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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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- Poems

Wednesday, April 30 2014
The View From The Top
Wednesday, 4/30/14   
       The biggest news story lately about the disclosure an NBA owner’s private racist remarks that has caused a stir everywhere reminded me of the gospel account of a rich young ruler’s encounter with Christ. The reason it did is because, generally speaking, rich people are quite different than ordinary people with equally different mindsets. In the case of the seemingly racist NBA owner, his exposed scandalous conversation appears to indicate that he believes certain people are superior to others, primarily the rich versus the poor, and that those under his employ are basically his property.
       The rich young ruler who sought Jesus and asked him “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” also showed a similar mindset. Not only were his money and material possessions so precious to him that he was not willing to part with them, the very fact that he was a ruler indicates he was accustomed to being served and was not ready to start serving others. When he walked away, Jesus turned to His disciples and said: How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:23, 25) The Disciples were amazed that Jesus would make such a statement because in those days the popular belief was that being rich was an indication of God’s favor. To many, it still is. Perhaps they also believed that way because the religious Pharisees were all rich and definitely acted as if they were superior to the common people. When I was in middle school, a certain teacher’s portrayal of the historic account of the fall of the Alamo led me to believe that the defenders were people of a higher character than the Mexicans. Mind you that 99 % of the kids in our school were of Mexican descent so up until I graduated from high school, I had virtually no contact with people from other ethnic backgrounds and actually went out into the world believing that we were a lower class of people than others. It did not take me long to figure out that people are all the same. It is distressing to realize that even today, there are many who think they are superior to others, and not just the rich. Nevertheless, when Jesus declared that with God all things are possible, He meant He can change people’s hearts and mindsets. Let’s continue to pray for those who have not yet been enlightened, especially those who don’t know Christ.
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:4) for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 29 2014
Character Matters
Tuesday 4/29/14 
       There is a very enlightening story in the 12th Chapter of the Book of Numbers that highlights Moses and his character, one we would be wise to study and consider. In it, Miriam and Aaron made disparaging remarks publicly about Moses although it is clear their beef was mostly against God for having elevated their brother over them. Evidently God spoke through them also. In line with human tendencies, they kept it to themselves waiting for the first opportunity given them to voice their displeasure. They found it by way of Moses’ wife, very likely because of a disagreement between her and Miriam. and they felt it would further validate their argument. Verse 1 says: And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married : for he had married an Ethiopian woman.Insinuating that since Moses was obviously unwise in marrying someone who was different, why would God hold him in higher regard than they and choose him as their leader. Keep in mind that this was Moses’ own flesh and blood who was publicly speaking against him. Moses did not respond to the accusation but God did, and ordered the three to come to the door of the tabernacle. The Lord strongly rebuked Miriam and Aaron and told them that Moses was not like His other prophets whom He would speak to in dreams and visions. He was the only man God spoke with face to face. In the end, Miriam, the instigator, was struck with leprosy. Moses pleaded to the Lord in her behalf and she was restored after seven days and was permitted to come back into the camp, but not before suffering a generous dose of public humiliation.
       There’s so much more to the story than that but today I want to focus on the way Moses handled the matter. (1) He did not lash out against them in defiance. (2) He never carried a grudge over it. (3) He interceded in prayer for Miriam and Aaron (4) He permitted them to continue in their assigned calling, Aaron as the high priest and Miriam as a prophetess and song leader. To me it is a reminder that God’s true servants are people of character. Is it important to treat others like Moses did, even when they have sinned against us? You bet! I think we should all ask the Lord to help us be like Moses.
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:4) for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 28 2014
A Measure Of Faith
Monday,  4/28/14  
       In our church bible class last Wednesday our topic was faith, an absolute life essential. The definition of faith, according to the New International Version of the Bible, (NIV) is found in Hebrews 11:1, and it reads: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Let me try to expand on that thought. Whether at home or at church, those who lack faith lift their prayer petitions to God very much like most people who play bingo or the lottery; they hope they get lucky and this one will hit. On the other hand, those who have faith have no doubt whatsoever that God is listening to them and will always answer at His time and in His manner.
       The last part of our verse speaks about believing even when we cannot see it with our physical eyes. We cannot deny that we often get excited at seeing the answer to our prayer right in front of us, but believing even when we can’t see it is an indication that we have the kind of faith that pleases God. A case in point was Thomas, Jesus’ disciple. He had doubted the report of his fellow disciples and others that Jesus had risen from the dead, but when he saw Him with his own eyes and felt His wounds, he excitedly shouted out “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) And of course you all remember Jesus replying “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
       How does you faith measure up? When your life’s journey is ended, will you have earned a good reputation for it like the heroes of the faith, or are you like the father of the demon-tormented boy whose story is found in the 9th Chapter of Mark? In the case of the latter, this poor man told Jesus “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” When Jesus replied that anything is possible for those who believe, the man honestly responded by saying he believed but needed help with unbelief. Jesus helped him and healed his boy. If you are like this, ask Jesus to help you. He will.
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:4) for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 24 2014
Life Changing Words
Thursday    4/17/14    
       In a 1995 interview, actor Mickey Rooney, who died recently at the age of 93, spoke about an encounter that changed his life forever. He said that while going through the lowest point in his life, a busboy in a Lake Tahoe coffee shop with "blond curls, a white-rose complexion, and shining teeth" leaned toward him and whispered in his ear, “Mr. Rooney, Jesus Christ loves you very much” and promptly left. He says he thought about it for a couple of minutes and then went to look for the busboy to ask him more about it. He never found him and the coffee shop employees insisted there was no busboy there that fit his description. As it happens often, to this day no one knows for sure if this was an angel or an ordinary human being, but here’s the point: Certain words given to a certain person at the right time can often change that person’s life forever. Proverbs 15:23 says: A man finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word!
       I don’t suppose I have to convince you that the words that come out of our mouth can either help or harm those who hear them. Someone once told me that one reason many folks’ conversation includes one four letter word after another is that their vocabulary is very limited and they don’t know alternate words. I’m not too sure about that one, but I do know, by hearing the testimonies of many, that the Lord can greatly enhance, improve, and even clean a person’s daily vocabulary. In fact, He did it for me.
       Just a few days ago, I read about the general manager of the Toronto Raptors being fined 25 thousand dollars by the NBA for using a two-word expletive in a public setting directed at their present playoff opponents, the Brooklyn Nets. In the recent past, we’ve all heard about high-profile figures who have lost their jobs or reputations for just one slip of the tongue. Nevertheless, our main motivation for being more careful and selective about the words we speak should not be merely about the fear of hurting ourselves. No, if our hearts are right with God, we should do it because we really care about others and want to bless them, not harm them.
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.                          
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:22 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 23 2014
The Stranger On The Road

Wednesday 4/23/14   

       I wrote this poem to go along with the Resurrection Day message I preached this past Sunday. It is the story in the 24th Chapter of Luke about two downcast disciples who were walking back to their town (Emmaus) on the 3rd day after Jesus’ Crucifixion. They thought He was dead, and while they spoke about the heartbreaking events at Calvary, a Stranger joined them in their walk and conversation. They shared all their grief with Him not realizing it was their Master and that He was very much alive. Yet, the words He spoke to them touched them so much, they urged Him to stay when it appeared He was about to leave them. He stayed, but at the moment their eyes were opened, He vanished. I hope it is a blessing to you.

Two disciples were conversing as they walked along the road 

The pain and grief they carried had become a heavy load 

But at once a stranger joined them who walked with them side by side  

They were unaware He’d help them with the hurt they bore inside

The words He spoke were sweet but mighty

They would greatly help them then 

Pretty soon they’d lose their sadness 

With the help of their new friend

“There’s no need to keep lamenting”

 one of them was heard to say

 We’ve been freed of fear and sorrow

For we heard God’s voice today

Who this stranger is we don’t know

We don’t even know His name

Yet one thing to us is certain

We will never be the same

And now that He has filled our hearts

And our grief has gone away

How can we get His assurance

That with us He’ll always stay?”            

All at once their walk was ended

It was time to say goodbye 

 “Please stay with us” they both pleaded

As if trying not to cry

But if you can’t stay, we promise

That we’ll follow you wherever

For our number one desire

Is to live with you forever

When He assured them “I won’t leave you”

They broke out in dance and song                                                                                                                                   And at once their eyes were opened       

It was Jesus all along

And though He had now departed

They were free from every care

They now had their heart’s desire 

Plus the answer to their prayer

For even though for now He left them

They would never be apart

He was faithful to His promise

He would live within their heart   

So my dear friend I beseech you

If Christ meets you on the road

Let Him join you on your journey

Let Him lift your heavy load

And if you ask Him to stay with you

To go with you far and wide

You can rest assured He’ll answer

And will never leave your side

Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.   

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 23 2014
A Wise Choice
Tuesday 4/22/14  
       I came across an interesting story in the 22nd Chapter of the Book of Joshua that addresses the dangers of making hasty decisions or preparations. Here is the scenario: After taking possession of the promised land God had given them, (Canaan) The tribes Of Reuben and Gad and a half-tribe of Manasseh went back to their assigned lands on their side (East) of the Jordan River. The other nine and a half tribes of Israel remained on the opposite side.
       As soon as they crossed the river, these two and a half tribes decided to build a giant altar to the Lord there. Because this new altar was right by the river, those on the West side zealously reported it to their leaders, some of them presuming rebellion or even idolatry from the tribes that had just separated from them. The whole community gathered where the Lord’s designated altar was at the time (Shilo) and prepared to go to war against their own brethren. Apparently, cooler heads prevailed and a delegation led by Phinehas, the high priest, crossed the Jordan to go investigate the matter. Once these delegations met and the new altar makers presented their case, it was obvious to all that they were not going to use the altar to sacrifice but only as a memorial to remind them they were God’s people and, as such, had a right to cross the Jordan to avail themselves of the Lord’s true altar when necessary.
          In the end, it was apparent that one side had made hasty preparations, never consulting the Lord in advance for permission to build an altar nor informing the others of their plan, and many on the other side were guilty of jumping to conclusions. Had they not investigated the matter before taking action, they would have committed a horrible crime.
       Though none of us have trouble with these issues, this story  serves as a good reminder nonetheless to consult the Lord before making any important decision, as well as with others when necessary. That’s one reason the Bible tells us: Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Concerning jumping to conclusions, the Bible says: It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. It is always wise to pray first, then wait, meditate, and investigate.
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.                          
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 21 2014
Under Control
Monday,  4/21/14  
       I read in an article many years ago that former US President, Harry Truman, made this rule for himself: Every time he wrote an angry letter, he would leave it on his desk for 24 hours. The following day, he would decide whether or not to mail it. At the end of his life, he had a large drawer filled with unmailed letters. Perhaps, because of his church upbringing, he knew what the Bible says about the damage unchecked anger can inflict. Here are just two verses that warn us about uncontrolled anger. Proverbs 15:18 says: A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel, and Ecclesiastes 7:9 adds: Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools. This second verse sounds a bit harsh but if we’re honest, all of us feel like fools after an episode where our anger got the best of us and hurt others in the process.
       Maybe we can adopt the rule President Truman made for himself, whether it involves holding our tongue or an angry unmailed e-mail message or letter. You might ask, “Is that even possible?” If you believe God and His word and if you believe as the Apostle Paul that we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength, it is. (See Philippians 4:13)After all, according to Galatians 5:22-23, peace, patience, gentleness, and self-control are just some of the fruits of the Spirit of God that reside inside all His children. As an old Prego Sauce TV commercial used to say, “Its in there.”
       Lets not be so quick to brush this matter off and say, as many folks do, that its no big deal, that everybody blows off steam once in a while. The truth is that it is a big deal. Anger is destructive and it’s effects can last for a lifetime. Murders are committed every day because of it. Some of you who are reading this blog today have either been victimized by it, or else you have victimized others with it. Yes, I admit we all lash out from time to time. Still, that does not make it right, and no, we are not like everyone else. We are the people of God and He will faithfully help us to bless others, not intimidate them. 
       Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.                          
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 18 2014
A Heavenly Boost
Friday 4/18/14
       My wife and I were able to go see the movie “Heaven Is For Real” on the day of it’s release this past Wednesday and, personally speaking, I liked it even better than “God’s Not Dead” which was a great movie in it’s own right. The thought that struck me as the movie ended, which I shared with my wife as we walked out of the theater, was this: Why is it that we, as Christians, all believe in Heaven, yet we need to see something extra to reinforce or strengthen our faith regarding it? I confess that’s exactly what the movie did for me. Actually, I felt slightly embarrassed that the movie boosted my faith like it did and I told myself, “Did you not know already that all through the Bible many prophets spoke about Heaven, Jesus included? Then, I remembered the bible account when Jesus, praying out loud and looking toward Heaven, said “Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice from Heaven said, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Some in the crowd who heard the voice thought it was thunder and others thought it was an angel who had spoken to Him. Jesus turned to His Disciples and said:“This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” (John 12:30)  I took those words as for me and immediately thanked the Lord for reminding me that I was no different than His followers of that day, that we all need to see or hear something extraordinary from time to time to fortify our faith. Though we are God’s children, there’s still a little bit of Thomas in us.
       Unlike most other faith based movies, there were no scenes in this one which are inconsistent with the scriptures. Oh, there were some things in it regarding Heaven that one can say are not in the Bible but by the same token, neither is there anything in the Bible that says these things could not be.
        I heartily endorse this wonderful movie and encourage you to go see it. I believe it will thrill you and bolster your faith like it did ours because Heaven is our hope, our prize, our promise, and more importantly, it is for real. In the end, however, let us not forget that we believe in Heaven mostly because Jesus and the Bible spoke about it’s reality.   
Memory Verse for the week: (1 John 2:25)  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.                
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 17 2014
A Sure Way To Acquire Wisdom
Thursday    4/17/14    
       Though I don’t recall ever doing it before, we had a Q & A session in our church bible class last night. We did it so that our members could ask questions about the Bible or any issue concerning the Christian life. I thought it went along pretty well. Perhaps we can do it again next Wednesday.
       That reminded me of a cute article I saw years ago about children answering or giving their views on certain bible topics. I thought I’d share some of them with you today with the hope it will give you a chuckle or two and put a smile on your face.
1. Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.  /  2. Moses led his people to the Red Sea where they made unleavened which is bread without any ingredients.  /  3. The Egyptians were all drowned in the DESSERT. Afterwards, Moses went up to Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.    /     4. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.   / 5. The Jews were a proud people who throughout history had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.      /  6.  When the Three Wise Guys arrived from the East, they found Jesus in the manager.   / 7. Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark  / 8. The greatest miracle in the Bible was when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.  /   9.  The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery    / 10.  Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
       Saying funny things about the Bible is not confined to children only, adults do it too. To name a few, one fellow said his favorite book in the Bible was the Book of Palms. Another, cited Paul’s Epistle to the Filipinos. Then there was a lady who said that the Wise Men found Jesus lying in his pajamas. Finally, when asked if he had read the Bible, one man said he had read it all the way from Generations to Revolutions. Reading and studying the Bible is a good thing. It’s one sure way for simple folks to acquire wisdom. That’s why David wrote: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple, (Psalm 19:7) or as one church marquee said: “Read your Bible, it might scare the hell out of you.”
Memory Verse for the week: (1 John 2:25)  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.        
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:32 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 16 2014
Forgotten Something?
Wednesday 4/16/14
       I was trying last night to start on today’s blog and couldn’t come up with any topic I felt comfortable with. I went to bed hoping the Lord would either help me with that or at least give me a clear mind so that I could write something of benefit to our readers for this morning. He did. Since this bible verse kept coming to my mind throughout the night, I suspect its message will confirm what God has been speaking about to one or more of our readers. Here is the verse: Be watchful , and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die : for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (Rev. 3:2) I really don’t know whether the message to you has a spiritual, health, relationship, or a financial tone, or if it just deals with a decision one or two of you have been contemplating. However, I do understand the verse’s general message, and it is pretty clear. Regardless of what it deals with, God wants you to work on and try to strengthen what you still have because if you don’t that too will die.
       The reason that message was not for me today is because the Lord already gave it to me some time back. In my case, and with most people my age, it mostly concerns our health and physical well-being, although in some cases it may mean we have to strengthen our relationship with Christ and draw closer to Him. That could also have been the message to some of you. Has your relationship with God slipped a bit? Have you lost your joy, or your desire to read the Bible, pray, or go to church? How about your other relationships, those concerning your family, friends, parents, children, or spouse? Could it be one of those relationships needs careful attention immediately before it dies altogether?
       In the end, this message can be an eye-opener to all of us. There are important matters in our lives that we may have neglected. The Lord may be trying to tell us to make a thorough check on each one of them and to work on those that need it. Although strong, happy, and healthy Christians serve God and represent Him better, it is mostly for your benefit that He has given you today's message. Think, pray, and do something about it. I know you’ll be happy that you did.   
Memory Verse for the week: (1 John 2:25)  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 15 2014
A Silent Hero
Tuesday 4/15/14       
       I sincerely feel I would be remiss if I did not share with you today a little more detail about the life testimony of my brother Ruben, the reason being that he was a genuine hero and not too many people outside his family were aware of it. As most of you know, the Lord called him home exactly two weeks ago on the day of his and his wife’s (Paula) anniversary, at the age of 88. She died a few years before him. Just to give you a glimpse of his character, he voluntarily checked himself into the nursing home on the day Paula was admitted just to be with her, even though she no longer knew him due to alzheimers. 
       While in the Army, my brother Ruben, still in his teens, was captured by German forces in 1944. He was placed in a concentration camp in Bergen Belsen because the Germans thought he was a Jewish US soldier. As many of you can imagine, he suffered cruel indignities at the hands of his captors, and when he was at last freed by allied forces in 1945, he weighed less than 80 pounds. I can’t tell you in more detail the horrors he experienced because I was 4 years old when he was freed, and also because he very rarely spoke of his experiences there. I can tell you that his name is recorded in the National Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and that you can find extensive historical information on the internet about Bergen Belsen. If I’m not mistaken, Anne Frank died there too. Here is an excerpt of some reflections I wrote about him which I shared in his funeral services:
             “Perhaps some of you missed it, but we had a real hero in our midst. It is understandable if many of you just saw him as dad, uncle, or grandpa, but if he was not a hero because of his war experiences, he was a hero to many of us just by being the person that he was. It would have been great had a president or some dignitary pinned a medal on his chest while crowds cheered and a band played. He never got that, but I can guarantee you this: One day soon, if it hasn’t happened already, the Savior my brother Ruben loved so dearly will tell him: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” No earthly ceremony can ever top that. Many who are here today, have had heroes in your life as well. Perhaps most people outside you family never knew them but they were heroes indeed. Love them, appreciate them, and especially thank God for them, even if they are now in Heaven.”    
Memory Verse for the week: (1 John 2:25)  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.                
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 14 2014
Believing Is Forever
Monday,  4/14/14  
       During my brother Ruben’s funeral services last week, I was reminded of the many times we all hear the customary phrase “He’s (she) in a better place.” However, that can only truly apply to those who belong to Christ. For them, the day of their death is their awaited prize, hope, and graduation day. When God’s people sense that their time on earth is coming to a close, almost all of them excitedly anticipate their welcome into their new world. Sadly, many who use the phrase to comfort a grieving friend or family member only do so because they feel it is the proper thing to do, not because they actually believe it.
       Let me be clear on this: Anyone who does not really believe this promise will very likely miss out on Heaven altogether because of their doubt and unbelief. A clear example of this truth is found in the account of the time when God’s people marched toward Canaan, their promise land. (Numbers, Chapters 13-14) At God’s command, Moses sent out 12 men, one leader from every tribe, to spy out the land they would soon possess. He instructed them to be courageous, perhaps assuming they would all remember the glorious and miraculous manner in which the Lord had brought them out of their slavery in Egypt. They did not! Ten of them came back moaning that they could not defeat the giants that lived there. It is very apparent they did not believe God’s promise that He would give them this land. As if that were not enough, they spread their message of fear and doubt throughout the community, discouraging the people as well. Angered by their unbelief, the Lord swore they would not enter the promise land. In my assigned bible reading this past Saturday, I came across the verse showing the fulfillment of that promise. Joshua 5:6 reads: The Israelites had traveled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us. God kept his promise. Those who did not believe then did not enter the promised land, and those who don’t believe God’s promise today, won’t enter Heaven. God has not changed! Believing God is essential and it renders great and eternal benefits. Believe God!
Memory Verse for the week: (1 John 2:25)  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.                
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 11 2014
You Really Want To Know
Friday 4/11/14 
       When you hear the customary “How are you?” from others, do you ever wonder how many of them really want to know, and how many don’t even pay attention to your answer? There are so many who ask that question so matter-of-factly that they’ve earned themselves a reputation and don’t know it. I heard of a young man who wanted to put such a person to the test and when the other asked him “How’s it going”, he replied “I just murdered my entire family.” Do you know what the other person’s response was? He said “Oh, that’s nice.” The same goes when you see people meet in public. Do you ever wonder how many of their hugs, kisses, and compliments, are the real thing?
       I was thinking of this Wednesday night as I sat in Pastor Mike’s Bible class in church. He was covering the 6th Chapter of Galatians, a favorite chapter of mine. The first part of it highlights our obligations to our Christian brethren with our motivation being our love and genuine concern for them. If we really love them, it will really matter to us when they are down and are going through tough times, and we should do whatever we can to help them. If we take the position that our brethren’s troubles are none of our business, are we really being that much different than Cain, the first murderer mentioned in the Bible? After his awful crime, the Lord asked him: “Where is your brother Abel?” He replied, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)
       On the other hand, a picture of compassion and true concern for our fellow man is Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the 10th Chapter of Luke. This man, moved with compassion, not only attended to the wounds of a stranger, he made provisions for his continued care while he was away. Later, he returned to see if the fellow was alright. Do you see the pattern here? God’s true children are motivated with genuine concern and they do whatever they can to help. When they can’t help directly, they give so that someone else can do the job. Then, they follow through to see if the task has been completed. Galatians 6:2 says that when we do such things, we are really fulfilling the law of Christ. We can’t really know what is in the hearts of people. Only God knows that. Nevertheless, we can suppose that many folks all around are faking it. Lets not be like that.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 18:10) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, April 10 2014
Harmless But Wise
Thursday    4/10/14     
       Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant when He said “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”? This admonition was originally given to His Disciples on the day He sent them out for the first time to preach, heal the sick, and cast out demons in His name and power. In fact, the words in question are just half of a complete verse.     (Matthew 10:16) In the first half, Jesus reminded them that He was sending them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. We all know that snakes are not harmless and doves are definitely not wise, so it is obvious that Jesus meant that these characteristics should be combined. It should also be apparent that Christ’s words of caution apply to all who serve Him today as well. When we picture defenseless sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves, it seems a cruel and extremely daunting task but we must take into consideration, the fact that the hand of God would be upon Christ’s Disciples to lead, guide, and protect them. The truth is they came back from their mission rejoicing and amazed with the success they encountered.       
       I was thinking of that yesterday as I saw on my caller ID one of the countless toll-free-number phone calls we receive on a daily basis. Need I tell you that the majority of them are telemarketers and that they mostly target the elderly? Considering the type of messages they leave, to me they are wolves in search of defenseless, dim-witted sheep and the reason this practice does not stop is because of the success they’ve had in the past. Today’s seniors come from an era where people and businesses had honesty and integrity, so most of them think its still the same today. To be wise as serpents and harmless as doves means we should apply our common sense without being confrontational. Think about it. When a business really has urgent business to discuss with us and we continue to ignore their request to call back to a certain number, before too long they will get the message to us by way of certified mail. If they never do, it is obvious they were just looking for one more victim.
       Of course, telemarketers are just one of the many dangers we face on a daily basis. A few years back, abuse of children and the elderly, identity thefts, and horrific and senseless crimes, were rare. Not today. Paul was right when he wrote: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1) Those days are here. Nevertheless, just like He did with His Disciples, the Lord will be with us too. Sheep are never defenseless because the Good Shepherd is always with them. In Him, we’re always protected.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 18:10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 09 2014
Eternal Security
Wednesday 4/9/14 
       One issue that has divided many Christians and churches for as long as I can remember is the matter of eternal security. In fact, there are some people who, upon meeting a Christian from another church, will immediately ask the question, “Do you believe Christians can lose their salvation?” Proponents on both sides of the issue love to bombard their listeners with one bible verse after another to validate their position. I personally believe a genuine child of God cannot lose his or her salvation, and am ready to explain why for any that will ask. Nevertheless, that does not make me a better Christian than those who believe the opposite. I also, just like they, could pound you today with many bible verses that support my belief. However, I realize that the people who are reading this blog are my friends, family, and church members, not seminary students. I always keep that in mind every time I write this blog and try not to cite more bible verses than necessary.
       As in all doctrinal issues, this one has its extremists with one group saying that, since their salvation is now secure, they can live their lives any way they want, and the other side believing that they lose their salvation every time they sin in any way, even with something as common as having an evil thought. As I said before, both of these are extreme positions and neither makes any sense. The only bible passage I will use today is neither pro or con but it does address the matter of the turmoil and controversy that is caused when believers have opposing views on matters involving the Christian life. In it, the Apostle Paul wrote that this is what the bottom line should be: Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19) It simply means that we should do our best to get along with believers everywhere and not squabble over matters which won’t change our standing in Christ anyway. We should focus more on things in which we agree and not on those where we don’t.
        In the end, people on opposite sides of this issue who love the Lord are really intent on the same thing. That is, they seek to live their lives in such a way that God will be honored. And because they do that, they don’t give doctrinal points that much thought anyhow.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 18:10) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 08 2014
Being On The Same Page
Tuesday, 4/8/14 
       I saw an interesting account as I was reading in the 31st Chapter of Deuteronomy yesterday which immediately caught my eye. In it, Moses was giving his farewell address to God’s people announcing that, though he himself would not be able to cross the Jordan River with them, Joshua would lead them into their promised land. He admonished them not to be afraid of the enemies they would encounter along the way, reminding them that God would personally go with them, and would not fail or abandon them. Then, in their presence, he charged Joshua to be strong and courageous, basically telling him the same things he told the people. The reason this account caught my attention was that, like most ministers, I am familiar with the first chapter of the book of Joshua. I noted that God gave Joshua the same charge Moses gave him on the day of his farewell address. Does that mean that God was only copying the words Moses had used? Never! It means that when Moses uttered the words of his address that day, he was being led completely by God Himself.
       Two truths that should be embraced by God’s children are found in these biblical stories. The first one is this: One can be comfortable with the message conveyed by God’s true ministers. We can say that God and all those He has called, will always be on the same page. Another but simpler way to say this is that all messages and teachings, in order to relied upon, must coincide with God’s Word, The Bible. You see, it was no accident that Joshua got the same words of instruction and encouragement from both God and Moses.
       The second truth, and it applies to you and me, is this: In our life’s journey to our promised land, (Heaven) we will encounter enemies of all kind. We must take Moses’ words to heart to not be in a panic or afraid of them. After all, God will be with us every step of the way, and who can be more faithful and mightier than He? Whether your enemies today are human, physical, financial, emotional, or any other kind, none of these will ever be able to stand up to God. Neither will they be able to keep you from arriving at your destination. I only reminded you of that today because God said it first.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 18:10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 07 2014
Total Protection
Monday,  4/7/14  
       Reading the story of Abigail and David in the 1st book of Samuel, Chapter 25, I was reminded of God’s protection upon His children. In this account, we are told of the time when David sent messengers to ask provisions for the men in his unit from a nearby wealthy man who had many sheep and goats. The man’s name was Nabal and he was holding the customary celebration that was held at sheep-shearing time. David and his men had protected this man’s shepherds and had never before asked anything in return. Nabal not only sent the messengers on their way empty handed, he embarrassed and insulted them to boot. When it was reported to David, he immediately responded by arming himself and 400 of his men with their swords. He was so incensed, he vowed to kill Nabal and his entire household. Then one of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, everything that had happened, adding that he was sure David and his men were on their way to take vengeance.
       Abigail quickly took action and prepared the provisions her husband had denied. She met David and his men before they reached their destination and humbly apologized and asked forgiveness for her husband’s foolish and cruel behavior. Soon after, David acknowledged that God had used her to keep him from committing the horrible crime of taking matters into his own hands. David remembered that vengeance is God’s and no one else’s. Perhaps, that is one reason David wrote: The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Ps. 34:7)       
       The last time I read this story again, I thought of the many occasions in my life, both as a Christian and non-Christian, when I contemplated, even planned, doing things that I knew God would never approve. If God had not provided the person or the means that kept me from following through, I am convinced my life would be totally destroyed today. My dear readers, assuming all of you are honest, I suspect many of you can say that God has done the same for you. Isn’t it great to know that God not only protects us from our enemies, He even protects us from ourselves?
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 18:10The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 04 2014
Doing The Dirty Work
Friday 4/4/14               
       Someone asked me recently what Jesus was trying to teach His Disciples when He washed their feet at the Last Supper. Throughout the years I have heard many teachers and pastors addressing this matter and they usually all concur that Jesus wanted to teach them humility and servanthood. I agree, but believe we can have a better understanding of it if we take other things into consideration.
       To begin with, foot washing was common in those days and was the responsibility of a designated servant, usually the youngest or the lowest in rank. In homes with no servants it was customarily done by the youngest members of the family. As was the case when Jesus met with His Disciples at the Last Supper, whenever a group of people were going to have a meal, everyone would recline in a circle around the area of the table. Because of it, most everybody’s feet would be exposed, sometimes right next to someone’s face. There were no Nikes back then nor covered footwear, just sandals. That meant that when people came into the house, their feet had to be washed. Since no servants were present when Jesus met with His Disciples that night, one of them would have to do it. To be fair with Jesus’ Disciples we must keep in mind none of them were used to washing anyone’s feet. Remember that most of them were fishermen and unrefined in the social graces. Remember also the accounts we have of their disputes, lack of knowledge in spiritual things, and desiring to be first.
       Even today, many things we do in service to God have to be learned and His true servants always look for ways or places where they can serve. Look around; whether at home, work, or church there are always some who don’t ask, they just get busy and do the chores that need to be done. These have a servant’s heart. Those who wait to be served are not necessarily bad people, they just haven’t learned to be different. It is the same at home. Though in some there are designated assignments, in most cases there is always one, who without asking, just does chores such as taking out the trash, washing and drying the clothes, washing the car, yard work, mopping, sweeping, etc. Like foot washing back then, very few people like doing the “dirty work”, but someone has to do it. Are you that someone?
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 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 03 2014
The Things We Do For Love
Thursday    4/3/14         
       2 Samuel, Chapter 23 is supposedly a record of King David’s last words. With them, he expresses his gratitude for the heroic and extraordinary men who helped him in his lifetime. Three of them whose names are mentioned in the chapter did one thing that was especially noteworthy. It happened during a time of conflict with the Philistines. David and his men were hiding in a cave and a detachment of the enemy was encamped in the valley below. Without giving it much thought, David said casually, “Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well in Bethlehem, the one by the gate.” ( 2 Samuel 23:15) Keep in mind that David, just like Jesus, was born in Bethlehem. The water from that well was obviously one of his delights. So what did his men do when they heard him say those words? They broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well, and brought it back to David. I am not sure whether to call this love, loyalty, devotion, or dedication, but all of these things are excellent virtues. It is also indicative of how these men felt about their leader. It can also be concluded that these men fit Jesus’ description of a real friend when He said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
       What drives people to do selfless deeds such as these? To me, it is something as simple as having the love of God in your heart. Think about it. Why did Jesus come into the world to suffer pain and pay the price for our redemption? It was God the Father’s love for mankind. It was that same love that motivated Jesus to give Himself for us. What drives us to love Him in return? Again, it is just the response to His love, as I John 4:19 says, We love Him, because He first loved us, or the fact that His love lives in our hearts as well.
       What about you? What are you willing to do for those you love dearly? The list is endless and sometimes the act itself may seem small and insignificant, but if we knew the hearts of people we would see how big a sacrifice it really was. I saw one such example recently while at HEB. It was very early in the morning and the young man in front of me only had one item. I was wondering why he was so fidgety and looking all around. When I saw what he was buying, I understood. It was a product exclusively made for women. It thought to myself, “Now that’s something I would never do.” Oh well, like the song said, “The things we do for love.”
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.
PS: Sorry for today’s late entry. I suffer from brain freeze often.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 02 2014
Falling Short
Wednesday 4/2/14     
       A well known and favorite bible verse of many is Romans 3:23, which says: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The message of this verse is quite obvious and it affirms the truth that all humans are sinners and, even at their very best, fall short of the glory of God. Because we all fall short of God’s glory, we could not meet the requirements needed to gain entry into Heaven. That is why Jesus paid the price for our sins at the cross of Calvary. I was thinking about that particular verse right after my wife and I saw the current movie, Noah. We knew in advance that, like all other Hollywood originated bible movies, this version would have some discrepancies. We, therefore, expected it to fall short in its attempt to adequately portray the biblical account of Noah and the Ark. In the end, their attempt fell very, very short. Although my wife did not like it all that much, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. However, I liked it because it had great visual and sound effects, but I took it as I would any other fabricated fictional movie. A true depiction of the story of Noah, it is not.
       In retrospect, I can now see how this movie can have damaging effects on people who are not grounded in their faith. Hidden behind the agenda of the movie’s director and producer in the making of it, I simply see another satanic attempt to drive people away from God or else destroy their faith. Was that not the serpent’s (devil) strategy from the very beginning? Did he not try to put doubt in Eve’s mind about what God had said when he asked her, “did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” (Genesis 3:1) Even today, many who have seen the classic bible themed movies like Ben Hur or the Ten Commandments believe those are the correct accounts of what really happened.
       It reminded me of the boy who was sharing with his mom the story he heard in Sunday School of Moses and God’s people crossing the Red Sea. In his version, it included walkie-talkies, planes offering ground cover, and engineers building a bridge. When his mom asked, “are you sure that’s the way it happened”,  he replied, “No, but my version is more exciting.” To borrow an overused cliché of many TV commercials, “don’t be fooled by imitations.” The most accurate description of the story of Noah is, and will always be the Bible’s account. 
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 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 01 2014
We Get 'Em
Tuesday 4/1/14   
       We had an experience in church many years ago I won’t soon forget. We didn’t have too many members at the time and perhaps we had three or four men who served as deacons. One Sunday morning a man arrived at the church early and he asked me if we could help him get his pest control business off the ground. He told me it was his life-long dream and that he had everything well planned. He had some money saved up but that with just one more boost, he could get the truck he needed. I told him that he would have to wait till after the service so he could speak to the deacons and they would make the decision. We had the custom back then to permit anybody who needed prayer or had something to share with the congregation to do so. When the offer was made, this man walked up to the front, recited the entire 3rd Chapter of John by memory, and then quietly walked back to his seat. Since most of our members were new to the gospel, you can imagine how impressed we all were. With that extraordinary scene still fresh in our minds, there was no way we were going to deny him when he made his pitch. I don’t remember the figure but we probably gave him all we had. As he was walking out with the money, I asked him, “By the way, what slogan are you going to put on your truck? He hesitated a bit and after several seconds he said, “ Oh yeah. Its going to be , ‘We get em’.” Do I have to add we never saw him again?
       I thought about that funny but painful learning experience recently when I read Psalm 117 once again. After I heard that man recite an entire chapter by memory, I challenged myself to do the same. If you have that desire too,  here’s your chance because Psalm 117 is the shortest of them all. Here it is: Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. 2 For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.Besides, though the Psalm may be short, it has a powerful message. The world often foolishly lavishes its praise at the undeserving. This psalm reminds us that the entire world should praise God instead. Why? Because He’s the One who loves us the most, and no one is more faithful than He.
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 11:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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