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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Tuesday, November 25 2014
Greetings to all on this Thanksgiving week.
 
Well, we are on vacation and I was not sure if I would have a chance to share some thoughts with you this week but I was confident nonetheless that I would see and hear a few things here and there which would provide me with a few ideas for some relevant topics. The very first one came even before our departure, and I believe all of God's children, especially those who serve the Lord in one capacity or another, can relate to it. At the time when we left, I was very much aware of certain situations at home, as well as some involving our church, which I wanted to be around for. I immediately thought about the dilemma the Apostle Paul encountered and wrote about in his letter to the Philippian church concerning the desire to be in two places at the same time. Some of you who are reading today's blog may be in that situation even today. In Paul's case, he knew that his situation was such that he could die a martyr's death at anytime and although he was confident that he would see the Philippians one more time before the Lord would call him home, he spoke of the two possibilities, that is, his leaving or staying. He wrote: "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 
which is better by far." (Ph.1:23) On many occasions we wish, just like Paul, that we could be in two or more places at the same time but the sad reality is we cannot so then the best thing we can do is to choose one over the other. When that happens, God's children want to do what is right and choose accordingly but once we make our choice, we begin to wrestle in our mind with the decision we just made. It is at such times when we also begin to hear some troubling voices, the kind that make us feel that we arrived at our decision by way of selfish motives, leaving us feeling guilty.
Could it be possible we did not make the best choice? Of course! Nevertheless, and especially if we are familiar with God's Word and ways, we know He will keep us from straying too far from His will for our lives, and be completely assured that He will never fill our hearts and minds with threatening or condemning thoughts. (See Romans 8:1) Whenever we get disconcerting thoughts, we need to recognize immediately that they did not come from God. A pastor I know, was confronted one afternoon by one of his church members who demanded some time to discuss a personal issue. When he informed the member that he was on his way to see his son's football game, the man became furious and asked if he really thought his son's game was more important than his personal matter, the pastor said "yes" and excused himself.
If you find yourself struggling today with the matter of choosing one thing over another, pray and ask the Lord's guidance but once you've made the decision don't look back and don't second guess yourself; you've got other pressing matters to attend to. And don't let any thing or anyone fill your mind with troubling thoughts. If it very difficult to function properly when we permit these satanically inspired tactics to fill our hearts and minds. Be happy, fruitful, and victorious today.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Philippians 4:7 KJV) "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 21 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014  
 
 
       Most days, I get the idea for my topics when the Lord reminds me of something I saw, heard, or read previously. Today is not one of those days and it seems that my brain started out on vacation before the rest of me did. Entertainers, painters, athletes and many folks in certain professions don’t function well without inspiration. Oh, they’ll go through the motions because it is their livelihood but there are days when it is obvious to all that they just don’t have it. Apparently it also happens to small-scale writers of blogs and when you finish reading today’s meditation you may see what I mean.
       Anyway, my present state did remind me of the biblical account in 2 Kings, Chapter 3 concerning the prophet Elisha. He was visited one day by Joram, the king of Israel’s Northern kingdom at the time, accompanied by Jehoshaphat the king of Judah. They wanted to hear the Word from the Lord about their impending battle with the Moabites. Let it be known that Elisha was no fan of this son of Ahab and in fact when he saw king Joram, he immediately replied:  “What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father and the prophets of your mother.”(verse 13) You see, Joram, like his parents, was an idolater and had never trusted or followed Israel’s true God before. Perhaps it was because of his disdain for the king of Isarael, but Elisha could not prophecy when asked to do so and, because of it, called for a harpist to play something for him. It was only after the music soothed his spirit that the prophet could give them the Word of the Lord. In other words, he too needed the inspiration.
       If you want to do something special for God, it will require some inspiration on your part as well, and the best place to find it is by seeking Him. As I wrote yesterday, the Lord is loving and kind. He is a God of mercy. He was gracious enough to remind me of Elisha’s story which permitted me to at least offer you something when I really had nothing to give. In fact, if you need other things besides inspiration, you can call on Him and be assured that He will answer. Besides that, He is always with us, even on the days when we just don’t have it.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 6:46) Jesus said: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say."
 
 
 
Note: My wife and I will be joining some members of our immediate family for a week’s vacation in Florida. If I get the opportunity I may write a blog or two this coming week, but if I don’t you’ll know the reason why.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 20 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014      
 
       Lovingkindness, now there’s an odd word for you. My word processor just notified me that there is no such word. Well, if there isn’t, someone should have long, long ago stopped the translators of the King James Version of the Bible because they used it 26 times. It also seemed to be one of King David’s favorite words because he’s the one that used it the most. I was reminded of this beautiful word this past Tuesday when my wife and I joined our prayer group in church. As we were quietly praying at the altar, these words from David kept coming back to me: “Thy lovingkindness is better than life.” I then saw a picture we all see often as we are out in public. I am referring to the countless T-shirts that tell the world that something like football, basketball, baseball, or many other things are “life.” You’ve seen them, right? Well, David in Psalm 63, referring to God’s lovingkindness went even further because he declared that it was even “better” than life itself. My favorite bible commentator, Matthew Henry, was in total agreement because he said that although few thing compare with a life with God in it, with the comforts, prosperity, joy, and countless advantages it affords us, he implied it falls short of the magnitude and blessedness of His lovingkindness.
       When one reads Psalm 63, we get a more complete idea of what God’s lovingkindness really meant to David. We all know some folks who sometimes make a pretty convincing job of voicing their opinion or denoting their stand on a certain issue. They may even go on a tirade that exposes their bulging neck veins or may even spray saliva to those within shouting distance. At times like these, someone may sarcastically tell them, “Now tell us how you really feel.” Well, if I were to ask David, “Tell us how you really feel about God’s lovingkindness”, I bet he would remind us of some of the things he wrote about in this psalm.
       In verses 6-7, he wrote: “On my bed I remember you; (God) I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are (have been) my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” In the first two verses of the psalm he had expressed his earnest desire to see God’s glory and power, the one he saw in the sanctuary. Can we not relate to that? In our quiet times at night with Him, when the rest of the world is asleep, is that not the time when we think of how loving and kind He was with us during the day? Is that not the time when think of all the many great things He has done for us in our lifetime? Is that not the time when we want to see and feel more of His power and glory? Is that not the time when we feel our greatest love, gratitude, and reverence for Him, and is that not the time when we can better understand what David meant when he wrote that God’s lovingkindness is better than life? Perhaps, a T-shirt with that phrase may be appropriate apparel. If not, there are many other ways in which we can remind the world that God’s children, are a blessed people indeed.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 6:46) Jesus said: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say."
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, November 19 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014    
 
       If you are wondering about the significance of today’s message title, let me elaborate. I was doing some research for another topic, focusing on the day when Jacob, surrounded by his entire family, died peacefully right after he blessed all his sons. I had purposed to write about the death of God’s children wanting to make the point that it is a beautiful thing when Christians die. David uttered this same truth in Psalm 116:15 when he wrote: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” I often tell my church family that when Christians leave this world, they exit through the front door (victory) and not through the back. (defeat) Nevertheless, as I re-read the story in the 49th Chapter of Genesis, these five words that I chose for the title of today’s meditation seemed to jump out from the rest of the words in the page. They are really just the last part of verse 31, “And there I buried Leah.”
       I immediately remembered the little I knew about Leah. Most bible readers are familiar with Rachel, but few know about her older sister. I also knew the account in Genesis 29 about the day when Jacob was tricked into marrying her. Jacob really asked Laban, her father, for Rachel’s hand in marriage, but the morning after his wedding night, Jacob, to his utter shock and dismay, saw that the woman lying next to him in the tent was Leah and not Rachel. Yesterday, I researched all the information the Bible gives us on Leah as well as what the scholars and commentators had to say about the mention of her name in verse 31. Strangely, none of them had anything else to say about her besides the five words about her in the verse. Even so, I was convinced the Lord wanted me to write about her, otherwise these five words would not have jumped out at me.
       Here is what the Lord impressed upon my heart concerning Leah. For starters, her name means “weary” and it does not require a stretch of the imagination to see how well her name fit when one considers the things she had to endure. It was not her fault that she wound up being Jacob’s wife, but then she had to endure the pain of knowing and constantly being reminded that her sister was prettier and that Jacob only loved Rachel. She had to go through her entire married life feeling unloved, rejected, and inferior. Perhaps, that is why these five words impressed me, because in the end, the man she had so deeply yearned would love her during her lifetime, chose to be buried next to her. It was as if Jacob, before his entire family, wanted to remind them of the respect she deserved and should have been given from the beginning. To me, not only was it Leah’s long-awaited vindication, it also serves as a reminder that the end will be glorious for all of God’s children. Perhaps, someone who is reading this blog today has for a long time endured what Leah endured. If you have, and don’t already know it, you will soon find out that you were loved and were special in the eyes of God from the very beginning. In the end, I came to the point I had originally intended. That is, that even if our lifetime was less than fulfilling, in the end it will be glorious.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 6:46) Jesus said: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 18 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014  
 
 
       If I’ve already bored you by writing about or mentioning some of my favorite hymns, I’m afraid you won’t like this message because today, I want to share some thoughts on one of the greatest hymns of all time, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus.”  It was written in 1932 by Charles F. Weigle. For two centuries now, many beautiful hymns have been written, but I sincerely believe that the ones with the greatest impact are those whose authors lived it’s message Such was the case with this hymn. It’s author wrote it following the darkest and most difficult time in his life. He was despondent and ready to give up because his wife of many years decided she no longer wanted the “funless” life they were living. Although he pleaded with her to reconsider and not go, she left him anyway. At his lowest point of despair, an inner voice reminded him that the One who truly cared for him would never leave him; and that’s how this old and beloved hymn was born. Additionally, the hymns which touch us the most are those we can personally relate to.
       In the case of this hymn, many of us can say just like the second stanza of the song, “All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me; all my heart was full of misery and woe. Jesus placed His strong and loving arms around me, and He led me in the way I ought to go.” All who come to Christ with sincere hearts realize that they have been greatly forgiven. As a result, they are so thankful that they later feel inspired to write about it or else share their story with the world some other way. A case in point is the story in the 7th Chapter of Luke about a known sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in the house of a prominent Pharisee. In the 47th verse of this chapter, Jesus said: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” This truth still holds today, and I bet this woman ran out of the house that day just looking for a chance to tell the world about her encounter with Christ. Why do I say that? I say it because millions upon millions have done the same throughout the ages. The truth is that anyone who has ever been forgiven by God, realizes he has been greatly forgiven, but an even sadder truth is that many feel they have just been forgiven a little bit. Because of it, they love the Lord very little in return. I cringe whenever I hear someone say something like, “I know Jesus forgave me for my sins, but I was never really that bad.” I trust you are not in that group. Even the Apostle Paul, a man greatly used of God, wrote, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy1:15)
        Yes, the lesson may have been truly painful, just as it was for the author of this hymn, but many of us have learned by experience that no one cares for us like Jesus, and that there is no other friend so kind as He. In a world such as ours where there are so few upon which we can place our trust, it is so heartwarming to know that there will always be One who really loves and cares for us. His name is Jesus.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 6:46) Jesus said: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 17 2014
Monday, November 17, 2014
 
 
Some people have the silly notion that “church” people live in a world that makes them exempt from ever hearing the filthy and vulgar four-letter words that are as common in today’s society as any other word we may hear in every-day conversations. We don’t live in seclusion, so any foray we may take into today’s world of entertainment will make us more than aware of all the disgusting words that seem to be making all the rounds. Speaking for myself, I feel embarrassment when I hear these choice expletives, especially when they come from an unsuspected source. There are some four letter words, however, that although they are not profane, nevertheless make people feel uneasy when they hear them. I heard one such word yesterday in church. I am referring to the word “obey.” Just like the word “sin” we don’t hear it being used very often these days. I suspect people don’t use the word today because they really don’t understand it’s meaning or right application. For example, a young couple once approached me and the young man obviously wanted her to hear my reply to his question. He asked, “In a marriage, who’s the boss?” I suspect he may have read or else heard someone quote 1 Corinthians 11:3 which says, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
       I perceive the young man understood that the verse clearly shows that the man was the “boss” in this case. He didn’t like what he heard when I reminded him that marriage is not that kind of a relationship. I’ve conducted marriage ceremonies for close to forty years and I purposely have never used the line that was used in the marriage vows long ago which asks the woman, “do you promise to obey your husband?” When I counseled with the couple beforehand I wanted them to understand that marriage, although it requires submission from both parties at one time or another, is not a boss-worker or a master-slave relationship, but a partnership. Even the word “submission” can be misunderstood. It does not mean “giving in” but rather a willingness to say “you go first this time” when the situation calls for it.
       In our relationship to God, however, we can apply the Father-child relationship and in the case of those of us who consider ourselves to be His servants, a Master-slave relationship. Here the word “obey” comes into play. Even in a more modern translation of the Bible, the New International Version, (NIV) it appears 46 times, so it must be a perfectly legitimate word. Yet, in every-day conversations, how often do we hear it being used today? Ever since Jesus came into my life, I never had any problem with the word “obey.” In fact, I loved it and one of my all-time favorite hymns, has this line: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Are you trusting and obeying Jesus in your life?
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 6:46) Jesus said: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say."
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 14 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014   
 
 
       One of the scripture references Pastor Mike used this past Wednesday in his bible study happens to be one of my favorites. Even so, it is one verse that is often misinterpreted and misapplied by some bible teachers, thus causing confusion. Here it is: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) The first key word and the one that sets the foundation to this verse, is the word “therefore.” In any kind of writing, the Bible included, the word “therefore” is important, even crucial, and always points us back to a previous truth. For example, If I were to tell you something like “There have been many reports that rattlesnakes have been found in the vacant lot behind your property.” If you hear me immediately utter the word “therefore” in the following sentence, even before I were to finish the statement, you more or less already had an idea of what I was going to say. In the case of Romans 8:1, in particular the last half of the previous chapter, Paul wrote about a situation that distresses all believers from time to time, namely the struggle we have with sin because the old nature is still present within us. He concluded, however, that we have been freed by Christ from that struggle as well as from the penalty of sin, which is why he could positively assert in the beginning of the following chapter that all true Christians are free from condemnation.
       Many will say that the verse’s complete meaning does not end in the first half and we cannot ignore the words “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I agree that this last half is very important but the problem lies in thinking or assuming that it represents a necessary condition before the “no condemnation” promise can apply. In other words, with this assumption one cannot be free from condemnation if he or she is not walking after the Spirit. No, this was not intended to signify a requirement, but rather a description of the life of a genuine child of God who walks after the Spirit and not after the flesh. The only condition attached to salvation is faith, or believing, in Christ. We are saved when we truly believe, and when we do, we are free from condemnation. I believe we cannot distort the word of God by declaring and believing that “all true believers are free from condemnation, period.”
       Knowing that truth should give us one less thing to worry about in this life, making it easier to serve God. On the other hand, it should not make us feel that all our obligations to live a God honoring life have been lifted from us. Sin always has it’s consequences. I suspect many people sincerely believe that this no longer applies today because of the millions who have not done it correctly, but a father has a right to correct his children when they do wrong. However, after the applied discipline, the children don’t lose their status; they continue to be sons and daughters. It is no different with our Heavenly Father. He may have to apply some necessary correction from time to time, but we’ll always be His children. If you would never condemn those you truly love, why would God?
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 13 2014
Thursday, November 13, 2014   
 
       Don’t let the title mislead you; this article is not about the flavoring liquid we put on foods or salads, such as Ranch or Thousand Islands, but rather about how we dress ourselves. I realize I may be opening a can of worms because this can be a controversial and dividing issue, but on the other hand, even if I only provoke you to form your own opinion and choose your side of the issue, I don’t believe that is such a bad thing. I felt prompted to write on this matter as I recently saw a young preacher on TV delivering a sermon to his congregation while wearing just a shirt and faded jeans. I bet that as soon as you read this line you immediately thought of your arguments pro or con. In fact, I would not be surprised if the opinions are evenly divided among our readers. Feel free to reply to this article to express yours. The question is this: If you think it is perfectly okay for ministers to dress casual while preaching in church, you are on the Pro side. If you think they should wear a coat and tie, you are on the Con side. If you don’t care either way, don’t bother to reply….. just kidding. Although I am on the Con side, I will try to be fair by presenting an equal number of arguments on either side of the issue but keep in mind that in the end, we can all say like Paul, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18)
 
Pro: (1) What they preach should be more important than what they wear. (2) Jesus dressed the same as all other men in his day. In fact, He was a carpenter. (3) They want to be the same person on Sunday as they are during the week. (4) If we can approach God just the way we are, why would wearing a coat and tie be so important? (5) They should want to look more like those they preach to so that they can better relate to them. (6) It was the hypocritical religious Pharisees who dressed impeccably and they don’t want to be perceived as such. (7) God looks at the heart, not on the way people dress.
 
Con: (1) If we knew we were going to be in the presence of a president or Governor, would we dress casual? (2) Through Moses, God commanded that His priests should be dressed extravagantly and much different than those they ministered to. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9  that God’s true followers are members of a royal priesthood, among other things. (3) If the way we dress is important, even crucial, when interviewing for a job, why would it not be important in church? (4) When ambassadors from a foreign country visit another, don’t they dress their best? Are Ministers, not God’s ambassadors? (5) When pastors even get complaints from their own members because they are underdressed, can they just ignore them and keep doing their own thing? (6) Priests used their priestly garments while ministering in the temple, much differently than at home. (7) If we make a sincere effort to adorn our houses so others can see them at their best, why should we not want to do the same when we go to church?
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, November 12 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014    
 
       I was reading with interest a recent internet article about the best and worst celebrity tippers. Although my wife and I do not go to the movies all that much, I would like to think that I won’t be influenced by these reports regarding cheapskate celebrity tippers. Still, because of human nature, I may subconsciously hesitate going to any movie in the future in which they appear. I personally know some people who will absolutely not go see a movie in which a certain actor who has acquired a bad reputation will be featured.
       Speaking of reputations, the way in which we tip at restaurants, or at any other place where a service is provided, has a bearing on our testimonies and will either speak well of us or else portray us in a very bad light. Those who tip very little or not at all because of the lousy service they receive, may feel that they are making a statement the server or the restaurant will understand, fail to realize that perhaps the only statement they are making is that they are tightwads. For as long as I can remember, it was very common to see someone leave a dollar or two at a restaurant table after a meal, but that was long ago. A dollar or two may have been okay twenty years ago, but not today if your tab is over ten dollars. It is generally agreed that a reasonable expected tip for a food server is between 15 and 20 percent of the price of the meal. To me however, as a child of God, it is like comparing law and grace. Under the law, regarding giving to God, 10 percent was commanded. If you agree that grace is superior to the old law, should not those of us who are living under God’s grace go above and beyond the 10 percent required by the old law? Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, declared: “And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.” (Mt. 5:41) If we, as God’s people, are the type that go above and beyond, and if the standard tip is 15 percent, what does that tell us?
       Proverbs 11:25 gives us this promise: A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” How many times have we heard professional athletes offer the lame excuse that they are not paid to be role models? Can God’s children take the same road? Are we not like the city on a hill Jesus spoke of in His Sermon on the Mount? Did Jesus not also say that we should let our lights shine before men? If we can’t give above and beyond, let us at least give what is reasonable. When living your life, please do not forget that others are watching and that wherever you go, you are representing your family, your race, your city and state, your church, your pastor, and more importantly, you are representing Christ. Please don’t make Him look bad. Are you letting your light shine before others?
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 11 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014     
 
       I know that Halloween is past but I was thinking of certain words and phrases which, though they are common to Christians, yet confuse people and make them feel uneasy, even scare them every time they hear them. Here are a few: “Holiness”, “saints”, and “saved.” I can understand why the word “saved” may have that effect because many of those who use it on a regular basis fit the Mortimer Snerd type, and all the world sees is a picture of a hick saying something like, “Yup, ah been saved and born’d again.” Nevertheless, Jesus used the word repeatedly. In fact, the King James Version of the Bible alone records at least ten times when He said the word “saved.” It is a perfectly legitimate and honorable word, so please don’t be offended if some poor, unrefined believer who doesn’t know you should one day ask you if you have been “saved.” It simply means that the person who believes in Christ and has committed his or her life to Him, has been saved from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God.
       To countless millions of people around the world, the “saints” are those deceased godly individuals, and no one else, who made a mark for themselves in the world by living holy lives and were officially proclaimed as such by their church or religion some time after their deaths. The word saint comes from the Greek word “hagios” and is the root word for sanctification, “hagiasmos” which indicates consecration, or “set apart”, in this case, by God and for His purpose. This is typified by these words in Romans 8:28“To them who are the called according to His purpose”, thus signifying that every genuine Christian is a “saint.” When Paul wrote his epistles to the different churches, he would always refer to the members there as “saints”, and they were very much alive at the time. In his opening salutation to the Philippian believers he wrote, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.”(Phi. 1:1)
       The word “holiness” has practically the same root meaning as saints and sanctification. It indicates a setting apart by God and does not mean “sinless.” Some Christians feel uneasy when they read or hear that we have been called to live “holy” lives, because, here again, they think it means “sinless.” That happens because sometimes we sense that we have not been very holy or saintly. Nevertheless, we have to believe what God says about us before we believe someone else, even ourselves. That being said, the fact that we are saints as well as holy, does not give us a license to sin or to live our lives as we please. Whether sinner or saint, sin always has it’s consequences, and although God’s true children may sin on occasions, they don’t practice it nor make it a habit.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 10 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014   
 
 
       Jokes about lawyers, politicians, and preachers are among the most popular of many comedians and may very likely be the main reason why many stand-up comics stay in business to begin with. The sad truth is that is that many in these three professions give comedians all the material they need to ply their trade. That is one reason I was so encouraged yesterday in church when one prominent newly-elected public official joined us for our worship service. He even went to the altar for prayer after the sermon. As in the professions I mentioned, and many other fields of public service, not all who are in them are there for the right reasons. That causes many people to think that all politicians are corrupt, which of course cannot be true.
       That being said, anyone who reads this blog with a worldly mindset will probably think that I let some politician pull the wool over my eyes. Now, I cannot pretend that I have not been fooled before, but there also is such a thing that many believers refer to as the “witness of the spirit.” This is what we mean by that: The same Spirit (God’s) dwells within every true believer, and whenever they have a conversation, “something” within them tells them they belong in the same family. (God’s) That was the same feeling I had the very first time I had a conversation with some of you who are reading this blog, or with someone in your family; and it came within the first five minutes of our encounter. That also occurred yesterday when I conversed with our visiting public official. In the 8th Chapter of Romans, Paul wrote that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, and then he added: “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
       I believe that that same process was in place on the day when Mary visited Elizabeth, who was pregnant at the time and about to give birth to John the Baptist. Mary had just had the encounter with the angel Gabriel and the Spirit of God had come upon her as well. Luke 1:41 says: “When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Even though they were still in the womb, John knew that Christ was present because of the “witness of the Spirit.” I am not a name dropper, but as I close I ask your prayers for the public servant in question that God will use him greatly to touch people’s lives, for first of all he is a servant of God.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 07 2014
Friday, November 7, 2014 
 
       In a well-known biblical account found in 1 Samuel, Chapter 15, God gave King Saul explicit instructions to utterly destroy the Amelekites and everything they had, in retribution for what they had done previously to His people. Saul did his own thing by deciding to spare the Amelekite king and all the choice sheep and oxen. Samuel, the spiritual head of the Israelites, upon being notified by God concerning Saul’s actions, confronted him and asked him why he had disobeyed God’s instructions. Saul replied that they had only spared these animals because they were going to sacrifice them to the Lord afterwards. He was probably lying, but even if he wasn’t, the Lord had commanded him to do otherwise. Before notifying him that God would remove him from being king, Samuel uttered this eternal truth to him: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
       Many centuries have passed since that incident and millions of people today are just like Saul, including many who profess to be Christians, not you, of course. They are very much aware when they willfully go against the will of God, but make up excuses, just like Saul did, as to why they did things slightly different. Judas played the same game on the day he complained about the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume. He indignantly spoke out declaring that it could have served a better purpose had it been sold and the money given to the poor. John 12:6 very clearly states that Judas cared little for the poor; he was the keeper of the money bag and often helped himself from it.
       I wrote recently about the fault many of us have about making excuses for others who disobey God. It is even worse when we make excuses for ourselves. The eternal truth Samuel uttered on that day holds true today. Many Christians are high when it concerns saying all the right holy phrases and worshipping God in church; obeying Him and His Word, not so much. Remember the old adage, “actions speak louder than words”? To share the gospel with others, to heartily sing to Him in worship, and to testify of God’s love to the world is a great thing and is something we should practice at every opportunity. However, if we don’t live a life of obedience to God to go along with these things, our works become pointless, even detrimental. Of course none of us are perfect and we will mess up from time to time. Nevertheless, as God’s children, we all have the same grace, strength, and courage at our disposal. If nothing else, lets all ask God to help us to be honest and stop making excuses for ourselves the next time we fall.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”   
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 06 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
 
 
       I read yesterday the heartbreaking story of the mother who tossed her 7 year old son to his death from a bridge in Oregon. She promptly called 911 to confess and was still on the phone when a deputy arrived at the scene of the crime. To me, that is even more tragic than the young woman, also from Oregon, by the name of Brittany Maynard, who chose to submit to assisted suicide last Saturday. As you can imagine, a great wave of controversy has arisen over these two events reflecting a wide range of opinions. I, of course, feel that what these young ladies did was wrong, although I, like everyone else, have no right to judge or condemn them. I suppose that both of them acted on the belief that they had no other options. The young mother was overwhelmed with the burden of caring for her autistic son and her ill husband, and the other with a seemingly hopeless and terminal illness. Nevertheless, to me the bottom line is that they gave up on life too quickly. Even worse, they gave up on God.
        Can you imagine the heartbreak of being betrayed by the people in life in whom you depend the most, like this little boy whose own mother took his life? What about thinking that there is no hope for your situation, so your only recourse is to commit suicide? Brittany Maynard chose assisted suicide because, according to her, this way she would die with dignity. Well, how often do God’s children die without dignity? How can it not be wrong to take our own life when we know, beyond all doubt, that it is only God who gives and takes it? He chose the day we were to be born, and He has chosen the day when He will call us home. 
        Although the situations these ladies were in seemed bleak, and maybe even hopeless from a human standpoint, the Bible offers this promise: “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT) These two ladies gave up on hope, on the will and purpose of God in their lives, and on the way that the Lord would have helped them had they called on His name. If we truly trust Him, we are more than comfortable knowing that He will direct our lives till the very end and will always be with us no matter what. He will also supply all the grace, strength, and courage to face up to any trial we may encounter. That’s a promise!
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, November 05 2014
Wednesday, November 5, 2014    
 
        Two men walking through a countryside came upon a woman at a river’s edge who was upset because she could not cross over. When one of them offered to help her across and she joyfully accepted, the other man felt obligated, so he helped carry her too. Once across, they put her down and all went their own way. After a while, the man who had not originally volunteered started to complain about the silly woman and said his back was killing him because of her. He kept on complaining and finally sat down refusing to go on. He asked his friend why his back was not bothering him. He replied: “Its simple. I let the lady down as soon as we crossed the river. You’re still carrying her." 
     Holding a grudge is like that. If we don’t let it go, it will in time become too heavy to bear, keeping us from really moving forward with our own lives. I know I’ve said it often but it is something worth repeating: Anger, bitterness, and resentment in the heart harms the one carrying the grudge much more than the person to whom it is directed. Jesus did not declare in His Sermon on the Mount, “But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” merely because He wanted to scare us into submission. He knew how much damage we can suffer when we don’t forgive. To forgive means to pardon. It is as though we have imprisoned the person who did us wrong. We don’t have that right, and that’s the other side of the story.
      There are millions of people everywhere who yearn for the day when a certain someone will forgive them. It reminds me of a story I heard once about a man and his son who had a falling out after a very hurtful argument. The son ran away from home and after a long time, when the father could no longer cope with his remorse, he set out looking for his son, searching for months without any success. In his last desperate effort, he bought a full-page ad in the Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, please meet me at front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you, your father.” That Saturday, many, many Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness from their fathers. Is there a Paco in your life that you need to forgive? If there is I hope you let him go free, because you will be freeing yourself in the process.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 04 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014     
 
       I suppose that, as a Christian, you have probably heard people saying that you are religious. Well, here’s another one: How often have we heard some Christians being referred to as being very “spiritual”? I was thinking about the accuracy of these general worldly assessments recently as I was reading in the book of Galatians again, particularly verse 1 which reads: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest you also be tempted.” As I wrote previously, this is a delicate undertaking which requires much meditation, consideration, and prayer, and is the main reason that Paul addressed his plea only to the “spiritual” members of the church. Thinking more carefully about Paul’s request, it is pretty apparent that a “spiritual” person, therefore, is someone who is meek, thoughtful, considerate, caring, and wise, among other things.
       To many, a religious or spiritual person is someone who constantly repeats phrases like “Praise God, thank you Jesus, glory to God, Halleluiah”, sometimes all at once. Others may be impressed if you wear large Christian medallions or crucifixes, talk about your church or religion constantly, quote many scriptures by memory, or even if you tote a big bible with you everywhere you go. We were in a hospital waiting room recently and a somber looking gentleman with a big bible was sitting directly across from us. It is very likely he was a genuine child of God. Nevertheless, when making hospital visits, if we are going to take a bible with us at all, a pocket-size New Testament with the Psalms included will do just fine.
       I know that most people who do so, mean well, but speaking for myself, I feel slightly uneasy when people refer to me as being “spiritual” or “religious”, and especially when someone addresses me as “reverend.” When they do, these words of Christ come to mind: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”                    
(Luke 6:26) That others will say that you are a good person should be more important to you than being called “religious” or “very spiritual.” I hope you agree.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 03 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014    
 
       Driving in our neighborhood this past Saturday, I spotted a boy and a little girl walking down the sidewalk. The girl, possibly the younger sister, was skipping alongside of him and at times would stop just to happily jump up and down. My first thought was “Why do children do that and not adults?” Some may say that they have energy that we don’t or that they simply don’t know any better, but I also thought of this possibility: “Could it be because they don’t have a care in the world?” Some people have the perception that in Heaven we will all be playing harps and riding in a cloud, but I will not be shocked when I get there, if I see people skipping happily along, just like children, as they travel down it’s golden avenue.
       I do know for a fact that worrying about things in this life can sadden and discourage us, leaving us in no mood to celebrate. What’s even sadder is that we often worry about things we have no business worrying about. Such was the case with Lazarus’ sister. On a day when Jesus was the invited guest in her home, she partly complained and partly accused Him of not caring that her sister Mary had not helped her with the preparations. He turned to her and, probably in a tender fashion, said:“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things.” (Luke 10:41) Martha was apparently the type of person that get’s things done, the kind that pastors would love having in their church. On this occasion, however, she was worried about something that was not as important as she thought it was, unknowingly demonstrating a “poor me” attitude in the process. I don’t ever recall hearing a preacher or bible teacher suggest that her outburst was prompted by the devil whispering in her ear, but I believe he employs that tactic on all of us from time to time. Can you not see that he had convinced her that others were taking advantage of her, or that she was taken for granted and not appreciated, that even the Lord Himself did not care about her enough to come to her defense?
       We too can fall into this satanic trap and begin to dwell on trivial matters such as these. When we do, we begin to subconsciously rebel, and the good things we do for the Lord and for others begin to diminish. Of course, there may always be people in our lives who won’t truly love or appreciate us, but I pray we will not let the devil steer us off course. After all, his tactics are no match for the pure love of God. I pray we will remember that if we continue to love God and others, the being appreciated and being loved in return will take care of itself.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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