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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Thursday, July 31 2014
Thursday, July 31, 2014    
 
       I am often reminded of Romans, Chapter 7 when he have our customary fellowship gatherings after our Wednesday night services in church which always include prepared foods or goodies and pastries. I’m sure many have criticized us and especially me, because to them it appears we are more interested in food than in spiritual things. I suppose not everyone will believe me, but we don’t do it because of the food but rather for the opportunity to spend time together as a family. My desire now for a long time has been that ours will be more like a family than a church. Nevertheless, a family gathering is not a gathering if no food is present. If you examine the established assemblies for God’s people in the Bible, you will see that food and merriment always played a part.
 
 
       Back to the reason our fellowships remind me of Romans, Chapter 7. I have noticed that, when faced with the choice, we most often choose the goodies we should really avoid. It is the same with the things we eat at home or on our own every day; we seem to like the wrong things more and ultimately choose them. In fact, this dilemma applies to all of life as well. The bottom line is we often like the things we should not like. In the chapter in question, the Apostle Paul spoke about that matter. In part, he wrote: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom. 7:15) He was referring to the continual inner struggle all Christians have with their two natures, the old one, and the new one that was born on the day Christ came into their lives. Jesus referred to it in the gospels of Matthew and Mark by simply saying “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” The truth is, as long as we are in this world, we will struggle with this issue.
 
 
       I know this particular matter frustrates many of you. Just like Paul, you always want to do the right thing, but you often wind up doing the opposite. However, what you need to keep in mind is that, in that very same chapter, he reminded us that though we are not yet free from the power of sin, we are free from it’s penalty. That is why he quickly said afterwards in Romans 8:1 that God’s children can no longer be condemned. Keep this in mind also: when we really rely on God’s grace, we’ll be able to overcome the flesh, do the right thing, and sin won’t always defeat us. Now, armed with that hope, that’s something we can live with.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
 
  
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:15 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 30 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014      
 
 
       One of my prayers to God when I started out in the ministry was that He would help me put myself in the place of the different players in every bible story. I felt that if I could do that, I would have a better feel and appreciation for each particular player and be in a better position to relate, empathize, and understand them. In turn, I thought that would help me to better convey the story’s message to others. Perhaps that is one reason a favorite gospel story of mine is the one in the 9th Chapter of Mark about a father who had a demon possessed son. As a father, and now as a grandfather, I know the pain and often the feeling of helplessness that rips the heart when we see our children or loved ones suffering. He brought the lad to Jesus’ Disciples but they could do nothing for him. Just at the time that he felt all hope was gone and not by coincidence, I might add, Jesus arrived on the scene. Judging by his interaction with Christ, it appears that this poor father had lost whatever faith he may have had when he first encountered the Disciples. If their lack of success was the reason his faith was shattered, that gives us plenty to think about as God’s children. When we have contact with others, do we strengthen or weaken their faith? Perhaps that is also the reason his plea to the Lord was, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22) With those of us who know the Lord, our biggest hurdle is not can He, but will He?
 
 
       Some of you who are reading this blog today may have found yourself in a situation similar to the one of the father of this demon possessed boy. You may have gone through a longer time than you expected struggling to cope with a situation you just can’t free yourself from. In your case too, your faith may have waned because of something you have seen or experienced. Jesus told this poor anguished father,“Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mk 9:23) The same also goes for you and me. By faith, therefore, I believe that Jesus has arrived at your scene today. I don’t believe in coincidences so I strongly suspect that this could be your day.
 
       No situation in life lasts forever, so no matter what it is that you have been yearning for, get ready for a breakthrough. Whether your situation involves your finances, health, job, career, a broken relationship which needs to be restored, or any other issue, I would not be surprised if this is your time, for with God, all things are possible.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
 
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 29 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014    
 
 
       A favorite bible verse of many is Philippians 1:6 which says: “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Since we are all very much aware that we are far from being the person we would want to be, it is comforting to know that God is still working on us and won’t stop until we are complete. This bible truth and promise made that fact very clear. Secondly, the verse also reveals one important nature of God, that is, He never falls short in any of His endeavors and always fulfills His desires. A confirming example is found in the 55th Chapter of Isaiah which points out that God’s words and actions will always accomplish His purpose.
 
       Speaking on the cost of being His disciple in the 14th Chapter of Luke, Jesus added the supposition of how unwise it would be for a man who proposed building a tower and not estimating the cost before he begins the work. If he abandoned his task before completion, Jesus said everyone who walked by and saw it would make fun of him. Obviously, he would always have the reputation of one who starts a project but doesn’t finish. Since many of you are aware that we are planning a remodeling and expansion project at church, I hope to keep that thought in mind. If we were to stop halfway, don’t think for one minute that passersby would remark years from now, “Wow, that sure is a nice foundation!”
 
       To count the cost beforehand and finish our tasks is to be like God. We should think about that, even in the smallest of chores. If one who sweeps a floor leaves a small piece of paper in a corner, his work is not complete. The same can be said for one who washes his car and leaves it sparkling clean, but never touches the tires, one who dresses up in a nice suit and tie, but his shoes look like they just came back from the war, or a contractor who remodels a house but leaves sawdust, dirt, and 2x 4’s scattered all around. You get the idea, right? I trust we will always keep that in mind when we do our chores. The truth is that if we get into the habit of doing incomplete work in our small and simple tasks, we will do the same with things that are much more important. Not only that; we will acquire a bad reputation as well. Let’s try to be more like God, at least in that regard.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:31) "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 28 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
 
As I mentioned in last Friday's blog, 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that "love keeps no record of wrongs." Therefore, it is evident that those who harbor grudges in their heart, have not been made perfect in God’s love. Some of you know or even live with a grudge holder. If you love them and have the freedom to do it, you should bring it to their attention, especially if you live with them. They will probably deny it, but still they could be the reason many of God’s blessings upon your home may be held back, and that includes the love, peace, and joy that go with it. Here is one indication a person may be a grudge holder: They will all of a sudden dislike the work or performance of someone they liked previously. They may give many reasons about why they don’t like what these people say or do, or the way they do  things, when all the while the real reason is that somewhere down the line they did or said something to offend them.
 
Very few people who hold grudges in their heart will admit it. Some even keep a keep a journal of wrongs they feel they have received from others but even those who don't, whether it is hours, days, weeks, months, or even years, will keep fresh in their mind the day someone told them or did something to them. I am probably not the most spiritually perceptive person around, but I see grudge holders often, some even in church. The only thing that keeps me from just holding them by the shoulders and telling them "let it go!" is that there is always that tiny possibility that I could have been wrong in my assessment. 
 
One who is never wrong however, is God. If it is He who has called to your attention that you are holding a grudge, I plead with you to do something about it quickly before you hurt yourself and others even more. Hebrews 12:15 says it this way: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."  Bitterness in the heart is always harmful and can even be deadly. Whether it was his original thought or not, I heard Pastor Paul Sheppard yesterday quote this line: “Unforgiveness (holding a grudge) is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” The Lord doesn’t want you to hurt yourself any longer; neither do I.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, July 25 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014     
 
 
       True love is a fascinating thing and has attributes that are not always easy to explain or understand. Attempting to describe the type of love that God places in the heart of His children so we could understand it better, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, among other things, that “it always perseveres”, “never fails”, and “it keeps no record of wrongs.” If the last point is correct, and it is, we must assume that the opposite applies, that love keeps record of all good things. Since God’s love resides deep in the heart, to me, it means that the heart has the ability to remember things that even the sharpest of minds can forget. A living example of that truth is the accompanying video clip my son, Nick, sent me some time back about an Alzheimer’s patient by the name of Melvin. After you see the clip, perhaps you will better understand why Paul also wrote: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” and why the Bible advises us in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” As in Melvin’s case, if and when you come to the place where your mind has long forgotten names and past significant events, your heart will still remember.
 
 
  Video clip : http://youtu.be/JbqUJNAlqIY
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 24 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
 
 
       One situation Jesus encountered often during the time of His earthly ministry was the attempt of his opponents to try to trap Him in His own words. In one particular example found in the 22nd Chapter of Matthew, they first tried to set Him up with flattering words by telling Him they knew He was a man of integrity who taught God’s truth. Then they asked Him a question they were convinced would put Him on a spot no matter how he answered. The question was, “is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” They knew if He said yes they could accuse Him of siding with the Romans and being against His own people and if He said no, they could report Him to the Roman authorities as a trouble making rebel. Jesus would not be trapped and answered"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." 
 
 
       Unfortunately this devilish little game is still played today and since we are not as spiritually equipped as Jesus was, we are seldom wise or careful enough to avoid being trapped. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of several high profile personalities who have been really hurt by their replies to such loaded questions. I believe that those who are put into these catch 22 situations the most are those who openly profess Christ as their Savior. Why, because those who hold strong spiritual beliefs generally have a totally different mindset than the general world view. It should be obvious to everyone today that we are living in a time when people seem to be more divided than ever concerning politics, delicate social issues, or other matters. Because of that, we need to be more mindful and prepared than ever when we are pressured into giving our opinion on things. Here is some great biblical advice for us in case we find ourselves in that position. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
 
 
       One thing that troubles me concerning opposing views is that many people, the minute you take a contrary stand to theirs, will immediately start disliking and distrusting you, perhaps even reach the point when they no longer consider you a friend. To me, that is being narrow minded because it is virtually impossible for all of us to always agree in all things. Even so, those who are true friends in the first place will never let differences in mindsets come between them. The best method in determining a persons character is by the way they treat you and others, not so much their stand on life issues.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 118:6) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 23 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
 
       Jesus, on many occasions, instructed His followers to be careful not to emulate the ways of the Pharisees and scribes, the super religious men and fiercest opponents of His day. In particular, He advised us to be careful not to do our “acts of righteousness” before others. I suppose that there are times when others may notice our good deeds, but Jesus was referring to the things these religious folks did on a daily basis. Christ said they did them to be seen of men. When they deposited their alms in the poor box, they took a trumpet player with them to play while they were doing it. Whenever they were called to say a public prayer, they said the longest prayers possible. They did many other flamboyant things I won’t mention but you get the picture. One distinctive verse we would do well to memorize and act upon is Matthew 6:3, where Jesus said, But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Though He was pinpointing the act of giving, it is clear he was implying doing that or anything else to be seen of others.
 
       Because it is a human tendency to seek the approval or blessing of others, we must rely upon the grace God gives in order to resist the temptation. I’m sure you all know some folks who are always telling others where they went and what they did, especially now in the social media age. However, when they especially point out the good deeds they did for others, watch out. I’m sure you have even sensed it during “testimony time” in church where certain members often testify about those they helped, visited, prayed for, or even won to Christ. I remember one person in particular, who after the Lord healed or answered someone’s petition, would get up and say it was because she was praying for him or her. In most cases these people mean well and don’t realize how they are coming across to others. Still, we should be careful to avoid such pitfalls.
 
       Many of us, and especially those who serve the Lord, long to hear Him say on the day we stand before Him, these words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Meanwhile, it is well if we just go about our business, do what we can, and keep quiet about it. If others notice it and say something nice about us, its okay, as long as we weren’t trying to be noticed. Proverbs 27:2 says, Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. As the Nike commercial says, “Just do it.”
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 118:6) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 22 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
 
       There is an excellent piece of advice for all of us in the book of James, one that will not only serve us well to heed, it will help us avoid greater harm, even death, later on. I’ll try to clarify that comment in a bit. Here is the New Living Translation’s rendition of it: My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God's sight. (James 1:19-20) Earlier in the chapter, we are told that God blesses those who patiently endure testing. The truth is, this is where it all begins. The moment someone or something angers or upsets us, we should immediately see it as a test. If we ask God to help us at that point, we will find it easier to think before we speak and keep us from lashing out in anger.
 
       This happens often: We say or ask something of someone we know they don’t like or in the past has upset them. Then when they lash out, we are hurt, angered, or offended with them, not realizing that we started the process to begin with. This could have been avoided by both parties if they had thought about what they would say before they did it.
 
       We are living in an age where, more than ever, it is best to keep quiet or else think it over carefully before we say or do something. On a daily basis, we do so many things that are not really necessary. Here are two examples: (1) We honk our horns or make gestures at bad motorists. That is useless and unnecessary and won’t make them better drivers all of a sudden. As I hinted earlier, think of those who have died in road rage incidents just because someone felt the need to correct or rebuke a person they did not know. (2) Someone asks us for money or a donation and we proceed to lecture them for doing it. A simple no or “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” would have been fine. Remember that as God’s people, the help we need is only a prayer away and it all begins with enduring the testing.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 118:6) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 21 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

I heard the phrase "control freak" several times last week and considered writing about that subject this week. Then yesterday in church I heard Pastor Solis share a funny story with us and that became the confirming sign I needed to write about it today. Here's Pastor Ysidro's story as I understood it: A lady who was apparently married to a control freak told him one day that she was going to church. Probably wanting to be more convincing than ever, he went to get his revolver, pointed it at her, and said: "You try to leave this house and I'll shoot you dead." She replied, "If you pull the trigger I'm going to Heaven, if you don't, I'm going to church. Anyway, goodbye." Then she blew him a kiss and walked out the door. My impression was that this lady, armed with the courage and boldness God gives his children, decided she would no longer give in to her husband's controlling ways.

Control freaks are generally perfectionists who constantly put more pressure on themselves as well as others, and battle anxiety almost on a daily basis. They have a reputation of always offering constructive criticism and sincerely believe that most people around them would be okay if they would just change a few things about themselves. The truth is they themselves need to change.

I suspect that someone who is reading this blog today is either married to one or else has a control freak who is prominent in their life. Heaven forbid that you are one yourself but if you are, I trust that you will recognize it, admit it, and seek God's help in this matter. If you even slightly suspect you may be one or if you have been labeled as one on more than one occasion, I think it is time that you take closer look at yourself. I personally believe that no person has a right to control another person's life. Not even God will do that. To be sure, He wants to lead and guide us daily, but He will never do it forcibly.

Finally, If you feel trapped or held back from succeeding because of a control freak in your life, I pray you'll take action and break away as did the lady in Pastor Solis' funny story. She at last realized that the only One we have to fear, but never as a tyrant, is God. In fact, fearing God this way is a very wise thing. Proverbs 9:10 says:The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Be free in the Lord !

Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 118:6) The Lord is on my side; I will not fear : what can man do unto me?

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, July 18 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

I hope today's blog title didn't mislead you. In the end, the subject might not please you at all since I'm writing today about the issue of pleasing others, in particular, the matter of your prioritized list of those you must please before others. I hope that Jesus is on the top of your list, and that you never aim to please anyone over Him whenever you must choose between two. Speaking in military terms, the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy, No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Tim. 2:4) When I was young and foolish (Now, I am old and foolish) and before Christ came into my life, my priority list was way out of whack. Back then, I senselessly would often aim to please my friends over my own wife and children. The sad thing is that today many people commit that same mistake, including those who profess to be followers of Christ.

Our Priority list regarding this question should not be that difficult to formulate. I'm pretty sure you all agree that we should try to place people in our list in relation to their importance in our lives. Two simple questions to consider are (1) To whom do we owe more allegiance? and (2) To whom are we the most obligated?

I'm aware that sometimes we find ourselves in this dilemma: Do we please someone high on our priority list even if their wishes or demands are unreasonable? I believe that, in such cases, we may first think about maintaining peace and if its not going to displease or dishonor God if we assent to them and it won't kill us to do it, we should comply. The Bible gives us this advice: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)   

We would be wise to heed this advice if we remember that living at peace with everyone begins at home. Husbands, have you ever heard this phrase, "happy wife, happy life"? Lets be careful to avoid disturbing the peace. After all, Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount, that God's true children are peace makers; they don't look for fights, they look for ways and opportunities to make peace.

Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:52 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 17 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
 
A man was called in for a discussion with the school dean concerning his son's behavior. The dean told him: "Your son is incorrigible and all his teachers seem to think that he is a hooligan." The boy's father replied "Thanks for the compliment and no, we're not hooligans, we're Baptists." Obviously, he was not familiar with those less than favorable terms.
 
Speaking of the behavior of children, there is a very small book in the Bible that touches on that subject. It is not often mentioned or used by preachers in their studies or sermons but to me it is noteworthy nonetheless. It is the Apostle John's 2nd letter to the church. Primarily, the letter was a reminder to the church members to show their love for Christ by loving one another and living in obedience to God's Word, but there is also a reference about a certain lady's children. In verse 4, John writes: It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth,
 
just as the Father commanded us. As a pastor, I cannot adequately express the joy and pride I feel when I see how certain people live their lives. I am writing to such people in this blog. One of the first thoughts that comes to my mind when I see the way these folks treat others and conduct themselves is "their parents obviously brought them up the right way."
 
 
When Christ's followers exhibit good qualities such as honesty, integrity, courtesy, thoughtfulness, and humility, just to name a few, they are bringing Honor to God. They also bring honor and a good name to anyone to whom they are associated. That includes their parents and all family members, as well as their teachers, mentors, church, and even pastor(s) among others. Keep this in mind at the start of each new day: They way you'll be conducting yourself will be a reflection on anyone and anything you are associated with. You will either make them look good or look bad. I believe you'll make them look good.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 16 2014
 
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
 
There is a story in the 2nd Chapter of Exodus that tells of the time when Moses killed an Egyptian man whom he saw beating a Hebrew. Moses looked around and it seemed like no witnesses were around so he buried the Egyptian in the sand. Keep in mind that during that time Moses had been living with Pharoah's daughter who adopted him many years earlier when she found him in a basket floating in the Nile River. The day after he killed the Egyptian, Moses came upon two of his fellow Hebrews who were arguing. When he saw one of them start to beat the other, he intervened and asked him why he was hitting his fellow countryman. To his surprise, the man said: Who made you ruler and judge over us?
 
Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian? (Ex. 2:14) Upon hearing this, Moses knew that his secret was out. He was right, and when Pharoah heard about it and tried to kill him, Moses fled in fear to another country.
 
 
Several thousands of years have passed since that incident and today there are still people who live in continual fear of being exposed because they know someone knows something negative about their past. Could that be you, dear reader? The truth is that all of us have someone who not only knows about our past wrong doings, he snitches on us the moment we slip. This tattletale is none other than the devil himself. Speaking in the past tense about Satan's dealings with mankind, Revelation 12:10 tells us that when he was still loose upon the earth, he was the one who accused us before God day and night. Since his time has not yet come, that is what he is doing today.
 
If that is you, you can be set free today. When Jesus went to the cross He paid the penalty for our sins past, present, and future. Our present day sins can no longer send us into condemnation, (See Romans 8:1) although they still hold consequences for this life. This simply means that although we can suffer for them in this life, they can never deny us entry into Heaven. Today, when Christians sin, they will immediately be cleansed and forgiven the instant they confess it to God and ask to be forgiven. That being the case, don't let the devil, or anybody else for that matter, hold you prisoner any longer. Because of Christ, you are already free. Relax; live in peace, victory, and liberty. It is yours in Christ.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 15 2014
Tuesday 7/15/14   
 
       I believe you all know some people who are always giving gifts to others. I bet that the moment you realized I was writing about gift givers, a few people you know immediately came to mind. Obviously, they enjoy doing it or else they wouldn’t keep on doing it. And I’m not referring to folks who are well off financially and are constantly being solicited for help or donations, I’m talking about those who give simply because they love doing it or because they just love people. I’ve known many people like that in my lifetime; some of them are now living in Heaven. These folks are not easy to forget and many of them are the type that when you visit them, you know you’re not going to leave without them giving you something. Have you ever wondered why they do it? I’m no expert but I believe that, in most cases, they were born that way, as a popular phrase of today says, “Its in their DNA.” However, many other gift givers have been led of God to start the practice and have learned  the joy and fulfillment one gets when they give things to others. It is the same feeling parents get when they see the expressions on their children’s faces after they’ve opened that special gift they had dreamed about.
 
       I thank the Lord for the gift givers I know and have known. They truly are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” Jesus spoke of in His Sermon on the Mount. They add flavor and spice to this old world and light up many people’s lives. I know for a fact that some of you who are reading this blog today rightfully belong in this category. Because of it, you have many friends and admirers. In fact, the Bible suggests that many people would love to be friends with you. Proverbs 19:6 KJV says, Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts. Not only that, gift givers have an overly generous spirit. Proverbs 21:26 KJV says: “The righteous giveth and spareth not.” In other words, when they give, they don’t hold back. I believe my children and grandchildren all know I use that phrase quite a bit myself. Whenever we find ourselves at a buffet type restaurant, I will often tell them, “Whatever you do, don’t hold back.”
 
       Whether it is giving gifts or doing things for others, God gives a special joy to those who do it. Just yesterday, one of you shared with me that some person you did not know, just went over to your table and picked up your restaurant tab. You didn’t know why but perhaps it was because they saw you when you bowed your head and thanked the Lord for your meal, another excellent practice. If you are a gift giver and/or love doing things for others, keep on doing it. There are fewer things better than that to honor God. If you haven’t begun that practice in your own life, let me remind you that it doesn’t have to involve expensive things; any little old thing will do. When you do, you’ll see for yourself the joy that it will bring you.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved .
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, July 14 2014
Monday,  7/14/14   
 
       Pastors get more calls requesting prayer, a hospital visit, or to conduct a wedding or someone’s funeral, from people who are not members of their church or else seldom attend. Because they are human, ministers are sometimes tempted to scold, lecture, or just plain refuse these callers. Nevertheless, most of them, especially those who take their calling seriously, will do nothing of the sort and make a generous effort to comply. I also know that pastors often get criticized by their own members when they become aware that he visited outside individuals or conducted a wedding or a funeral for them. They fail to realize the nature and seriousness of a minister’s calling, that the Lord called them to serve all who call them. When Jesus left Peter in charge of the Disciples, (John Chapter 21) He told him “Feed my sheep” not “Feed some of them or those you like.”
 
       In the Old Testament times of Samuel, God’s outstanding leader who was also a prophet and priest, the people he had governed and served, came asking for a change. They now wanted to have a king like all the other pagan nations that surrounded them. They reminded Samuel that he was now too old and that his sons did not qualify to lead them. Samuel was deeply hurt by his own people’s rejection of him but when he consulted the Lord about it, God told him to go ahead and comply with their wishes, but also reminded him, “They have not rejected you; they have rejected me.” The people got their wish and once Saul was installed as King, Samuel gave the people his farewell address. In it, he reminded them of the many times the Lord had miraculously delivered them during the time of his leadership. he also reminded them that he had never failed them or taken anything from them. Feeling shame now for what they had done, they pleaded with him not to stop praying for them. Samuel replied: Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you(1 Samuel 12:23) God’s faithful ministers today have the same mindset. They know if they refuse to serve those who call upon them, they are not being true to their calling and are, in fact, sinning against God.
 
       God has no favorites, neither do His true servants and followers. Sometimes, even faithful members, for whatever reason, hesitate in calling on their pastor. They should never think that they are not worthy. The truth is that we all need prayer from time to time and none of us is either too good or too bad not to receive it when we request it..
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:13) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved .
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, July 11 2014
Friday 7/11/14  
 
       In yesterday’s blog, I wrote about the nature of people’s character in the last days as predicted by the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of his second letter to Timothy. Without a doubt, these were not classified as God’s people. That is not to say, however,  that Christians are totally free of these adverse character traits. For example, we can at times be conceited, unforgiving, boastful and proud, and also love money, pleasures, and even ourselves more than we should. When we turned our lives over to Christ, God’s Spirit within us gave us a new nature but that is not to say that our old nature has completely disappeared. Preachers often refer to it as the flesh or the “old man.” Oops, that reminds me of the old joke about the fellow who was taken to jail for public intoxication. Like many others, he had learned the lingo and the phrases many Christians use. To cite two of them, almost everybody, whether they are genuine believers or not, know about backsliding and the “old man” reference. This man, when he had his chance to stand before a judge again, told him that he was a good Christian and that it was really the old man within him that got drunk. The judge replied: In that case, I sentence you to 60 days in jail, and the old man will have to go with you.”
 
        Jesus, right before He went to His appointed encounter with the cross, gave His Disciples this word of caution: Watch and pray , that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak . (Matthew 26:41) Because we often struggle with our old nature as well, Paul also wrote: Set your affection on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2) Pastor Ruben spoke this past Wednesday about the account in Luke 18 of a certain rich ruler who came to Jesus one day to ask what he could do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told him to sell what he had and give it to the poor, he declined and went away sad and empty handed. Please don’t think that everyone of us has to do the same. Remember that Jesus knows the heart. In this case, He knew this rich man loved his possessions more than he should. In the end, he was not willing to part with them because his affection for his possessions was stronger than his desire to have eternal life. God’s children can make this mistake too. If we get careless, we can find ourselves loving the temporal things of this world more than we should. Lets set our sights on Jesus. What He has in store for us in this world and especially the next, is far, far greater.   
 
Memory Verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:5 KJV) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:58 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 10 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014    

Have you ever wondered if we are living in the time of the last days the apostle Paul wrote about in his second letter (epistle) to Timothy? In the 3rd chapter, he gave a more detailed description regarding the evil nature of people's character in those days. The odd thing about them, however, according to verse 5, is that although these people would deny it's power, they would have a form of godliness nonetheless. Paul added that true believers should have nothing to do with them. Of course, I don't believe that includes our efforts to try to reach them with the gospel. It just dawned on me recently that you can find these people, so aptly described in the first few verses of Chapter three, in a newspaper or website's section where the readers express their opinion about the article or news item just posted. Why do I say that? Because, among the character traits Paul listed are: "lovers of themselves, lovers of money,boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, rash, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."     

Check out these reader forums when you have a chance. I bet you will easily see these character traits in the words and ways these opinion givers express themselves and perhaps you will agree that the last days are here. After all, Jesus, in dealing with His hypocritical religious opponents, told them: You brood of vipers,how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34) Simply put, the words that come out of people's mouths reveal what is really in their heart. Remember that Paul said they would have a form of godliness? Well, in one forum a man who claimed he was a Christian reproved one who claimed to be an atheist with these choice words: "You are a (expletive) blankety blank moron." Was he not being abusive, unholy, without love or self-control, unforgiving, and brutal? Do you think he was a true follower of Christ? In cases like these, I sometimes get tempted to reply to people like these and then I remember that its better not to.

If you, as I am, are convinced that we are living in the perilous last days, then I think it is also an exiting time because Christ's return is imminent. If you are in Christ, don't let these times frighten or discourage you. After all, our best days are just up ahead.

 

Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:5 KJV) "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 09 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are you among the many people who get upset when friends or family members are either very slow in responding or else totally ignore your texts, calls, or email messages? I have heard many voice their frustrations about them to others, not realizing at the same time that they are only adding to the bad reputation these folks were already building for themselves. I understand that many of us are selective about whose calls, texts, or emails we respond to, but I'm not referring to telemarketers and such; I'm talking about family and friends. Whenever someone responds to one of my attempted calls a day or two late, I usually jokingly tell them that I had wanted them to take me to the hospital but that I'm alright now. Although the folks who are lax in responding to calls or messages are generally good people, in doing so, they sometimes make others feel unimportant or else leave them with the impression that they don't care about them.

Perhaps, this matter bothers us more because we have become spoiled. We're so used to always getting a quick response whenever we call upon the Lord. In Isaiah 65:24 God said Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Psalm 34:15 tells us that The eyes of the Lord are ever upon the righteous and his ears are open to their cry. This issue may also trouble more those who are careful to quickly respond when others try to contact them. They can't relate nor understand, and tend to foolishly believe that everybody is like them, that is, until reality smacks them in the face.

As children of God, lets all make an effort to quickly respond when others try to contact us. We don't want them to get discouraged or lose trust and confidence in us. After all, we are better than that. More importantly, we would want to be more like our Heavenly Father and be better representatives of Him.

Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:5 KJV) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:21 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 08 2014
Tuesday, July 8
 
I heard this goofy story a long time ago I'd like to share it with you today because it has a point: The Lord came to three fellows one day to ask them a favor. They all knew who He was. He said, "Boys, I want each of you to go out and get me a piece of wood." The first one was happy for the opportunity so he went out and brought back a pretty good size piece of wood. The second one thought of the One who asked the favor so he went out and found an even bigger block of wood than the first. The last man thought "These guys are dummies" so he just came back with a stick. When the Lord came back to see what they had brought Him, they all gave him their piece of wood and He immediately turned them into bread. Consequently, the third fellow only got a slice of bread, so he wasn't too happy about it. The next day Jesus came back and told them He needed one more favor from them. This time He told them to bring Him back a rock. This time they all tried to bring back the biggest rock they could handle. The third fellow, however, remembering the bread, worked all day and easily out did the other two and came back with a huge boulder. When He laid it at the lord's feet, Jesus climbed up on it and declared, "Upon this rock will I build my Church" and before He could end His declaration, the third man interrupted Him and blurted out, "No Sir, you're gonna make me some bread!"
 
All kidding aside, there have always been many who follow Jesus with a "Whats in it for me" mentality. There is an account in the 6th Chapter of the gospel of John about people such as these. The chapter begins with Jesus miraculously feeding a multitude. The next day, the people realized that Jesus and His Disciples had crossed the Sea of Galilee so many of them also crossed over and went looking for Him. Since He knew their hearts, Jesus told them "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." When He told them to first seek spiritual things and that He was, in fact, the Bread of Life, this group of seekers deserted Him.
 
I trust that all of you who are reading this blog, serve and follow the Lord because you truly love Him, not because of what He can do for you. No, it is not a sin to seek God for our strength, help, protection, and provision. What can't be right, however, is to expect Him to be faithful to us and for us not to be faithful in return. Right after the bread seekers of John Chapter 6 deserted Him, Jesus asked His Disciples if they also wanted to leave and Peter replied, "To Whom can we go, you have the words of life." I know most of you, and I believe you truly love the Lord and you won't turn your back on Him. After all, the ones who love you won't leave you. Neither do you leave them.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:5 KJV) "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, July 03 2014
Thursday    7/3/14        
 
       This was the most difficult and painful day of his life, even more so than when the only woman he had ever loved died while giving birth to his youngest son. This may have been the day he lost all reason for living. Shown by his other sons a bloodied robe which was torn to pieces, Jacob knew it was the one he had specially made for his beloved son, Joseph, and was convinced some wild animal had killed him. Genesis 37:35 tells us, All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said “in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him.   
 
       I see three significant stages in this story regarding Jacob and Joseph. We just saw the first one, death’s blow, the devastating and agonizing feeling the death of a loved one brings. The second stage was the day Jacob was told that Joseph was not dead, that he was, in fact, the ruler of all Egypt and was waiting there for him. Genesis 45:27 tells us the Jacob’s spirit was revived that day. I’ll call it the stage of enlightenment and hope. The third stage is the reunion itself which culminated a 13 year span. Genesis 46:29 says that As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. 
 
       As God’s children, we will all experience these three stages in our own lives. Most of us have already been through the first painful stage and many of us have arrived at the second as well, which is the knowledge that our departed loved ones in Christ are not dead but waiting for us in Heaven. The third and best stage of all is still up ahead, the reunion itself. Can you imagine the joy and gladness that awaits us on that day? I bet some of you have even dreamed about that day. As an old Christian chorus says, “What a day that will be!”  I’m not one who gets easily excited but I suspect that on that day, I’ll really let loose. I may even get as excited as the pooch in this clip that was forwarded to me.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC5DXGIC8s8   
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25) Let 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.
 
PS: I’ll let you have a day off and won’t post a meditational thought tomorrow. I pray you’ll enjoy your 4th of July weekend with your family and friends.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 02 2014
Wednesday, 7/2/14 
 
       I went to the bank drive thru to make a deposit on Monday morning remembering that for whatever reason on that day, the transactions take a little bit longer. I was third in line in the lane I chose, behind a fellow in a service truck. After a few minutes, he got off his truck and came over to ask me if I could move back so that he could go to another lane because he was in a hurry, only had one transaction, and according to him, the lady in front of him was taking forever. I only had one transaction too but I willingly complied with his wishes. When I moved back, he quickly switched to the lane to our left that also had another vehicle in front of him. As soon as he positioned himself in the other lane, the lady that had been in front of him completed her transaction and I moved up to do mine. Within a couple of minutes my transaction was done and when I left he was still waiting behind the car in front of him in the adjacent lane. As I drove away, I wondered if he thought of a few choice words for me or for the bank, or both. My initial thought was “That’s what you get for being impatient” and then I felt bad for him remembering that patience had not been one of my virtues either not too long ago. I immediately lifted up a prayer for him, and I again thanked the Lord for the help He has given me with that issue.
 
       Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that the end of a matter is better than it’s beginning, and patience is better than pride. How perfectly did this verse speak concerning what I witnessed Monday morning. Had this man known the Lord and His ways, he would have known that all things turn out well for those who trust God and wait upon Him, regardless of what they may seem to be at the beginning. Patience would have rewarded him and served him well. Instead, his pride kicked him in the behind. “What pride?” you ask. It was his idea that his life is more important than all the others who were also waiting in line. It was his belief that his life is too important to be delayed by a bank. The truth is that he, along with the rest of us, desperately needs the patience that only God can give. It is a gift He so graciously gives to all His children. In fact it is one of the fruits of the Spirit of God that dwells in all believers. (See Galatians 5:22) As the Ragu TV commercial some years back used to say, “Its in there!”
 
       If you are among the many that could use help with the matter of patience, ask the Lord to help you. He will, and pretty soon you’ll be enjoying it’s benefits too.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:57 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 01 2014
Tuesday 7/1/14 
 
       There is an interesting story in the Old Testament regarding a king of Judah by the name of Joash. As an infant, he was hidden by his aunt Jehosheba and saved from being slain along with all his siblings from a wicked queen by the name of Athalia. He was shown publicly for the first time when he was eight years old and crowned king of Judah on that day. He was a good king at the beginning and did many great things for his people but toward the end of his life he did some things that greatly displeased the Lord. In fact, though he is in the lineage of David, Matthew chose to omit him from the genealogy of Christ. (Matthew, Chapter 1)
 
       There is one particular verse that gives us a little more insight into this king’s life. 2 Kings 12:2 reads: Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed himBesides being the priest, this man was Joash’s uncle. A closer look into this verse clearly indicates that Jehoiada was a mentor and great influence in the life of his nephew until the time of his death. Once he was out of the way, Joash strayed far from God.
 
       Many of us have had family or friends that have been great influences as well who have helped us significantly in our walk with God. Today, it is one thing we can be very thankful for. I also think I can identify some Christians and church members who are serving the Lord today because their influence and mentor is still around. I fear that if and when they are no longer here, some of these will take the road Joash took. It is sad and shameful that such things occur with God’s people, that many depend on others to be their motivation to serve the Lord. We see that often in sports where some players need something or someone else to hype them up and bring out their best. And though human influences and mentors are a valuable asset, why should they be our main motivators after all that Jesus has done for us? Should not the love, gratitude, and devotion we have for Him be all the motivation we need? I believe it is, and I trust you feel the same way too.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:56 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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