FBC Williams Arizona
Sunday, December 08, 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. 
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
Pastor Joe
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
THE “U” VERSE: Psalm 86:11—“Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (NKJV) (Nov 24th)
Someone wisely said “the heart of every problem is a problem with the heart.” Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life.” When our heart is divided we are unstable in our ways-see James 1:8. How is your heart today dear one? Is it divided or dedicated to Christ alone?  Scripture describes our hearts in our powerful way in Jeremiah 17:9.  It says “The heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked, who can know it?”
     First and foremost, we need a changed heart! If we had a really bad heart in the physical sense we would need a heart transplant right? In the spiritual realm it is no different. Because of our sinful condition we need an internal makeover. Only God can transform us from the inside out! Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead to give us a new heart. II Corinthians 5:17 says that if “anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Has that happened to you dear friend? Are you born again? Jesus told one of the key religious leaders of His day, Nicodemus, that unless one is born again he or she cannot see the kingdom of Christ.” (If you have more time read John 3:1-16)
     Next, we need to pray for a clean heart in order to see God and life more clearly. After David committed adultery and then murder to cover his sin, he eventually was convicted of his vile behavior and prayed this prayer of repentance—“Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) Every day we sin and miss the mark so I believe we should regularly confess our sins to the Lord to restore our fellowship with Him and others. Do we do this? It is not easy to admit our sins and shortcomings but God promises health and healing to our souls if we do it-see James 5:16 & I John 1:5-9.  Jesus Christ promises in Matthew 5:8- “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Has sin clouded your vision? Let the Lord of life restore your vision through His matchless mercy and abundant forgiveness. 
     Finally, we need to ask the Lord to capture our hearts! Ask Him to dethrone any idols there and to reign without rival. The Old Christmas Carol “Joy to the World” is right when it encourages “every heart to prepare Him room.” Will we do that today and every day? John Flavel, a 17th century Puritan said, “The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God, and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.”
Pastor Joe
     I am reminded of a statement that Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, made—“Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. I know that it is impossible to always win at what we do. Even the greatest teams sometimes lose. Have you ever wondered what God has to say on the subject of winning and losing? Being an avid sports fan, I sure have.
    The Bible is full of stories and examples of winning and losing. Adam and Eve were challenged in a battle of good versus evil when they took on the Father of Lies, Satan in the Garden of Eden. Our ancient ancestors were beaten badly that day.  Satan tempted Adam and Eve to doubt and disobey God, and they chose to bite into the tempter’s lie. As a result their relationship with God and each other was greatly hindered. Their first two children gave into sibling rivalry with their oldest child Cain killing his younger brother Abel.
     Ever since that day long ago, mankind has still faced this formidable foe in daily battle. He
is still a roaring lion seeking to devour people through doubt, discouragement, disobedience and
death. Can we beat this bad bully who is so clever and powerful? I am so thankful that the
answer to that question is yes! 
     What Satan doesn’t want us to know is that nearly 2,000 years ago on an old rugged cross, Jesus Christ fought in the greatest battle of all. He dealt sin, death and the devil a death blow by dying in our place. Colossians 2:13-15 says “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us: He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
     Another way of saying that is-JESUS KNOCKED SATAN OUT AT THE CROSS IN THE BIGGEST BATTLE OF ALL! He scored the winning touchdown, hit the buzzer beating jump shot and scored the winning goal that made it possible to eternally save your soul! Jesus Christ came to enable you and I to win in this game called life.  Romans 8:37 says—“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” We can be victors in life instead of victims all because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has a game plan for success.
     First, we need to be on the right team to win in life. There are only two teams to play on
according to Scripture. We are either on God’s team or on Satan’s team. The Bible declares that
there is a kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness (See Colossians 1:12-13). God wants us on
His team. Just as professional teams will choose and pay for certain players to play on their
teams, God Almighty chose us and paid the highest price to have us play on His team. Ephesians
1:4-5 says—“For He chose in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in
His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in
accordance with His pleasure and will.” Have you signed up to play on his team? Say “yes” to
Jesus Christ and you will forever be on His winning team!
     Next, we need to let him be the coach of our lives. He alone knows how to win in this battle
and challenge called life. He left heaven’s glory and came to earth and experienced all the trials
and temptations we do and yet, He never once sinned. (See Hebrews 4:15) He is all-knowing and
all-powerful and best knows how to use you in the game. He made you after all, and knows all
your strengths and weaknesses. His challenge to us today is “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’
and you do not do what I say?”(Luke 6:46) I win more in life when I let Him call the plays and I
choose to follow the plan.
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
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 
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