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Thursday, April 30 2015
Thursday, April 30, 2015 
       When you come up to an intersection with a “yield” sign, how much attention do you give it? The reason I started today’s blog with that question is because through the years it appears to me that “yield” signs don’t seem to be very important in the eyes of many motorists. In fact, a few years back I was waiting in the car for my wife who made a quick stop in a strip mall store. I was parked less than twenty feet from a corner stop sign and in the space of ten minutes about 30 cars came up to it and not one of them made a complete stop. Just to prove it could be done, I came up to that same stop sign and made a complete stop. I assume that the person in the car behind us was probably thinking, “What is this idiot doing?” I suspect that many people see “yield” signs the same way many folks see the Ten Commandments; they take them merely as suggestions. I don’t know if its just me but “yield” signs are not as common as they once were. Perhaps its because the department of transportation realized that motorists don’t really take them into account.
       Personally speaking, I wish there were more “yield” signs in life. I know I could really benefit if they lit up before me like a neon sign the next time I was in a two-way conversation. The sign would remind me to “yield” to the other person and keep me from hogging the discussion, something I know I have done often in the past. It would help me at a check-out line, on the highways and byways, or in an open discussion. Generally, yield signs would help me avoid being selfish and self-centered.
       The time when “yielding” is most important in life, however,  is when it concerns God’s Word and leading. Oh that we could yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit in times of temptation. Romans 6:13 KJV says “Neither yield ye your members (body) as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” In traffic, as well as in life, yielding is a good thing. In Christ, it is not only good, it is absolutely necessary.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let us not give up meeting together, (going to church) 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 03:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 29 2015
Wednesday, April 29, 2015                    
       On our way to our weekly prayer meeting yesterday at church, I was thinking about the petitions I would be presenting to our group and immediately realized they were basically the same ones I had asked prayer for in the previous five or six meetings. Many people have a general perception that ministers live on a much higher plane regarding faith and that they never struggle with times of doubt and fear. That is not so, and God’s servants can have lapses when they too feel that the Lord, for whatever reason, is not listening to their prayers. That truth is clearly evident when one reads and studies the biblical accounts of many heroes of the faith.
       I must confess that such a thought crossed my mind as well when we were on our way to the prayer meeting. At that moment, the Lord immediately reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow in the 18th Chapter of Luke. The story centered around a widow who was seeking a ruling of justice against her adversary from a judge who neither feared God nor cared about people. (Vs. 2) Though he ignored her repeatedly, the widow was persistent and kept hounding him so much that he finally granted her the justice she was seeking just to get her off his back. Jesus main message in this parable is immediately given in the first verse of the Chapter which reads: “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
       More than two thousand years has passed since Jesus uttered this truth and it is just as relevant today as it was then. As God’s children, we must never give up when we pray; we must never think that our God is ignoring us. That’s when we have to avail ourselves and draw from the faith, grace, courage, strength, and patience the Lord has deposited in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that lives within us. In fact, it is by the faith that He gives that I wrote this blog today. If the Lord impressed me with that thought yesterday when we were on our way to church, it was because He knew I would need to share it today with one or two of our readers who have been struggling with that very issue. To you I say, “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up!” Your Heavenly Father is not ignoring you. Draw on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that live within you! Your answer will come at God’s time, perhaps sooner than later, and when it does, it will come in God’s incomparable way.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let us not give up meeting together, (going to church) 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
Tuesday, April 28 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015   
       Many people are shocked and surprised at the riots that have erupted in the streets of Baltimore over a perceived injustice committed against one of it’s young citizens. They shouldn’t be because Jesus said that such things would always occur in this present world. This is the Common English Bible’s rendering of Matthew 18:7: “How terrible it is for the world because of the things that cause people to trip and fall into sinSuch things have to happen, but how terrible it is for the person who causes those things to happen.” Isn’t that an accurate picture of what happened in Baltimore? By the apparent injustice of one or a few persons, others felt justified in lashing out and taking matters into their own hands and as a result utter pandemonium ensued.
       Although I, like everyone else, have my own theories and opinions, it is not my intention to take one side of the issue or the other, but to remind us all of the following things we must keep in mind as children of God. (1) Though He is loving, merciful, patient, and kind, there are many bible verses that affirm that our God is a God of justice. One of them is Psalm 11:7, which says: “For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face.” If He loves justice, if is very obvious that He hates injustice. (2) God will deal with those who perpetrate injustice in His own way and time. The last part of our previous verse (Mt. 18:7) implies that truth by reminding us that it will be a terrible thing for those responsible for the offence. (3) Dealing with those who hurt others, therefore, is God’s responsibility, not ours. Vengeance belongs to Him and not to men.
       That being the case, when we are victims of someone’s injustices, we must bring our complaint to God, leave it there, and trust Him to take care of the matter. After all, He, better than anyone else, knows what needs to be done and how to do it. Let’s ask God for the courage, wisdom, patience and grace, to not permit us to do anything that will make us be “offenders” ourselves.   
 
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let us not give up meeting together, (going to church) 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 04:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 27 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015                          
       I heard a radio interview recently with a man who surprised almost everyone when he left his position as pastor at a big and thriving urban church a few years ago to go overseas with his wife and family to do mission work. I perceive it was not their intention, but as they both explained the reasons for such a daring move, they unsuspectingly slammed many pastors and church goers making it sound like going to church is not a good thing after all. To be fair, some of the reasons they cited for leaving their church were valid and are characteristic of many churches, especially the larger ones. They cited the excessive marketing, the competition with other churches to be the biggest and the best, running the church as a business, and their perceived need to constantly be adding new programs and departments, among other things. While these assessments may be a fair description of many churches, it is not true of all of them.
       As I continued to hear their story, this thought crossed my mind: “This is exactly what a lot of Christians I know wanted to hear”; namely those who just barely endure going to church on Sunday and those who come every once in a while. This is a dilemma with many pastors: They find it very hard to understand why some of their members, although they obviously love the Lord, just don’t seem to like coming to church all that much.
       Let me repeat for the sake of being fair: I sincerely believe that this couple, who is now in the mission field, did not intend to throw churches and their members “under the bus”, so to speak, because they apparently do not believe that going to church is a bad thing. On the contrary, attending church is not only a good practice, I believe it is a necessary one. Just like this couple had their own unique calling, others are called of God to be pastors, evangelists, teachers, singers, musicians, or administrators, etc. In fact, many are called to serve in their particular place or position, whether at home, in the work place, or in their vocation or profession. The Lord has these people everywhere and in every place so that He can bring the message of the gospel to the entire world. Time and space does not allow me to remind you of the countless benefits of “church”, but here are a few: It is a place where we can learn more about God, feel His presence, pray at the altar, be encouraged, get renewed and recharged spiritually and emotionally, see something amazing or miraculous, and have an urgent prayer petition answered. Going to church is a good thing; take advantage of it’s benefits.
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25“Let us not give up meeting together, (going to church) 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 02:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 24 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015    
 
       Some Christians do not like being compared to sheep, most likely because they are generally considered as being timid, defenseless, and not very bright. Nevertheless, we can not ignore the fact that it was Jesus Himself, the Good Shepherd, who referred to His followers as such. On the other hand, sheep have good character traits most Christians can appreciate and I will venture to say that God’s genuine children not only like the comparison, they embrace it.
 
       For starters, lets consider just a partial depiction of them in the following verses in the 10th Chapter of John and afterwards I’ll try to apply the comparisons: In verse 3, He (The Good Shepherd) said they hear His voiceHe calls each one of them by name, and leads them out. In verse 4, He said He goes before themthey follow Him and know His voice. In verse 5, He said they will not follow but flee from strangers because they only recognize their Master’s voice. There is enough in these three verses to get a good picture of the sheep-Shepherd relationship but keep in mind that it refers only to the true members of His flock.
 
       Here are the comparisons: (1) True followers of Christ are always close enough to Him to hear His voice and are quick to respond to it. (2) They are fully aware and take much comfort in the fact that their Master knows them personally. Although verse 3 did not mention it directly, it is apparent to all of God’s genuine children that He also knows their voice and instantly responds when they cry out to Him. David wrote: “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry.” (Ps. 34:15) (3) They follow Him. Anybody who professes to be a follower of Christ but repeatedly does his own thing should not claim to be one of His. (4) Genuine followers of Christ will not be easily deceived when strange voices call out to them. In fact, they will quickly distance themselves from impostors. Just like bank tellers can quickly spot a counterfeit bill because they handle the authentic ones on a daily basis, God’s true children are so accustomed to His voice that they will not respond to the false ones.
 
       How do you stack up? Are you fully familiar with God’s voice? Do you rejoice because He knows you and calls you by name? Are you ever attentive to the Good Shepherd’s voice and ready to respond when He calls you. If you are, then you can really say that you are a member of His flock, and are probably very comfortable with the “sheepish” comparison.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 22:4) “By humility and the fear of the Lord come riches, honor, and life.”
 
Note: I am grateful for the illustration we heard last Wednesday in church about the sheep-Shepherd relationship which inspired me to further add to it. Also, if you did not receive the blog yesterday it is because I never got a "round tuit."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 22 2015
Wednesday, April 22, 2015                       
 
       I bet you know some people in your family or circle of friends who just can’t seem to catch a break in life. Their troubles include relationship issues where it seems others don’t understand them and they can’t get along with members of their family and others who may have been close friends in the past. They also may have trouble finding or keeping a job or even deciding what they want to be in life and because of it, they have little or no money at all. As a result, many of these “unlucky souls" will constantly complain that nobody cares or understands them and may blame people, situations, or even God for their troubles. Although many of these folks live their entire lifetime like that, they don’t have to, and though I referred to them as “unlucky”, luck, whether good or bad is definitely overrated.
 
       I think sometimes we all make life appear more complicated than what it is. Like almost all situations, we all get out of life what we put into it. Here are two simple eternal truths about life found in the Bible: (Galatians 6:7) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” and (2 Corinthians 9:6) “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously.” Another thought that even the world embraces is that you have to do the best that you can with what the world gives you, the “make lemonade with the lemons of life” saying.
 
       Here’s the bottom line and the simple answer to all of life’s ills, which happens to apply to every body, including those who never “catch a break” : Get close to God !!  I recently counseled with a young lady who took in one of her elderly parents after the other passed away. She is having all kinds of trouble with her siblings about it because they all want to get their share even while the surviving parent is still around. What would end this ugly situation? I know for a fact that all of them have slowly but surely drifted away from the Lord. I also know that if they all drew close to Him again, they would no longer be interested in themselves but in their surviving parent and helping the sibling who is presently doing the job. Those who are close to God, trust Him completely. They don’t put their trust in luck nor do they take a “que sera, sera” outlook on life. What happens when we get close to God? James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” How simple is that! Try it in your own life and see if things don’t get so much better for you.
 
 
 
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 22:4) “By humility and the fear of the Lord come riches, honor, and life.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:01 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 21 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015                
       Have you ever faced a trial which scared you to death before or during the event? Did you feel a little bit embarrassed or angry with yourself afterwards because you let something shake you up this way? I was thinking about this matter last week when I was studying the story of Gideon for an upcoming bible study. In our class, we didn’t get to this point but there is a part in the story that has always intrigued me. Gideon had managed to gather an army of 32,000 men to go battle against their enemies, the Midianites. Before the fighting began, However, the Lord told him that he had too many men saying that when they won the war, Israel would boast that her own strength had saved her. The Lord said: “Announce to the people that anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead. So 22,000 men left, while 10,000 remained.” (Judges 7:3) 
       I wondered what the reasons were or what went through the minds of those who accepted the offer to go back home that day. Did they feel shame after they took the offer? How many of them did it because they were afraid to die and how many because they were afraid to kill somebody? The truth is that war is not for everybody. I recently heard someone give the opinion that an aspiring young boxer they know does not have the “killer instinct” to ever be successful in that sport. Those of us who are ring aficionados can think back upon some exceptional boxers throughout the years that never attained a championship for that very reason. Another truth is that everyone is afraid of something. War heroes may be afraid of mice, roaches, and spiders while sweet little old ladies may unmercifully hunt these varmints down. I personally believe that if I had ever been called to a battlefront I probably would have died of fear, yet the thought of confronting spiritual foes or situations is something I know I can handle because up to now, the Lord has always been with me and has never failed me.
       Speaking of Gideon, those who know his story know that at the onset he was very much afraid of going into battle. In his first letter to them, Paul also confessed to the Corinthians that when he came to them, he came in weakness and with much fear and trembling. (See 1 Cor. 2:1-3) He came to them anyway. And David wrote in Psalm 56:3: When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (God) Notice he did not say “if”, but “when” I am afraid. 
       This is the conclusion to the matter: It is not a sin to be afraid; it is only a sin when we permit that fear to keep us from doing God’s will. Please keep this in mind the next time you are afraid of an impending situation or event you can’t avoid. When it arrives, trust in the Lord; He will see you through and you will see that your natural fear did not keep you from obeying Him. If God said you’re more than a conqueror, then that is what you are.     
 
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 22:4) “By humility and the fear of the Lord come riches, honor, and life.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:53 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 20 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015  
       Jesus said at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount, referred to by many as “the beatitudes”: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 3:3) Like many others, this is one bible verse that many people misunderstand or misapply. The general perception is that “poor in spirit” is a reference to all the poor people in the world, financially speaking, and that God will bless them automatically just for being poor. It does not mean that at all! To be poor in spirit means, among many other things, to be humble, meek, gentle, merciful, submissive, God-fearing, compassionate, and tenderhearted, regardless of one’s financial standing in life. Rich people can be poor in spirit and poor people can be arrogant. A person who is poor in spirit is one who really considers others better than himself, who automatically, and perhaps unknowingly, is complying with the advice Paul gave in Philippians 2:3. The verse reads: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” It is no wonder that Jesus said that Heaven is for the “poor in spirit”, because that is part of the character of a true child of God.
       I had the good fortune a few years back to say a few words at the funeral of a genuine child of God. I didn’t get to know him as well as I would have liked, but I spent just enough time with him to easily identify that he was “poor in spirit” and happily shared that thought with those in the crowd that day. In spite of the sadness most funerals may produce, all ministers enjoy conducting services for saintly men and women, for it makes their preparation and message so much easier. In fact, on that day I had no need of notes or an outline and knew that I only needed to speak from the heart concerning that dear departed man of God. The Lord places people such as him in the world to remind us all that He still lives in the hearts of men and folks like that draw others to Christ without saying much and just by being themselves, while many ministers of God may need thousands of words just to get the same results. I’m not a namedropper but I suspect some of you who are reading today’s blog may think just about now, “Hey, Bro. Joe is speaking about………..”
       I sincerely believe that any child of God who purposes in his heart to draw closer to Him on a daily basis, will attain “poor in spirit” status. Meanwhile, if you are blessed, or were at one time, by living with someone like that, I would remind you to be very grateful to God, try to learn as much as you can from it, and if that person is in Heaven already, look excitedly forward to the day that you will see him or her again. It is sad to say but I have known some exceptional men and women of God who left this world without their family and friends ever realizing that they had been very close to true greatness on a daily basis. Not only is it a joy to be around people such as these, it can also be very beneficial. How near or how far are you today to being “poor in spirit” ?
 
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 22:4) “By humility and the fear of the Lord come riches, honor, and life.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 17 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015    
        Greetings to all! Are you ready for a simple, weekend Bible quiz? Some of these questions may require some research on your part and it is perfectly acceptable to acquire the correct answer by way of a thorough bible concordance or the resources offered by bibletools.com  Some of you may already know the answers and will take a stab at acing the quiz that way or you may want to see how many you knew by memory and how many you had to look up. Either way, I hope you have fun. Ready ? Here goes:
1. Joseph, the son of Jacob, had two sons; one was Manasseh and the other was:            a/ Joshua      b/ Caleb    c/  Ephraim       d/ Eliezer  
2. Two of Jesus’ Disciples were known as the “Sons of Thunder. Who were they ?      a/ Peter & Andrew    b/ James & John    c/ Matthew & Nathaniel      d/ Philip & Judas
3.  Jesus called some of His Disciples by which body of water ?                                      a/ Dead Sea        b/ Red Sea        c/ Jordan River        d/ Sea of Galilee
4. Which of these Disciples was "not" a fisherman by trade?                                            a/ Matthew (Levi)     b/ James      c/  Andrew       d/ Peter
5. Who said: “The Lord is with thee: blessed art though among women.”                       a/ Michael        b/ John the Baptist         c/ Gabriel            d/ Zacharias
6. The Bible says that the wages of sin is __________ :                                                 a/ painful       b/ misery       c/ sorrow          d/ death
7. Which prophet of God was taken up to Heaven in a flaming chariot ?                          a/ Elisha         b/ Elijah       c/ Isaiah        d/ Jeremiah
8. In Luke 19, Zacchaeus climbed up a tree to see Jesus. What was his occupation?        a/ Tax collector         b/ lawyer          c/ judge         d/ fisherman    
9. In Mount Horeb, God spoke to Moses from inside a burning _________ :                   a/ chariot         b/ kettle          c/ bush          d/ rock
10.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain _________ :                    a/ salvation        b/ forgiveness       c/ prosperity        d/ mercy
Memory verse for the week: (1 Thessalonians 5:18“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”         
Answers: 1. C/ 2. B / 3. D / 4. A / 5. C / 6. D / 7. B / 8. A / 9. C / 10. D    
Whether you researched or not, let me know how you did.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 16 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015 
       I would like to share with you today some highlights from our bible class last night in church where we focused on some life lessons found in the story of Gideon, namely those found in the 6th Chapter of the book of Judges. We were immediately told in the very first verse of the chapter that Gideon’s clan had done evil in the sight of the Lord, and that was the reason that He gave them over into the hands of their enemies. (Midianites) Their particular evil was that they had begun to worship the gods of the Amorites. That was the first life lesson. That is, we cannot stray from God or continually do evil in His sight and not expect to suffer the consequences.
       The second thing we saw in the chapter was the cruelty and oppression of the enemies of God’s people. They struck so much fear on Gideon’s clan that they fled into the mountains, caves, or any type of stronghold they could find, and when they did, their enemies stole their crops and destroyed their fields. Just like God’s people in Gideon’s day, Christians today can be their own enemies and our biggest one after that is the devil. What does he do even today? Jesus, speaking about his sheep, (God’s children) said in John 10:10“The thief (Satan) has come only to kill, steal and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and might have it more abundantly.” I trust you can recognize that Gideon’s people would have had no trouble at all with their enemies, if they had not strayed from God. It is the same for us today. If we stay close to the Lord, our enemies will cause us very little trouble.
       The last lesson (eternal truth) in the story that I would like to mention is found in verse 12 where the Angel of the Lord addressed Gideon as a “mighty warrior.” By the way, it was the Lord Himself who was talking to him. Keep in mind that when the Lord called him that, Gideon was threshing wheat in a place where the enemy could not see him. Basically, he was in hiding. Obviously, Gideon himself thought that the last thing he could be was a “mighty warrior.” But this is how that verse relates to you and me: We are not who the world says we are, nor are we who we think we are; we are who God says we are. As Christians, many times we shortchange ourselves and as a result we don’t attempt reaching new heights. We forget that, with God’s help, we can do all things. (See Philippians 4:13) That is like having millions of dollars in the bank and being content to draw out twenty dollars every now and then. One thing is for sure: No matter what we or anybody calls us, no child of God can ever be a “loser.” Paul said in Romans 8:37 that we are “more than conquerors” and that settles it.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Thessalonians 5:18“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”         
Note: If ever you fail to receive a daily blog, please contact me or else you can read it on our church’s website (savedbygracechurch.com) under the “Pastor’s blog” tab.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 15 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015  
       One of the best known declarations in the Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5:5 where Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” These eight declarations of blessedness at the start of Christ’s most famous sermon are called the “beatitudes.” There are eight of them and they are found in the 5th Chapter of Matthew from verse 3 to verse 12. Keep in mind that Jesus never used the word “beatitude” ,which signifies “a state of utmost bliss.” It was a word many readers of the scriptures of long ago chose to describe these declarations of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. Incidentally, the word “beatitudes”, just like the word “rapture”, is not found in the Bible and many people seem to think that they are called the beatitudes because they should be a reflection of our attitude.
      “Meekness” is another one of those words which troubles many Christians because our present day culture mistakenly identifies it as weakness. If nothing else, meek sounds too much like weak and geek and that certainly doesn’t sit well with many folks today.  However, if Jesus said that He was meek and lowly in heart in Matthew 11:29, even common sense should tell you that He was definitely not timid nor was there any weakness in His character or person. In fact, His kind of meekness really translated into strength and power. Here is how Proverbs 16:32 describes it: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who conquers a city.” Here’s a quick scenario: two men have a disagreement. One of them starts yelling, screaming, and threatening, and the other doesn’t say another word. Which of the two is really the strongest? I think you can see that the one many would think was strong, really isn’t because he can’t control his anger (spirit) while the other who many may consider weak is strong enough to resist the temptation to be stupid. The word “meek” really means “yielded” and it typifies strength under control. Just as a wild, bucking, unbroken bronco is of no use to the cowboy, God cannot use a person with an unyielding spirit.    
       If we want to be more Christ-like every day, then being meek should be one of our goals. The Apostle Paul was one bible hero who many in his day mistook as being weak and timid. I honestly believe he relished being accused as such and that it is the reason that he wrote: That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Do you want to be strong like Paul; be meek!
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Thessalonians 5:18“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 14 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015          
       Psalm 69 is one all Christians should be able to identify with, one in which David is vexed by many things that trouble us today in our earthly experience. Besides being a prophetic message which foresaw the sufferings of Christ at the hands of men, it is also replete with life lessons for His followers today. There are two particular verses in it which caught my attention.
       The first one (verse 6) is a prayer we would do well in adopting for our lives. It reads: “Don't let those who trust in you stumble because of me, O Sovereign LORD Almighty. Don't let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel.” Even though on this occasion David was suffering shame because of false accusations, he was nevertheless troubled to think that others who also trusted in God, would stumble and likewise be humiliated because of him. It really bothers me to hear folks who let it be known, sometimes almost bragging, that they don’t give a hoot if others don’t like what they are saying or doing, that they will keep on doing whatever they please. It is especially sad when the one taking that position claims to be a follower of Christ. If we really love people as we should, we must do our best to stay away from trouble, if not for ourselves at least for the sake of others.   
       The second verse that caught my eye was verse 20 which reads: “Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me.” Here again, when any professing Christian declares that the criticisms, insults, and slander of others, especially when they come by way of friends or family members, don’t bother them in the slightest, they are not dealing with the truth or else they are out of fellowship with God. If we are honest, we will confess that, at one time or another, we’ve all had days when we felt no one cared, and we can understand why David lamented “If only one person would show some pity; if only one would turn and comfort me.”It is not the proverbial “pity party”, it is a genuine feeling that everyone forgot about us when we needed them the most. For that reason we must ask the Lord to help us be a true friend to those who may be going through difficult and painful times. Do you know anybody like that today, someone who could really use a word of comfort or encouragement? Even if you were to just go cry with someone who is crying, you would be doing them a world of good. The truth is, you would be doing yourself a big favor in the process.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Thessalonians 5:18“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
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Monday, April 13 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015             
       Did you hear about the lady who had some marble top counters put in her kitchen but everybody took them for granite? I know, I can almost hear the many groans already. Nevertheless, I started todays blog with this corny line for two reasons. First, I wanted to loosen you up a bit on what could otherwise be the start of another ordinary work week for you and then I wanted to use it as the springboard for today’s topic, the practice of taking many things or people in our lives for granted. Like many other faults, taking others for granted begins with God. Ever since the world began, and continuing on today, folks have been doing it to God. Also, like many other shortcomings, I think all of us do it from time to time, and those who do are not necessarily bad people, its just that we forget.
       Knowing that this is a human weakness, through Moses, the Lord gave His people these words of caution and instruction as they were about to enter their promised land: “The LORD your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give your ancestors. It is a land filled with large, prosperous cities that you did not build.  The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.”(Deuteronomy 6:10-12) Did you notice that God gave them this word of caution even before they started reaping the benefits of their new land? We can say that He was essentially telling them, “Don’t ever take me for granted.”  
       As I stated previously, we all take things or people for granted on a regular basis. There are things in your life, and especially people, who have clearly improved the status or quality of your life or have made things so much easier for you; and yet, you seldom demonstrate your appreciation of it or even give them a simple “thank you.” My dear fellow child of God, that should not be! The question that arises, therefore, is: What can we do about it so that we won’t be guilty of committing this fault? Like all other remedies for sin, the first step is asking God’s help. If we pray that He will help us in that matter, He will remind us, by His Spirit, when it is time to express our thankfulness to others, assuming that we are constantly being led by His Spirit. And if He reminded you right now about the person or persons in your life that are due your words of appreciation, I trust you will do it today.       
Memory verse for the week: (1 Thessalonians 5:18“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 10 2015
Friday, April 10, 2015             
       This story is found in three gospels so naturally it occurred around two thousand years ago: It is a story of a woman who had a serious medical condition which had baffled every doctor she had seen over a course of twelve years. Medical science has made some amazing strides since then and yet I have heard of several people who have suffered with this same condition today and in their case too, doctors have not been able to identify nor find the proper treatment for it. It concerns the gradual and continual loss of blood. One can only imagine what this poor lady had to endure for so many years. Nevertheless, this is the part of the story that I would like to focus on: When she heard that Jesus was in town, she was certain that if she could just reach Him and touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. We must assume that reaching Him was a daunting task considering the multitude of people that were following Him. The crowd was even greater because, on that day and time, Jesus was on His way to raise a dead little girl back to life, and they knew it. By God’s grace and mercy this poor lady was able to carry out her plan and she did, in fact, touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. When she did, her bleeding stopped immediately. 
     Mark 5:30 reads: At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” Comparing the three gospel accounts of this story, we must conclude that Jesus was going to keep on asking the question until the responsible person confessed, and that is exactly what happened. When the woman fell at His feet with fear and trembling and confessed that it was her, Jesus told her:“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Vs. 34) Now, if you are a genuine Christian, you know that Jesus is God and that means that He knew exactly who touched Him. The question, then, that arises, is “Why would He ask who touched Him?” You have the right to disagree with me, but I choose to believe that He did it because (1) in any healing or miracle of any kind, God deserves and expects to get all the honor, glory, and praise. Secondly, anyone who has ever tapped into the power of God, just as this woman did, needs to step up and let the whole world know about it.  
       With the exception of those who may not be very mentally or spiritually bright, every true follower of Christ realizes that he or she has tapped into God’s power; and because we have, we need to tell others about it. It is of an even greater magnitude, for example, than someone knowing the cure for cancer and keeping the secret to himself. You may think I’m stretching it a bit , but consider this: The cure for cancer is for this life only; the cure for sin and it’s consequences is forever. The gospels don’t tell us what this woman did after her healing but I bet she shared her story with everyone she met until the day she died. In case you are wondering just what we have “tapped” into, allow me to mention just these few things: forgiveness, transformation, restoration, eternal life, peace, assurance, and comfort. Of course there is so much more but I trust you get the picture. This question, then, is for all of us: Since we have “tapped” into the power of God, what are we going to do with it, and does it include telling everybody around us? I hope so! 
Memory verse for the week: (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 09 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015 
       Psalm 72 was written by David at the close of his life and reign and bible teachers know it as “A Psalm For Solomon.” Quite clearly it is a father’s prayer that God would equip his son and successor with justice and righteousness. Few things comfort those who are about to leave this world to go to the other more than the thought of their children praising God on earth at the same time that they will be praising Him in Heaven. At the same time, the psalm addresses a present common issue as well as the reason for it, namely the corruption in many of today’s world governments. Think about this: Do you think certain countries of the world would be in the deplorable condition they are in if leaders with integrity were running it, and do you think people from their countries would so desperately want to come to ours if their leaders were governing with justice and righteousness? Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” 
       In this psalm, David was mostly praying that his son would govern Israel, after he was gone, with the same faith, dedication, reliance, and love that he had for God. When you think about it, is that not what all true Christian parents want for their children?  Whether it is a country, state, city, organization, church, or even a family unit, the success of all of these depends on the decency, fair mindedness, and integrity of the leader, in particular their faith and love for God.  
       Whether it is to one person or a thousand, I wholeheartedly believe that all of God’s children are leaders in one capacity or another. That being the case, it is very important how we live our lives for we are all in a position to either improve or worsen the quality of life of those who follow, depend, or look up to us. Have you ever made a sincere and conscious effort to make things better for those around you, especially your family and friends? The Bible says in Romans 8:34 that Christ today is at the right hand of God, forever making intercession for us. Isn’t it comforting to know that He is praying for you and me continuously? In fact, I would not be surprised if one of those prayers is exactly like the one David prayed for his son, that is, that we will deal in righteousness and justice with those around us. Knowing that, leads me to believe that this particular prayer will be answered. Now, that is something we can all rejoice in.
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
 
Note: I encourage you to read, reflect, and meditate upon Psalm 72 at your earliest convenience. You’ll be happy that you did.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 08 2015
Wednesday, April 8, 2015  
       Whether we call it the blahs, the doldrums, being out of touch, or losing focus, we all have stages in our lives when we are “out of it.” By God’s grace, these lapses are mostly short-lived, but there are times when they last much longer and so do their effects. In these cases, not only do we lose out on a lot of good things, we also affect others in a negative way. If we take a closer look into David’s Psalm 51, we will see that it typifies this situation and condition. Many bible versions give a title and occasion for many psalms. In this case, they cite the time when the prophet Nathan came to David to notify him that the Lord knew about his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his involvement in her husband’s death. Just knowing that before you read the psalm will explain why David was “out of touch.”
       Since David was aware that God already knew about his sins, he began his psalm acknowledging them and asking the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. Then, he admitted and set forth the eternal requirement that God expects “truth in the inner parts.” (vs. 6) Today, that is referred to as “owning up” and taking full responsibility for our actions. In verse 7, realizing his sins had made him unclean, he asks the Lord to cleanse him and make him whiter than snow. In the next verse he wanted hear joy and gladness once more. In verse nine he asks that his iniquity be erased. In verse ten he asks for a new heart and spirit, that is, a different attitude and way of thinking. In verse 11, he pleads, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” By God’s grace and divine plan, those who are His will never lose the Holy Spirit, but they can lose their fellowship with God and the joy that it brings. That is the reason David asked the Lord to return that lost joy to him in verse 12 and acknowledged in verse 13 that he would not be able to draw others to Him without it.
       Time and space don’t allow me to go into more detail regarding this Psalm but I trust I have shared enough that it will be of benefit to you, especially if you are going through the spiritual “blahs.” Please keep in mind that David’s requests were granted. He was forgiven, restored, and the joy of the Lord returned to his heart. In fact, that’s where our strength to serve God comes from. The last part of Nehemiah 8:10 says that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” If this is what you need in your life today, don’t spend another minute without it. If the Lord answered David’s prayers, He will answer you too for He has no favorites. And if you have a chance today, I encourage you to read Psalm 51 slowly, carefully, and prayerfully.
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 07 2015
Tuesday, April 7, 2015                   
       With the exception of those who have a membership of over a thousand, most pastors are familiar with the painful experience of losing members to other churches. Many people seem to think that a pastor lives on a much higher spiritual level than other Christians that losing members here and there for whatever the reason, does not affect them. They are wrong! Pastors are just as human as any other child of God and things that bother others bother them too. They too can get angry, frustrated, and discouraged. They too can get hurt and offended and feel the sting of rejection. Feelings of fear, doubt, and insecurity are not unusual to them, and like others, they too need to lean on the grace and strength of God to be able to overcome and be victorious. In fact, overcoming these obstacles is even more crucial to ministers because if they don’t, these negative things will eventually manifest themselves in their preaching and teaching.
       I was thinking about this situation recently as we passed by a place where a church we attended many years ago once stood. We left it very early in my Christian life to go to the place where I felt my family and I needed to be at the time and in retrospect, I know the move was definitely of God. Leaving your church to go to another is mostly an unwise move, but every once in a while it is within the will of God. As I stated before, although I know now that leaving our first church many years ago was the right move, I now can assume that it hurt our pastor deeply nevertheless.
       This was not the reason we left, but one notable feature about that church and others who have died was that there were very few children or teens there. I bet you know of churches who only had adults and older members in their day and are no longer in existence. Many pastors believe, and I can understand their position, that the children are their most important members. In almost every church, the majority of it’s membership is made up of those who started attending as children. That constant confirms the eternal truth that when you “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” (See Proverbs 22:6) That truth should behoove us to ensure that all the children in our family be introduced to church, God, and the Bible if they haven’t already. Look around, how many children and young people are in your church? The more you see, the more promising your church’s future. Another thing: If you’re church does not have these young members, you need to pray and do your part to bring them in, that is, if you don’t want it to fade away as others have.    
 
Memory verse for the week: (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 06 2015
Monday, April 6, 2015                   
       Nearing the close of one of our worship services at church two Sundays ago, I suddenly got this thought and I took it as coming from the Lord: “There are some here who I just gave a marvelous gift to, something they were not expecting.” I felt that He wanted me to share it with the church when I came up for the closing prayer and that He told me that for a specific reason. Once I got to the pulpit, I shared the thought with the church and added that the Lord wanted to remind those highly favored recipients to do something with what they had just received. After the service, two people came up to me to tell me the great thing God had done for them during the week, and pledged that they would definitely do something with it.
       When I was pondering the thought before I came up to dismiss and give “the blessing”, my mind went back to the story in the gospels of the demon-possessed man that was healed by Jesus. He was so grateful for his miraculous gift that he asked Jesus if he could follow Him. Mark 5:19 reads: “Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” The man did just that, sharing his astonishing story wherever he went. I also thought of a scene I vividly recall in the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” In the scene where Captain Miller is dying, he whispers in Ryan’s ear, “Earn this; earn it.” He, of course, was reminding him to do something notable in his life, to make his rescue worthwhile. Many, many years later, Ryan, now an old army veteran visits Captain Miller’s grave to thank him for what he and the rest of the unit did for him many years prior, and that he still thinks about it every day. When his wife arrives at his side, he turns to her and says: “Tell me I have led a good life; tell me I’m a good man.” Without a doubt, he wanted confirmation that he had done something good with the gift he had received many years ago.
       Wednesday, I was still thinking about the thought I received on Sunday morning when I saw in the world news the story about the death of a teenager from Georgia this past Tuesdaywho received a heart transplant two years ago. The young man died in a crash while fleeing from the police after he allegedly carjacked a car and shot an 81 year old woman. He had initially been denied in his request for the transplant but later got the operation. I don’t know what happened in the life of this teenager after his life saving operation, but it appears that very little good resulted with the marvelous gift he received, and that is a real tragedy. I wrote recently about the importance of God’s children doing “little things” for others on a regular basis. (A Personal Inventory, 3/23/15) Even if we only focused on doing these, our lives would be worthwhile and we, in fact, would be doing something positive with the gifts we have received from God. I also feel pretty confident that by doing so, we would one day hear Jesus say to us in Heaven, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Note: This should have been last Friday’s message but I had problems with my email server and couldn’t send it out.                                                                                                                                                   
    “Saving Private Ryan” clip:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r8zgU7wE8w 
Memory verse for the week: (John 15:13) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 02 2015
Thursday, April 2, 2015          
       I don’t know how prevalent it is today, but in the old days people used to call the prayer before a meal “the blessing.” Well, this blog is not about that, but it is about a blessing. It is about a custom we have adopted in church that I feel fairly confident came from the Lord. Some time back, I was reading in the 6th Chapter of the book of Numbers and toward it’s close I saw some words of instructions from God to Moses that seemed to stand out from the rest of the chapter. I took it as if the Lord was saying it to me. He was instructing Moses to tell Aaron and his sons (the priests) that whenever they blessed the people, they should use these words: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26)
       So many churches have adopted customs and practices in their worship services they would be hard pressed to corroborate by the Word of God; I feel certain this is not one of them. Allow me to elaborate: To begin with, one of the duties of the priest was to bless God’s people. Here, God was telling Moses with what words they were to do it, thus making it a God approved ordinance. How does that relate to you and me? Well, the Bible says that God’s people are, among other things, a “royal priesthood” (See 1 Peter 2:9) and Paul implied the same when he advised us, “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15) Offering up sacrifices to God was another priestly duty.
       Thus, according to God’s word, all Christians are spiritual priests, pastors even more so. Therefore, besides being one of our duties as priests, it is an honor and privilege to be able to bless others in His name. What is even more precious in my opinion is that the practice comes with a divine promise. God told Moses, “And they (the priests) will put my name (bless) upon my children; and I myself will bless them.” (Num. 6:27)  From the first time I understood these words and took them personally, I felt a wave of excitement and joy knowing that this was much more than a casual “God bless you.”  I now knew, without any doubt, that whenever I or anyone of our pastors climbed to the pulpit to declare this blessing on God’s children, they would definitely be blessed by Him. Next time you really want to bless someone, use the words in Numbers 6:24-26. I believe it would be a great practice to add to your lifestyle. On the other hand, should you hear someone pronouncing that blessing on you, consider yourself blessed!
 
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 06:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 01 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015  
       I want to expand on the meditational thought I wrote for our church bulletin this pastSunday. It was about one of the saddest verses in the Bible in my opinion, Matthew 26:75, which reads: “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow , thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” If any of you who is reading today’s blog has betrayed the trust of someone you love deeply or have failed him or her miserably, perhaps you can relate to the agony Peter felt immediately when he betrayed Christ, the one which caused him to weep bitterly. As most of you know, Peter would later be forgiven and restored. Still, I bet the memory of the day of his betrayal haunted him for the rest of his earthly life.
       Another thing that can reasonably be assumed by everyone who knows the complete story is that his denial of Christ caught Peter by surprise. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t have, for Jesus, being God, had told him beforehand that it would happen. Without a doubt, Christians can be surprised and suddenly fall into sin. However, and as also was the case with Peter, he unknowingly and carelessly took many steps that led him to his eventual fall. The process is like the one we see in people who become alcoholics, drug addicts, and the like. They didn’t get to their present condition all at once, but gradually. A closer look into the gospel accounts will show that Peter was too confident in himself, often spoke out of turn, reproached Jesus for submitting himself to his impending crucifixion, fell asleep after Jesus asked him and the other Disciples to watch and pray on the night of his arrest, and walked far from Him on the night of His trial.
       Today, one does not always need the gift of spiritual discernment to see steps like Peter’s that friends and loved ones have begun to take in their daily walk. It can clearly be seen that they have lost their faith and joy, are too confident in themselves believing they can do just fine on their own, are not walking as close to Jesus as they once did, have begun to slack in their ministry or church involvement, are spiritually asleep, and have gone back to doing the things that would have destroyed them had not Jesus come to their rescue. If, by chance, you should see any of these signs in your life, do something about it immediately. Do like the man in this corny story: A little boy was in the hallway of a big apartment complex trying to reach a doorbell so he could ring it. The man, who was walking by, told him, “Here, I’ll ring it for you.” When he did, the little imp said, “Okay now, run!”
 
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 01:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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