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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Monday, March 30 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015             
       The account of Jesus calming a storm is found in 3 Gospels. In Mark’s version, here are some of the story’s noteworthy aspects: (1) It was Jesus’ decision (vs. 35) that He, along with His Disciples, get on the boat and cross the Sea of Galilee to the other side. He knew in advance that they would encounter a storm. Likewise, He knows today when you and I are going to encounter storms in our lives. The comforting thing to know, however, is that He is with us in our storms just like He was with His Disciples on that occasion. (2) Although the tempest was furious and seemed it would capsize the vessel, Jesus was asleep in the stern in the midst of it. Many times when we are in the midst of our storms, it appears that we are all alone; we are not. Though it may appear that way in our natural way of thinking, we must remember that Jesus promised never to leave or forsake us and that He always keeps His promises.
       That was apparently the case with the Disciples because they cried out to Him in a panic,“Master, don’t you care if we drown?” (vs. 38)  I’m sure it was not amusing then but I bet they felt slightly sheepish about it later, especially after they started on their own ministries. I heard yesterday of a dear Christian lady I know who recently asked her doctor if he makes a lot of money. I bet many of us can look back and laugh at something silly we did or said, perhaps something like crying out to God and asking Him if He cared about us, just like the Disciples did on that day. The Lord will never do it but when posed this question, He could respond sarcastically, “No, when I went to the cross to die for your sins, I was only kidding.” The third noteworthy feature, and perhaps the most significant was Jesus’ calming of the storm. When He got up and the commanded their storm to quiet down and be still, and the tempest obeyed, His Disciples said in awe, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” (vs. 41)
       In summary, here are two eternal truths that apply to us and all God’s children everywhere: (1) Often, it is His will that we go through a storm or two; He knows the experience will make us stronger. (2) He is never asleep, always has His eyes set on us, and has the power to calm any storm we may be facing. If you are going through a very difficult trial in your life today, I trust you will take comfort in these truths and promises. In closing, here are two things to remember: One, you are not alone and two, storms don’t last forever.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 59:1 KJV) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 27 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015                     
       You are probably wondering what the meaning of the word of today’s title is; you may even wonder what language it is. Well, let me tell you that many, many years ago I thought it was an English word but one whose meaning I did not know. Since they probably know the story behind it, I’m pretty sure that if any of my children read today’s blog, they’ll immediately know the word’s significance. Here’s the story: When I was a boy, we lived directly across the street from a Baptist church. The church is long gone but one of the sons of that church’s pastor is a dear friend and fellow minister and I know a handful of it’s members who are still living. Since back then the services in most neighborhood churches were open-door and window affairs, we knew all the words of the hymns and choruses they sang. The majority of the hymns were in Spanish but they did sing some in English from time to time. On the occasions when they did sing in English, I would take notice of the words when I was outside playing since my formal study of the English language was still at the beginners stage at the time. One particular lively little tune that they sang in English started with the words: “Oh when the saints “comachirí”, oh when the saints “comachirí.” I used to wonder “what in the world does the word comachirí mean, not realizing that it was not a word at all; what the hymn says of course is that “the saints go marching in."
       There is an old adage in Spanish which says: “El sordo no oye pero compone.” which essentially means that a deaf person doesn’t hear too good but he makes up his own version of what he heard anyway. I was doing the same thing back then, making up a new word, one that will never appear in anybody’s dictionary. When I shared this story with an ex-postal employee many years ago, he said he experienced an almost identical thing. In his case, he lived next to a Pentecostal church and when he heard them singing the Spanish version of “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder” ,(Cuando Allá Se Pase Lista) he thought they were saying “Cuando ya se pase el Easter.” (When Easter is past)
       This situation is common in life as well and when it relates to the Bible, many hear the stories and the messages but since they make little effort to try to better understand their complete meaning, they proceed to fill in the blanks and make up their own version. I personally believe that was the main reason Jesus taught and preached in parables. He knew that those who were desirous of learning more would seek and find. That is why He said these words in His Sermon on the Mount: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) This eternal truth and promise still applies; those who really want to know Christ and His Word better, will find it when they seek it. Are you in this group? I pray that you are because, when it pertains to Christ, the more we love Him, the better we want to know Him.
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 26 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015  
 
       People go to church for different reasons and many choose theirs like some choose a favorite restaurant. In eating places, some go the ones everybody in town or the “in crowd” goes to, often taking their “selfies” by the front door so that the whole world will know that they were there. They may even proceed to buy a T-shirt with the restaurant name and the particular city, wearing it everywhere proudly. Others go to a favorite “hang out” place, others where the food is cheap and they serve you plenty, particularly the buffets, others go to those that have the specials or the good deals, others to those that offer healthy choices, and then there are those who go to the restaurants where the food is simply delicious. My wife and I have been to the so-called popular restaurants and after we’ve eaten the meal, we look at each other and wonder “Why all the fuss and hype about this place anyway?” To be honest, the food we like the best mostly comes from places very few people know about. We consider these places our well-kept secret.
       As I mentioned at the onset, churches are like that too. You have the huge ones most everybody wants to be a part of, the ones that are nearby or easy to get to, those which offer services for every family member and age group, and those which have all sorts of ministries and activities. Others go to church because they like the pastor, or the praise team, or the types of hymns or worship music that is sung there, and then there are those who attend a particular church mainly because it has sound bible teaching and preaching, the people there are friendly and caring, or they just simply feel the presence of God in that place. All true Christ-centered churches will have this last element regardless of their size, type, or denomination. If yours does not, you are probably in the wrong church.  
       Assuming you are in the right church, here is one thing to remember: Church growth comes primarily from the members, not from the preachers, teachers, praise team, or any other staff member. In a flock, the shepherd (pastor) cares for, watches over, and feeds his sheep, but it is the sheep that make more sheep. Did you know that, in most churches, new people start attending mostly because of something one of it’s members did or said to them? And did you know that the thing in question was mainly something small or simple? In Monday’s blog, (A Personal Inventory) I wrote about these “little things”, some of which are a word of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a call, text, or email just to say “hi”, a nice chat with a family member, loved one, or friend, where you let them do most of the talking, buying someone a taco or lunch, etc. Here’s are two biblical examples: (Proverbs 12:25“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 25:11) A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I trust you are making it a point to do little things like these every day. If you do, you too will experience growth.
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
Note: One of your fellow readers gave me this nice idea regarding the “little things” we mentioned on Monday’s blog as well as today: What if we find a friend we can be accountable to, one we can compare notes with to see how many “little things” we are doing on a regular basis? If that seems like something you would like to do but you can’t find someone else, I’ll be happy to be your partner.
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 25 2015
Wednesday, March 25, 2015   
 
       As Christians, trying to deal with today’s social issues can be difficult and complicated and, quite obviously, we’ve all seen the different approaches some churches and organizations have taken. I used to wonder, as many of God’s children have at one time or another, which method is the best or most effective. Do we take a hard line, stand our ground, and speak loudly against things we consider unchristian or do we turn the other way and choose not to get involved, indicating its none of our business?
       When I first started in the ministry, I was a hardliner. There were no gray areas in my way of thinking; everything was black or white, and I know for a fact that I stepped on many toes and offended more than a handful of folks back then. I don’t remember how long I traveled that road but I did realize and grudgingly admitted one day that the approach I thought was correct was definitely not working for me. I also knew, during that time span, that I really wasn’t being myself, and no, I didn’t need a Snickers candy bar. Back then, I thought I needed to show the world that I was “standing up for Jesus” so I had to be the kind of person that I thought was representative of Christ. Then one day, it hit me. Remember the corny line, “I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger, and then it hit me.” Sorry about the goofy interruption but as you can suspect, that’s who I really am. I’m not a serious looking, no-nonsense kind of guy trying to convince himself and others that he’s a holy man. Well, back to my point: One day the Lord opened my eyes of faith as I read about the day when Jesus called Matthew, (Levi) the tax collector, to follow him. The story is found in 3 gospels
       After deciding to be a follower of Christ, Matthew made a banquet to introduce Jesus to his fellow tax collectors and other friends. Mark 2:16 reads: When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "  Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners.”  I sensed immediately that to criticize somebody for the way they serve God and interact with others is a sin in itself but I also quickly recognized Jesus’ approach in dealing with “sinners.” Here, there was no indication whatsoever that he lifted up his voice to scold the attendees for their lifestyle choices. Many hardliners have come to understand, just as I did, that when we upbraid others for their unchristian ways, we’ll antagonize them and push them away instead of drawing them to Christ. It is apparent that Jesus won many of these to Himself just by being their “friend” and gained the platform to be able to tell them later about God’s love and His plan and offer for their lives. He never hinted that He condoned or approved of their lifestyle but when you see the entire picture and the end result, He didn’t have to. Why would it be any different for those of us who follow Christ?
 
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”                                                
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 24 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015       
       Greetings to all; I trust that this week has been going well for you so far. It’s been a while since I challenged you with a simple bible quiz, so here goes the latest. I hope you don’t mind the break from the usual blog messages and I want you to know why I throw in these quizzes from time to time. For starters, it is not my aim to embarrass anyone. I would like nothing better than to see all of you ace the tests, whether you think you already know the answers or research some before you commit yourself. In fact, I would suggest and encourage you to research the bible and not give your answer until you feel you have found it. A good bible concordance or websites such as biblestudytools.com or biblegateway.com are great resources you can use. Ready? Here goes:
1. To whom did God say: “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” ?    a/ Enoch     b/ Lamech      c/ Cain       d/ Esau    
2. Christ is a high priest after the order of:        a/ Aaron             b/ Melchizedek                                   c/ Eleazar           d/ Moses  
3. What is the 4th book of the Old Testament?  a/ Exodus  b/ Job   c/ Numbers   d/ Esther
4. To whom did God say, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” ?                                             a/ Abel       b/ Cain       c/ Judas      d/ Adam
5. Fill in the blank: “The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged _________ ”                                                a/ sword     b/ razor     c/ knife      d/ flint
6. What was the name of the garden where Jesus was betrayed?                                                              a/ Eden        b/ Bethany         c/ Sichar        d/ Getheseme
7. Fill in the blank: Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my _____________ ”                                           a/ sayings         b/ commandments         c/ parables          d/ teachings  
8. Who were Rebekah’s two sons?                                                                                            a/ James and John     b/ Cain and Abel    c/ Jacob and Esau    d/ David and Jonathan
9. How many days did Jesus fast while he was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness?       a/  32         b/ 40         c/ 24           d/ 48
10.  Who said, “And if I perish, I perish.” ?   a/ Ruth     b/ Mary     c/ Naomi       d/ Esther
 
Okay, now, how many of you got them all right?
 
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 59:1 KJV) “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”
Answers: 1 c / 2 b / 3 c / 4 d/  5 a / 6 d /  7 b  / 8 c / 9 b / 10 d
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:24 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 23 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015                     
       I would like to expand on the thought the Lord gave me for yesterday’s church bulletin. I wrote about two little words in a very well known bible verse which are seemingly overlooked or ignored by many of it’s readers; I trust you are not one of them. The verse is Psalm 37:3 and the King James version renders it, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” The two words I am referring to are, “do good.” Besides the KJV, I compared 34 other bible versions of this verse and everyone of them agreed on the need of God’s children to “do good.” There are slightly different applications on the rest of the verse and though I realize the translators were more doctrinally equipped than I, none of them seemed to present my application to this verse. To try to amplify it as simply as I can, this is the way I understood it: “Trust in the Lord, and make a conscious effort to do good things. This is the way you should live your life and in doing so, the Lord will bless you and supply all your needs.”
       Too often, pastors, teachers, worship leaders, or anyone else that speaks on the Lord’s behalf in front of a group or audience, forget that our words of instruction and encouragement do not end at the pulpit, lectern, platform, or stage. It is not enough that we be nice, kind, and caring only when we speak to a crowd, we must make it a practice and be genuinely interested in those we interact with on a daily basis, that is, if we are true worshippers of God. 
       I challenge you to take a spiritual inventory of your life. Do you make it a point of doing good things on a daily basis? Do you genuinely care for others and do you make a sincere effort to touch someone’s life in a positive way? When was the last time you phoned, texted, or emailed someone just to say “Hi, how have things been going for you?” When was the last time you did a favor or bought someone a taco or paid for their lunch? When was the last time you smiled and said “hi” to someone you just passed and didn’t just look straight ahead and speed by them like you were on some urgent military mission? When was the last time you reserved some time to chat with a friend or loved one and let him or her do most of the talking or offered someone a sincere compliment? I see them often, and I bet you have too, folks who obviously just came out of “church” who won’t smile, say “hello”, or even make eye contact with you. Let’s not be them! And it is not enough for us just to be nice to our family, friends, and fellow church members. One of the requirements of a bishop (pastor) as set forth by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:7 was that he should also “have a good reputation with outsiders.” Obviously, this applies to all God’s children too. When Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount that we should “let our light shine before men”, He was referring to all of mankind. God’s people are a “good people”, and good people do “good things.”
Memory verse for the week: (Luke 12:8) “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 20 2015
Friday, March 20, 2015                      
       Rejection, in any way, shape, or form, is one of the most difficult things in life to handle. I suspect that all of you who are reading this blog today have been touched by it, directly or indirectly. In marriage, the spouse who is left for another, especially the woman, begins to ask herself such things as: “Where did I go wrong?” “What does she have that I don’t?” “Could it be that he thinks I’m not good or pretty enough for him anymore or that I can no longer fulfill his needs like someone else can? If there are children in the marriage, they begin to think that they are the reason for the breakup and these wounds in all those involved will often last for a lifetime. 
       Another feature of some who have been passed over for someone else is that they begin to think that they are the only ones who have ever received this type of blow, or that nobody knows or really understands what they are going through. Of course, they are wrong in thinking that way. 700 years before Christ came to Earth, the prophet Isaiah wrote that when He would come, He would be despised and rejected by mankind. Isaiah 53:3 says: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised , and we esteemed him not.” Another common situation involving the spurned is that they just cannot understand why this has happened to them, often telling themselves and others, “I don’t deserve this.” Well, If anyone didn’t deserve the rejection he received, it was Jesus. After all, He was perfect, sinless, and was, and is,  the Son of God. Those who have been spurned have been basically told they are “not good enough”, whether they are a spouse, children, family member, teacher, or anybody else. The sad thing is that many of these begin to believe it themselves. It even happens to pastors. People tend to think it doesn’t happen to them or that rejection bothers them very little. They are wrong because pastors are like everyone else. They too have to really trust God to not take it personal when one of his members leaves his church to go to a “better one.”
       If you are among those who have been passed over for someone better, take heart. Remember that they even did it to Jesus. Not only did He survive the blow, in time He saved all of mankind. As a child of God, not only will you survive, with God’s help you can turn that blow into your greatest strength and victory. And there is no better way to end your week than that.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let 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.”
Note: Sorry for the late post, we had some errands and commitments to attend to earlier today. Ready for a little challenge for the weekend? Here goes: There was a prophet of God who once needed to hear a musician’s (harpist/minstrel) song before he could prophecy before two kings. What was his name?      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 19 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015              
       I shared this biblical account with our Spanish bible class last night in church. It is about a very interesting story in 2 Kings, Chapter 4, which holds several life lessons in it, one which I would like to focus on today, namely that when you give to a worthy cause or financially assist a genuine church or servant of God, the Lord will more than cover the amount you invested. In this case the giver, and later the recipient, was a prominent woman from a little village named Shunem. The prophet Elisha would pass by there frequently since he traveled often from his home in Carmel to Samaria, and Shunem lay between those two cities. One day as he was passing by, the Shunammite woman invited him to stay for lunch and that was the start of him dropping by every time he passed by there. With time, she convinced her husband to make him an upstairs loft in her home which was supplied with a bed, chair, table, and lamp.
       Genuine servants of God are very grateful to those who willingly provide for them and are always asking God to bless and reward them in return for their kindness, care, and generosity. The great bible commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote: [[Those that receive courtesies should study to return them; it ill becomes men of God to be ungrateful, or to sponge upon those that are generous.]] Sadly, I have known preachers who take advantage of the generous folks who provide for them, even sponging off of them as Matthew Henry stated. Elisha was a man of influence so he told the woman one day: “You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?” (verse 13) She declined his offer. To me, she did so because she was content with what she had and because she had not helped the prophet of God for her own convenience or advancement. Those who give the right way, never expect anything in return. Even so, and as I mentioned before, God will greatly bless and reward those who willingly and lovingly give to one of His approved churches or servants. In the case of the Shunammite woman, she gave birth to a son in her old age, she and her family were later spared of a devastating famine because of Elisha’s intervention, and when she returned seven years later, all her property was returned to her because of Elisha’s influence with the king.  
       The main lesson and logical conclusion to this story is this: Search for ways to advance God’s kingdom, whether it involves work, kindness, or assistance of any kind to a qualified church, cause, or servant of God. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith; the Lord will never let you down and when you do it the right way, never expecting anything in return, you will be blessed indeed.  
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let 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 11:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 18 2015
Wednesday, March 18, 2015              
 
       There are two words which I absolutely detest hearing regardless of the setting or the person who said them, and that includes church. The two words are “Have To.” Keep in mind that I said I detest hearing this phrase, not the person who said it. When directed at me, I see these two words as an insulting slap in the face and though they won’t set me off on a rage, I do cringe when I hear them and know certain people who seem to specialize and delight in employing them. Although I have an idea, I really don’t know the reason why these two words together have that kind of effect on me. Nevertheless, I bet most of you have certain words in your life you definitely do not like to hear. 
 
       To tell God’s genuine servants that they “have to” is like telling Tim Duncan, “Timmy, you need to step up your game and try a little bit harder.” It is like me telling my dogs, “boys and girls, I think you seriously need to consider barking a little bit more.” I recently wrote a blog entitled “The Greatest Motivation” citing the love of Christ in our hearts as being the greatest motivational force in the world. In sports, as well as in life, there are many who don’t need the cheers, speeches, or pats in the back in order for them to hustle to do their best and strive to be the best that they can be.”  In the 12th Chapter of John when Christ was informing His Disciples about His impending death and a voice boomed from Heaven in answer to His prayer, Jesus turned to His Disciples and said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” (verse 30) Those who are motivated by Christ’s love do not need continual pep-talks or someone to push them. I choose to believe that I am in this group and although the world believes that there are “self-motivated” people everywhere, to me there is no such thing. Everyone is motivated by some force or cause in their life. In the case of God’s true servants, it comes from the love of Christ.” They can say, like in a corny line from a movie of the past, "Jesus, you had me on 'I love you."Too often, the so called “self-motivated” people of the world get praised to high heaven and, to me, that should not be. 
 
       Pastors, teachers, and worship leaders constantly need to try to motivate many church members, but how about you ? Does anybody have to tell you that you “have to” do your chores on a daily basis, fulfill all your obligations, take care of all your responsibilities, worship and serve God better, make sure you do all your Christian duties, and serve the Lord with all your heart? Even when we slip up here and there and fail to do one thing or another, we should know what needs to be done without anyone other than God’s Spirit telling us that we “have to.” In fact, I feel pretty safe in saying that God will never employ the “you have to” approach on us. He won’t “have to.”
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let 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 02:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 17 2015
Tuesday, March 17, 2015                       
 
       Have you ever had a disturbing dream that is so real that when you wake up you’re still upset as though it actually happened, and have you ever wondered why things that are generally far-fetched seem like a normal, every day occurrence during your dream? I had such a dream early Saturday morning. If you’re wondering whats so unusual about that, its because I seldom have dreams and when I do, I only remember bits and pieces. The last complete dream I can recall was the night before 9/11. In that one, I remember sharing it very early the following morning with a couple of fellow gym members. In that dream, I was in a large ballroom where people were having a carefree time and I was frantically trying to get their attention, but with no success whatsoever, to the fact that our country was in danger. I left the place in despair because everyone ignored me. Later that morning, my wife called me to the kitchen to come see the TV news reports about New York’s Twin Towers.
 
       This dream of a few days ago concerned missing out on a Wednesday Night service, something we very rarely do. In fact, you can probably count in one hand the times we have been absent from any church service in the last 40 years for a reason other than being sick in bed or on an out of town vacation. My dream consisted of a series of comedy caper type events such as, among other things, the car not being big enough to take all who were going and the rest of us waiting until it would come for us too. The reason the car was so small is because it was one I had over twenty years ago, one we affectionately called “the green bomb.” In the dream, I even recall shedding a tear or two when I thought of how well that secondary little car served our family and the many times it got us out of jams throughout the years. I’ve heard we all dream about things that are important to us and that may be true because, as you can see, “church” probably characterizes my life. In fact, even after I realized that it was only a bad dream and we didn’t miss any service, I was still upset an hour after I was up.  
 
       I suspect some of you may not understand why “church” is so important to me. I don’t fully understand it myself; all I can tell you is that on the day that Christ came into my life, I fell completely in love with Him and everything else associated with Him, church included. I can relate to David’s sentiments and can joyfully say, like he did: I was glad when they said unto me, “let us go into the house of the lord.” (Ps. 122:1) and “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” (Ps. 84:10) I know that God is everywhere but I choose to believe that His presence is much sweeter and stronger in “church” than in any other place. I realize not everybody is in love with church; I just wish they were.  
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let 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 03:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 16 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015         
 
       Trying to teach a student a practical approach to mathematics, a teacher asked one of her students, “How many are there in your family/” He answered that there were two boys, two girls, mom, and dad. Then she asked him, “If your mother were to bake a pie, in how many pieces would she cut it?” He answered “five.” She quickly replied “you don’t understand; it would have to be six.” He answered: “I know it should be six, but knowing my mom, she would not take a piece for herself.” The question is: Why should mothers always be the selfless ones? Should not all of God’s children, those who are led by the love of Christ, be like that also? Does not I Corinthians 13:5 say that love is not self-seeking?
 
       During my early school years and also in my teens, I remember wanting to be the student that answered all the questions asked by the teachers, and I loved winning all the class spelling bees. That stopped on the day I was informed that the student winning the final class quiz was going to appear before the entire school for the school-wide spelling bee. When I learned that, I purposely missed the first word because my fear of spelling in front of a big audience was far greater than my desire to be the best speller. On every kid basketball team I was on, I wanted to be the kid who scored all the points. When I was in high school, once again my fear of playing in front of big crowds was greater than my desire to be the star so I never tried out for the varsity team. To this day, to be honest, I don’t know if, back then, my desire to be better than everyone else was childishness, selfishness, foolishness or something else. Nevertheless, it is quite clear to me that, in my mind, I was far more important than anyone else in my life. I can use the excuse that back then I did not know that the Bible says in Romans 12:3: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” I’m glad that with time, the love of Christ teaches us to love others as we love ourselves and to never consider ourselves better than anyone else.
 
       I’m not a psychologist but it is pretty evident that, from childhood, we’ve all developed our own personality traits, some which are very hard to shake, especially the bad ones. If we stay close to God, however, He will constantly remind us that we don’t have to get our way every time, always be the first in line, be the first to give an opinion, do most of the talking in every conversation, be in charge of every project, or always be the one most seen and heard, no matter where we are. Again, I would not be able to tell you if folks who are like that are foolish, selfish, or just plain childish; all I know is that God can help us all to overcome these bad habits. The lesson is as easy as 1,2,3. God is 1, others are 2, and we are 3.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let 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 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 13 2015
Greetings to all! I hope all of you are enjoying Spring Break. As I announced last week, I plan to resume writing this blog on Monday of next week. Meanwhile, I thought I would give you a chance to stretch your biblical muscles a bit by taking this small quiz. I hope you enjoy it and do well on it. Let me know how you did.
 
 
1. Who wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” ?  
 
     A.  Peter      B.  Joseph       C. Paul         D. James  
 
2. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were members of:     
 
   A. a religious sect       B. an army regiment      C. men’s choir       D. a trade union
 
3. In what bible book is the story of Noah found?
 
   A.   Acts        B.  Deuteronomy      C.  Exodus      D.  Genesis
 
4. Who wrote: “Seek Ye the Lord while He may be found” ?
 
  A.  Jeremiah       B. Isaiah        C. Ezekiel      D. Malachi    
 
5. What was the trade of the Apostle Paul ?
 
  A.  Carpenter          B. physician      C.  tent maker        D. tanner
 
6. What was the trade of Luke?
 
  A. carpenter           B. physician     C.  tent maker        D. tanner
 
7. To which Disciple did Jesus say: “Get thee behind me Satan” ?
 
  A.  Peter       B. Matthew       C.  James         D.  John 
 
8. According to the 10th Chapter of Acts, Cornelius was a:
 
  A.  tax collector      B.  tent maker       C.  baker         D. centurion
 
9. According to Hebrews, Chapter 12, who is the author and finisher of our faith?
 
  A. Jesus        B.  Abraham      C. Moses       D. Joseph
 
10. In the book of Acts, Peter was a guest in the house of a:
 
 A.  Carpenter       B.  Physician        C.  Tent maker       D. Tanner
 
 
 
Bonus Question:  I’m sure you’ve heard of some athletes who “gave 110 percent.” Well, if there’s such a thing, this may be your chance to get 110 percent as well if you answer the bonus question. This one may require some research on your part, but you have the rest of the weekend to go find it. Here’s the question: In the days of David, seven male descendants of Saul were hanged together on a hill because of the crimes Saul had committed against the Gibeonites. The mother of two of them remained at the sight from the beginning of the harvest until the first rain, never permitting any animal of any kind to come upon those men who were hanged. What was her name?  Good luck, and see you next week.
 
 
 
Answers: 1. C  /  2  A  /  3 D  / 4 B  / 5 C  / 6 B  / 7 A  /  8 D  / 9  A  / 10 D
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 06 2015
Friday, March 6. 2015                            
 
       In the story of  Gideon and the amazing victory of God’s very small army against a Midianite army many times their size, I saw these two enlightening verses: “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.” (Judges 7:2-3) Gideon had gathered 32 thousand men to go into battle with him but in the end, it wasn’t these 22 thousand men who fought but only 300. With this very small number of men, it would have been a stretch for anyone to think that this amazing battle was won through anything other than divine intervention. That was God’s purpose all along, that nobody would think of trying to take all the credit and the glory for themselves.
 
       God hasn’t changed, He still does not take it lightly when people think that they are the sole reason for any successes they may have in life. Paul made that clear to the Corinthian church as well when he wrote: “He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:31) That truth was also clear to God’s people in the days of the prophet Isaiah when he wrote: “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)
 
       This truth came to my mind recently when I started thinking of all the people everywhere that always boast about their own achievements and exploits and very seldom does anybody ever admit that it was because of God’s grace and mercy. Thank God there are still a few athletes who give Christ the praise He deserves. As for the others, I don’t know about you, but I’m personally fed up hearing about certain lawyers who are tough as nails or are considered the best in the country, or call themselves but some carpenter’s tool, and athletes who thump their chest, dance around, or lift their jersey to show us who they are and where they come from every time they make a good play, or politicians who want to make us believe that they will save us all, or that their opponent is worse than the devil himself. I’ve been in funerals where the church or the religion conducting the services gets all the praise and seldom does Jesus get the glory. Every time I see or hear this scenario being repeated, I often ask myself, “Where is God in all of this?” Do you ever wonder if these things will ever stop and if people will start giving God the glory again? In closing, let me remind you that as far as ministers are concerned, you can count on me because “I am the tough, smart pastor.” Please pardon the sarcasm.
 
Memory verse for the week: “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7 KJV)
Note: I pray all of you have a very enjoyable and relaxing Spring Break, and since I plan to enjoy it with my family as well, I will write to you again, God willing, on Monday, March 16. I know; it will break your heart not getting these blogs next week but I'm sure you'll survive.
 
 
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Thursday, March 05 2015
Thursday, March 5, 2015              
 
       Today’s blog is about communication problems. In a favorite movie of mine of long ago, “Cool Hand Luke”, the prison road captain that had to beat Luke did it because, according to him, Luke just didn’t understand. He called it “a failure to communicate.” Do you know any folks like that, those who just “don’t get it”? I am reminded here of the woman who went to see a marriage counselor because she and her husband didn’t understand one another and she sensed their marriage was on the rocks. He asked her, “any grounds”? She replied, “yes, about two acres.” Next, he asked her, “do you have a grudge”? She answered, “No, we have a carport.” Noticing her slightly unkempt appearance, he asked her, “Did your husband beat you up this morning”? She replied, “No, I got up before he did.” His next question was, “Does your husband treat others like he treats you”? This time she replied. “Oh no, he doesn’t have that kind of money.” Now obviously agitated, the doctor asked her angrily, “do you want to divorce him”? She answered, “Oh no, he wants to divorce me. He claims he just can’t communicate with me.” I appears that maybe, just maybe, her husband had a point.
 
       In the 4th Chapter of the book of Amos, it is obvious that the prophet was dealing with people who also “didn’t get it.” Because of their cruel, sinful, and idolatrous ways, the Lord sent them famine, drought, plagues, military defeat, and locusts to destroy their crops, and still these folks “didn’t get it” and kept on going in their evil ways. They were much like the people in the days of the prophet Malachi. Though they went through the motions in their spiritual obligations, they were offering lame and sickly animals to God in their sacrifices, withholding their tithes and offerings, generally not giving God their best, and then they had the gall to say: “It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?” (Mal. 3:14) These were like those Paul wrote about in  2 Timothy 3:5 who “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.” 
 
       Going back to the people in the days of the prophet, Amos, let’s put ourselves in their situation.  What would you do if all of a sudden you had no food or water, if it rained in all the other places around you but not where you lived? What if you moved to one of those places that had no drought or famine and as soon as you got there the water, food and good crops disappeared, and the place that you just left started thriving again? What if one bad thing or another just kept coming your way? Would you stop, reflect, and make a quick inventory of your life and think that maybe God was trying to get your attention? If nothing else, wouldn’t that be reason enough for you to seek God’s help? Strangely, many people face adverse things constantly and they just attribute it to “bad luck.” They just “don’t get it!” I know you’re not like them because all God’s children “get it.”
 
 
Memory verse for the week: “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7 KJV)
 
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 04 2015
Wednesday, March 4, 2015     
 
       I bet you’ve heard this phrase often: “This too shall pass.” You may have heard it in a movie, on TV, or in church. I even heard a standup comedian use it recently. Do you, like many others, wonder where it actually is in the Bible? The truth is, it is not a biblical verse. I remember the first time I saw the movie “The Ten Commandments” and hearing Rameses say “So let it ne written. So let it be done.” Since it was released many years before I committed my life to Christ, I assumed that line was a bible verse. After my conversion, I remember looking for it and finally after employing the use of a Bible Concordance, I found out it was not in the Bible.
 
       There are many other phrases people think are biblical and some who quote them feel a little smug thinking they’ve impressed their listeners with their ‘knowledge” of the scriptures. Here are a few favorites: “money is the root of all evil” , “cleanliness is next to godliness” , “the Lord works in mysterious ways” , and “God helps those who help themselves.” Keep in mind that while many of these phrases may compare slightly, even favorably, with some biblical truths, in themselves they are not in the Bible. Also, keep these phrases in mind because sooner or later someone you know will use it in their conversation thinking that they just used a bible verse.
 
       The best way to be able to differentiate between the fake and the genuine is to know the genuine well. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul wrote: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Timothy 3:14-15) It will be no different for us; we can also become wise if we continue reading and studying the Bible. As far as today’s title phrase is concerned, it came to my mind a few days ago because I am really looking forward for this cold weather to end. Although it is not altogether biblical, I am encouraged nonetheless that “this too shall pass.” 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7 KJV)
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 03 2015
Tuesday, March 3, 2015               
 
       All attentive parents remember occasions in the lives of their children when they saw signs which were evidence of their “growing up.” It may have been the day that they did one of their chores without being asked, or bathed without being told, or more carefully dressed or groomed themselves with no prompting whatsoever. It was clear to them, as well as a feeling of joy, that their kids were slowly but surely becoming responsible adults. It is no different in the spiritual realm and I’m pretty sure that God is pleased when He sees signs of spiritual maturity in His children. Do you ever wonder how you measure up in that regard or which signs demonstrate that you are slowly heading toward spiritual maturity? I’m sure I may miss more than a few, but please permit me to share some signs which I believe indicate spiritual maturity.
 
       The one sign I want to highlight today is “accountability.” The dictionary defines it as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.” Parents, as well as pastors, are familiar with the childish reactions of many who are called to give an account of a particular matter. Often, they will deny any wrongdoing, blame something or someone else for it, or else bring up the faults of the one who has called them into question. None of us are exempt from being corrected or called to task from time to time and it is never an easy pill to swallow. Nevertheless, Christ gives us the grace, patience and strength to “take it.” I shared this verse in this past Sunday’s church bulletin: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.  (James 1:19 KJV) For the bulletin, I was focusing on being better listeners. For today’s topic, I want to stress the importance of patiently hearing out the person who has brought a complaint or a certain situation to our attention and not angrily lashing out in our defense. To patiently accept it without retaliation or self-justification is a sign of spiritual maturity.
 
       The space I have allotted myself for these blogs, does not allow me to go into more detail regarding other indicators of spiritual maturity but here are a few more: (1) consistency in prayer, bible reading, church attendance, and good habits, (2) being better listeners than talkers, (3) humility, (4) being meek and submissive, (5) being patient, not quarrelsome or aggressive, (6) being responsible in our financial obligations, and (7) punctuality. Having these qualities doesn’t make one perfect, but they definitely are signs of maturity.
 
 
Memory verse for the week: “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7 KJV)
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 06:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 02 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015             
 
       Some of you take long, healthy walks on a regular basis, often in a natural and picturesque setting. Quite obviously, you see it often and are familiar with God’s beautiful creation. In some cases, people get so used to these pretty sights that after a while they make no note of them. I knew a fellow who used to, because of his business, drive into the Texas Hill Country daily. Since I am in awe of the Hill Country’s beauty every time we drive there, I once remarked to my friend that he must have been uplifted every day just to be able to see these wonders. He replied that he no longer paid attention to it. Naturally, I was slightly shocked and dismayed that he was “missing out” because I sincerely believe that if he had learned to take second and third glances, he would have seen something new and wonderful in each new day. God’s Word is like that. If we keep our hearts and minds open every time we read it, we can constantly see and learn something new and reap it's benefits.
 
       Such is the case with this little gem I found recently: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and there fore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV) The KJV says: “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” The MW Dictionary says that one of the meanings of the word constrain is “ to force or produce in an unnatural or strained manner.” It is clear to me, then, that this is a reminder that there is no greater motivation or compelling force than the love of Christ. Our love for Christ should be the only motivation we need in order to serve Him daily. Even is sports, there are many who don’t need the cheers, speeches, or pats in the back. The cause they strive for is all the motivation they need.
 
       The reason this should be important to us is because many, many methods are employed to try to motivate people to seek and serve God, and lead them to a real and lasting relationship with Christ. God’s genuine ministers look for ways in which they can more effectively convince people of their need of Christ in their lives. Many have come to Jesus by way of a song, testimony, sermon, or even a miracle, so “ which is the best and most effective method?”, you may ask. Quite simply, it is the one where God is in it. Too often, people are dazzled, Christians included, by preachers who, according to them, are powerful and truly anointed servants of God. Often after they minister, (perform) just about everybody in the audience responds or gets deeply moved by them. Yet, in many of these instances, the feeling that these folks received was temporary and not lasting. Two verses prior to today’s starting text, Paul, realizing that many get carried away emotionally after seeing or hearing such ministers, told the Corinthians to beware about “ those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart before God.” (2 Cor. 5:12 NLT) We can try with all our heart and soul to reach people but in the end, it is God’s working and He gets the glory. God wants all his children to do what they can to bring people to Jesus, but lets not forget that He, and He alone, is the One who does the saving.
 
Memory verse for the week: “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:7 KJV)
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 06:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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