stress over unpaid bills.
·       Plato said “Nothing in the affairs of men is worth worrying about.”
·       Earl Riney in the book Church Management said “Blessed is the man who is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too sleepy at night.”
·       Charles Mayo said “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt.”
·       Jesus Christ, our wonderful Savior and Lord said in Matthew 6:25-27—“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
     If worry really accomplishes nothing and greatly affects our health and well being, then why do we struggle with it so much? What causes you the most anxiety? Bishop Fulton Sheen very pointedly said “All worry is atheism, because it is want of trust in God.” I agree wholeheartedly with him. Do we believe that God cares more about us than He does about little birds that He takes such tender care of? In our “C” alphabet memory verse we are told to “cast” all our anxiety on the Lord. The word cast means to “thrown upon.” Have you ever carried a backpack full of stuff and after a long walk or hike you eagerly threw it on the ground when you found a resting spot? That is the idea here and yet God doesn’t ask you to take your load back up, instead, He carries you and your pack too!! Do we really believe that what concerns us is of great interest and concern to our loving Father? The Message translates I Peter 5:7 this way “LIVE CAREFREE BEFORE GOD; HE IS MOST CAREFUL WITH YOU.” I don’t know about you, but I think it is a wise thing to let God have all our worries and anxieties because He neither slumbers nor sleeps! Today, spend time on a walk in nature and observe the birds and rejoice in God’s great care of His creation and of you. Also read Matthew chapter 6:19-33 for God’s greater perspective on life.
COOL CLOSING QUOTES TO CHEW UPON:
  • “Worry is putting question marks where God has put periods.” Dr. John R. Rice
  • “Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles- E. Stanley Jones
Pastor Joe 
 
LIFE IS ALL ABOUT LOVE (March22nd)
    Would you agree that we are living in very trying and troubling times? I am deeply saddened when I hear or read about the horrible atrocities that people commit against one another. The daily news is shouting a message to all of us! Do you know what that message is? WE NEED TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS OF LIFE! Life is supposed to be all about love. Jesus Christ said that the greatest commandment of all is to love God supremely, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is similar to it—we are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves—See Matthew 22:37-39. According to these verses, the entire Old Testament could be summarized into one simple purpose--Life is all about love and relationships! Yet our society is becoming more isolated and insensitive to this grand purpose. There is a huge obsession among many for materialism, prosperity, power and pleasure at the awful expense of leaving behind a trail of wounded people along the way. Are we loving things and using people or are we loving people and using things? 
    The New Testament book of II Timothy predicts the troubling times that will precede the return of Jesus Christ to this earth to set up his eternal kingdom. Chapter 3:1-3 states—“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good.” I find it very ironic that although we have an abundance of technology, wealth and prosperity compared to other places in the world, yet our society is severely lacking in social skills. How often do people smile? How often do you say and hear kind and encouraging words? Why are so many ready to retaliate at the drop of a hat? These times are definitely difficult, but will we rise to the occasion by being a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. The challenge before each of us every day is to overcome evil with good! The greatest healing force in the world is the power of love! Dr. Karl Menninger, a Christian Psychiatrist, once said—“Love cures people-those who give it and those who receive it.” 
     I Corinthians 13:3 challenges us—“No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (The Message)  Can I ask you a personal question? How is your love account? Where does living a life of love fall into your list of daily duties? Ask the Lord of love to show you how to love others. He is the Author and source of love. In fact, go a step further by asking Him to flood your heart with His perfect love that “never fails” and “drives out all fear.” (If you have time today, look up I Corinthians 13:1-8 & I John 4:7-18)  It was the love of Christ that changed the greatest persecutor of the Christian faith into the greatest preacher of the Christian faith. I am talking about the Apostle Paul. His encounter with Jesus totally transformed his life. Christ can do the same for you and me if we will only trust and obey Him! Here is some spiritual food to fuel your love today:
  • “Let love be your greatest aim” I Corinthians 14:1 (Living Bible)
  • “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (NLT)
  • “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:14
Pastor Joe
 
LOVE HAS A HUNGER FOR WHAT IS RIGHT (March 15th)
I Corinthians 13:6 — “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”
Matthew 5:6 — “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
     Would you welcome sickness or disease into your home? Would you invite a thief or murderer into your home? I seriously doubt it! Yet, we do just that when we tolerate sin in our lives and especially in our marriage. The above verse in the love chapter of I Corinthians 13 tells us that God’s love does not delight in evil but has a hearty desire for what is true and right. Is that characteristic of our homes? Personally, I believe many of us are too polite to sin! We allow it into our homes through the things we watch on TV or the internet. We may give it elbow room when we allow negative, critical speech in our communication with one another. Guys, anytime we allow our eyes to linger longer on a beautiful babe than we should, we allow the sickness of sin into our homes! Job said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1) Guys, we must make serious effort to live in a pure way in a totally polluted and sin sick world.
    Ladies, I would like to talk with you a little. Are you allowing evil an entrance into your heart through watching soap operas or reading Romance novels that may cause you to live as a desperate housewife? Dear one, is gossip a daily appetizer you like to nibble on? Proverbs 11:13 says “A gossip betrays a confidence…” Chapter 16:28 goes on to say, “A gossip separates close friends.” It may be a common and acceptable practice among people today, but God says it is evil. Are you destroying your spouse’s value by complaining about their shortcomings to your friends or relatives? If you are doing that, please stop so healing can begin.  Young people, what kind of movies, music and computer games do you fill your mind with? Are they uplifting and honoring to God and others or are they negative and dishonoring? We are what we think! The mind is the main field of attack by Satan.
    God’s love has a hatred for evil and a love and passion for what is right. I love the verse in Micah 6:8. It powerfully points out what God expects from mankind. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” How are we doing here beloved ones? The Greek word for evil in our key passage means “wrong moral behavior and injustice.” Are we doing injustice to God and others by the way we think, speak and act? If so, why not do some reprogramming of your spiritual computer so to speak. Instead of trying to prove yourself right, why not focus on fighting to do what is right in God’s sight! Instead of being mean and miserable, why not try wearing a spirit of mercy and kindness? Instead of walking independently of the Lord, why not include Him in all your ways like it says in Proverbs 3:5-6?
     Jesus Christ said that if we would continue in His Word, we would know the truth and the truth would set us free-see John 8:31-36. Let’s seriously strive to listen to His truth, live in His truth and let it transform our lives in amazing ways. God still is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask for or imagine-see Ephesians 3:20.
Pastor Joe 
 
DO YOU GOT TO OR DO YOU GET TO? (March 8)
THE “Z” VERSES: Psalm 69:9—“Zeal  for your  house  consumes  me.” Romans 12:11- “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.”
    What do you have a passion for? Pizza? Pop music? Power? Possessions? Pleasure? How about for God’s presence? King David was a very passionate man. As a young teenager he killed a bear and a lion out of his passion to protect his father’s sheep. Around that same time his passion for God’s glory and good name led him to fight and kill a near 10 foot giant named Goliath. The Scriptures describe him as a man after God’s own heart-see Acts 13:22.
    Both of the “z” memory verses describe having a healthy and holy zeal for God’s presence and purposes. Psalm 27:4 says “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Friend, do you have that kind of passion for God, prayer, reading His word, meeting with God’s people, and sharing your faith in Christ? Do you gotta do those things or do you get to do them? The Pew Research Forum recently found out that 1 in 5 Americans have no religious affiliation at all. Yet among these people, 68% of them said they believed in God!
   Someone anonymously said “The great task of the Church is not only to get sinners into heaven, but to get saints out of bed!” Why is it that so many people today do not believe attending church is relevant and important? Is it because our hearts would rather worship created things rather than our awesome Creator? Is it because we often do not live up to our beliefs and our hypocrisy turns others away? Or is it because we forget to pray for God’s heart for people? When Jesus saw the crowds of people “He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
    Do we truly care about others? Someone said that people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care! Can I challenge us all to ask God for His loving compassion for our family, friends and neighbors? Love is a magnet that draws people to Christ and His church! It was what got hold of my rebel heart as a lost and wandering 17 year old back in 1981. Nationwide every third Sunday in September is called “Back To Church Sunday.” The goal is for believers to invite people who have never gone to church or who haven’t gone in a while to come to church with them. That should be on our hearts all throughout the year, not just one Sunday in September. In the very near future, will you prayerfully consider inviting at least one person to church with you and maybe even offer to treat them to lunch or have them over to your house? People still come to Christ and Church through a personal invitation from someone they know more than by an advertisement in the paper or in a post card!
Pastor Joe 
 
BLESSED ARE THE BROKEN (March 1st)
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