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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Monday, June 30 2014
Monday,  6/30/14   
 
       I suppose all of you have been to those fancy hamburger restaurants where you can choose how you want your burger prepared and then add your choice of trimmings when its ready. Well, one fellow went to such a place and wanted his burger medium rare. When he sat down and took his first bite, he knew it was not what he ordered. Reminding himself that he would not get upset, he took his burger back to the counter and calmly told the young lady who took his order, “Miss, my burger was well done.” She replied “Thanks, I’m glad you liked it; I’ll let the cook know.”  C’mon now, it wasn’t that corny.
 
       Actually, I purposely started with this goofy story to remind you today of a better usage and application of the words, “well done.” In Jesus’ Parable of the Talents, He spoke of the man who distributed talents to three of his servants. To the two who used them wisely and returned them with interest, he said, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness. (Matthew 25:21) The master of these servants was wise in understanding how important it is to recognize and commend those who do well. He also understood the value of having that type of servant tending to his business. To many, this may seem an insignificant gesture, but I sincerely believe that we are all born with an inner desire to be commended when we do something, no matter how slight, for those we love. When I see children in church proudly display to their parents what they did in Sunday School, I remember many years ago when I would proudly show my school work to my parents. I bet you did too.
 
       Today, think of the people in your life that could use a little pat on the back or even hear you tell them, “well done.” And it doesn’t have to be something great or extraordinary, any little old thing will do. So often, we take the opposite route. We do like those parents who verbally scold their children because they didn’t get all A’s in their report card. I personally believe that praise is a greater motivator than reprimand. I trust you believe the same way too. After all, whether it is praise or reproof, we’ve all been on the receiving end of both.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doingbut let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 27 2014
Friday 6/27/14  
 
       All things in life, whether good or bad, come to an end. If you are on top of the world right now, and I hope you are, enjoy it, appreciate it, and make the most of it because it will come to an end. Then, when you leave the mountaintop experience and find yourself in the valley, this too will end. Before long, you’ll be back on top again, that is, if you belong to Jesus. That’s just the way life is; nothing in this world is forever. The thought of it could be depressing if we didn’t know that our God will be there for us whether we’re on the mountain or in the valley. Our strength, abilities, health, good looks, vitality, all of these will slowly fade away in this life. Again, the thought of it could trouble our hearts and minds were it not for the assurance that one day we’ll be living in a place where all good things will last forever. In Christ, losing these things should not worry or concern us.
 
       There is one thing we should be concerned with, however. I am referring to losing valuable things before their time due to our own bad decisions or carelessness. In addressing a certain church who had lost much of their standing with Him, the Lord said: Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in my sight.(Revelation 3:2)
 
       As I am writing this blog today, I have in my heart and mind some people I know who are presently in a precarious situation and as far as I know, have done nothing or little to try to avoid losing out altogether. This message and admonition is for them and for anybody else who has lost something precious and is at the point of losing even more. I suppose that the older people get, the more they are aware of the importance of strengthening what they still have. We know some folks who have already lost much, but now they are at the point of losing their spouse, children, family, health, and more importantly their relationship with God and the joy and peace that go with it. If that is you, I pray you will wake up and do whatever you can before you lose even more. If it is not you but is somebody very near and dear to you, I trust you will pray for that person and, if God leads you, do whatever you can to see that he or she gets back on the right track as soon as possible. Time is running out.
 
Memory verse for the week: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.— Psalms 19:7
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 26 2014
Thursday    6/26/14    
 
       Pastor Solis preached an excellent message in church last Sunday reminding us of an eternal truth which is definitely worth repeating since it is something we seemingly tend to forget. The entire message is found in one single verse, one which is beloved, well known and which many know by heart. Here it is: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) Note the emphasis on “we know” because it is one truth that many Christians have seen being played out in their own lives, namely, that God has a way of turning around our biggest sorrows, misfortunes, and disappointments into our greatest joys and victories.
 
       Pastor Solis wisely pointed out God’s perfect placement of this verse in the chapter (the middle) since it begins with the truth that there is no condemnation to all who are in Christ, (Verse 1) and it ends reminding us that nothing or no one can separate us from the love of God. (Verses 35-39) Here is the simple application: Those who are in Christ can never be condemned. We can’t even condemn ourselves. Neither can we ever be separated from God’s love. These truths coincide with our beginning and with our end, so with those two issues regarding our eternal destiny settled, how about everything that is in between? (our life) Bingo! No matter what happens or what we are going or will be going through, everything is going to work out fine, that is, if we love God.
 
       One biblical example of this truth is the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. He went from being a slave and later a prisoner, to becoming the governor and right hand man of the king of Egypt. Similar fortunes have happened in the lives of people today. Like many of you, I read the story circulating on the internet about a young man by the name of Jeremy Meeks. He was arrested by the Stockton California Police recently and when they posted his mug shot his picture went viral because of his exceptionally good looks. If he turns his life over to Jesus, his misfortune can be the door that leads to a career in movies or as a model. Years from today, he may say, “Who would have thought that the most embarrassing and lowest point in my life would have led to this?” If you are going through rough times today, trust God. Things will be getting better, perhaps sooner than you think.
 
Memory verse for the week: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.— Psalms 19:7
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:22 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 25 2014
Wednesday, 6/25/14
 
       A pastor from Mexico who comes to our church periodically was sharing with me, in more detail, the conditions around the border town where he lives. He also added that members of a drug cartel built a makeshift reservoir right next to their church property to store huge loads of gas they steal from Mexican refineries. They in turn sell the gas at half price to all the folks in the area. As I understand it, it would be very unwise for the local citizens not to buy their gas from them. Besides, they convinced the people that the price of gas set by the government is more than double what it should be, thus justifying their theft of it. Those who buy it know it is stolen but many of them feel perfectly justified in doing so. Their position is: The government is trying to steal from us so we’ll beat them to the punch. Here’s the question: Is it permissible to steal from a thief? I posed that question to some people I know and the yes and no answers were evenly divided. How about you? What is your opinion? I suppose the answer that you give is simply a reflection of your own set of personal convictions.
 
       Okay, I know you’re just waiting for me to tell you what I think, right? I personally believe it is wrong to steal, period! Here’s why I believe that way: The Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” comes with no addendums. What I mean is, the Commandment doesn’t even hint that there are exceptions. It is like the Commandment to honor our parents. It too has no exceptions. Many will try to justify their breaking of these Commandments by saying something like, “Well, God doesn’t know my parents” or “Why shouldn’t I do this or that when others are doing it to me. God made no room or provisions for these situations. Speaking of no exceptions, here’s another one: In the 13th Chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul wrote that God’s people should obey and be subject to the government. Here again, it did not make exceptions if those in authority are corrupt themselves, adding that no one is in power without God’s knowledge or permission in the first place.
 
       In the end, however, all Christians should be led by their own convictions as it relates to the way they live their lives or conduct themselves. Romans 14: 5 says: Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. The one thing to watch here, though, is that we remain true to our own convictions and not believe one way but pretend to believe the opposite.
 
Memory verse for the week: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.— Psalms 19:7
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 24 2014
Tuesday, 6/24/2014   
 
       I think it is safe to say that during the time of His earthly ministry, the majority of the population did not know who Jesus was. When He asked His Disciples “Whom do men say that I am?” they answered that some thought He was John the Baptist; others said that He was Elijah, and some just perceived that He was one of God’s prophets. The sad thing is that things haven’t changed much and though today just about everybody you meet will say that they know Him, they really don’t. They know about Him but they don’t know Him personally. In this day and time, and especially in our part of the world, it seems unimaginable that there could be anybody that has not heard about Him. Therefore, if people don’t know Him today, it is mostly because they don’t want to. That was the case even during Jesus’ time on earth. Even after He proved, by the scriptures, to His religious opponents that He was indeed their Messiah, they refused to come to Him. That is why He told them “Yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have eternal life.” (John 5:40) One thing has never changed and that is that anybody who seeks Him will find Him. I pray that if you don’t know Him personally, you will reach out to Him today.
 
       On the other hand, there are millions of people today who do not even know who they are, and I don’t mean they don’t know their own name. I mean they don’t know or else have forgotten who they really are. That even happens in the case of God’s children. I want to share what I wrote this past Sunday for our church bulletin: [[The Prodigal Son thought that he could go and be just like the rest of the world when he chose to leave his father’s house. In time, he painfully found out that he could not. Though it is mostly the young, Christians of all ages make that same mistake today. The bottom line is they’ll never really find the pleasure and satisfaction they seek. You know why not? Jesus added this eternal truth in His prayer to the Father concerning His followers: They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16) If you are a genuine child of God, you no longer belong in the world and you cannot change that. Elephants don’t belong in the Kentucky Derby, and turtle doves don’t hang around with buzzards.]] God knows who you are and deep down in your heart, so do you. If you are in Christ, you are different now. I pray that today you’ll start being the person you know God made you.     
 
Memory verse for the week: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.— Psalms 19:7
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 23 2014
Monday,  6/23/14   
 
       A little boy was very excited when his mom picked him up from Pre K one afternoon because he had learned something new that day. He happily told his mom that now he knew how to count. His mom told him "That’s wonderful Timmy; let me hear you count." The little boy slowly counted from one to ten and when he stopped his mom told him to keep on going. The little boy, with a puzzled look on his face replied, "There’s more?"  And you thought that only some adults you know think they already know it all, right? Seriously, though, it is amazing how much a child can learn in a short time. One example is the 11 year old girl golfer who recently qualified for Ladies' PGA Open. The truth is God has given the human mind the capacity to learn new things, even when the person is old. That is why reading the Word of God daily is so important and beneficial. No matter what our age may be, we can learn new things for our lives daily by reading God’s Word. David alluded to that truth when he wrote:Your commands (God’s Word) make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. (Ps. 119:98)
 
       Among the things that we have learned since the day Jesus came into our lives is that there is so much more to our lives in Christ than just going to church once a week or having the assurance of Heaven. Having a personal relationship with Christ is a lifestyle, not just an hour of church on Sundays. Just this past weekend, I was reminded of one thing I learned about the calling of God and the ministry He so graciously entrusted me with many years ago. In our early years, we would focus on getting the gospel out into the neighborhood where our church is located by handing out pamphlets and inviting folks to trust Christ as their Savior or just invite them to church. We no longer do it that way. Now, we go into the neighborhood to do things for our neighbors like working on their lawns or passing out electric fans. We have learned that we get better results that way and have also been reminded what a joy it is to do things for others. After all, telling others that we care is not enough, we have to show it. Lets remember that Jesus, though He was God’s Son, came to serve. So should we. Yep, there’s more!
 
       Memory verse for the week: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.— Psalms 19:7
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 20 2014
Friday 6/20/14
 
       It had to have been a long, long time ago but I still remember some of the silly little quotes children would tell one another, mostly girls of course. One of them was “For shame, for shame, everybody knows your name.” I wonder if any of you who are reading this blog today remember hearing or even saying this line yourself. If you remember, please let me know. I realize I may slowly be going loony so it would encouraging to know that I just didn’t dream or imagine it.
 
       Well, today due to the emergence of the world of social media, we’ve gotten to the point where just about everybody knows our name, even if we are not subscribed to Facebook, Twitter, and the like. I especially feel badly for all the people who are in the limelight, such as movie and TV stars, politicians, and sports heroes. Not only is it very difficult for these folks to lead normal lives and enjoy a reasonable amount of privacy, people today can be brutal and unforgiving. It seems like they are just waiting for one of these personalities to say something amiss or to be seen in questionable places or situations so they can pounce on them. Though in a much smaller scale, that should serve us as a reminder to be more careful where we go, who we’re seen with, what we say, or where we choose to pose for pictures, including “selfies.” No matter how hard we may try, we won’t always succeed in keeping all our affairs private. Still, we need to make a sincere effort so that we don’t harm ourselves, our loved ones, and more importantly, that we don’t tarnish God’s name and reputation.
 
        We can’t forget that while, as Christians, we are free from condemnation (See Romans 8:1) and have the liberty to live our lives as we see fit, we have to be careful, as 1 Corinthians 8:9 says, that the exercise of our freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. In today’s world, this means to me that I must be more aware of the things that I’m saying and doing, the places where I may be seen, and the people I choose to associate with. One small mistake on my part may inflict pain and harm for those who may have been holding me as an example. The same applies to all God’s children. If you won’t watch your step for your own sake, at least do it for those who may be looking up to you.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as, in Christ, God forgave you.  
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 19 2014
Thursday    6/19/14    
 
       He had been in a safe, sheltered, and seemingly uneventful environment all his life. One day, however, his life would take an extremely different turn. I personally believe someone in his family or circle of friends blew some smoke in his direction and he quickly and excitedly swallowed the bait. They convinced him that his life really was too vanilla and that he should get his part of the inheritance in advance and go out into the world to, as an old, old, song said, “live, love, laugh and be happy.” Though I believe it was grudgingly and with a heavy heart, his father complied with his wishes and the young man quickly set out on his journey to become “the king of the world.” For the first time in his life, there were no restrictions. He lived it up and had some great times with his friends, that is, until his money ran out. Before long, he was all alone with no money, no friends, and no job,  and soon realized that vanilla had not been too bad after all. (Note: Guess which ice cream flavor is still the one most people prefer? Yep, its vanilla.) When he descended to the lowest and emptiest stage of his life, he finally told himself: “I’ve had enough; I’m going to do something about it.” This was his plan: I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. (Luke 15:18-19) Happily, he followed through with his plan and you all know the rest.
 
       One of you who is reading this blog today, has arrived at a similar cross point. You’re already convinced that you too have had enough and need to do something about it. You know you’ve been headed in the wrong direction for some time now and need to turn around. Up to now, though, you’ve done nothing about it. Well, I trust that today is the day you decide you’re not going to take it anymore, that you’re going to take action. Perhaps, in your case it involves your family or loved ones, your marriage, career, future, weight, health or well being? Or it may be something even more important like making restitution, forgiving someone, asking to be forgiven, or even getting right with God. C’mon now. If you’re ever going to do it, why not today?    
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as, in Christ, God forgave you.  
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 18 2014
Wednesday, 6/18/14    
 
       A man I know hurt his knee recently and, according to him, it hasn’t regained it’s full strength. Even so, over the weekend he attended an event where he would be forced to do quite a bit of walking. When someone asked him how his knee was holding up, he replied, “Thanks to the knee brace I’m wearing, I’m doing just fine.” Probably, no one thought about it at the time or chose not to say anything in response, but one could have dared to remark, “Praise the knee brace!”
 
       A favorite psalm of many starts with this well known phrase: I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:1-2) (BTW, it also is a favorite church chorus of mine.) The reason this bible truth is important is because it declares where our help really comes from. It comes from God! No verse is in the Bible by accident. The Lord knew in advance how easy it is for humans to attribute honor and credit to the wrong sources. We all know folks who give much more credit to others such as their spouses, parents, teachers, bosses, even their church, pastor, or religion, than they do to God. That should not be! I know that the man with the knee brace, if he had been more careful to respond, would have preferred to say something like, “The Lord is helping me, so I am doing just fine.”  Of course, he can be thankful for the knee brace but not to the point where it robs God of the honor and praise He deserves. After all, everything we have or can do is because He helps us.
 
       Neither am I suggesting that you stop being grateful or fail to show gratitude to those who help you along the way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having some degree of reliance on others, and that includes your employer or anyone else that helps to bring some comfort, ease, joy, or even a sense of assurance to your life. Nevertheless, remember that all these people or things just play a part in the bigger scheme of things. All the resources we have in life emanate from our main source, our Heavenly Father. When we thank, honor, or praise others, lets not forget to always start with God.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as, in Christ, God forgave you.  
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 17 2014
Tuesday 6/17/14   
 
       I know another Fathers Day has come and gone but I want to expand the thought the Lord gave me for our church bulletin for this past Sunday. Here it is: [“What is compassion? The dictionary says it is "a sympathetic consciousness of the distress of others together with a desire to alleviate it." That should help us to better understand why David wrote: As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. (Ps. 103:13) By this verse, we can see that, just like God, a good father genuinely cares for his children and loves them so much that when they are in distress, it hurts him too and makes him want to do whatever he can to help alleviate their pain. Men, on this Fathers’ Day, have you been that kind of a father? If you have, God will bless you and I salute you for it. If you haven’t, it is never to late to start.”]    
 
       Although obviously there are many exceptions, the Bible makes the general conclusion that a good father has that type of character. Unlike women, men are not usually blessed in the realm of social graces. They don’t always have the ability to effectively and tenderly demonstrate their love for others, their children included. Their outward appearance doesn’t help either in that regard. I’ll never forget the time when I saw an elderly gentleman walking into a small restaurant as my wife and I were leaving. He was a sight to see. He looked like he hadn’t combed or shaved in a few days and was wearing an old cap that looked like it had missed a couple of oil changes. He was sporting a pair of wrinkled baggy trousers and a T-shirt that exposed a little bit of tummy because of the few holes it had. What stuck in my mind’s image the most, however, was the inscription on his T-shirt. It read: “The World’s Greatest Dad.” I admit that when I read it, I quickly shed a tear. I told myself: “To many, this man may look like a bum, but apparently someone thinks he’s the best dad in the world.” In many cases, it is because of their outward appearance that people fail to see that deep down inside, there is a man who loves his children to death. I believe that any man, especially a Christian man, who does not feel pain or anguish when his children are in distress, needs to re-examine his relationship with Christ.   
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as, in Christ, God forgave you. 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 16 2014
Monday,  6/16/14   
 
       If you were to ask people at random, including Christians, to tell you what they know about the Apostle Peter, I believe the majority would begin by saying that he was the one who denied Jesus three times and also add that he was the one who was always putting his foot in his mouth. In fact, many may not know or just choose not to mention that, in spite of his shortcomings, Jesus saw enough good in him to appoint him as the leader of the other Disciples. They may also fail to add that he had glimpses of spiritual discernment the others did not have. When the Lord asked them who they said He was, Peter immediately responded,Thou art the Christ, (Messiah) the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)
 
       Many may not know or else have forgotten that Peter wanted to please his Master so much, he even tried to walk on water just to go meet him, or that he was the first Apostle that preached on the day of Pentecost where three thousand people decided to follow Jesus, or that God used him to heal many. There’s more: On the day he was cast into prison and flogged for preaching about Christ, he along with the other Disciples, rejoiced that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for their Master. It is no wonder, then, that many who have not forgotten all this about Peter have made him their favorite biblical character. The point that I’m trying to make is that it is so easy to reflect more on people’s mistakes and failures that on the good things they have done. A preacher I know calls that the 99 and 1 syndrome. He means that many folks will remember the one time you failed them but forget about the other ninety nine when you didn’t.
 
       If you live with somebody like that, I feel for you. Nevertheless, I want to remind you that, in Christ, there are also many folks around who are loving, considerate and supportive. More especially, there is One who will never remind you of the times you have failed Him. His name is Jesus. Jesus told Peter beforehand that he would deny Him three times, but after he did, He never again mentioned that painful day. That’s how the Lord treats us; that’s how we should treat others. If someone you know, inexplicably failed you or let you down, give him or her a break and pray that when you fail them, they’ll do the same. After all, if they messed up one time, it doesn’t mean that they suddenly don’t love you.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as, in Christ, God forgave you.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:38 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 13 2014
Friday 6/13/14  
 
       Like many people my age, I have gotten to the point where visual reminders are a necessary part of my life. For example, because I don’t drink as much water as I should, I need to place bottles or glasses of water in places where I know I will see them. The same goes with the medications I take on a daily basis. I also need to leave notes in conspicuous places to remind me of my errands or chores. For people my age, writing notes and checking them regularly are important. It reminded me of the story of an elderly couple who was enjoying a nice afternoon while sitting on their porch watching the world go by. The lady suddenly remarked to her husband, “You know what would be good right now? A nice bowl of ice cream with strawberries and pecan bits.” When the man replied, “I’ll go fix you some”, she told him to write it down for she knew he was very forgetful. He assured her that was not necessary and went inside to follow through on his plan. He took more time than expected and when he walked out of the house, he came back with some bacon and eggs on a plate. She looked at them for a few seconds and then said, “Where’s the toast?”
 
       Visual reminders play a big part in our lives regardless of our age. Think about this: Do you ever walk into a clothing store and when you see certain shirts, dresses, slacks, hats, or shoes it immediately reminds you of a certain person in your life? Oftentimes, when that happens, your first instinct is to say a little prayer for them. Perhaps, when looking in the closet for something to wear, you will spot an article of clothing belonging to someone very dear and near to you who is now in Heaven. When that happens, you may shed a tear or two, or even remember the beautiful times you shared together. On the other hand, there are some people who immediately discard the clothes of a deceased loved one because they don’t think they will be able to stand the pain when they see them.
 
       For me, among the best visual reminders in my life are the bread and the cup we see when we celebrate the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in church. Seeing them reminds me of the One who loves me the most and the upcoming glorious day when I will see Him, be able to personally thank Him for what He did for me, and live with Him forever. What a great day that will be! Did you see, or even hear, something today that reminded you of a dear friend or loved one? It didn’t happen by accident.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 12 2014
Thursday    6/12/14 
 
       In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned His listeners about a problem that had been going on way before the time of His earthly ministry and still exists today. I am referring to the prevalence of false prophets and teachers. He spoke in more detail about them but this is what Jesus said about them in part: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Mt. 7:15-16) The sheep’s clothing reference can be literal or comparative. The prophets of old were known for their simple way of dress, often being clothed in sheep or goat skins. But Jesus may have also meant that outwardly they look just like all the other members of his flock. In other words, they may actually look like God’s children but may be quite the opposite.
 
       I am bothered and feel somewhat uneasy when I hear one of our church members, or even other Christians, for that matter, who follow and sing the praises of certain TV evangelists or teachers who quite easily fit Jesus’ and the Bible’s description of a false prophet. Those who follow them are in danger of being harmed spiritually, emotionally, and even financially. When Jesus said we can know them by their fruit, he gave the comparison to a tree. Trees are known by the fruit they give. If the fruit is good, the tree is good and vice-versa. People too are known by their fruit, that is, what comes out of them, namely their words or their actions.
 
       In accordance to the biblical definition, here are just a few characteristics of a false prophet or teacher. (1) They often come up with a new revelation and meaning of scripture. (2) They claim that Jesus or God speaks to them directly on a regular basis. (3) They will often tell you that if you financially support their ministry, you will receive so much more in return. (4) They will sell you such things as anointed holy water, handkerchiefs, water from a well in Jerusalem, even meal packages, and claim that once you buy and use them, you will be healed of any disease or condition. Titus 1:7 calls this seeking dishonest gain. The power of God is not on things but on God himself.
 
       I wish I could tell you more, but time and space don’t allow it. Nevertheless, the best way to protect yourself from false prophets and teachers is by knowing the truth. (Jesus) In fact, He said in John 8:32And you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free. Make it your goal to know Him more every day because to know Him, is to love Him.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 11 2014
Wednesday 6/11/14 
 
       In last Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Ruben spoke about the excuses we often give as reasons why we don’t serve God better than we do. He cited Moses’ excuses in response to the commands God gave him. His first excuse was that the Israelites would not believe that He had sent him to them. Nevertheless, God’s miraculous power manifested itself in him. The second time, when the Lord told him to go speak to Pharoah, Moses complained that he was not a good speaker, and when he kept on grumbling about it, He even angered the Lord. Still, God permitted him to take his brother Aaron to be the spokesman. Nevertheless, the accounts of the encounters with Pharoah always show that it was Moses who did the talking, proving that God had made the right choice all along.
 
       If we take Moses’ excuses (many refer to them as reasons) into consideration, they both seem pretty reasonable for after all, the Israelites were a stubborn people and most bible scholars believe that Moses was, in fact, a stutterer. Even so, we must keep in mind that God knows the heart, and those who really know Him will conclude that He will never ask us to do anything that is unreasonable, and will always help us with the task He has set before us. Many times, peoples excuses or complaints seem to be valid, but often they are not. Here is an example: in the 12th Chapter of John is the story of the time when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured some very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. When Judas saw it he complained that the perfume would have served a better purpose had it been sold and the money given to the poor. When you think about it, it seems like an honorable gesture. Quickly, however, that balloon is burst when it is revealed that He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:6)
 
       Pastors hear many excuses from their church members which seem reasonable on the surface, in particular those regarding busy schedules and the need to get a good night’s sleep. Though I have a hard time handling this type of excuses, God gives me the grace not to say what my heart often wants to say. I find it hard to relate because for over twenty years, I worked long hours and averaged about four hours of sleep on most days. Still, I never once missed out on a service or church function, and it certainly is not because I was special, but rather that God was always faithful. And if that was the cause for the dark bags under my eyes today, then I choose to wear them proudly. Excuses are for the weak. Show the world and those around you that God did not make a mistake when He chose you.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 10 2014
Tuesday 6/10/14 
 
       My family and I had a refreshing and uplifting, but surprising, experience this past weekend. We attended a high school graduation ceremony and expected to see and hear what has been the case for the past several years, namely that there would be no mention of God whatsoever in the entire program since the school in question is in the public school system. Not so! Not only was there an opening prayer lifted up in the name of Christ, several times throughout the ceremony direct references were made about God. There was even a hymn sung by the school choir to close the ceremony.
 
       For many years now, we have been saddened and slightly disheartened when attending public school functions because God has been totally left out. We should have known such things would eventually happen when prayer was no longer permitted in the public school system many years back. In the 18th Chapter of Luke, Jesus told His Disciples a parable about an unjust judge and a persistent woman who kept coming to him until at last he granted her the justice that she sought. Jesus reminded them that if a judge who does not believe in God can grant justice to the strong in faith, God will do that and more for His children. Nevertheless, he added these prophetic words: When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? There are many signs which indicate that Christ’s return is imminent; one of them is that faith in God is slowly disappearing, as we are reminded every time we attend public events. Here is another one: Jesus, speaking about the signs in the last days, said, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12)
 
       In spite of all that, Isn’t it great to know that there are still public school districts out there that are not ashamed to demonstrate their faith and love for Christ? Many of you are in situations where you may feel like you are the only one who still believes and serves God, much like Isaiah felt when Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. The Lord revealed to him that there were still seven thousand people in Israel that still served Him. (The story is found in 1 Kings, Chapter 19) So take heart today my dear friends and family. We are not alone and if we stick together, the rest of our earthly journey will still be joyful.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 09 2014
Monday,  6/9/14     
 
       If you are among the few who still bids others a “God Bless You” from time to time, you are in the minority. I’m sure you’ve also encountered people who don’t like to be “blessed” and some will make themselves very clear. The ones who don’t like it are either professing atheists or else belong to a religion that is opposed to the practice. Speaking of atheists, I’ll never forget an experience a friend of mine had with a cousin of his who claimed to be an atheist. He kept badgering him to come to one of his church’s Sunday worship service nonetheless. The man finally relented and assured him he would come. When my friend asked him if he meant the following Sunday, the so-called atheist replied, “Lord willing.”  The “God Bless You” phrase to me is similar to telling others “I love you” in the regard that you don’t say it to everybody every time because when you do that, it loses a lot of it’s meaning and purpose. In other words, it should come from the heart when we bid it to others. 
 
       We take special delight in being able to pronounce the “blessing” after every Sundayworship service at our church to all who are in attendance and I choose to believe that they not only appreciate it, many walk out of church feeling truly blessed of God. Here is why we started that practice some time back: I had read it many times, but one day as I was reading in the 6th Chapter of the book of Numbers, the Lord impressed me to consider more carefully the instructions He gave Moses concerning Aaron and his sons, the priests. They were to bless His people with this special blessing: The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26) Not only were these God’s instructions, He promised that when His priests faithfully carried out these orders, He Himself would bless them.
 
       These are more than just sweet sounding words; they are living words and assurances of God’s favor upon our lives. They worked for the leaders of God’s flock then; they will do the same for the leaders of God’s flocks today. In fact, they will be just as fruitful for any child of God that chooses to bless others in the Lord’s name. After all, the Bible says that all Christians today are spiritual priests. I bless you today in His Name. Consider yourself blessed.
 
Memory Verse for the week: (1 Peter 2:9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
 
       
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 06 2014
Friday 6/6/14  
 
       Discussing some of the difficulties they had with their wives, one man told his friend: “Every time my wife and I have a disagreement, she gets historical.” His friend replied, “You mean hysterical, right?” “No”, he said, “I mean historical; she keeps reminding me of my past.” Do you have someone in your life like that poor fellow’s wife, who is constantly reminding you of your past mistakes and throwing them in your face? That corny joke came to mind last night as I was discussing some highlights of the 21st Chapter of John with my wife and daughter. It recounts the time when, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to some of His disciples at the edge of the Sea of Galilee, Peter included. We were reminded how blessed and grateful we are that the Lord never brings up our past failures, and may I add this: “If there ever is a time when a little voice within you keeps telling you that you have no business calling yourself a Christian due to the countless times you have failed the Lord, that is not the voice of God. In fact, it most likely is not the voice of your conscience either, but the voice of the devil. Revelation 12:10 says: And I heard a loud voice saying in Heaven, “now is come salvation and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of the brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
 
       The devil is a real devil! Since the beginning of time, he has managed to persuade many Christians to fall into sin and when they do, he immediately turns around and runs to God to accuse them. We don’t have to worry about that, however, because when Jesus went to the cross, he paid the debt for our sins past, present, and future. That is the reason He never brought up the subject of Peter’s three denials when he spoke to him again on Galilee’s shore, and that is the same reason He does not bring up our past mistakes either. That is one thing we can be extremely grateful for. Remember this: God is more interested in our present and in our future than in our past.
 
       If you have failed the Lord and are still wallowing in your guilt and sorrow, get over it. Your not the first nor will you be the last that has fallen flat on your face. We’ve all been there but we’ve all been restored too. Shake off the dust and get back on track. That’s where the Lord wants to see you.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Galatians 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:05 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 05 2014
Thursday    6/5/14 
 
       For more than a thousand years now, some pretty awful things have been done in the name of religion and within the recognized Christian church. To cite just one such occurrence that was revealed yesterday on the internet, was the story of a home for unwed mothers run by Catholic nuns from 1925 till 1961. Inside their property, the remains of almost 800 babies were found in an old septic tank which was filled to the brim with their bones. To be sure, please don’t think that such ghastly incidents are limited only to the Catholic Church but have happened in all the recognized churches within the Christian religion. 
 
       In our Spanish Bible Class in church last night, we discussed another unpleasant practice that occurs even today in Christian churches, namely favoritism. Writing originally to Jewish believers who at the time were scattered throughout the world, James, generally accepted as the brother of our Lord, made this plea: My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism(James 2:1 NIV) Reading further on in the chapter, it is apparent that he was referring specifically to their gatherings for worship, although favoritism is wrong no matter where it is practiced. Very soon after my conversion, in the first church I chose to attend with my wife and family, we were witness to an ugly incident. During the Sunday morning worship service, one street person walked in, sat down, and remained for the entire service. As we were leaving when the service was over, a lady member of the church, with a pointing finger, angrily accosted the pastor and warned him in a loud voice that if he allowed such people to come to “her church” in the future, she would leave the church and no longer financially support it. I was just new in Christ back then, but I was convinced that there was no way she could be right. She wasn’t!
 
       Favoritism has many names; here are just a few: bias, partiality, prejudice, discrimination, racism, and distinction. Nevertheless, no matter what you call it, it is wrong and it is ugly and should never be allowed in church, society, or in any other place, for that matter. In fact, it should not even occur at home or within our circle of friends. The Bible says repeatedly that God is no respecter of persons. I pray we can all be like Him in that regard.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Galatians 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 04 2014
Wednesday 6/4/14 
 
       The 6th Chapter of the book of Galatians is a wonderful source of knowledge and instruction and if applied can greatly benefit those around us, as well as ourselves. It begins with a plea to look around to see if we can offer help to any person we know who may have suffered a spiritual relapse. It even shows us how best to do it, namely humbly, gently, and carefully, remembering that we too are imperfect and are as capable of falling as anyone else. We are reminded that to help others with their burdens is to fulfill the law of Christ, and that as far as our personal obligations are concerned, we should be faithful in doing our own part. Many of you know what it is to have co-workers who don’t pull their own load in the workplace. It upsets others and places an unjust burden on them. In life, in families, within our circles of friends, and even in church, that should not be.
 
       Toward the end of the chapter, Paul wrote about those who relish in making outward impressions and concludes with this meaningful statement: Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Gal. 6:17) To me, this is a reminder that those who love and truly serve the Lord have marks, which speak for them and set them apart, and because of it they do not have to tell the world who they are or what they do. When conducting a funeral, I delight when I can say that the deceased may have left this world but not before leaving his or her mark upon it. How did they accomplish that? Among many other good things, they applied the instructions in the book of Galatians.
 
       One of the earmarks of Jesus’ earthly ministry was that He went around doing good to those He encountered. This 10th verse in this chapter encourages us to do good to all people whenever the opportunity arises and verse 9 pleads with us not to grow weary in doing it. It does so because at times it may seem that it doesn’t do much good or that the recipients don’t appreciate it. Lets not forget Who we’re first doing it for. The truth is that it does help, makes an impact, and more importantly, it pleases God. Today, go leave your mark somewhere.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Galatians 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 03 2014
Tuesday 6/3/14
 
       It is normal for questions about life to rise up in our hearts constantly, but because we are God’s children we have come to know that the best and most reliable fountain of truth and information lie with Him. For that reason, in our prayers to Him, many questions are included. I suspect that some of you who are reading this blog today may have gone to bed last night or even woke up this morning with a question in your heart for God. In the book of Deuteronomy, we read about the time when Moses was reminding God’s people of His covenant with them. They would hear what He would do and what He expected of them. When Moses added that their descendants and the nations around them would start questioning God when they saw how He dealt with the disobedient, he made this declaration: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29) These words are a clear reminder that there are secrets that will stay with God and we will never know them in this life, while there will be others that He will be pleased to reveal to His children.
 
       Although the Lord understands exactly how we are and that we often possess inquisitive minds, He wants us to know Him well enough to where we can trust Him even when we don’t understand certain things. In the 18th Chapter of Genesis is found the story of the time when three men visited Abraham. Most bible scholars concur that it was the Lord with two of His angels. On that day, Sarah, Abraham’s wife, would be told she would bear a son in her old age. From there, the three men would continue on toward Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m sure you all remember what for. Nevertheless, remembering what we read about the secret things of God and those revealed, God chose to reveal to Abraham His plans for the two wicked towns in question. Abraham responded by pleading with God to spare his nephew Lot and his family who lived in Sodom. God answered his prayer but during their discourse, Abraham made this declaration: “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25) It was not really a question but an absolute confidence that God will never do wrong.
 
       Have you arrived at that same point in your relationship with God in your life? Have you gotten to the point where your faith and trust in Him is much, much greater than any question that can disturb your peace of mind? I’ll close by reminding you that God is faithful, loving, righteous, merciful, good, and kind. That’s good enough for me; I hope it is for you too.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Galatians 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 02 2014
Monday,  6/2/14     
 
       I usually stop at a nearby fast food restaurant’s drive-thru every Sunday morning before we leave for church; they usually complete my order in less than five minutes. Yesterday, they took about fifteen minutes and the first thought that came into my mind was that one or two of their employees “called in” and didn’t show up for work. Since I had more time than usual to think about things, several thoughts came into my mind as I waited. The first one was about the days when I was employed by the postal service. When I transferred from the main post office to a much smaller substation, I came to realize how much more crucial it was for all employees to show up for work and to be punctual. I remember the strain it would put on us when two or three fellow workers failed to show up for work. When that happened, other things came into play. Here are some of them: Those who had to handle the extra load were upset; so were our customers. Our job performance suffered; so did our reputation. 
 
       I assumed my fast food restaurant would be similarly affected. I wondered how many of the customers waiting behind me would get upset enough to forget about their order and just drive away. Two of them did. How many of these customers will consider never buying there again? How many of them will spread the word and tell others and how many customers will be lost because of it? Some may add this thought: What kind of dedication can you expect from minimum-wage employees in the first place since the majority of them are kids? Well, I’ve been around long enough to know that every workplace has dedicated as well as apathetic employees, regardless of the salary. More importantly, I was reminded of the importance of our obligations to those whose lives we touch every day. After murdering his brother, God asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain deceitfully replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” If God asks us if we are our brother’s keeper, the answer should be “yes!”
 
       How seriously do we take what we do? Last week, I saw a PA who attended to my sprained knee. In conversation, he told me of his days as a medic in the military and of his love and total dedication for what he did then as well as now. He also assured me he was going to call my pharmacy for the pain medicine he prescribed. When I tried to pick it up the following day, the pharmacy didn’t know anything about it. Talking about it is not the same as doing it. As God’s children, may our actions do most of our talking.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Galatians 6:2) Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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