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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Monday, March 31 2014
Monday,  3/31/14   
 
       I’m sure most of us find it easy to say we love God, but how can we be sure that we really do? Is there a good way, beyond any doubt, to prove it? To me there is one simple indicator that shows we love God. Jesus told His Disciples in John 13:35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Pretty simple, right? It was more than apparent that the Disciples loved their Master, but their love for one another would prove to them and the world, that they loved God as well. Reinforcing that truth, John, one of those Disciples, later wrote: If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (I John 4:20) Now, those who are looking for an excuse to circumvent this obvious truth will say that this obligation applies only to siblings and perhaps also our Christian brethren. Not so. Jesus answered that position in His Sermon on the Mount when He said that one should not only love his neighbor, but his enemies as well. (See Mt. 5:43-44)
 
       Throughout the years, many of us have heard people testify that when Christ came into their lives they began to love even those they had despised previously. I bet many of you who are reading this blog today have said the same. Back in the early 60’s, Doris Day had a big hit song entitled “Everybody Loves A Lover.” In it, she made this declaration: “And I love everybody, since I fell in love with you.” Back then, I thought that line was a little bit corny. Now in Christ, I have come to understand that this can only be true if the One fallen in love with is Jesus. Once Christ comes into our lives, we can say, just like in the Mio TV commercial, “It changes everything.”
 
       If you feel you love Christ but there may be one or two people in the world you feel no love for, ask Him to help you. In the first place, carrying this sort of thing within will only rob you of the freedom and joy God wants to give you. Secondly, it may make you wonder if you really love Him in the first place, and I’m sure you don’t want that. Love God.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 13:1) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 28 2014
Friday, 2/28/14    
 
       In the early 1900’s, there was a man by the name of Jose Rivera who was robbing banks and businesses around the Mexican border. The people in these towns got so weary with all these robberies that they hired a special ranger to track down this lawbreaker. After months of searching, the ranger came upon a desolate, beaten down cantina in a Mexican border town which he soon found out was Rivera’s hideout. He loudly announced to all the patrons that he was there to bring back Jose Rivera dead or alive. One young man pointed to a portly gentleman who with his hat over his eyes was snoring loudly sitting at a corner table. The ranger walked up to him, roused him from his sleep and asked him “Are you Jose Rivera.” When he realized Rivera did not speak English, he found a young man to be their interpreter. Deciding to give Rivera a break if he cooperated, he told the young man: “Tell him he has two choices. If he tells me where he has hidden the stolen money, I’ll let him go free but if he refuses, I will shoot him dead right here.” Once aware of his options, Rivera told the young man exactly where the money was. The ranger then asked the interpreter “What did he say” to which the young man replied “He said to go ahead and shoot.”  (Source: “Can Man Live Without God” by Ravi Zacharias)
 
       When you think about it, it was not the treasure seeking interpreter that got Rivera killed; it was rather his previous choice to live a life of crime that did it. Galatians 6:7 says: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The young interpreter also made a wrong choice. Although it had not yet crossed his mind, he too would come to know in the end, that he had reaped what he had sown.
 
       From the time that we rise in the morning till the time we go to bed, we are faced with choices everyday, what we will wear, what or where we will eat, what we will do and where we will go. Some choices have little bearing on our lives, others leave effects that last for a lifetime. Lets think about that as we plan our day today, remembering that the Lord goes with us everywhere we go. Perhaps we may want to change our minds about a choice or two we had contemplated. Make wise choices today and have a great weekend.
 
       Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:13 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 27 2014
Thursday    3/27/14  
 
       Words and their meaning fascinate me. Take the word scold. Did you know that it does not once appear in the King James Version of the Bible? Now, if you were to look for related words in an extensive thesaurus, you would find such words as, reproachrebukereprove,admonish, and denounce, among others. These five related words do appear in the KJV, but did you know that of all of these the only one that was tied to Jesus was the word rebuke? The Gospels tell of Christ rebuking the wind, Satan, demons, even some sicknesses, but did you know that only on two occasions did Jesus rebuke his disciples? With Peter, it was in Mark 8:38 because his words were inspired by Satan, and with James and John in Luke 9:55, because they wanted to send down fire from Heaven to destroy those who rejected Him.
 
       You may wonder, "so, what is the point?" The point is that if Jesus seldom scolded anyone, why is it that we see so much of it in church and among the people of God? We’ve probably all seen pastors scold their congregation, and perhaps even members scolding their pastor. I’ve heard some rebukes myself and have felt the tip of somebody’s pointing finger touching my nose. We’ve seen spouses scolding their mate, parents doing it publicly to their children, even adults scolding their elderly parents. To me, scolding shows a lack of respect, especially among adults, and it was never a part of Jesus’ character. Isaiah depicted Him as a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, (53:3) and added he would not even break a bruised reed. (42:3) Slipups and disagreements are inevitable. They will appear in church becauseeveryone of its members is imperfect, and that includes all pastors and  teachers. Nevertheless, I pray that we will remember that it is much more productive and Christ honoring to correct others with love, compassion and respect, not with harsh words. And to bore you again my dear brethren with this often used line of mine, “C’mon, we’re better than that.”
 
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 26 2014
Wednesday, 3/26/14
 
       Has this ever happened to you? You see a very sharply dressed man or woman and your first impression is something like “Wow, there should be more people like him or her in this world!” Then, when they open their mouth and out comes a steady stream of profane and vulgar words, immediately your first impression of them changes dramatically. Am I overreacting or just simply being old-fashioned? Don’t we all know some friends, family members or loved ones who, other than being known for their salty words, are really very nice people? Is profanity really that big a deal and does the Bible say anything about it? Actually, there are many verses that address the issue but I’ll just use this one: Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:10)
 
       First off, let me say that nobody will wind up in Heaven or Hell because of what they do or don’t do but rather because of who they are, and that includes profanity. Those who believe in and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior become God’s children and receive the promise of eternal life in Heaven. (See John 1:12) Those who don’t, miss out on Heaven altogether. A grandma can sport arm tattoos, smoke cigars, drive a Harley and curse, and if she does, that doesn’t mean she stops being a grandma. However, she may have a hard time convincing those who don’t know her that she’s someone’s grandmother. It is the same with profanity. If it is part of my daily vocabulary, I will have a hard time convincing those who don’t know me that I’m a minister of the gospel. In my early years as a Christian, a fellow worker walked up to me one day wanting to know how I managed to get others to listen to me when I shared my testimony. He said he’d been a Christian for years and even sang in his church’s choir. All the time he was talking to me, he had a cigarette hanging from his lip while many choice four letter words came out of his mouth. My answer to his question was “I don’t know.”
 
       I believe using profanity is really not that big a deal, unless, of course, you want to win others to Christ, honor God, or make a positive difference in someone’s life. I also believe that the Lord can help anybody who wants to stop using it and wants to be different. In fact, I know for sure He can, because He did it with me.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 25 2014
Tuesday 3/25/14
 
       I perceive that I was born with a highly competitive nature and yet, particularly the first thirty years of my life, I was an obvious underachiever. I’m sure the same can be said about countless people worldwide. In fact, it would not surprise me if some who are reading this blog today sense they too fall into this category. This is how I picture myself in those early years: I was a loaded weapon with no triggering device. Then, the Lord saw fit to send that missing component my life so desperately needed. Although He used a fellow postal employee to deliver it, the triggering device was God’s love. I’ll try to be simple but more specific. 
 
       I’ll begin by sharing these few lyrics of a contemporary Christian song by Jason Gray, entitled “More Like Falling In Love.” “It’s gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in, more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance.” I can relate to this sentiment because I committed my life to Christ on the day I became aware that, despite the mess I had made of it up to that point, God actually loved me. When I understood He offered me forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life to go along with it, I quickly responded and gratefully accepted His offer. Before then, I had not responded to such things as programs, methods, biblical doctrine, or church invitations. I didn’t need that; I needed to be told that I was loved. When that message sank in, I literally fell in love with Christ in return. 
 
       This is the main missing component in all attempts to draw people to Jesus. Whether in church, door-to-door, or in personal testimonies, many try to bring others to their church, religion, or even to God, forgetting that God’s first step in bringing others to Himself began with His love. I won’t even include John 3:16 here because all of you know it, most of you by memory. If you have the love of God in your heart, you’ll have a genuine love for people too. Remember, before you tell others about the Bible, or your church, religion or pastor, they need to be told that God loves them. And if they can see or sense that you love them too, that will increase your chances even more. Few things are better than knowing we are loved.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 
PS: A sincere thanks for those of you who take the time to send your kind email comments. They encourage my heart as well. Also, if these meditational thoughts are a blessing to you, share them with others or give us their email addresses, assuming you get their permission first. I’ll be glad to add them to this mailing list.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:28 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 24 2014
Monday,  3/24/14   
 
       A story in the 19th Chapter of 1 Kings has baffled many bible readers for centuries. It is the account of the prophet Elijah running in fear from the threats of a wicked queen and him reaching the point of giving up. One reason that story is a head scratcher to so many is because, in their opinion, Elijah would be the last person such a thing would happen to. Yet, it did. You can call it fear, despondency, depression or just plain giving up but this is what verse 4 says: while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."  Another reason is that the day before, (I Kings 18) Elijah had fearlessly demonstrated God’s power in front of a multitude. That spectacular display should have proven beyond any doubts that the royal couple, as well as the people, were greatly mistaken for worshipping idols and not Jehova, the true God of Israel. One would think, “That’s the clincher; now God’s people will come back to Him.” They did not. Therein lies what may have brought the prophet to such a level of despair. It is a situation many of us can relate to.
 
       If you’ve ever had a life mission, or worked on a certain task or project with all your heart and it all came to nothing. And if reality has ever shattered one of your dreams, you can understand why Elijah sank so low. He may have thought the day before, "That did it, I nailed it" and when it didn’t happen, he suffered a gigantic letdown. But wait a minute, Elijah’s story did not end in defeat. In fact, his story ended in glorious fashion with him being escorted up into Heaven in a flaming chariot. How great is that? (See 2 Kings, Chapter 2)
 
       There you have it. If life has repeatedly knocked you in the noggin and if you have contemplated giving up, don’t. The life of no child of God ends in defeat. If you’re still here, the Lord is not through with you. Just like He did with Elijah, He still has things for you to do. If you’re down, dust yourself off, get up and start all over! Better days are just up ahead.
 
       Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 21 2014
Friday, 3/21/14  
 
       Meaning to do what he could to help a fellow wounded warrior, a soldier complied with a request to go visit a young man who had just lost his leg in combat. Trying to encourage the recent amputee, he told him: “Hey, losing a leg is not as big a deal as some make it out to be. People that don’t know me don’t know that I have an artificial leg. In fact, you have a great advantage because when someone hits it, you don’t feel a thing.” To prove his point, he handed his walking cane to the young man and invited him to take a good whack at his leg. The young man took him up at his offer and took a healthy cut at his leg, to which the other replied, seemingly unfazed, “See what I mean?”  He quickly dismissed himself with the promise that he would soon be back. Once out in the hospital corridor, the old vet writhed for several minutes in excruciating pain. The young amputee had smacked his good leg.
 
       Here’s the lessons that I gathered from this story. First of all, it would have been alright had he told the young man that he smacked the wrong leg and that he was in pain. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in doing whatever we can to encourage others, but not to the point of pretending. I also believe there is nothing wrong in telling others, “Sorry, I can’t” when you really can’t. It is difficult to come to terms with the inevitable, especially for those who can no longer do what they used to do. Even Moses had a hard time dealing with that situation. He had the custom of sitting down from morning till night to hear and settle the everyday disputes of his people. When his father-in-law, Jethro, saw it, he told him: “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18) Its as if Jethro told him: “Don’t try to do what you can’t, and don’t be afraid to admit it. Get some help.” Moses took the advice and seventy men were appointed to help him. I’ve reached that point too and, just like Moses, I am really grateful to the Lord for the help He has sent me. 
 
       You do the same. Do what you can, and don’t let the devil flood you with feelings of guilt when you can’t. When you really can’t comply with someone’s wishes or requests, don’t be afraid to make it known. People who really love you, will love you regardless of what you do or don’t do for them.
 
Memory verse for the week: Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 20 2014
Thursday    3/20/14  
 
       Because of your job or position, I suspect this has happened to some of you: You are with a group of friends and suddenly, a very well known person walks in and to your friends’ surprise tells you “hi” and calls you by your first name. Whether your friends comment or not, they are obviously impressed. I don’t recall that ever happening to me, but if it ever does, I suspect I may be tempted to gloat a bit. This silly thought entered my mind yesterday as I again read the story in the 19th Chapter of Luke of a tax collector named Zacchaeus. (From this point forward, I will refer to him as Mr. Z) Those of you who know the story will remember that, in his day, he was about as popular as the flu is today and probably had very few friends. Mr. Z had heard all the buzz going around about a man named Jesus who was performing great miracles and deeply touching people’s lives wherever He went, so he really wanted to catch a glimpse of Him. Being a man of very short stature, Mr. Z knew he would not be able to get a good look of Him, so he climbed up on a sycamore tree where he knew Jesus would pass by.
 
       Luke 19:5 says: When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” One poor soul who earnestly wanted to know Jesus, was struck with amazement that Jesus not only knew him, He even called him by his name. Many of us may never be able to say that some world-famous politician, sports hero, movie star, or a celebrity of any kind knows us, but the truth is that someone greater than all of them put together knows us. His name is Jesus. He said: I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:14)
 
       Wow! Can you imagine that? The Good Shepherd, the Giver of Life, the Creator of the Universe, the Great I am and the Savior of all mankind, knows you and me personally. I don’t know about you, but I get thrilled and excited just knowing that one day He’s going to call me by my name and welcome me to my heavenly home. I’m sure you have many more friends that Mr. Z had, but if you don’t, or for whatever reason, you feel insignificant or unimportant, cheer up! The One who loves you the most, knows you the best. Yes, He knows you!
 
Memory verse for the week: Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 19 2014
Wednesday, 3/19/14
 
       My wife and I were finally able to go see the movie “Son Of God” last week and as is the case of many faith based movies, it strayed somewhat from the actual biblical accounts. Please don’t get me wrong; it was a wonderful movie and I recommend it because if it raises people’s interest in the Word of God, it can’t be a bad thing. Paul addressed that same subject in his letter to the Philippians. He told them he was aware that not all who preached God’s Word, did it with good motives. Even today, we really don’t know if the producers of the latest string of Bible movies really want to draw people to God or are just interested in making money. Paul wrote: But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (Phil 1:18) For that same reason, I also rejoice and am looking forward to go see the upcoming Movie, Noah.
 
       Speaking of Noah, I checked out the movie trailer on You Tube and also one video where a young lady gives her opinion of it. It seemed obvious to me that she did not really believe the biblical account that the flood covered the entire earth. She believed it was something like Hurricane Katrina which was confined to the New Orleans area and the Gulf Coast. In the Genesis account, God said that the flood covered the entire earth. The general world view is that the flood was localized, so who are you going to believe? It is understandable that the world will always try to minimize the miracles of the Bible but the sad part is that some Christian’s faith is so weak that they too begin to doubt God’s Word. How can anyone say they believe in God and yet not be fully convinced about what the Bible says?
 
       A young man was reading his Bible one day and a man asked him, “Whatcha reading?” He told him he was reading about Noah and the Ark. When the cynic said, “You don’t really believe that actually happened, do you.” The lad replied “I believe it so much, I can hardly wait to ask Noah about it when I get to Heaven.” The man said sarcastically, “What if Noah is not in Heaven” to which the lad responded, “Then, you ask him.” There was a popular bumper sticker some years back that said: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I always thought that it should have said: “God said it. That settles it” for if God said it happened, it happened whether you and I or anyone else believes it or not. Believe God!
 
Memory verse for the week: Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 18 2014
Tuesday, 3/18/14
 
       Pastor Ruben brought a great message this past Sunday at church on a familiar Bible verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14 which reads: 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 sin and will heal their land. This declaration by God came in response to King Solomon’s prayer on the day the Temple was dedicated. Solomon wanted to know if the Lord would hear the prayers of His people, if after sinning against Him they would pray in the Temple or towards it if they were away, thus the “wicked ways” reference.
 
       Another point made in the message addressed this issue: Was this declaration given only to the Jews who lived in the days of Solomon? The answer is no. It also applies to all God’s children today. As I was hearing and reflecting on the message, I wrote a poem about one truth in it that we must not forget. That is: God’s compassion, mercy, and love for all His children is unconditional, but not His blessings. In other words, we cannot expect Him to answer all our prayers just because we belong to Him, especially if we have been behaving more like the devil’s children than God’s. Here is the poem.   
 
                                    2 Chronicles, 7:14                                                           
 
How can we call ourselves by His name and Confess that He’s our God
If we’ve never given our heart to Christ and are not washed in His blood?
 
And how can we lead others to Him if our hearts are still not Humble?
For if we think we are better than others now, we will surely take a tumble
 
And how can we receive whatever we need if we don’t take time to pray?
For if we haven’t learned to seek His face, we’ll be missing out every day
 
And how can we remain in God’s great favor if there’s still sin in our heart?
For if we live our lives however we please, it will keep us far apart
 
But thanks be to God, there’s a brighter side for His own who run the race
For those who pray with humble hearts, who have learned to seek His face
 
Memory verse for the week: Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 17 2014
Monday,  3/17/14   
 
       While panning for gold in Montana many years ago, some men found a very substantial amount. After rejoicing and celebrating knowing they would soon be very rich, they agreed to tell no one when they went into town to get more supplies. This way, nobody would come back with them to their spot. However, much to their dismay, about a hundred men followed them when they left town. When they asked them who had “squealed,” one fellow replied: “No one had to. We saw it in your faces.”
 
       Some of us are not very good when it concerns keeping a secret or masking our excitement. Our behavior or the expression on our face gives us away. It reminds me of the story of the three men and a dog that were playing cards. An onlooker told the owner and card-playing partner of the dog: “My, that sure is one smart dog.” His owner replied: “Naw, he’s not that smart. Every time he gets a good hand, he starts wagging his tail.” I suppose we can assume that folks who can’t keep a secret can’t be trusted. On the other hand, if we can’t hide our joy and happiness because we know Jesus personally, that can’t be a very bad thing. In fact, I am thankful to God that there are many people like them all around. I am even more thankful for the man who introduced me to and then led me to Christ so many years ago. I was thirty years old at the time, and up to that point had made a total mess of my life. Had it not been for that, my life would be very different today, that is, if I were alive at all.
 
       A survey was taken some years back that concluded that the odds of people turning to Christ after the age of 25 are one in ten thousand. I wonder if anyone shared that information with my friend before he came looking for me. But then again, even if he had been told that in my case the odds were a million to one, he probably would have replied like Lloyd in the movie ‘Dumb and Dumber”, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” How about you? Can you conceal it, or does the joy and excitement of knowing Jesus you give you away?
 
Memory verse for the week: Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
 
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 14 2014
Friday, 3/14/14  
 
       My wife and I heard a testimony on K-Love yesterday from a man who served an eight year prison term for robbery and drugs. He confessed he had made a mess of his life as a young man but added that once he was in prison, he had plenty of time to reflect. He said that he then remembered everything his mom and his Sunday School teachers had taught him about God as a boy. I immediately felt motivated to find a way to incorporate it into today’s blog. And as I thought a little bit more of this man’s testimony, I also began to wonder of his mom’s, as well as his Sunday School teachers’ reactions on the day he was sentenced to prison. I bet they all entertained the thought that they had either failed him, or else that everything they taught him had been in vain.
 
       Just about everyone that serves God in any capacity, or serves others in their calling, worries at times that their efforts to help others may have been in vain or served no purpose. I was reading yesterday in the 2nd Chapter of Philippians and I noticed that the Apostle Paul had that same concern. Among other things, he advised the Philippians that in fulfilling their obligations not to complain or argue for if they did, it would give the gospel a bad testimony. He encouraged them to keep on shining brightly for God so that in the Day of Christ he could boast that he had not run or labored among them in vain. I’m pretty sure we all know how it feels to work at some project for hours, days, or even weeks, and get nothing out of it.
 
       I believe every single one of you who is reading this blog, because you are human, has entertained thoughts of quitting because you have seen no results at work, home, church, or in your calling. No, don’t stop. Keep on going! Just like the mom and teachers of the man in our story, it may take years before you realize that what you did was worth it. But even if you don’t see it in your lifetime, if you did it for God, He saw it. Galatians 6:9 says: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. The Harvest may be here or in Heaven, but it will come.
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, March 13 2014
Thursday    3/13/14  
 
       Whether it was your mom, dad, spouse, child, sibling, or some other special person in your life, some of you who are reading this blog today had your heart ripped in half some time back because of their death. Even if it happened twenty years ago or longer, the void in your heart remains and an indescribable pain still lingers. There are times when the memory returns and you think of how things used to be and you wonder how great your life would be if they were still here with you today. Then you shed a tear or two when a strange voice within makes you feel guilty for not loving them more or attending them better when they were around. If that is you, stop right there. Don’t pay attention to anyone’s voice but God’s. Remember yesterday’s blog. All His children have been freed from condemnation.
 
       One part of scripture that is often referred to in funeral services is I Thessalonians, Chapter 4. Paul, addressing the issue of those who have died as believers in Christ, began by writing:Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13) It is reasonable to miss our departed loved ones. We all do. What is not reasonable for God’s children, and certainly not pleasing to Him, is for us to stop living as if our lives also came to an end. I’m sure you noticed my emphasis on the last part of the verse. How else can we be reunited with our departed loved ones in Heaven if we don’t all leave this earth? I bothers me a bit every time I hear a person say that he or she losther mom, dad, spouse, etc. If I know they are referring to Christ believers, I get the urge of rudely interrupting and saying: “How can you say you lost them if you know where they are?” Then I tell myself: “Settle down old-timer, it’s just a matter of expression.”
 
       Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr, not his son, the Supreme Court Justice, is believed to have coined the phrase: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” Well, Mr. Holmes if that is true, I beg to differ with you because the Bible says the opposite. Colossians 3:1 says: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. I’m convinced this is just one of many places in the Bible that are there to remind us that, not only is that where Jesus is, our departed loved ones are there too and are waiting for us. And because of that, we may be heartbroken now, but soon it will turn into unimaginable joy. That is our living hope!
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 12 2014
Wednesday, 3/12/14
 
 Yesterday I wrote about the harm Christians can inflict by projecting an unbalanced picture of the gospel, in particular the habit of stressing what we’re against more than what we are for. Let me give you this example: Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We cannot emphasize the first part of the verse that speaks of sin’s ultimate consequence, and omit the second that speaks of the remedy. A case in point is the story in the 8th Chapter of John about Jesus’ encounter with a woman that was arrested while in the act of adultery. Her main accusers were those who represented the religion of their day and they demanded she be stoned to death in accordance with the Law of Moses. You remember that when Jesus told them that they who had no sin could be the first to cast the stones, all her accusers eventually walked away in shame.
 
       Here is the interesting part: When Jesus turned to speak to the woman, many could have expected Him to address her sin point blank. He did not, at least not directly. When her accusers were gone and no longer there to condemn her, Jesus told her: “Neither do I condemn you: Go, and sin no more.” I’m sure she quickly understood that believing in Him could free her from condemnation. And this was no isolated incident. Jesus did the same with the Samaritan woman whose story is found in the 4th Chapter of John. Though He knew at the time of their encounter that she had had five husbands and was now living with another man to whom she was not legally married, he did not rebuke her for it. Instead, He told her that He had the water of life and was the Messiah she had been expecting and longing for.
 
       Everyone that has committed his or her life to Christ has the same benefit. Paul, before his encounter with Jesus and his calling to be an apostle, believed the same way as the adulterous woman's accusers. Once Christ changed his life forever, he later wrote: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you have committed your life to Christ, don’t let anyone fool you into believing that you are, or even can be, condemned. If you have entertained these thoughts, I want you to know that they did not come from God. Never forget this: Jesus came to save, not to condemn! If you have not yet done so, trust Him now and commit your life to Him. Then, you will be free indeed, free from condemnation.
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 11 2014
Tuesday, 3/11/14 
 
       Since I don’t pay too much attention to the political scene, some may fault me for it and conclude that I am unpatriotic. I understand why they would feel that way, but their perception would be in error for I am proud to be an American and I still experience tears, goose bumps, and a lump in my throat every time I see scenes involving our flag or our heroes. The reason I don’t delve more deeply into such matters is that I my involvement in church or family related responsibilities takes up the majority of my time. To be honest, I feel that God’s ministers can easily be sidetracked or distracted from faithfully fulfilling their obligations if they get overly involved with any issue outside their calling. Nevertheless, I think I am as much aware of political happenings as most voters.
 
       Still, there is one particular political constant that always strikes me as being odd, maybe even irritating. I suspect most of you have noticed, and wonder if you share my sentiment. This is what I’m referring to: At the conclusion of a candidate’s speech, we always have experts from both major parties explain to us what he or she said. It is odd that their interpretations are so different, and sometimes makes us wonder if they were even paying attention.
 
       I chose this topic today because while at the eye clinic last week, I heard one projected candidate actually make a remark that was rather refreshing. In fact, it is good advice for all followers of Christ. He told the members of his party that it was time to let the American people know what they were for, not against. Whether they follow his advice or not remains to be seen. We all know Christians that are always ready to tell the world what God is against, instead of what He’s for. There is a line in the Casting Crowns’ song, “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners”, that expresses this sentiment. It says: “Nobody knows what we're for only against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines and loved like You did?” Surely, God is against sin. The main message of the bible, however, is not His justice, but rather His love for mankind. Lets stop projecting a negative message. I am positive that Jesus wants us to be positive, not negative.
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
 
Jesus, Friend Of Sinners:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzIgOG8lKYY
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 11 2014
Tuesday, 3/11/14 
 
       Since I don’t pay too much attention to the political scene, some may fault me for it and conclude that I am unpatriotic. I understand why they would feel that way, but their perception would be in error for I am proud to be an American and I still experience tears, goose bumps, and a lump in my throat every time I see scenes involving our flag or our heroes. The reason I don’t delve more deeply into such matters is that I my involvement in church or family related responsibilities takes up the majority of my time. To be honest, I feel that God’s ministers can easily be sidetracked or distracted from faithfully fulfilling their obligations if they get overly involved with any issue outside their calling. Nevertheless, I think I am as much aware of political happenings as most voters.
 
       Still, there is one particular political constant that always strikes me as being odd, maybe even irritating. I suspect most of you have noticed, and wonder if you share my sentiment. This is what I’m referring to: At the conclusion of a candidate’s speech, we always have experts from both major parties explain to us what he or she said. It is odd that their interpretations are so different, and sometimes makes us wonder if they were even paying attention.
 
       I chose this topic today because while at the eye clinic last week, I heard one projected candidate actually make a remark that was rather refreshing. In fact, it is good advice for all followers of Christ. He told the members of his party that it was time to let the American people know what they were for, not against. Whether they follow his advice or not remains to be seen. We all know Christians that are always ready to tell the world what God is against, instead of what He’s for. There is a line in the Casting Crowns’ song, “Jesus, Friend Of Sinners”, that expresses this sentiment. It says: “Nobody knows what we're for only against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines and loved like You did?” Surely, God is against sin. The main message of the bible, however, is not His justice, but rather His love for mankind. Lets stop projecting a negative message. I am positive that Jesus wants us to be positive, not negative.
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
 
Jesus, Friend Of Sinners:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzIgOG8lKYY
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 10 2014
Monday,  3/10/14   
 
       Greetings to all. Thanks for joining me today. Here’s a little character check for you to start off the week. How good are you at taking suggestions or advice, especially when it concerns a job or task you’ve been doing for years, one you may have been praised for regularly? Well, if you’re like most of us, you are better at giving it than receiving it. I previously wrote about handling criticism. Although how we handle both of them are good ways to measure our character, I think that advice is generally more kindhearted than criticism. Even so, when others offer us a word of advice, I think our first thought will almost always be that the one offering it is basically telling us we can do better, and that in turn will immediately spark a negative emotion. After we reflect for a few minutes, any anger, resentment, or indignation we may have felt, will almost always subside. That’s when we realize that nobody is exempt when it pertains to receiving advice or suggestions from others. That’s when we understand that we can always learn and improve. Proverbs 1:5 says: Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.  Ironically, whenever we’ve reached the point where we think we don’t need it anymore, that’s when we need advice the most. It’s like the momma whale told the baby whale: “When you get to the top and start letting off steam, that’s when you’re more likely to get harpooned.”
 
       A good thing to remember when we get advice is (1) listen politely and (2) carefully consider the source. The book of Psalms starts with this verse: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (Ps. 1:1) Although we must be careful not to offend, clearly it would not be very wise to follow the advice of ungodly people or those who delight in putting others down.
 
       Another thing to keep in mind is that good advice can come in many ways, sometimes even from the unlikeliest of sources. A mother got this sound advice from her little girl regarding how we handle the grief of a friend or loved one. She asked her one day: “Mommy, can I go next door to Sally’s house? Her little puppy died yesterday and I want to help her.” Her mom asked, “And how are you going to help her? She answered, “I’m gonna go cry with her.” Now, there’s a valuable bit of advice for all of us, don’t you think?
 
Memory verse for the week: Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:16 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 07 2014
Friday 3/7/14   
 
       While instructing a jury, a judge added this advice. “Whenever any person involved in the trial is asked a question and he or she claims they don’t remember, don’t assume they can’t be trusted. Sometimes you just forget. For example, I thought I had my gold watch with me this morning, then I remembered I left it on the little table next to my bed.” When the judge got home that evening, his wife told him, “You sure are vain. Why did you have to send someone just to get your gold watch for you? You even told him where it was.”
 
       That funny story reminded me of a very popular silly song during the early 60’s by a guy named Frankie Ford. The name of the song was “You Talk Too Much.” It is about a girl that has loose lips and causes her boyfriend a lot of grief because of it. I suppose you can still find it on You Tube. Anyway, it seems like the judge in our story was stung because he also talked too much. Two verses come to mind regarding this matter. Proverbs 10:19 says: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. If we are honest, I think we’ll all admit that the more we speak, the greater our chances are of putting our foot in our mouth. Colossians 4:6 says: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. To me, full of grace means combining the wisdom that God gives with a little bit of common sense, and seasoned with salt speaks of preparation. The simple message is: Think before you speak.
 
       Because we’re human, sooner or later we’re all going to speak words we wish we could take back. That’s not a copout; that’s just reality, and I don’t mean like the many so-called reality TV programs that have cropped up everywhere. I wonder why they call them that. Anyway, though a slip-up here and there is inevitable, it would serve us well to ever be mindful of the words we speak. Lets pray that they may do good to others and not offend. One more thing: I’m sure you’ve noticed that often at a restaurant or any other gathering place, there’s always one person that hogs up the conversation. Lets not be that person.
 
Memory verse for the week: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 06 2014
Thursday    3/6/14  
 
       I did not plan it this way, and I may be off target, but today I felt led to expand on the situation involving the “chosen few”, especially those who are still in the midst of their trial. I was reading in the book of Hebrews and I came across these two verses: Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down , and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way ; but let it rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13) I ended yesterday’s blog by saying that the only thing we should do for those going through a difficult experience is to pray for them. I was wrong! After reading the verses I just shared with you, there is something else that may be equally important. Here, we saw the importance of encouraging those who have been emotionally or spiritually battered, to do what we can to lift them up so that they will not despair and stray even further.
 
       I suspect that some of you who are reading this blog can either point back to a time when someone’s encouraging words got you back on the right track, or else the lack of them drove you further down. As a pastor, I have heard both sides of this issue. I have heard the heartwarming accounts of those who experienced breakthroughs in their lives because of someone’s encouragement, and I have heard the heartbreaking stories of those who have not. I know many people who have never heard an “I love you” or a word of praise from anyone, not even their parents or close family members. In his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, Paul advised fathers not to provoke their children to wrath, but to nurture them in the Lord, because if they did not, they would become discouraged. (See Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21) This applies to adults as well. When folks are sailing through rough waters, they are at their lowest point. The last thing they need is for someone to provoke them or tell them they’re getting what they deserved, like Job’s so-called friends. I’ll repeat the point I made in an earlier blog: Not everyone experiences hardships because of sin or God’s punishment, but even if they do, they need to be restored, and words of comfort, assurance, and encouragement will work wonders for them. Pray for those who are in the midst of a life storm, and if you can, offer them some encouraging words. That will please God.
 
Memory verse for the week: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 05 2014
Wednesday, 3/5/14 
 
       Monday I wrote about the “chosen few” whom God has called to endure a difficult trial. Today, I am writing about an additional burden they must carry because of it. That situation is depicted in the 9th Chapter of John where Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked Him: Master, who did sin , this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?(John 9:2) I am referring to the foolish notion or belief that anyone who suffers some sort of calamity does so because of sin. I used to think only the old time “Mexicanos” used to play that game. You remember, right? Anytime someone’s misfortune was announced, one expected to hear this phrase: “¿Ves?, lo castigó Dios.” (You see? God punished him.) Apparently, this way of thinking was around in Jesus’ time too. I remember sharing my testimony once to an old barrio friend I had not seen in ages. When I told him about my new life in the ministry and that I no longer did some of the idiotic things we used to do in the past, he paused for several seconds and then he blurted out: “You see what happened to you for being a jerk?” Of course, he said it in Spanish and in a more colorful way. He implied that God put me in the ministry as punishment for my evil past. It was no punishment, it was mercy!
 
       Just like the belief that one must earn Heaven, this one seems to be another one people just can’t shake. Job’s friends were in this group too. They thought for sure Job was getting what he deserved. They should have been extremely grateful that the Lord did not give them what they deserved. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I believe that folks who assert that a person’s affliction is due to sin, deep down inside are hoping that is the case. Its like they’re glad it happened instead of being heartbroken because some poor soul is suffering. Even when the wicked get what they deserve, God takes no pleasure in it. (See Ezekiel 18:23) Neither should we.
 
       Then we have those who believe that every affliction, misfortune, or sickness is caused by demons. If a person is sick, they’ll say it’s a spirit of sickness. If one is depressed, it is a spirit of depression. If one is lazy, it is a spirit of laziness. You get the picture. Of course God can chastise and certainly the devil can be responsible for a whole lot of misery, but we don’t know why or when God does anything. Lets not think that way about our family, friends, and brethren. The only thing we should do when they are going through a tough stretch is to pray for them. Perhaps, one day they’ll have to do the same for us.
 
Memory verse for the week: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:38 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 04 2014
Tuesday, 3/4/14
 
       Jesus was asked this question that typifies a general mindset which seems difficult for all of us to shake: What shall we do , that we might work the works of God? (John 6:28) Even after we’ve known and walked with Christ for many years, the idea that there are still some things we have to do in order to please Him, or even gain Heaven, remains. Jesus gave His inquirers the answer with just a few words and it applies to all of us as well. He said: This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:29) How simpler can that be? Do you want to please God and win Heaven? Believe in Jesus, period! That’s it! That should settle the issue, right? Unfortunately, many will still not be convinced, just as these petitioners were not. You see, as soon as He told them they needed to believe in Him, they immediately asked Him to show them some kind of sign. They had just seen Him miraculously feed a multitude with just five pieces of bread and two small fish, and they still didn’t believe. Those who truly believe in Christ have no need for further signs.
 
       Heaven is not gained by works, but by believing. In fact, even after having gained Heaven, the best way to keep pleasing God is by continuing to believe in Him. We must never forget the truth of Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Those who know and belong to Jesus never worry if they are doing enough to please Him, or even merit Heaven. In fact, when you really love someone, you look for ways to please him or her. That is the nature of true love. In 2 Timothy 2:4, Paul implied that a soldier’s principal aim is to please the One who has called him to be a soldier.
 
       So my dear fellow believer, relax. There is absolutely nothing you can do to have Christ love you more than He loves you already. However, if you are going to do anything to please Him, do it because you love Him, and do it because you want to. Now, how difficult a task can it be to look for ways to please the One whom you love the most anyway?
 
Memory verse for the week: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 03 2014
Monday,  3/3/14    
 
       I suppose many of you are familiar with these words in one of Jesus’ parables found in Matthew 22:14, For many are called, but few are chosen. He was giving a picture of the gospel message. The “many” represent the world. If it hasn’t already, one day the entire world will hear the salvation message. In simple words, all will be called. The “few” who are chosen are those who believe the message and open their heart to receive Christ as their Savior. Though these are the “chosen few,” today I am writing about an even smaller “chosen few” group. These are they who have been chosen by God for a particular task, oftentimes a very difficult and painful one. I’ll try to explain it in more detail in a bit.
 
       Those of you who are familiar with Disney’s original “Toy Story” may recall the scene involving the squeeze toy aliens who are inside the crane game. They all think “the claw” is their master and that it is he that decides who goes and who stays. When Sid, the mean neighbor kid plays the game, he lowers the crane and the claw grabs one of them. The one who is picked up whispers excitedly, “I have been chosen!!” He was chosen alright, but he might not have been so excited had he known what he was in for. I hope no one is offended by the comparison, but many who have been chosen by God to go through an afflictive life trial cannot understand why He has “chosen” them. Thinking they are just not strong enough to endure it, they may even think that perhaps God made a mistake by choosing them. The start of Matthew West’s song, “Strong Enough,” typifies that sentiment. It says “You must think I’m strong to give me what I’m going through.”
 
       We can be sure of this truth: God makes no mistakes. Some may not agree with my theology, but I believe that when He assigns certain difficult tasks, He not only chooses those He knows can endure them, He also knows that in the end, they will shine forth for His glory. Such was the case when He chose Job. Why him? The very first verse in the book of Job says:This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. No mistake there. Humanly speaking, if you are going through a very trying time in your life, I feel badly about it. On the other hand, if God has chosen you for it, rejoice! That is His way of telling you that you are special and that He knows you will shine for Him.         
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11 (NIV) 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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