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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, May 30 2014
A Big Favor Asked
Friday 5/30/14  
There are only five books in the Bible that only have one Chapter; Philemon is one of them. Actually it is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to Philemon, a man who very likely came to the knowledge of the gospel through Paul’s ministry. In it, Paul asked a big favor of his friend and son in the faith. The truth is that Philemon would be doing himself a big favor if he complied. (For simplicity’s sake we’ll simply refer to him as Mr. P from here on)
       Mr. P was a slave owner who after his conversion, started a Christian church in his home. You may find it odd that Paul never expressed any opposition whatsoever to the practice of slavery which was prevalent in the Roman Empire at the time, neither did Jesus. You may also find it strange that Mr. P continued being a slave owner even after his conversion. Keep in mind that, even today, it is society which dictates what is or isn’t acceptable. In the future, however, when Jesus sets up His one thousand year kingdom on earth, (The Milennium) things will be very different than they are today.
       Here’s the favor that was asked: One of Mr. P’s slaves ran away and landed in the same prison where Paul was incarcerated. His name was Onesimus. Subsequently, he too was converted to faith in Christ through Paul’s teaching. Paul soon convinced him to return to Mr. P., but not without the letter where he asked Mr. P to receive him, not just as a slave anymore, but now also as a brother in Christ. Being the man who brought Mr. P to his salvation in Christ, Paul sensed that he was in a position to ask such a favor. In the letter, he also included this plea: If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account(verse 18 KJV) or as Daffy Duck might have juicily said, “Put it on my bill!” (Sorry, I couldn’t pass up on that one) It is believed that Mr. P complied with the request, remembering the he too had been graciously forgiven.
       I have a favor to ask too. Perhaps, one or more of you who are reading this blog today have had an unpleasant experience with a loved one or friend, resulting in a painful estrangement. Yes, I know you may have been the victim the same as Mr. P. was. Remember this, though: Nobody can offend us  any more than we have offended God in our lifetime, yet He forgave us and lovingly took us back in. Could this be your time to “bury the hatchet” and then forget where you buried it? Do it for the offender; do it for yourself. More importantly do it for the One who loves you the most.
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 5:7) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:41 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 29 2014
Contextual Dangers
Thursday    5/29/14 
       There is a local legal firm’s particular TV ad that is representative of the dangers that can be caused when certain words, phrases or sentences are taken out of their context. In this ad, which I’m sure many of you have seen, the lawyer in it is basically announcing that his firm treats all their clients the same regardless of who they are or where they come from. Part of his discourse is: “I don’t care if you’re from the North side, the South side, the East side, or the West side.” The problem with his choice of wording lies in the fact that to many who see and hear the ad, these three words stand out in their mind: “I Don’t care.” Therefore, they may wind up telling others that this law firm does not care about their clients, all because they chose to take three words out of the entire ad’s context.
       Many people are like that when it concerns the Bible. As I mentioned yesterday, when bible verses are taken out of their context, oftentimes they too will appear to be contradictory. Of course, many are intent on isolating certain bible verses for their own convenience. An old preacher friend of mine used to say that the story in the gospel of John about Jesus making wine was the favorite of all the winos in town.
       I Haven’t seen a “primetime” TV program in years but I do remember one particular hilarious “Frasier” rerun I did see. His radio station had made a new rule that he was to do commercial ads during his show. He said he would not do it for it was below his standards. His manager said that if he didn’t, they would pull him off the air. He quickly went on the air to protest, saying something like: “Those who know me, know that I am not a man who runs away from a good fight, etc.” Unfortunately they turned him off before he got through and the only thing his listeners heard was: “Those who know me, know that I am not a man.”
       I’ve caught many ministers make the mistake of isolating certain bible passages. That can do a lot of harm or if not create confusion among their listeners. That is one reason God’s ministers must keep in mind and take for themselves, this instruction Paul charged Timothy with: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) Many will persist in isolating bible verses, but if we want to know the truth, we need to do more than just a spot reading and study of the Bible. After all, we want to know the whole truth.
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 5:7) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 28 2014
Slippin' And A Slidin'
Wednesday, 5/28/14 
       When I was in high school, just a few years after the Civil War, from time to time we would hear this type of announcement over the PA system from our beloved vice-principal: “Would those of you who were smoking in the boys’ restroom come to my office immediately. We know who you are!” Well, I was never quite sure if somebody had snitched or if he really knew who the boys were that were doing it, and to be honest I never knew if any kids responded and actually turned themselves in. What I do know now is that when we do things we shouldn’t, sometimes others know it or find out, and sometimes they don’t.
       As I came across this verse recently, it reminded me of our vice-principal’s announcements of long ago: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard , lest at any time we should let them slip(Hebrews 2:1 KJV) Please permit me to elaborate. The writer of this book, (many think it was Paul) had previously made a clear and powerful argument depicting the superiority of Christ over all other angelic beings, concluding that if the words that were spoken by God’s prophets of long ago or even of the angels were to be heeded, even more so the words of Christ. When somebody important or powerful gives a word, it behooves us to pay attention. It reminded me of this corny line: Man # 1: “Did you hear about the scientist that crossbred a tiger with a parrot”? Man # 2: “No, what did he come out with?” Man # 1: “I don’t know, but if he talks, you better listen!” But here’s the point I want to make: Additionally, our selected verse addressed the issue of “slipping.” Throughout my years in the ministry, I have come to realize that when members of the flock begin to slip, with some of them it is quite noticeable, with others, not so much.
       Dear reader, if you are one of those who is slipping, you are in danger. And if the Christian life has become a boring blah to you and you no longer get moved or excited in church when you sing, read, pray, or hear a sermon, you need to do something about it quick. Perhaps you’ve noticed you no longer shed tears of joy as you once did. Well, let me slightly alter my vice-principal’s announcement of long ago to you: “Will those of you who are slipping in your Christian walk, please report to the Lord immediately. You know who you are!”
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 5:7) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 27 2014
A Suspicious New Love
Tuesday, 5/27/14
       Here is one Bible verse that years ago used to intrigue me: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father (God) is not in him. (1 John 2:15) To many, the verse may be difficult to understand because God loved the world so much that He gave His Son as a ransom for it. This verse, however, tells us not to love the world. Why? As is the case with many others, this bible verse can be contradictory if it is taken out of it’s context. Reading beyond the verse, we can clearly see that it does not refer to the people in the world but to the natural cravings in this life, namely lusting after what we see with our eyes and the boasting about the things we have and do. Think about it: What images do we mostly see on Facebook, a picture of a great looking plate of food someone is craving or is about to eat, pictures of someone’s possessions, like cars, homes, furnishings, pets, etc., or places where they are or have visited? Settle down; I’m not suggesting people who do these things are lost heathens. I would be a hypocrite if I pretended that I hated eating out, having things, or going places. I’m just saying that we can fall in love and get so involved with these things, that we can neglect or push aside the things that truly are important and necessary. Jesus also said that life is more than just food and clothes, (Mt. 6:25) and that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15) Unfortunately, to many people, these worldly things have already become “their life.”
       To me, one of the saddest verses in the Bible is 2 Timothy 4:10, where the Apostle Paul wrote: For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Sadly, the chapter in the life of this particular servant of God, is repeated over and over in the life of many church members today. At one time they were faithfully and wholeheartedly serving in a certain church capacity, and if they have not left it now altogether for “better and more fun things” outside the church, their heart is no longer in it.
       Examine yourself. Has eating or going out, or the movies, or hitting the social scene, become the major part of your life? How much time are you leaving for God, and is there any room left for prayer, bible reading, church involvement and attendance, and spending time with your family, just to name a few? It is these things that, in the end, you will be happy that you did not neglect.
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 5:7) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 26 2014
A Muddy Forecast
Monday,  5/26/14      
       We were at a graduation ceremony recently where the invited speaker touched on the rudeness and lack of integrity present today in politics, citing particularly the negative TV campaign ads. He said he recalled how, as a young man, those running for the same office would refer to the other as “my worthy opponent.” Not so today. The mudslinging seems to be worse than ever, and we’re still in the primaries. I can only imagine how nasty it will get once one party’s candidate is pitted the candidate of the opposing party. With me, honesty, decency, and integrity are important and if political candidates resort to mudslinging, it is obvious they possess none of these qualities. I don’t know about you, but I would be very hard pressed to give my vote to such as these.
       Why is mudslinging so prevalent? Are the candidates so desirous of the office that they are willing to win at all cost? And think about this: If both opposing candidates employ these dirty tactics, and if the accusations they spew are even half way true, we will be stuck with one of these scoundrels for at least another four years. It think it is time for a law to be passed that would forbid all types of negative campaigning because when you think about it, it really isn’t necessary anymore, not in the age of Twitter, Facebook, and all other social media outlets. Today, bad news travels faster then ever and it really doesn’t matter who’s running for office because everyone’s dirty laundry will be exposed sooner or later.
       But wait, not all is gloom and doom. We must never forget that God is, and has always been, in control of men’s affairs. I spoke recently to a young mother who said she feared that if she died who would provide for her children. I asked her, “Is it you who has provided and watched over your children all this time or could it have been the Lord who has provided for both you and your children? Jesus said: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.(Matthew 10:29-31) The One who watches over and provides for the sparrows will do even more for us. Therefore we have no need to fear in these shaky times. Even if those elected are not our choices, we can be sure that we will be okay because God is in control. In fact, you can be confident and have hope whatever your situation may be today. Trust God; you are under His care.
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 5:7) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 23 2014
Door Closing Time
Friday 5/23/14  
       If you’ve ever been at a department store around closing time, more than likely, you’ve heard this familiar announcement at least once: “Attention, (name of store) customers: We will be closing in 15 minutes, blah, blah, blah, and as always, thank you for shopping at ………………. .” (name of store) I suppose there may be a few of you, especially the men, who don’t mind hearing this announcement at all. On the other hand, there are many who not only hate to hear it but dread it’s impending arrival.
       Another particular door closing is soon approaching that millions around the world fear and are not anxiously awaiting. I am referring to the door of salvation. Time on earth is running out and many have not turned to God nor have they made their peace with Him. In one of the Bible’s last words, Christ made this announcement and invitation: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20) This is another reminder that the door that leads to forgiveness and eternal life is still open. Although time is rapidly running out, if you or someone dear to, you has not accepted Jesus’ invitation, I urge you to do it now. I’m not referring to church attendance or being religious, but to the matter of believing and trusting in Christ and letting him be the Savior of your life. None of us is good enough to merit entry into Heaven. That is why Jesus died on the cross. He took our place and all we need to do is believe in Him and invite Him into our heart and life. He not only is the Doorkeeper, He is the Door. Accept His invitation and take Him into your heart today, for that door too will soon be closing.
I heard someone come to my door and then I heard Him calling
I came to open quickly then, and didn’t think of stalling
It was the Lord, our Savior dear. I’m so glad that He found me
Now I no longer have to fear for Jesus walks beside me
Though the door of salvation will not be open forever, those who go through it will live forever.
Memory verse for the week: Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 22 2014
The Fear Of Man
Thursday    5/22/14 
       The Bible says: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25) On the other hand, Proverbs 14:27 says: The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life turning a man from the snares of deathObviously, it is wise to fear God and unwise to fear a man. Those who fear a person or persons in their lives are in a snare. That is, they are not free. It is possible that some of you who are reading this blog today, are in such a situation. There is someone in your life who is keeping you from serving God more fully if not altogether. In my many years in the ministry, I have heard the countless stories of those who lament not being able to go to church, or else be restricted when they do because they fear going against a certain person’s wishes or demands. Many have told me point blank that they don’t want to do anything to anger or upset that certain person, yet angering or upsetting God does not seem to bother them. They cannot see that they are making that person higher or more important than God, which essentially constitutes idolatry. Jesus said: Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in Hell. (Mt. 10:28)
       There is an account in the 5th Chapter of Acts of the time the Apostles were arrested and jailed for publicly preaching the gospel and healing many of their diseases. During the night, an angel of the Lord set them free and they went right back to preach to the crowds. When they were brought back to stand before the council, the chief priest asked them, “Didn’t we give you strict orders not to teach in this name?” (Jesus’) Unafraid of the consequences, Peter and the other Apostles replied “We must obey God rather than men.” Should it be any different with us?
       If someone in your life has kept you from serving the Lord the way you would like to serve Him, completely and in freedom, I pray you will break free starting today. Remember, the consequences of going against God are much, much greater than going against that person in your life that has imprisoned you. Jesus is the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.
Memory verse for the week: Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 21 2014
Medicine For A Broken Heart
Wednesday 5/21/14
       In yesterday’s blog, the Lord impressed it on my heart to remind you that you are loved, although it may not seem that way sometimes. Of course, I was referring mostly to God’s love for us. Today, I am sensing that some of you are dealing with a heart that may be broken now or headed that way because it has been a long time since someone near and dear to you has demonstrated his or her love for you. Pastors and counselors deal with that issue often, sometimes even with those in lifelong marriages or relationships. In fact, just yesterday I spoke with a Christian lady whose heart was broken because her husband of twenty years has made her feel that he no longer loves her. To me, there are few things in life more painful than loving someone dearly and for him or her not to love you back.
       Are you in that situation today and is your heart aching because you feel unloved and unappreciated? Well, before I can offer a suggestion, let me first remind you that there is absolutely no problem too big for God, and that He will surely help you if you trust Him. Lets start with God’s love. As you well know, it is unconditional, that is, you don’t have to do anything in order for Him to love you. A popular Christian song by the Sidewalk Prophets has these words: “I am the thorn in your crown, I am the sweat from your brow, I am the nail in your wrist, I am Judas’ kiss……….. but you love me anyway.” God loves us even when we don’t love Him back. Since He lives within us, why can’t we do the same? Jesus said we should do good to those who do us evil and went even further when He said we should also love our enemies. Therefore, if we are to love those who do us wrong, should we not also love our spouse, loved one, or friend even when he or she is not loving us back?
       If that special person in your life has not shown or told you lately that he or she loves you, I suspect  the devil had something to do with it. Nevertheless, I pray you will take comfort in the fact that there will always be One who does.  With God’s grace and strength at your disposal, you can defeat him. Here’s one way: If the one you love dearly won’t love you back, you do your best to shower him or her with love anyway. The devil has no defense for that and that method has worked for many. Love is like respect, when you give it to others, it is very likely they will return it. After all, don’t we love Christ because He loved us first?
Memory verse for the week: Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 20 2014
Are You A Somebody?
Tuesday 5/20/14    
       The title of a very popular secular song and a favorite of mine when I was a young man, was “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.” The song went on to say “You may be king and you may possess the world and it’s gold, but gold won’t bring you happiness when you’re growing old.” It’s message was pretty clear but simple: A person who has all the wealth and material things life has to offer but still feels unloved will feel like a nobody nonetheless. The Apostle Paul said basically the same thing in his first letter to the Corinthians. He wrote: If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2) I’m not sure if we can accept that old song as gospel, but I suppose that those who feel unloved may very likely feel like nobodies nevertheless.
       Sadly, there are many poor souls out in the world who feel unloved every day. I hope you are not one of them. What is sadder is that they have permitted something or someone to make them fall for this satanic deception. There may be many unlovely people in the world but there is always at least One who loves them. It is the God who made them. Sometimes it may seem too wonderful to believe, especially when we have been unlovable, yet it is true: God loves us. In fact, he loved us so much, He sent His Son to die in our place for our sin, in spite of our awfulness. The great beloved gospel singer, George Beverly Shea, was right on when he wrote one of the best known choruses of all time. It says: “The wonder of it all, the wonder of it all, just to think that God loves me.” To those of us who admit our sinfulness, it is mind-boggling to think that God can love us in spite of ourselves.
       Dear reader, don’t fall for Satan’s deception. If he tells you “nobody loves you”, it is a lie because, you are loved! The very fact that I write these little weekday mediations is because you are my family and my friends and I want to bring you a word of hope, comfort, and encouragement. I want to do what I can to bring a smile to your face or give you a chuckle or two from time to time. Why? Because I love you. Therefore, you are loved, and because you are, you are a somebody.
Memory verse for the week: Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:52 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 19 2014
Job Performance
Monday,  5/19/14 
       The way we do our jobs or handle our obligations says a lot about how we feel about them. People who don’t put all their heart and effort in performing their obligations will often find excuses for their underperformance. Yet, deep down inside they know if they still love what they do or if their love for it is growing cold. Even the simplest minded persons know that. There is one such lady who has come to our church for as long as I can remember. On a certain Sunday morning some years ago, I brought in an unfolded bundle of our Church’s newsletter and she offered to help me fold them. When she noticed how careful I was in trying to fold them correctly, she asked: “Hey Bro. Joe, I don’t have to try to fold them perfectly, do I?” I answered “If you’re doing it for me, you don’t have to, but if you’re doing it for the Lord, you decide.” She looked straight into my eyes and replied, “I see what you mean.”
       Our job or obligations performance also suffers under these circumstances: (1) There are issues clouding our heart and mind. They may be financial, emotional, physical, or even spiritual. (2) We’ve got too many irons on the fire, so to speak. (3) Some other task, obligation, or even ministry opportunity pops up. If we try to handle both of them, we will eventually be forced to choose one over the other. That happened to me many years back. Given an opportunity to begin a Spanish language radio ministry, I jumped at the chance. Before too long, our programs could be heard in Texas, Mexico, and California and we got some pretty good results from it. After a few years in the radio ministry, however, I was struck with the realization that I was not adequately fulfilling my obligations to my church and it’s members. You see, back then I did not have the help or support of three ably equipped and faithful ministers like I do today. When forced to make a decision back then, I chose the church.
       If you feel that it is the Lord that has given you your job or even placed you in your present position or situation, then doing it should be a joy to you. Paul wrote: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. When we’ve lost the love in any of our obligations or relationships, it won’t be too long before others notice it too. If that is happening to you, ask the lord to restore any good thing you may have lost. He will answer because nothing is too hard for Him.
Memory verse for the week: Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:48 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 16 2014
No Pushing
Friday 5/16/14     
       I have no idea if they still exist today, but way, way back when I was in middle school, some selected students were appointed as hall monitors. These positions were created because pushing and general horseplay in the halls had either caused injuries or else created fights and disturbances. I’ve noticed throughout the years that there is still a lot of pushing going around in many places, not just in school. Yet, I’m no longer referring to physical pushing, but rather the verbal type. I suspect leaders in many areas of life are convinced that this type of pushing brings results. And though the idea may work in some instances, I believe it does more harm than good. You see, most folks don’t appreciate being pushed in any way, shape, or form. Jesus portrayed his followers as sheep, and sheep do not react well when pushed. It is their nature to follow.
       A good shepherd will lead and not push them. This is why Jesus said this about them: A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:5) A good leader gains the trust of those who follow him. On the other hand, those who have no genuine love for them can push them as hard as they will, but the sheep will not willingly follow. If others follow you even when you don’t push them, it is pretty obvious the Lord has blessed you with good leadership qualities. Sheep are not the smartest critters around but they are wise enough to follow the right leaders. If we are still in doubt on the question of who to follow, a close walk with our Good Shepherd will give us all the wisdom we need. In fact, a good leader, in one way or several, will almost always resemble the Good Shepherd.
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 15 2014
Undeserved Forgiveness
Thursday    5/15/14    
       By now, all the world has heard about all they want to hear concerning Mr. Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. In a phone conversation he thought was private, his so called girl friend who is young enough to be his granddaughter taped it and later revealed it publicly. In it, Mr Sterling was caught making some very racist remarks and was promptly removed as an owner by the NBA, at least for the time being. This past Monday morning, I caught a few minutes of a national TV sports talk show where they asked two panelists if they were willing to forgive Mr. Sterling after he somewhat apologized and asked for forgiveness. They both emphatically said no. I, of course, expected they would reply that way and also suspected that they responded as such because they felt that would be the popular answer with their audience. This mindset is not new. In fact, that’s what happened long ago with Pilate. After he declared that he had found no fault in the accused Jesus, the Christ, he nevertheless wilted under pressure to what he thought was the general public opinion and was the one mainly responsible for Jesus being beaten and then crucified. He was afraid to go against the flow just like many people are in today’s controversial issues.
       Nevertheless, the matter I want to address today is the subject of forgiveness. I suppose that old, spoiled billionaires are among the least liked by the general masses and the least likely to sympathize with, thus the public outcry against the apparently racist Mr. Sterling. Even so, the question asked the sports talk show panelists was not “do you agree with Mr. Sterling” or “do you think he should be allowed to be an NBA owner” or “do you accept his apology” or even “do you dislike or hate him”? No, the question was “are you willing to forgive him?” Humanly speaking, one can say that he does not deserve to be forgiven, but think about this: Did any of us who were forgiven and saved by the Lord deserve it? Does anybody? The truth is that no human being has the right to deny forgiveness to anyone, including those who have not asked for it. That’s just like building our own jail and detaining someone in it when we have no legal right to do it. God is the only One who can give or deny forgiveness, not us.
       If we deny forgiveness to someone, we are going against God’s command. In Mark 11:25, Jesus said: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. In other words, if we don’t forgive others their trespasses God won’t forgive ours. We don’t have to like what others do; we can even dislike them personally, (as long as we don’t hate them) but to deny forgiveness to anyone, that we cannot do. Don’t fall into the devil’s trap.
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 13 2014
Overcoming Regret
Tuesday, 5/13/14
       I was observing in church this past Sunday morning at the close of the worship service thepeople the came to the altar for prayer. Some came individually, others in pairs, and some as a complete family unit. Since the day Jesus came into my life and church attendance became a major part of it, I have always been touched by the scenes of people praying at the altar. I am especially impressed when entire families pray together and am a proponent of the belief that a local Funeral Home owner expressed on billboards all around San Antonio many years ago. His slogan was: “Families that pray together, stay together.” I am even more grateful that the Lord has allowed me to be an active participant in these altar prayer times.
       While at the altar this past Sunday, this thought also entered my mind: “I wonder what partregret is playing in the hearts of those who are praying here today.” I was immediately reminded of the words of a contemporary Christian song by Matthew West. This is the way his musical message begins: “Hello, my name is regret. I’m pretty sure we have met. Every single day of your life, I’m the whisper inside that won’t let you forget.” His words ring true and as far as regrets are concerned, I believe it is safe to say we all have them. In fact, they may be in the hearts and minds of some who are reading this blog today. Because of Christ, our regrets are no longer an unbearable burden to us. On the other hand, if one or two of you are still struggling mightily with this issue, complete victory from it is as close to you as your next prayer. Paul wrote: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10) While it is true that the sorrow of the world can kill us, it is equally true that if we bring our burden to the Lord He can free us completely and regret will no longer torment us. All of us have past mistakes we can never undo but if God already forgave them and forgot about them, we don’t have to dwell on them either. We should focus instead on creating good memories for our future. Be free and enjoy your life in Christ.
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
PS: You can hear the Matthew West song and see the lyrics at this web address:                                                    http://youtubeZuJWQzjfU3o
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 12 2014
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Monday,  5/12/14 
       We sang in church yesterday one of the great hymns of the faith and a favorite of many Christians, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Every time we sing it, it comforts my soul as I dwell on the great eternal truth that God is faithful. This great hymn was written by Thomas Chisholm and was set to music by William Runyun  in 1923. Chisholm obviously had Lamentations 3:22-23 in his heart and mind when he wrote it. These verses say: It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed , because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness  
       As examples or proofs of God’s faithfulness, the hymn points out that “there is no shadow of turning with Him.”  In other words, He is not like us whose moods can vary all in the same day; He is always the same. That is why we can approach Him confidently in prayer knowing that we will be able to avail ourselves of His love, compassion, mercy, strength, and forgiveness anytime we need it. The hymn points out that “summer and winter and seedtime and harvest, and the sun, moon and stars in their courses” all attest to His amazing faithfulness. Think about it: Has there ever been a day in your life that the sun, moon and stars, or even the four seasons failed to appear? And I trust you don’t just attribute that to Mother Nature as so many people carelessly do. No, God made this promise: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.(Genesis 8:22)
       I thought there would be no better start to your week than to remind you that your God is faithful. Whatever you will need, whatever burden you may have, whatever special prayer petition you may have for yourself or a loved one, you can bring it to Him and leave it before Him in peace, comfort, and assurance. Because we have One we can always depend on, One who will never let us down or break our heart, there is absolutely no reason for doubt, fear, or uncertainty to bring us down. No, lets have a happy and victorious outlook and remember the faithfulness of the One who saved us, loves us, and is always with us.    
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
PS: If you are interested, the internet is flooded with many renditions of this great hymn, some even with the lyrics. Check them out.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 09 2014
Friday 5/09/14 
       Surrounded by a multitude of people, Jesus made this sobering declaration: There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:2-3) Though many heard His words that day, this admonition was directed primarily at His followers and was part of a discourse concerning the hypocrisy of His religious opponents, the Pharisees. It’s general meaning is that hypocrisy will eventually be exposed and it applies to everyone. I suppose not everybody will agree with me, but I believe there is a little bit of hypocrisy in all of us. Remember the story of David being exposed of his sin by the prophet Nathan concerning Bathsheba and her husband? The story is found in 2 Samuel, Chapter 12. Nathan set David up by telling him a parable about a rich man who stole his poor neighbor’s only little ewe lamb, slaughtered it, and prepared it for one of his visiting friends. The prophet then asked him what he thought should be done to a man such as that and David responded indignantly that he deserved to die for it. Nathan then dropped David this bombshell, “You are that man!”
       David is a bible hero in every sense of the word but on that day his hypocrisy was exposed. And if that could happen to such a man as David, it can happen to us. Some ex-fellow workers of mine made the news many years ago when they were stranded for three days in a sand bar out in the coast. When they were rescued, one of them was interviewed by a TV reporter. The entire city rejoiced because of their rescue but back at the Post Office everyone knew that two of them had called in sick on the day they left on their fishing trip. Amazingly, neither was fired but they were never able to live down that embarrassing event in their lives.
       Christ’s word of caution is for us. Today, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and what have you, many people know everything about us and the words we use when we communicate with friends. We’ve already seen folks who claim they just can’t attend church having a good time at some party or public venue at the same time as the missed church service. I repeat: Though there may be a touch of deceitfulness in all of us, lets all be careful. Its more than the fear of being exposed; its more about the fear of failing the One who loves us.
Memory verse for the week: (2 Corinthians 5:7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 08 2014
Meaningful Names
Thursday    5/8/14    
       I suspect some of you who are reading this blog today do not really know the meaning of your first name, or else may not know why you were given that name in the first place. I have come to know that a good number of biblical characters were given their name for a specific time, event, or reason. Here are a few examples: Moses = drawn out of the waters (his adoptive mother drew him out of a little basket in the Nile) , Isaac = laughter (God told Abraham to name him that probably because both he and his wife laughed at the thought of two very senior citizens having a baby boy) Joseph = may he add (His mother named him that because she believed God would give her another son afterward. She was right) And the greatest name of all, Jesus = Savior (The angel of the Lord told Joseph: and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
       Then there are those whose names have been changed. A few examples are: Paul (small) was originally Saul. (asked for) Jesus changed the name of Simon (hearing) to Peter (stone or rock) and a man by the name of Joses (same as Joseph) had his name changed by the Apostles to Barnabas (son of encouragement) If you read Acts 4:36-37, you’ll see why. In many cases the name fit the person well and was a good description of him or her.
       Some of you have great first names whose meanings are obvious. Here are a few examples: Merry, Grace, Mercy, Destiny, Faith, Melody, Patience, and Joy, just to name a few. If you are one of these fortunate individuals, does your name fit you well? If not, I challenge you to make an effort to live up to your name. After all, the world is surely in need of things such as these. And then there are those like you whose names have no extraordinary meaning. In your case, you were just named that because some family member or friend before you had that name. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I trust you don’t feel left out. Whatever your first name is, I know that if you live a life that honors God, one that touches those around you in a positive way, by the time you leave this world, many, many people will know your name. They may even say that you made a name for yourself.    
Memory verse for the week: (2 Corinthians 5:7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 07 2014
Lifting Up The Faithless
Wednesday, 5/7/14 
       Some of you who are reading this blog today have a family member or dear friend whose level of faith in God seems to be almost non-existent. You often feel exasperated at their apparent lack of faith because you are convinced that things would go so much better for them if only they would have a more positive outlook. You have heard of the countless number of people whose great faith has done wonders in their lives and it breaks your heart because your family member or friend is not one of them. Because you are a follower of Christ you also know that since it is impossible for those who lack faith to please God,  (See Hebrews 11:6) you feel that your doubting family member or friend will never be helped in their situation, whether the issue is medical, spiritual, financial, or emotional. What can you do in a case like that? Can God do anything for people who don’t believe? Actually, He can.
       One great eternal truth that comes to mind is Romans 9:15, where God says: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So you see, because He is a God of mercy, He can even help those who can’t or won’t help themselves. If that were not enough and you need more reassurance, let me remind you of the story found in the 2nd Chapter of Mark about the paralyzed man Jesus healed. His four friends made a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching and lowered him right where He was standing. Note carefully what verse 5 says: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “son, your sins are forgiven you.” He healed him as well. In this case, the man’s healing and forgiveness did not come because of his faith but rather the faith of his friends.
       So then, if there is a loved one or friend in your life with a very low level of faith, don’t despair, this game is not over. You just keep plugging away and do your best to strengthen their faith. Remember God’s mercy; He will give you or your friend a generous dose of it in due time. And don’t forget the paralytic man’s four friends. If some special people in your life don’t have enough faith, you have it for them, never forgetting that there are no impossible cases in God’s eyes.
Memory verse for the week: (2 Corinthians 5:7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 06 2014
Undercover Boss
Tuesday, 5/6/14
       I never watch the so-called prime time TV programs and other than the news and some sports specials, I only watch TV when I’m in the kitchen, when I have to get away from my computer, or when I go to my recliner to recoup some lost energy. I’m not a fan of any of thereality shows although I did recently catch about an hour’s worth of some reruns of the program “Undercover Boss.” I must admit I really liked the show and it’s concept. I was moved to tears when some unsuspecting employees got recognized and handsomely rewarded for their hard work and dedication. Although it’s producer denies it, it just may be that, like some other reality shows, “Undercover Boss” may also be staged. Nevertheless, even if it isn’t real, I’m glad it’s viewers are reminded that it pays to always do your best in the work place, that integrity, hard work, and dedication still count for something.
       Perhaps I like the program’s concept because it espouses the biblical advice and guidelines for living given to God’s people. A perfect and more detailed example of this advice is found in the following portion of scripture: Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.(Ephesians 6:5-8, New King James Version) Although there is no more slavery in this part of the world, this also applies to the workplace, plus our station in life in general.
       From the very first day Jesus came into my heart and life, and even before I had read the Bible, I purposed in my heart that out of love and gratitude for what Jesus did for me, I was going to do my best in everything and be the best person I could be. From that day, I made a sincere effort to instill those values in my children and later with my grandchildren and our church members as well. I will continue to say this to everybody: “Do your best in everything you do and be the best person you can be. In so doing, you will honor the One who you do all this for in the first place. And although you won’t do it specifically for that reason, you can rest assured you too will be rewarded. You’ll see.” 
Memory verse for the week: (2 Corinthians 5:7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 05 2014
Biblical Contradictions
Monday,  5/5/14  
       I’m sure you’ve all encountered people who claim the Bible is full of contradictions. Many who make that statement have never really read it and only do so because they’ve heard others say it. You know people like that, right? They like the little clichés others use and adopt them thinking it will make them look clever. It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes about the country girl at a dance who saw a city girl’s turn-off line with those fellows she didn’t care to dance with. She would tell them: “I’m sorry; I can’t dance with you because I’m contemplating matrimony.” Because it worked, the country girl decided to use the same line whenever she wanted to turn down someone’s dance offer. The problem was that she heard it wrong and this is the way she said it: “I’m sorry; I can’t dance with you because I’m constipated from macaroni.”
       From time to time, all who read the Bible will come across scriptures that may seem contradictory. One verse I used to have trouble with which seemed to be a contradiction is Hebrews 11:11, which says: By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Back in the 18th Chapter of Genesis, however, Sarah obviously doubted the first time she overheard the angel of God tell Abraham that she would bear a child in her old age. From just inside the tent, she laughed within herself because of the absurdity of a 90 year old woman bearing a child. Since God knows the heart, the angel asked Abraham why Sarah had laughed. She, in fear tried to deny it, but the angel said “No, but you did laugh.”
       How does one explain Sarah laughing in unbelief at God’s promise and later the Book of Hebrews using her as an example of great faith? The answer is simple. If she did not fully believe at the onset, she totally believed once she realized that the One speaking even knew her thoughts, plus she also heard him declare this eternal truth: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Even people of great faith sometimes struggle with things they don’t understand or can’t make sense of. We must remember we don’t have to. All we need to do is trust God. A line from an old favorite gospel song of mine said it this way: “I don’t need to understand; I just need to hold His hand.”
Memory verse for the week: (2 Corinthians 5:7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, May 02 2014
They Hold Us Up
Friday 5/02/14 
       In a well-known historical account in the 17th Chapter of Exodus, Moses was going through a very difficult trial as He led God’s people toward their promised land. Since they were traveling through a desert place, no water was available and, once more, Moses had to put up with the people’s grumbling and complaining. As before, the Lord again provided for them giving them the water they needed. He instructed Moses to use the same staff he had used before to perform the Lord’s wonders to strike the rock at Mount Sinai and when he did, water gushed out freely. If Moses’s troubles weren’t enough, the Amalekites came to fight against God’s people. Moses commanded Joshua to lead his men against them and while the battle was going on, he climbed up to the top of a nearby hill accompanied by his brother Aaron and a man named Hur. The reason he did this was to raise up the Lord’s staff while the battle was going on below. After a while, however, Moses’ arms got tired and dropped to his side and when this happened the Amalekites got the upper hand in the battle. Sensing this, Aaron and Hur found a large stone where Moses could sit down and then they held his hands up, one on each side. They continued holding his hands up until the battle was won.
       This story reminds me of the value of faithful friends, those who help and hold us up as we fight our daily battles. These are they which will “tell it like it is” when necessary. Proverbs 27:6 says: Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. In my own life, I have been blessed with friends such as these. One ex-coworker, when sensing I was behaving like the old Joe, would quickly call me from a distance saying, “Watch it Sam.” Although that’s my middle name, he knew when I heard that name I would understand that I was not acting like the new Joe is Christ. Another special friend, whom I would see at the gym constantly, would always keep me accountable. We understood each other and I trust that I too held him accountable. Today, I am still blessed to have friends in my life such as these, three of them in particular.
       Do you have friends like these? I sincerely believe that if you don’t, it won’t be long until you do, especially if you become this type of friend yourself.
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 11:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 01 2014
A Great Reward Awaits
Thursday    4/24/14    
       In Pastor Ruben’s bible class last night we were reminded about the countless promises God has given His children. He also reminded us of this truth: God is not like us, He fulfills all His promises. The Bible advises us not to make any promises. It is a very unwise thing to do for even people with the highest level of integrity can never be certain they will be able to keep them because they may not even be alive the following day. Not so with God, He is eternal. One of God’s great promises to His children concerns the temptations of life. God has promised us that in every temptation we encounter, He will make a way of escape for us. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13) That’s the good part! The bad part is that we don’t always take the escape route God has provided, and because we don’t, we often fall to the temptation.
       In one of my favorite Psalms, David, speaking of God’s judgments or ordinances, said this: By them is your servant warned; and in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:11) David knew this promise well: God’s (Word) judgments serve us as a warning of the dangers all around us. There is a great reward for those who walk in them but no guarantee for those who choose to be the captains of their own lives and destinies. It is like those who have been prescribed medications for a serious medical condition but are slack in taking them because they think they know better than their doctor. They have a better plan and follow that instead. Then they die suddenly and many of their friends and family can’t believe it. In fact, they will even think it was the doctor’s fault. Some will even use this well-worn lament: “He (she) didn’t deserve this.”
       Because I believe in Philippians 4:8, I choose to believe that none of this blog’s readers are like that, and even if you’re slacking a bit, that you will make a great comeback. You will choose not to walk far from God because you know the value and importance of praying, reading your bible, and attending church regularly. Because you have a healthy level of fear and respect for God, you will give Him your best. You know that when you do, things will go so much better for you and you will reap the great reward David wrote about.
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 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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