FBC Williams Arizona
Thursday, July 19, 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. 
 
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
 
BEYOND BELIEF! (July 1st)
James 1:21—“Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says!”  Joshua 24:15- “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
    Dr. Todd Linaman makes a very powerful point about marriage that is crucial if we want strong homes. He said, “We need to live our lives according to what we value and believe…even when it isn’t popular.” Several years ago I was visiting with a lady at a nursing home. This dear lady had been a school teacher for several years. She shared with me that she was telling some of the nurses who helped to care for her that she believed we should live by a moral code. One of the younger nurses asked, ‘What is a moral code?’
    This is the day and age we are living in dear friends! There used to be a day when marriage was viewed as a sacred and very special thing, but today it is just one of many options for people! God still cares about how we live and so should we. If we truly believe something than it should affect the way we live right? James 2:14 says “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” I truly believe we are saved by grace through faith alone and not by our good deeds, but genuine faith is living and active. It leads to a new creation in Christ! (If you have some time look up Ephesians 2:8-10 & II Corinthians 5:17) Are we living according to our beliefs dear ones? Or are we being deceived?
    Maybe your family and personal life is not what it could be because of being lazy when it comes to really living for the Lord. Nothing is easier than saying words and nothing is harder than living them every day! Joshua said publicly before the people he was leading that he and his family made a committed decision. There was no falling back or wavering. He and his family were going to love and serve the Lord! Can you think of a better purpose for living? Many Christians may say they are living for God, but what do our actions, attitudes, priorities and words tell God and others? Will you recommit yourself to the Lord today? How about covenanting with your spouse to really pray for and with each other beyond meal times? How about serving together in a ministry of the church or an outreach in the community? I truly believe the heart is happiest when it beats for others! Jesus Christ said in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In a similar vein 
Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
    How about dealing more seriously with the sin in our lives, instead of excusing it? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:29-30 “If you right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If you right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” I remember seeing something on the news a few years ago where a little toddler was strangled to death by their pet boa constrictor! We need to take Billy Sunday’s words to heart here-“The reason sin flourishes so much is because we treat it as a cream puff rather than a rattlesnake!” The word sin may not be politically correct, but God takes it very seriously and so should we! It is good to have a home security system, but how about having a heart security system? Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Do you want a healthy and happy marriage? I sure do! Let us all start living according to God’s Holy Word rather than the cheap values of Hollywood! May our beliefs affect our behavior and may our walk match our talk! 
 Pastor Joe
 
LOVING OUR LEADERS AND LISTENING TO THEM
(June 23rd) THE “O” MEMORY VERSE: Hebrews 13:17a— “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.”
      I remember several years ago driving and being really challenged by a bumper sticker on the vehicle in front of me that simply read QUESTION AUTHORITY. I immediately was irritated by it, but then God gently reminded and rebuked me with His question “Do you question authority?” I was speechless for quite a while!
    Why do we as human beings struggle so much with authority? We love it when people submit to our authority, but then struggle when we need to rank ourselves under someone else’s leadership. Have you really thought about the fact that no matter who you are, we all are under someone’s authority! When we were children, we were under the authority of our parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches and yes the bully on the block! When we are older we are under the authority of the IRS, the laws of the land, our boss etc… Ultimately, we are all under God’s authority. Oh, that people would realize that when we say ONE NATION UNDER GOD in The Pledge of Allegiance!
    Let’s dig a little into our memory verse for a moment. Who are the leaders that we are to obey and submit to? The context of the passage reminds us in verse 7 that it is our spiritual leaders—pastors, elders and those who lead the church of Christ. The verse says, “Remember (The Greek word means “to recollect, rehearse or be mindful of”) your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Our memory verse then instructs us to obey these leaders and submit to their authority. The Greek word for obey means to “agree with, to believe and have confidence in, to yield to and obey.”
     Why do you think God wants us to yield to godly leadership in our lives? Do you believe it is because He is into controlling us or that it is for our good? Think of where the nation of Israel would have been had they not followed the leadership of Moses, Joshua and King David. Do we show respect and honor for those God has lovingly placed in our life as spiritual examples and leaders?
     I Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “Respect those who work hard among you, and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”
     Have you been helped in your walk with God because of the teaching and example of a particular person or Pastor? Have you ever let them know how they have helped you? Everyone in life needs encouragement, including Pastors! Around 7 years ago I was talking with both of my associate Pastors at Compass Bible Church, who by the way had over 60 years of ministry experience between them. I thanked them both for encouraging me to go to a men’s retreat on a particular weekend instead of going to Columbia with one of our missionaries. When I was approached in February about the opportunity to go with this missionary friend to help train Pastors and fellow believers in Evangelism I was very excited about this trip of a lifetime. When I shared it with my wife, she did not share my excitement, but lovingly said, “I will pray for you and support your decision.” Her hesitancy put a check in my spirit. I continued to seek much counsel from my staff, fellow pastors and family. The counsel was about 50/50. I was open to what God wanted and He used the counsel of my wife and both of my older more mature fellow Pastors to guide me to say no to the mission’s trip and yes to the men’s retreat. I am so glad I yielded to their authority. At the time when I needed to give my missionary friend a yes or no answer back at the end of February, little did I know the challenge that lay before our family when our youngest daughter Sierra was diagnosed with Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at that time. 
    I am so glad for the wisdom of God in placing authority in our lives! One final thought, when we submit to the authority God has placed in our lives we are really submitting to our loving Heavenly Father, and do we really want to question His loving and wise authority?
Pastor Joe
 
 BURY YOUR CAN’T AND BELIEVE IN HIS CAN! (June 16th)
     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 is 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
           
WHERE DO I GO FOR COURAGE? (June 3rd)
 John 16:33- “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
     Do you find life very challenging? Do you occasionally struggle with doubt and despair? Do you ever wonder how you will make it in the daily fight against our sinful nature, this world that doesn’t encourage us to live for God, and finally against an incredibly powerful unseen army described in Scripture as “spiritual forces of evil”?
     Lack of courage can cripple us and makes cowards of us all if we allow it to. It led the Apostle Peter to deny Jesus three times. He wasn’t the only one who cowered in fear that evening. When Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, the Bible tells us that “Everyone deserted him and fled.” (Mark 14:50)
     Has fear or lack of courage kept you from really living for God? Have you ever denied the Lord when you really wanted to take a stand for Him? Where do we find the courage to face the difficulties and demands of every day life? We can’t go to the wizard of Oz like the Lion did, but we can go to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—Jesus Christ! The same disciples, who shook with fear when their leader was captured, stood in brave faith and faced all kinds of pressure and persecution after he was raised from the dead. (Read the book of Acts sometime to see how God did extraordinary things through ordinary people). Acts 4:13 says—“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
     Keeping company with Christ is the best way to live every day! David was a King that needed courage to lead an entire nation. In Psalm 16:8 he shared his secret to finding courage to face his many challenges. “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Who did David see before him? The almighty and ever present Lord of all creation! Who do you see before you this day? Who are you focusing your attention on? The book of Hebrews gives us some great advice. Chapter 12 verse two states—“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
      Today more than ever we need people of courage! I Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” There are many fearful things happening all around us, but let us remember that true courage is not the absence of fear, it is refusing to allow fear to control us. II Timothy 1:7 says, “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” What more do we need to live courageously for our Commander in Chief—Jesus Christ?
 PASTOR JOE