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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, January 30 2015
Friday, January 30. 2015                   
 
       On the day when the prophet Elijah was running in fear from the threats of Queen Jezebel, (remember she appeared in Wednesday’s quiz?) the Lord appeared and spoke to him in the wilderness. The story’s chapter has some amazing occurrences, such as an angel of God feeding and restoring his strength, Elijah traveling forty days and forty nights to Mount Horeb on the strength of that angelic meal, and a fire, an earthquake, and a mighty rock-shattering wind. The most amazing thing to me about that story, however, was the fact that Elijah did not hear God’s voice in the display in these powerful elements, but rather in a still small voice. This is what1 Kings 19:12 reads and part of verse 13: “And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle.” To me, it is a reminder of our personal times of prayer with God. Too often we are so focused on not omitting each and every one of our concerns and excited about a thought or a feeling He will give our heart in response, that we forget one very important aspect of prayer, that is, it is more a time of personal communion with God than a time of just asking for one thing after another.
 
       We seek God’s face but we fail to ask Him for the discipline needed to block out every other thought in our hearts and minds and just be still and wait. Yes, I said “discipline.” In our men’s study this past Wednesday, Pastor Ruben taught on that very thing. He cited Isaiah 40:31 which tells us that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”  Waiting upon God is not an easy thing because it goes against our human nature and is a discipline that only the Lord can teach us. When we pray, our mind wanders and then we begin to think of other issues we forgot to bring to Him in the beginning. We fail to enjoy and get the full benefit of just being in His presence. I remember reading about a young lady who told others how much she enjoyed and always looked forward to going fishing with her dad. When someone asked her what they spoke about at such times, she said he seldom said a word, she just felt so good, safe, and secure just being there beside him. Do you have, or have had, someone like that in your life who you love so much, you just want to be near them? Should it be any different with us when we pray?
 
       The truth is that God knows each and every one of our needs when we approach Him in prayer. Most parents know the things their children need even though they may not mention them. When they have the means, they will make every effort to provide them with such things whether their children ask for them or not. Our Heavenly Father is no different other than He is not limited, and has the power and the resources to provide us with each and every thing that we “need.” By no means is it a sin to ask God for anything we may think we need help with. Nevertheless, the best thing about our prayer times with God is just being in His presence. Have you come before His presence like that lately?
 
Memory verse for the week (Hebrews 3:7-8 KJV) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith , To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:03 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 29 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015           

       Last Thursday I wrote about a line from a worship song we sing in church; here is another one, taken from Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the hills/ Where does my help come from?” The author of this psalm is David and many bible scholars refer to it as “the soldier’s psalm.”  It came to my mind while at the altar in Tuesday’s prayer meeting in church. Like most people who come before God in prayer, I had many things on my mind. I suppose just about everybody, especially adults, thinks of such things as health, finances, family, and very pressing burdens when they draw near to God, just like I did yesterday. I was thinking “How is God going to help me with all my issues? How will my help come and by whom or what means will He send it?

       Then I remembered that David lifted up this same type of prayer to God when he penned this psalm. His words were: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Although it appears the last part of the verse is not a question, most bible translations show it as such. I take it as a question too because its not that we doubt God’s help, we are just curious about where our help will come from. Most bible readers are aware that God has sent help to His people in the past in many ways and through many different sources. Here are but a few: Angels, lepers, weather, hornets, noises, ravens, and plagues upon their enemies. If you find it curious that David lifted up his eyes unto the hills and not unto Heaven, it is because he was referring to the hills where Jerusalem and the Temple lay. (Mount Moriah) He associated the Temple to the place where God’s presence was, much like people who visit a departed loved one’s grave although they know Heaven is where they really are. Whether it was a question or not, David was quick to declare, My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (verse 2)

       Child of God, it is the same for you and me. If you are going through a rough time in your life and today are more than worried about your health, finances, family, or even the day of tomorrow, remember that our God is faithful. He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. David also wrote these words about his faith in his faithful God: “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” (Psalm 86:7) You can do the same. Call upon Him today if you need Him. He will answer you too because He has no favorites. Where will your help come from? I have no idea what source the Lord will use, but in the end all the help you need will come from Him. I am reminded of the chorus of this favorite Christian song of mine: “Many things about tomorrow / I don’t seem to understand / But I know Who holds tomorrow / and I know Who holds my hand.” And that’s where our help comes from!

Memory verse for the week (Hebrews 3:7-8 KJV) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith , To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”

Note: I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s quiz. I know of one who aced it but very few reported their scores. How did you do?

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 28 2015
   Last Wednesday's little bible quiz that I gave you was so well accepted I thought I'd bring you another one today for the sake of popular demand. Actually, only one of you said you loved it and added "Keep em comin", but it can be a nice break from your normal routine nonetheless and may even help you brush up a little on your bible knowledge. Though I suspected more than one of you aced the first one, no one reported it. Even so, I hope many of you will tell us how you did this time around. Ready? Here goes: 
 
 
1. What was the name of David’s father -  Abinidad /  Malchus  /  Jesse  /  Josiah 
 
2. What was the occupation of Joseph, Mary’s husband and father of Jesus  -  Carpenter   / fisherman  / tax collector  / brick layer
 
3. Jesus’ most famous sermon was His sermon on the  ________    -   Boat  /  Shore  /      Water / Mount
 
4. What was the name of Sarah’s husband  -  Abraham  /  Lot  /   Moses  /  Eli
 
5. Which of these duos was not father and son  -  Saul and Jonathan  /  James and John  /    Adam and Seth   /   Jacob and Levi
 
6. Jesus was betrayed with ______  pieces of silver.  -  30  / 45  / 60  / 23 
 
7. The Lord spoke to Moses through a burning  _______    -  Wheel  /  Bush  /  Tree  /  Well 
 
8. Leah was a  _______ of Jacob   -   Daughter  /  Cousin  /  Wife   /  Sister
 
9. Joseph became a governor in  _______    -   Moab  /  Babylon  /  Egypt  /  Midian
 
10.   Who survived a night in a den of lions ?     Daniel  /  Shadrach  /  Jeremiah  /  Joshua
 
11. Who is called “the accuser of the brethren?”   -  Saul  /  Satan   /   Ahab  /  Jeroboam
 
12.   Which King tried to kill David?  -   Herod  /  Darius  /  Saul   /  Pharoah   
 
13.  In which Psalm do the words “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” appear ?   -  91  /   23  /  119  /  100
 
14.   Who was Jezebel ?   -  The wife of King Ahab  /  A daughter of Solomon  /                                      The sister of Jacob  /   The mother of Joseph
 
15.   The Wise Men’s gifts to the baby Jesus were gold, frankincense, and ______   -           Incense /   myrrh    /  silver  /  Aloe
 
16.   What was Peter’s occupation when he met Jesus?   -   Fisherman    / Tax collector   /       Judge  /   Politician
 
17.   What city’s wall fell when Joshua’s army marched around it ?   -                                                                Damascus  / Jericho    /  Babylon  /  Jerusalem
 
18.   Who succeeded David as king?  -  Solomon   /  Jehoshaphat  /  Amos  /  Nathan
 
19.   Who told God “My punishment is more than I can bear ?   -   Satan /  Cain  / Lot /  Saul
 
20.  Who is buried in Rachel’s tomb?  -    Leah   / Sarah  / Dolly Madison  / Rachel
 
 
Memory verse for the week (Hebrews 3:7-8 KJV) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith , To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”
 
 
ANSWERS:
1. Jesse  2. Carpenter  3.  Mount  4.  Abraham   5. James and John  6. 30   7. Bush  8. Wife  9.  Egypt  10.  Daniel  11.  Satan        12. Saul  13. 23  14.  Wife of King Ahab  15.  Myrrh  16.  Fisherman  17.  Jericho  18.  Solomon  19. Cain  20.  Rachel
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 27 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015                       
 
       There are many people who have never read the Bible and/or don’t make it a practice to attend church who claim they have faith. My guess is that they are referring to a feeling or a general attitude of the heart and not the genuine faith portrayed in the Bible. In their case, they may believe in a rabbit’s foot, horseshoes, fortune cookie slogans, religious artifacts, lucky pennies, and other such things which really have no substance. Some even believe in science, like Nacho Libre’s sidekick, Esqueleto, but how many times has science let people down? NASA  is one that comes to mind, just to name one. Speaking of fortune cookie predictions, a fellow got one which read: “You will be running into a lot of money very soon.” He believed it wholeheartedly and excitedly told all his family and friends of his soon impending good fortune. His faith in the fortune cookie prediction came true for a few days after, he crashed his car into a bank.  
 
       As far as “substance” is concerned, Hebrews 11:6 in the King James Version says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Other bible versions connect to faith, words such as “assurance”, “reality”, “confidence”, “realization”, and “proof”, among other things. If faith is not based on something real or true, it is a blind faith. How hard can it be, on the other hand, to believe in someone who has never failed or lied? Hebrews 6:13 says: “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.”
 
       At my sister Alice’s funeral recently, I shared with those assembled a little bit of the history of the Golden Gate Bridge. During it’s construction, 11 men fell to their death because the safety net that was provided was faulty. Despite the hard financial times, many workers quit because of the great risk. Because of it, a new and better safety net was constructed and all nineteen that afterwards fell into that new net were saved. They had little trouble finding workers for the project after that. Can you see the picture? The fear of a fatal fall was greatly minimized when the workers knew a proven and stronger net would be there to catch them. Our faith is based on Someone who is even stronger and more secure than that. In fact, He is 100 % reliable. I concluded that all those who are in Christ, my sister included, will, without a doubt, be caught by strong and loving hands on the day they “fall off” from this world. It is no wonder, then, that Paul wrote: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” If we are trusting in anyone, even ourselves, other than Christ, we have no assurance. With Christ, however, there can be no doubts. Thank God for faith!
 
 
Memory verse for the week (Hebrews 3:7-8 KJV) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith , To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 26 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015      
 
       In one of the Bible’s best known stories, the Prodigal son had a day of reckoning some time after foolishly leaving home for no good reason. Those who know the story well know that the father never pleaded with him not to leave home. In fact, I’ve heard some pastors and teachers who foolishly dared to find fault with such a wise and loving father for not doing so. If that was the case, I believe Jesus would have pointed it out in His parable. Another thing that the father could not do, since lines of communication were almost non-existent in those days, was to plead with him to come back home. Even if he had wanted to, he could not get in touch with his son when he was far away. However, he did something even better, he most likely shed many tears each night as he prayed for his son’s safe return. The bottom line is that he didn’t have to contact his boy, because other voices would do the job for him. It was as if the Lord, in response to his prayers for his son, said: “Don’t worry pops; you may not be able to reach him, but I can.”
 
       The Bible doesn’t say how long the prodigal was away from home but I sincerely believe that even on the day that he broke the news to his father about leaving, there were voices that were already telling him he was about to make a big mistake. It could have been his conscience or even his older brother who may have tried to talk some sense into him. Come to think of it, if it was his older brother who tried to talk him out of leaving, that might have given him the more reason to do so, when we consider the type of person the story portrays him to be. If nothing else, he surely had to notice the sadness in his fathers eyes when he informed him of his plans. He ignored all these little voices and left home anyway.
 
       Proverbs 27:8 says: “Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.” In other words, it is not natural, doesn’t make sense, and is certainly out of God’s will. Today, many commit the Prodigal’s same mistake, that is, they leave the place God has appointed for them to go where they should not. And just like the Prodigal, they do so because someone or something has deceived them. It happens in homes, marriages, jobs, sports, even in churches. They have heeded the wrong voices. In the case of the Prodigal, the day came when he finally listened to the voice of reason. It was really the voice of God. He may have thought it came from him but nevertheless, one day he said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” If one of you today has left the place where you should be, especially if you are out of God’s will, I pray you will come back to Him today. Just like the prodigal, you will be glad that you did.
 
 
Memory verse for the week (Hebrews 3:7-8 KJV) “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith , To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”
 
 
 
                         
 
             
Posted by: Joie Martinez AT 01:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 22 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015           
 
       A line from a contemporary Christian song, which we also sing at church, says: “So remember your people / Remember your children / Remember your promise, oh God.” To me, it is a picture of our general way of thinking, namely that we not only depend on God keeping His promises to us, we expect Him to. Pastors get more than slightly miffed, although they won’t always let it be known, when some of his members who haven’t been faithful to him, scold him when they feel he is unfaithful to them. Even so, aren’t we all a little bit like that, especially in regards to promises? We make it a point to remind God about the promises He has made in His Word to us, but how often does He, or someone else, remind us of the promises we have made to Him?
 
       Solomon wrote: “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.  It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5) I venture to say that most Christians are aware of this truth ,that it is a foolish thing to promise God anything, yet many keep doing it anyway. I bet pastors can remember a good number of his members who, throughout the years, have made certain vows to God but have forgotten them with time. If pastors can remember these un-kept promises and those who made them, how can we even think that God will forget them?
 
       Since this is not an uncommon occurrence, I suspect that one or more of you who are reading today’s blog, fall into this category. All genuine ministers of God’s Word preach about Hell from time to time, but some of them preach it like they’re hoping people will get there someday. I am not one of them but I will plead with you today if you have made a vow to God you have not fulfilled, to at least make a sincere effort to do so. I am not referring to rash and outlandish promises; God knows most people can’t climb the highest mountain or save an entire continent for Jesus. So if you made such a wild promise, I’m pretty sure He didn’t take you too seriously in the first place. No, I am referring to those where people generally promise God they will be more faithful to Him, become better examples to their family and friends, and follow Him much closer than before. If that is you, today will be the perfect time to get back on track and one sure way to please and honor God. C’mon, you can do it.      
 
 
 
Memory verses for the week (Psalm 103:13-14) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
 
Note: I was glad to hear from some of you that you enjoyed yesterday’s little bible quiz. If you did not ace it, don’t feel bad because I didn’t either. It was brought to my attention that question # 13 had two right answers. I said Luke, but Mark would have been correct also because he was not one of the original 12 Disciples. What was I thinking? Let me know if you wouldn’t mind getting more quizzes from time to time. I know I enjoyed it.
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 21 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015      

       I hope you like challenges because today I will forego the usual meditational thought and give you a chance to gauge your biblical knowledge with the following bible quiz. The questions are multiple choice and will deal mostly with names of people or places. I would not be surprised if more than one or two of you ace the test and am pretty confident that most of you will do quite well. You’ll be able to see how you did without researching the Bible, but if you have to look up one or two answers so you can get all the answers right, that’s not a bad thing either. Ready ? Here goes:

1. What was the name of Moses’ sister ?  Zipporah / Priscilla / Miriam / Carolyn

2. Where was Jesus born ? Jerusalem / Capernaum /Bethlehem / Jericho

3. Who was Jacob’s oldest son ? Levi / Judah / Ruben / Mo

4. Who was Israel’s second king ?  Saul / David / Joab / Solomon

5. Who slew Abel?  Cain / Enoch / Seth / Lamech

6. How many books are in the Bible?  57 / 43 /  66 /  71

7. Where did Moses receive the Ten Commandments ?  Mt. Hermann / Mt. Pisgah  /     Matterhorn  / Mt. Sinai

8. Who was Jacob’s youngest son ?  Simeon / Joseph  /  Benjamin  / Judah

9. Which of the following is not a book of the New Testament ?  Galileans  / Romans  / Philemon  /  Ephesians

10.  Which of the following was not one of the 12 Disciples ?  Matthew /  Mark  / Luke  / John

11.  God called Canaan the Land flowing with Milk and (      ) ?  Butter  /  Bread  /                      Honey  /   Cookies

12.  Who said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” ?   Moses  / David  /  Job  /  John

13.   Who went up to Heaven in a flaming chariot  ?  Elijah  / Jeremiah  /  Ezekiel  / Elisha 

14.   Who succeeded Moses?  Abraham   /  David  /  Joshua  /   Potiphar   

15.   What was the name of Moses’ brother ?  Nathan  /  Aaron  /  Abiathar  /  Jethro

16.   What was the name of Isaac’s wife ?  Rebecca  / Rachel  /  Leah  /  Dinah

17.  Who was Jacob’s brother ?  Ephraim  /  Zebulon  /  Esau  /  Napthali

18.   Who was stoned to death because of his faith in Christ ?  Nicholas  / Stephen  /                 Gamailel  /   Judas

19.   Who wrote the book of Revelation ?  John  /  Peter  /  Mark  /  Nathanael

20.  To whom did Jesus say “You must be born again” ?   Nicodemus   / Joseph  /                        Caiphas  /   Billy 

Memory verses for the week (Psalm 103:13-14) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

Answers: 1. Miriam    2.  Bethlehem   3.  Ruben    4. David  5. Cain  6.  66 books    7. Mt. Sinai  8.  Benjamin  9. Galileans  10.  Luke   11. Honey       12. Job  13. Elijah  14. Joshua  15.  Aaron  16.  Rebecca  17.   Esau   18.  Stephen  19.  John   20.  Nicodemus

You want to tell me how you did? 

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 20 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015           

       The last part of the following verse has been misunderstood by many bible readers, especially if they read it in the King James version: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.(James 5:16) The New Living Translation (NLT) says it this way: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.” Upon comparing the different bible translations, it is evident that “man” in the KJV is a general reference to mankind and applies to all human beings. The issue that remains and needs to be clarified is this: Who is a righteous person?

       “Righteous”, just like the word “saint”, has thrown many people for a loop because their general perception of a saint or righteous person borders on sinlessness and perfection, which leads them to think, “that is definitely not me”, which leads them to think that their prayers have very little effect, which leads them to desist it’s practice. We must keep in mind that the righteousness that we have is the one that comes by way of our faith. Romans 4:3 tells us that when Abraham believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness. I know some will be hard to convince, but to put is as simply as I can, all God’s children are righteous, and its certainly not because of us but rather because of the One who lives in our heart. If anything, our prayers are answered more on the basis of our faith than on our righteousness. Let me try to picture it more simply by the following story I heard years ago.

       In the heat of a ferocious battle in the Korean War, and while bullets were flying everywhere, a young soldier was ordered by his sergeant to go out and bring some of his wounded fellow soldiers into the bunker. Upon hearing his name, he glanced at his watch seemingly ignoring the orders. In a few minutes, the sergeant angrily repeated the orders. Again he glanced at his watch, and did not move. After several minutes, he jumped out of the bunker and managed to bring in several wounded comrades without getting hit. When the battle was over, they asked him why he hadn’t obeyed the orders immediately and he told them “I’m not a Christian, but my mother told me that everyday at 12 noon our time, she would be upon her knees praying that God would protect me. As soon as my watch hit 12 noon, I ran out knowing that I would be safe.” In the end, he obviously believed in the power of his mother’s prayers, and she was righteous because she was a child of God, thus making her prayers effectual. If you are a child of God through faith in Christ, don’t sell yourself short; your prayers are much more effective than what you may think. Please don’t stop praying!

Memory verses for the week (Psalm 103:13-14) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 19 2015
Monday, January 19, 2015        
 
       We hear people often declare, sometimes rather smugly, that they will never forgive a certain person in their life because of what they did. At the onset, and on a human level, it seems that there are situations when people’s refusal to forgive a certain someone seems reasonable, even justifiable. Nevertheless, the Bible clearly tells us that there is never a situation or occasion where denying someone forgiveness is allowed by God. I had heard it before, but in his radio program yesterday, Ravi Zacharias retold the following true story that pictures the extent of genuine forgiveness.
 
       A man had to leave his wife and young family behind to go work overseas. At the beginning, he would write to them on a daily basis but with time the letters were not quite as frequent and then they finally stopped altogether. Then, after an extremely long time, he wrote his wife a letter to inform her that he would no longer be coming home. What happened was that he fell in love with his 15 year old servant girl over there and married her. His wife was devastated and with time she had to break the news to her young children. One of the young children asked her one day, “Mommy, if daddy doesn’t love us anymore, does that mean we can’t love him?” Grudgingly, she had to reply that they had to keep on loving him. Put yourself in her situation; how would you have answered that question?  If the initial blow was not enough, several years later he wrote another letter where he informed her that he was dying of cancer and no longer had the means to support his wife and children over there. He asked if she would find it in her heart to send some money on a monthly basis to help his family over there since they had no other means of support. Again, how would you have handled this matter? How did she, since she had a hard enough time trying to support her own growing family? Her actions may shock you, but this is what she did: She found a way to bring that family to the US to live with her and her family. That, my dear friends, is genuine forgiveness.
 
       Why does God expect us to forgive everyone? Because this is what He does. Why did Jesus say in His Sermon on the Mount, “But if you don’t forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses?” (Mt. 6:15) Because our sin debt was greater than any offense others have committed against us, and He forgave us anyway. In reply to Peter’s question about the extent of forgiveness, Jesus told the parable of the wicked and cruel servant in the 18th Chapter of Matthew whose debt was forgiven by his master, and then turned around and did not forgive a fellow servant who owed him much less. Jesus said that because of it, that cruel unforgiven servant was turned over to his tormentors by his master. The bottom line is that we have to forgive others who have wronged us, period! Now, like the lady in our story, can your forgiveness go even further and take you all the way to mercy and compassion? If the love of Christ lives in your heart, I bet it can.
 
Memory verses for the week (Psalm 103:13-14) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
 
           
 
             
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 16 2015
Friday, January 16, 2015        
 
       Pastor Mike reminded us recently that our main adversary, the devil, is not omniscient. That is, Satan never knows what is in our hearts and minds; only God knows that. However, the devil can easily see what things give us trouble in our personal lives, and he’ll employ all his evil tactics in order to concentrate his attack on our areas of weakness. I was reading with interest recently about a lion’s hunting habits. Most people believe that they study carefully and then pick out the weakest and most feeble member of the herd they will attack later. Not so! They mostly attack those who are the closest to them, usually those who stray from the rest of the herd. They also have success in hunting because they know how to hide in the tall grass or how to make the different groups of animals think that they have no interest whatsoever in them. It is no wonder, then, that the bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” So much for those who think he will only attack the supposedly weak in the faith. Other victims of the devil are those who don’t realize he is nearby waiting for his chance. It is amazing to me how many people there are who think that Satan doesn’t exist and is just the product of someone’s imagination.
 
       I repeat, although the devil does not know your thoughts, he can hear what you say, knows what you like to do on a regular basis, and can easily see when you are discouraged. It is at that point, when you have strayed from God and have wandered close to where he is, that he will attack you. Discouraged Christians are Satan’s biggest targets.
       Dear Child of God, if you are discouraged today, it is clearly because you have stopped focusing on Christ and have fixed your sight on something or someone else. Remember the account in the 14th Chapter when Peter almost walked on water? Do you remember when it was that he started sinking? It was when he took his eyes off of Jesus. Colossians 3:1 NLT gives us this simple but valuable advice: “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power.” Would a bully try to hurt you if you had someone much bigger and stronger than he standing by your side? Neither will the devil attack you if he can see that Jesus is at your side. No wonder David could say in Psalm 23 that he feared no evil. He knew that the Lord was with him, and that same Lord is with you too. Don’t dwell too much on the things and cares of this life. If they are a cause of trouble to you, ask the Lord to help you with them; He won’t let you down. Above all things, keep your eyes on Christ.
 
Memory verses for the week (Psalm 103:13-14) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
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Thursday, January 15 2015
Thursday, January 15, 2015           
 
       If you were to ask people at random, especially church goers, if they have faith, the overwhelming majority will say that they do. I suspect, however, that many who say they have it don’t really understand or know what it is, and then there are those who have it but think that they don’t. Let me give you an example of the latter. In the 25th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus spoke of the day when He will set up His Kingdom here on earth. He said that the He will welcome those on His right to partake of the glories of His kingdom. He will tell them they have gained entry because they provided for Him when he was thirsty, hungry, and needy. They will reply that they don’t recall ever seeing Him like that and He will remind them that whatever they did for others, they did for Him. Although the rest of the story does not say it, I think that these people were not aware that they did what they did because they had faith. “In what way” you may ask. Well, even though they didn’t realize it, deep down in their hearts they just knew that what they were doing would please God, and that someway, somehow they would be paid in kind. They were right, and that, my dear friends, is faith. When you have faith, action always follows.
 
       James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” When a farmer gets on his knees and asks God to give him a good crop, his faith prompts him to go out and work his field. If God told you it is going to rain on you tomorrow and you immediately go look for your umbrella, that is faith. A family was having a gathering at their home with some people from church. At 9:30 PM, the man told his children to go to bed since they had school the following day. Halfway up the stairs, his little boy cried out “Hey everybody, I’m about to go say my prayers, anybody need anything?” Now, that, is childlike faith and it is the best type of faith of all.
 
       This is what was in Adrian Rogers’ (now with the Lord) devotional yesterday: [“When you ask God for something, do you just sit back and do nothing and say, “Well, I’m going to show my faith by doing nothing.” To the contrary, you will show your faith by doing something. For faith without works is what? Dead! Do you want a house? Pray for it. Then say “Amen” with a hammer and saw. Do you want a wife? Pray for one. Then go shave, put on some cologne, learn some manners, and learn how to be thoughtful and loving.”] Pretty simple but to the point, don’t you think? Do You have faith? 
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
 
 
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Wednesday, January 14 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
 
       All churchgoers have heard this phrase or something similar for years at the start of every sermon: “If you have your bibles, please turn to………..” In the past, you would see most of the people in the audience flipping pages to get to the text. If everything was quiet you would even hear the sounds these bibles would make. Nowadays, when the same phrase is given, very few people open their bibles because in most churches the text will appear on the screen. And then there are those who have “the bible” on their smartphone, I-pad, tablet, or electronic gadget of their choice. I vividly remember an occasion a few years back during a church message when a young man who was sitting in the pew in front of us was “playing” with his wireless gadget all through the sermon. Obviously, I was not preaching on that day, but I confess that I was pretty agitated at what I saw. I think his mom, who was sitting next to him, noticed my look of displeasure and immediately after church came up to me to explain that her son was simply following along with  his “bible’ application on his phone all through the sermon. To me, it was a big relief, and in an instant my perception of him changed.
 
       Speaking of these new electronic bibles, I know for a fact that there are some church members, mostly the elderly, who don’t look very kindly at those who don’t have the traditional bible. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter how you get your “bible’, as long as you get it. I once heard one of my favorite radio preachers, Ravi Zacharias, tell the story of a Vietnamese friend of his who was imprisoned by the Viet Cong because he helped Christian missionaries. When ordered to clean the prison latrines, he noticed some English words in one of the soiled pieces of toilet paper in the basket he was emptying. Desperate to read something other than the communist and atheistic propaganda he was forced to hear every day, he picked off that piece of paper, carefully washed off the filth and tucked it in his pocket. Later that night, he read that still damp page by the light of his pocket flashlight. It just happened to be the 8th Chapter of Romans and the verse at the top of the page was verse 28 which reads: “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.” This man knew the Word of God, but of all the verses in the Bible, this was the one he most needed to read again, since his faith had been wavering. That verse brought him back to God and from that point he volunteered for latrine duty every day. (Ravi also shares this story in his book, “Walking From East To West: God In The Shadows”)
 
       Let me repeat: It doesn’t matter how you get your “bible” as long as you get it, and the best place to have and it and keep it is in your heart.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
 
 
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Tuesday, January 13 2015
Tuesday, January 13, 2015  
 
       A few years ago my son and I were watching a public television program entitled “Our Town” which featured local talent contests from each section of the city. I hesitate confessing it but I think we used to watch these programs mostly to see the poor contestants who definitely had no business being there. So much for those who may have thought I didn’t have a “dark side.” Anyway, a young man came on one day, who would not have been able to carry a tune if his life depended on it, who tried singing a popular country song at the time. I’m sure my son will immediately remember it when he reads today’s topic, and even though many people who saw it probably had a thousand guffaws at his expense, there was one thing about him that I will never forget, namely he put his heart and soul so completely into his “song” that he had tears in his eyes all the way through it. Perhaps, because what I saw that day made me feel ashamed of myself, I no longer tune in to programs of that type.
 
       Nevertheless, here are some of the things the Lord either taught me or reminded me of on that day: The first is that God, so unlike the world, looks at the heart whenever people do things. Perhaps I’ve bored you with this pet saying of mine, but “Its not what you do but the reason you do it.” If God had been the official Judge on that day, this young man would have won that talent show hands down. Throughout the years, I’ve seen many Christian pastors, preachers, singers, and musicians in person or on television “do their thing” and although I can only suspect that God has given me the gift of spiritual discernment, I’m pretty sure I can tell the difference between “performing” and “ministering.” Let me give you an example I’ve used before: In a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles many years ago, designated speakers were invited to read or recite their favorite psalm. One night, a very famous screen actor from Hollywood came up and read the 23rd Psalm. Almost everyone in the crowd was impressed. The following night, an elderly gentleman was invited to recite his favorite psalm and he too chose Psalm 23, but by the time he finished reciting his psalm, there was not one dry eye in the audience. What made the difference? One knew the 23rd Psalm well and the other one knew the Shepherd personally.
 
       So often, believers who feel they are not talented or gifted won’t venture out and try to serve God in a greater capacity because of it. God is interested in that we serve Him because we love Him more than whatever gifts or talents we may possess. A favorite verse of mine says: “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”(Colossians 3:23) Gifts and talents are great but if they are not accompanied by love, they have very little value. Serve God, He wants to use you too.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
 
 
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Monday, January 12 2015
Monday, January 12, 2015         
 
       As we were waiting to depart to the cemetery in my sister Alice’s funeral this past Friday morning, we heard on the radio of the passing of a favorite singer and song writer of mine, Andrae Crouch. When I got home later in the day and finally had time to sit in front of my computer, I immediately searched the internet to hear again some of the songs he has written. I thought my favorite was “Through It All” and then I heard all his others that are found on the you tube website. After a while I no longer could figure out which one of these was my favorite: “The Promise”, “My Tribute”, “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power”, “Soon And Very Soon”, “I Don’t Know Why”, or “It Won’t Be Long.” I think I heard his songs for over an hour and I confess that I cried all the way through, saturating a nearby towel with disgusting nasal matter. If you love music with a meaningful message and the kind you can relate to, I challenge you to listen to his songs for a few minutes and see if you can keep from crying. One thing is for sure: in the end, you will be very glad that you did.
       I think that now that he is in Heaven, Andrae Crouch will finally realize just how much his music touched the hearts of multitudes. I read where he struggled with dyslexia all his life and that amazed me even more at the talent and gifts God bestowed upon him in spite of his condition. It reminded me of these truths Hannah, Samuel’s mother, expressed in her prayer of praise to God in 1 Samuel, Chapter 2: "The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength.” (vs 4) “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” (vs 8) Crouch’s accomplishments should serve as a reminder that God bestows gifts even upon those whom the world may perceive as incapable or unfit. Paul advised the Corinthian Church members to “covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31) and to me they are those who touch others the most and last the longest. Perhaps, that is one reason that I love to write “things.” It thrills my heart to think that someone somewhere will be blessed by reading one of the simple little “things” I wrote, long after I have left this world.
       Since we are still in the infant stage of this new year, I hope Andrae Crouch’s example will encourage you to employ the gift(s) God has given you. The contribution that God’s children make to this world can be a lasting one. Just think about it; a hundred years from now someone may still be getting a benefit from something you shared with them while you were still upon the earth. If that’s the case, and to borrow a very well known phrase from one of Andrae Crouch’s memorable songs, “To God be the Glory!”
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 08 2015
Thursday, January 8, 2015         
 
       I was reading in 1 Peter, Chapter 4 this morning and I came across some great advice it would serve us well to follow in this new year. Among other things, Peter wrote that we should endeavor to be clear minded and self controlled so that when we pray we can do it more effectively. (vs 7) It is obviously not wise to lift up our prayers to God when we’ve got other things on our mind. That is one reason the apostle Paul also wrote that when he prayed, it was in the Spirit but also with his understanding. (See 1 Cor. 14:15) Peter also advised us to be hospitable and not to grumble. (vs 9) Some people we know have a reputation for being negative-minded, continual complainers. That can never be a good testimony for Christ and I’m glad none of you are like that. You aren’t, right?
 
       Here’s some more good advice and reminder as well: We should all use the specific gift, or gifts, God has given us to faithfully serve others. (vs 10) We must never forget that anything we have ever received from God did not come our way by luck or chance. If He gave it to us it is because He wants us to use it for our benefit, as well as for the benefit of others. Then he added that when we do serve, we should do so with the strength God provides. (vs 11) To me, this simply means that when we do serve, we should be in continual contact with God’s Spirit, very much aware that without His help and leading whatever we do will be fruitless.
 
       But the one verse that stood out more prominently in this chapter was verse 8 where he wrote: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  If you have never asked God in prayer to help you love others like He loves them, perhaps this will be the perfect time to do so. This verse immediately reminds us that when we truly love others, we overlook any offence they may have committed against us. When we love others, we won’t have a sour disposition or negative view about life in general. Then we will be good testimonies and examples of the love of God. When we love sincerely, we won’t hold a grudge and we will forgive those whose release is way overdue. I heard a lady yesterday confess that she finally forgave her mother after twenty five years of denying her the forgiveness she should have received from the onset. If by chance, there should be one or two readers of today’s blog who fall into this category, I plead with you to ask the Lord today to give you His kind of love. When you do, you yourself will be released from your self-made prison and your new year will be off to a great start.
 

Memory verse for the week: (1 John 2:28“And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear , we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.”

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Wednesday, January 07 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

       As we were leaving the house yesterday morning, I noticed something was missing in my shirt pocket because all I had in it was my pen and my usual pack of gum. I confess I panicked momentarily, much like some of you do when you realize you left your trusty smartphone back at the house, or your I-pad, tablet, or whatever your favorite wireless gadget may be . In my case, it was a folded letter-size sheet of paper. You may think that is pretty odd, but I always carry a piece of paper in my shirt pocket for I need it to write notes on it. I know that in the course of a normal day I am going to see or hear things that will give me topics for my blogs, sermons, or bible study classes. At my age, if I don’t write notes to myself I will forget all about it later. I am at a significant disadvantage whenever I forget my little piece of paper. In fact, I also have a writing tablet by my computer so I can write notes or make a list of the things I need to do later or the following day.

       Are you forgetful like me? Do you also have to write things down so you won’t forget to do them? I’m sure I’ve shared this corny joke before about a forgetful old-timer but just in case there may be one or two who did not hear it, here goes: An elderly couple was sitting in their porch watching the world go by when the lady broke the silence and said: “A bowl of ice cream and strawberries would be real good just about now.” Her husband said, “I’ll go inside and get it for you.” She said “Good, but please write it down because you know how you forget things from one minute to the other.” He said he would but once inside, he forgot to write it down. When he came back out about ten minutes later, he came out with a plate of bacon and eggs. Guess what she told him when she looked at the breakfast plate that he fixed? “You forgot the toast!” May this remind you of the importance of writing things down when your memory has been known to fail you at one time or another.

       Nevertheless, my point today is that if a little piece of paper can be so vital to me and other forgetful people like me, imagine how important you are to God as well as those around you. Jesus said that although two sparrows are worth but a penny, not one of them falls to the ground without God knowing it. Then He turned to His Disciples and said: “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31) Sparrows are even more valuable than a small piece of paper, so if I would have a hard time without it, you can imagine how much it would hurt your family, friends, and those who truly love you if you were not around. Never undervalue your worth and don’t let anyone or anything deceive you. One more thing, however, my little piece of paper would do me no good if it was not available. Make yourself available in this new year.

Memory verse for the week: (1 John 2:28) “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear , we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.”

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 06 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015  

       I was reading in the book of Galatians last night and I came across these very interesting verses: “But when the fullness of the time was come , God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:6-7 KJV) This last phrase reminded me of people I know who have been adopted. Not all of them have had heartwarming experiences or have good memories of it, but one thing is certain: every one of them has a story to tell. In the case of God’s children, however, we all have a great story to share with others. The one aspect that adopted children have that the rest of us do not have is that one or both of their parents chose them. Once again I have to remind you that not all of them were adopted for the right reasons. Not so with God’s children! In our case God chose us because He loved us.

       I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase from the lips of those who have received something great in life: “I felt like I died and went to Heaven.” The ironic thing about this idea is that all of us who have received Christ, will, in fact, go to Heaven when we die, and its all because one great and memorable day we were adopted into God’s family. I suppose that, in this life, not everyone who has been adopted wants others to know. Nevertheless, God’s children should always be ready and eager to tell the whole world that they are God’s adopted children.

       Even those adoptees who have had the good fortune of receiving the best that this world had to offer because they were loved and chosen by the right people and for the right reasons, will never come close to receiving what God’s adopted children will get. They can’t because all the money in the world cannot bring to anybody such things as peace, joy, forgiveness, grace, mercy, salvation, and eternal life, just to name a few. Only God can do that! Regardless of the circumstances, having been adopted is nothing to be ashamed of, and even more so when our new Father is God Himself. Thank God I’m adopted!

Memory verse for the week: (Romans 8:15 NLT) So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family -- calling him “Father, dear Father.”

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 02 2015
Friday, January 2, 2015           
 
       Greetings to all in this first official business day in 2015. I trust everyone had a memorable Christmas and New Year celebration. Since this new year is still in it’s infant stage, I suppose that those of you who made resolutions or set goals for the year still have them fresh in your mind. As I’ve stated before, setting goals is a good thing. It gives our life more purpose and a more defined path to follow. Even so, having a vision is even better, although the one drawback with that is that oftentimes the vision that people have for their lives is not in tune with God’s will. It is like the Word of God. How often have we heard folks who say something like,  “I’ve always believed this or that regarding a certain issue” when all the while God’s Word teaches something totally different? And this is not something new. Jeremiah wrote this about the false prophets in his time: “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16)
 
       Now, I’m pretty sure there are no false prophets or teachers reading this blog but I trust you can see that when we set goals, make resolutions, or have a vision for our future, we must ensure that our own heart is not deceiving us and that our plans are all according to God’s will. I know that many supposedly wise teachers and counselors ascribe to the “follow your heart” theory but the truth is that our own hearts can deceive us. Jeremiah also wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and without cure. Who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9) I’m not suggesting that every time you follow your heart, you are going to fall flat on your face, but I do believe wholeheartedly that in order to be safe, we must acknowledge the Lord in all our decisions and seek His guidance and approval before we proceed.
 
       I trust you will seek the Lord in prayer about your plans for the upcoming year. Once you are confident that He has given the blessing and approval, then you can move forward. If you do that, I believe this may be your most fruitful and meaningful year ever.
 

Memory verse for the week: (1 John 2:28“And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear , we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.”

 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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