FBC Williams Arizona
Wednesday, June 19, 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 more devotions, questions to consider and more.  Go to:  Pastor's Corner / Pastor's books - for ordering information. 
 
ARE YOU LIVING LIFE IN YOUR SWEET SPOT? (June 9th)
    If you have played baseball or golf you probably know what the “sweet spot” is. It is the part of the bat or club that sends the ball sailing if you connect with it there. You could swing as hard as possible and not hit the ball far because you did not hit the sweet spot. On the other hand, a person could swing with less force and out drive you because they did hit the sweet spot!
    Are you living life in your sweet spot? Romans 12:6says—“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.” Just as there are no two snowflakes alike, there are no two human beings alike. Everyone has great potential for success in life because we have been made in the image of God. The trouble comes when we try to force the issue and be and do something we are not gifted to do! Research has estimated that over 60% of people in the work place are not satisfied with their jobs. Could it be because many people that God created to be people persons are trying to be project persons? Perhaps money has been the driving force behind the decisions made rather than truly seeking God’s plan and purpose for their lives.
    I spent over ten years doing something that was definitely not living in my sweet spot. God did not make me mechanically inclined. I can use a hammer and screw driver and do some easy fix it projects, but to be able to design and build things does not come naturally. That is why when I spent around 10 years in the Construction trade of Air Conditioning Sheet Metal work, I often felt frustrated and unfulfilled. I did the best I could, but that was not where my real strengths lie. The Lord has gifted me in written and vocal communication and I love people. Therefore, I find great satisfaction in being a Pastor.
   Are you doing what you were created to do? Do you enjoy your work? Are you trying to be like someone else? If you are a natural introvert, don’t envy those who are extroverts. If everyone was that way, no one would get a word in edge wise! God made no mistake when He made you. In Psalm 139:14, King David was filled with gratefulness to God when he said, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are a unique creation of God with a special plan for His glory and the good of others. You have great potential for satisfaction and success in life if you will seek to trust, follow and obey Your Lord and Creator. When we consult Him and let Him lead our lives everything starts to make sense! Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10 
  It is okay to seek the advice of your peers and parents but our Heavenly Father knows us best. In Psalm 32:8 the Lord says, “I will instruct and teach you in the way you should go. I will guide you with my eye.” God knows the big picture and how we can make the greatest impact in life. Can we trust Him completely with this? Be who God called you to be! Leadership experts say we should spend 80% of our time operating in our areas of strength and learn to delegate and recruit help in the other 20% if we want to be truly effective. May we all learn to live the abundant life Christ offers us by living it in our sweet spot! 
Pastor Joe
 
KEEPING MY OWN YARD CLEAN (June 2nd) 
THE “J” VERSE: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1
     We live in a day and age where we have Judge Joe, Judge Judy, judges on shows like “American Idol” “The Voice”, and “Dancing with the Stars.” There are judges at the Olympic games and in our judicial court systems. I believe there is a place for these types of judges, but when it comes to judging and criticizing other people’s motives and even actions, we must be very cautious. Jesus said very simply that we are not to judge others. The Greek word means to “habitually and hastily criticize and condemn in a harsh manner.”
    In a day where trash talking, TV Tabloids, cyber bullying, and just plain ole “glorified gossip” are always epidemic, I want to challenge us to consider carefully what God truly expects of us in this area.
·         Luke 6:37—“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
·         Philippians 2:14—“Do all things without complaining and arguing.”
·         I Corinthians 4:3-4—“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not ever judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
   Someone wisely said, “When you throw dirt you always lose ground.” Amen to that! We are called to deal with the plank in our eyes before we even consider trying to help our brother with the little speck in his eye. I don’t know about you, I have enough issues in my own life to work on. But to be brutally honest, I don’t have the time to gossip and criticize others even if I wanted to! 
Ghandi said very wisely, “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.”
    I humbly follow Christ and truly live in a godly and compassionate way, my impact will be greater than trying to play judge and jury all the time. How often do you judge and criticize others dear one? Can I give all of us a godly challenge? When you are tempted to say something negative about someone—don’t say it—pray it! James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Do you want a better President, Pastor, Teacher, spouse, child or neighbor? Instead of doing what comes naturally, do something supernatural. Call to the Lord and watch Him do immeasurably more than all you could ever ask or imagine!
    One final thought here if you will allow me the pleasure. Why don’t we let God do all the judging because He alone has all the facts! He alone is the perfect and impartial Judge.
Pastor Joe
 
HOW WE MAKE A REAL LIVING (May 26th) 
Matthew 20:28- Jesus Christ said “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” 
    John F. Kennedy said, “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” In a similar vein, Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” On this Memorial Day weekend it would be good for all of us to ponder the importance of sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of others. 
  Nearly 500,000 military personnel died during the Civil War. That’s almost half of all Americans who have died during wartime and more than a hundred times more than died during the American Revolution, according to estimates from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs- May 24, 2015. Whether we agree with War or not, one truth remains—many individuals and families have been greatly affected by acts of sacrifice and service. We can either live a selfish and shallow life viewing things by how they affect our comfort and interests or we can choose to follow our Savior’s great example. In our key verse Jesus described how He lived and died and how His followers are to live and die as well. We live the most fruitful lives when we serve and sacrifice our time, talents and treasure to honor God and to help others. Christ lived His whole life serving, healing and helping others. He even raised some from the dead! His ultimate act of love and sacrifice was when He suffered the most intense physical, emotional and spiritual agony by dying on a cruel Cross to save us from endless and eternal loss.
   Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There has never been a greater act of sacrifice and love than what God the Son made on behalf of mankind. How many are truly aware of this truth and how many even truly care? One of our very own here at FBC made a great sacrifice in behalf of his country, family, friends and many others in other parts of this world. LCpl. Matthew Broehm gave his life on November 4, 2010 while on duty in Afghanistan. He made a powerful statement that I personally have been challenged by. I want to close with it here: “Jesus made the sacrifice so that He can make your life better, not make your life easier, but worth living! A purposeful life, one of servant hood. I live to serve, to serve the Most High God! What do you live for?” 
   I am truly grateful for the sacrifice of the many amazing men and women through the years, but especially for the sacrifice of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! 
Pastor Joe
 
LET’S SPREAD THE GREATEST NEWS OF ALL! (May 19th)
THE “I” VERSE: Romans 1:16—“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
    I believe it is pretty safe to say that we live in a world where we read and hear more bad news than good news. There is unrest all around our world. We hear more about people hurting others than helping them. The trillions of dollars that our nation is in debt is not very encouraging right? Is it any wonder that many have called our age the “Age of Anxiety” and the “Age of Cynicism”? The apostle Paul lived in a day and age where there were horrible abuses of power, persecution of believers, slavery, vile immorality and so on. Yet, he starts his letter to the believers in Rome with our memory verse for today. He was not ashamed of the gospel! Remember the word gospel means “good news.” What good news is he talking about? God has incredible power to save and deliver people from the penalty and power of sin! And to put the icing on the cake so to speak, this good news is available to everyone who chooses to believe.
     To fully appreciate the good news we need to truly understand the bad news first. Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” We all are inbred with something far worse than Aids, Cancer or Leprosy. It is simply called sin. This little word sin is easy to spell, but its corrupting nature can actually send people to an awful place called Hell! 17th century Preacher Thomas Brooks said, “Sin the only thing God truly hates. It brought Christ to the cross, it damns souls, it shuts heaven, it laid the very foundations of Hell.”
    The greatest news of all is just this—when mankind was at our worst, God was at His best! When there was no hope, the God of hope threw us a rope to pull us out of the angry sea of sin. Romans 5:6, 8 says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In chapter 10 and verse 13 we then read, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Can it get any better than this? The lost can be found. The blind can now see. Charles Spurgeon said, “That one word saved is enough to make the heart dance as long as life remains. “Saved!” Let us hang out our banners and set the bells ringing. Saved! What a sweet sound it is to the man who is wrecked and sees the vessel going down, but at that moment discovers the lifeboat is near and will rescue him from the sinking ship. But to be rescued from sin and Hell is a greater salvation still, and demands a louder joy. We will sing it in life and whisper it in death and chant it throughout eternity—saved by the Lord!”
    Dear one, does that describe you? Have you seen your great need of a Savior and trusted Jesus alone to rescue you from sin’s awful penalty and power? If not, cry out to Him right now and receive the gift of eternal life. Romans 10:11 promises us “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” If you have already received Christ I have an important question for you as well. How often do you share this good news with others? Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel. Are we? Let’s ask the Lord who said the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few to fill us with His great love and boldness in order to share the gospel with our lips as well as our lives.
Seeking to be a bearer of good news,
Pastor Joe
 
BEING WHO GOD SAYS I AM! (May 12th)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 
    When Queen Victoria was a young girl she was rather difficult and rebellious. Her mentors were concerned about this future Queen and whether she would be up for the task one day. One transforming encounter occurred when one of the tutors boldly challenged her with these words- “Victoria, don’t you realize that one day you will be Queen of all England?” After a moment of real thought, young Victoria humbly said, “I then will be good.” I am utterly convinced that our beliefs affect our behavior more than we know!
    Many marriage and family issues stem from not fully realizing who we are. If we struggle with having a healthy and holy self-image we will find it difficult to love others as we love ourselves. Instead of complimenting each other in marriage, we will compete with one another. Instead of encouraging each other we will be more prone to criticize each other.  Do we realize who we really are? The above passage of Scripture gives us a good starting place to build a healthy self-image. First and foremost, we are God’s chosen people!
     Others may not have wanted you but God sure does. You may have been the last one picked at recess for kickball, but God chose you to be His son or daughter. Peter further explains this point—“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9) I believe it is safe to say that our God is crazy about us! He would rather die than live without us.
    Next, the text says we are holy and dearly loved. God set us apart with a special place in His family. There never has been and never will be another you! Be all God created and saved you to be.  Don’t be jealous of other people’s strengths and talents or try to be like someone else.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Do what God calls you to do and be who he made you to be—YOU! You have a key part to play in His Story. Play it well for the glory of our amazing director in the drama of life!
    Let these wonderful truths transform your belief system so that your behavior becomes more beautiful. I know when I remember that I am chosen, called and dearly loved by God it is easier for me to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with my loved ones! A pastor of a large church in Phoenix once said, “When our identity is based on anything else but Christ, we can easily end up thinking too much or too little of ourselves. Either way, we become someone other than the person the Lord has called us to be. When we look to Christ, for our identity, we will not compare ourselves with others, nor put others down, nor look to others for our sense of worth or value.” I say a big Amen to that!  Learning to let my beliefs change my behavior.
Pastor Joe
 
DON’T MAKE MOUNTAINS OUT OF MOLEHILLS! (May 5th) 
Proverbs 19:11—“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” 
   In every marriage and even in friendship with others, each day produces many offenses. A great secret to a successful marriage is learning to let the little ones go. Wives, if your husband forgets to put down the toilet seat and sometimes make a smacking sound when he eats, is that a good reason to allow a rift to develop between you and him? Husbands, if your wife starts to put on a little weight, is that a reason to not sit as close to her in public?
    I am truly convinced that the enemy of our souls – Satan - is a master at trying to get us irritated with each other’s little quirks. Human beings are odd creatures. We all can be weird ducks on occasion. We all have many weaknesses and blemishes, if you will, that our spouses did not see in the early days of our relationship. Even the great man of God, James, known to be a pillar in the early church, said in his epistle, “We all stumble in many ways”- James 3:2. Benjamin Franklin had some very wise counsel on this subject matter. He said, “Before you marry, keep your eyes wide open. After you are married, keep them half closed.” The above passage in the book of Proverbs tells us that if we are truly a wise people, we will learn to be patient with one another. In the great love chapter of the Bible, I Corinthians 13 we have a wonderful description from our heavenly Father about what His love looks like.
·   Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:4-5 (New International Version)
·  “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:7-8 (New King James Version) 
   If we are maturing in God’s ways we will learn to let go of the little irritations in life and see others the way the LORD does - a person with great potential, but who is still a work in progress. Don’t you
like it when others are patient with you? Someone said, “Grace is a place where our weaknesses and mistakes aren’t rubbed in, but rubbed out!” This patience thing could literally bring about a righteous revolution in society for great good if we really started practicing it with one another. The driver in front of you, your neighbor’s loud music, waiting in a long line at the grocery store etc… Are these little irritants worth rubbing us the wrong way so that our vision becomes blurred and clouded? I think not! Patience is the ability to keep your motor idling when you feel like stripping the gears!
     Aren’t you glad that God is slow to anger and that He is very patient with us? Let’s extend that daily mercy to one another and see what the Lord does around us, especially with our loved ones.
I have a feeling we won’t sweat the small stuff so much and there will be less man made mountains to climb. I like climbing God’s mountains much more than my own man made ones, how about you?
Pastor Joe

A SHELTER IN THE TIME OF STORM (April 28th)
THE “H” VERSE: Isaiah 33:6— “He will be the sure foundation for your times…”
    Storms come in all types—rainstorms, snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even firestorms! The devastation they leave is often unbelievable. Many of us still vividly remember the debilitating effect of hurricane Katrina and the tsunami that left Indonesia in shambles. How about in your home life? Have you gone through a storm lately? Or are you currently weathering a storm? Maybe it is your financial situation, a job loss, an upcoming surgery or possibly a shattered relationship with someone close to you. Perhaps you may have even lost a loved one recently or you are facing the death of someone close to you at this present moment. What do you do and where do you go at such times as these? Is there a rock higher than us that we can cling to or stand upon so that the shifting quick sands of life don’t drown us? Read again the above promise from our God.
    I remember hearing about a sole survivor of a ship wreck several years ago. This young boy was swept by the waves upon a rock to which he clung to all through the night. The following morning the rescue workers found him to his great relief. One of them asked him if he shook with fear during the night. He replied, “I shook all night but the rock didn’t!” Isn’t that what the Lord is to us in the storms of life? I want to share the rest of our memory verse with you.
* Isaiah 33:6- “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”    
     Do you need a better perspective and depth of insight into life? God wants to give you His wisdom. Remember God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He doesn’t have tunnel vision like we so often do. Daily ask Him to guide you in all your ways and He will straighten out your crooked paths! Do you desire deliverance from your destructive habits? Our God is mighty to save! He is a specialist in every area of human need. You don’t have to pay a certain amount or even have insurance, all you need do is humbly ask! He always will be a refuge and strength and a very present help in times of trouble and despair.
    One final thought here. Just as you need a key to start your vehicle, God gave us a wonderful key to use if we truly want to soar in life like an eagle rather than just trotting through life like a turkey. That key is called the “fear of the Lord.” God desires and deserves to be admired, respected and stood in awe of. He alone truly is “awesome!” Do we treat Him that way in our daily lives? If not, why not? WITH GOD’S STRENGTH BEHIND YOU AND HIS ARMS BENEATH YOU, YOU CAN FACE WHATEVER LIE AHEAD OF YOU.
Pastor Joe