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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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- Poems

Monday, August 31 2015
Monday,  August 31, 2015        
       I suspect that a few of you are at least slightly worried at this time about your finances and the condition of your monthly budget. It may be that all of a sudden you have some debts you never counted on having. Well, let me ask you this: How would you feel if someone who is financially set would step up and completely pay all your pending debts? One very supposedly wealthy man who is presently running for president is the last person I would vote for but if it was he who one day came and payed all my debts, I would have no choice but to feel indebted to him for the rest of my life.
       As far as our sin debt is concerned, there is One who did exactly that. He paid it in full for all time and assuming we have committed our lives to Him, that debt is completely and forever wiped out. To Him, therefore, we will forever be indebted. David wrote: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”(Psalm 32:2 NIV)  The KJV says it this way: “Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” Paul later referred to that very same truth and blessing when he wrote: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”Child of God, that is exactly what Jesus did for you. David wrote that the Lord did not impute iniquity unto us. Impute means: “to declare that someone is guilty of something.” I can’t say it any better than Paul, that is: We are blessed because our transgressions are forgiven, our sins are covered, and the Lord will never count them against us.
       Child of God, don’t let any voices, regardless of how they reach you, tell you any different. Of course there are sins in our life. Of course we are imperfect, and of course God would have every right to hold us accountable for them, but He doesn’t! Why? Because His Son, Jesus, paid for our sin debt by the blood that he shed on Calvary. Lets not go by what we think or feel day by day or what by others may say. Lets go by what God says. He says our sins are forever covered and paid for and, after all, He always has the last word. Now, are we blessed or what?
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 144:15) “Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 27 2015
Who Do You Know?
Thursday, August 27, 2015
        I have always been slightly irritated in the past upon hearing someone use the phrase "Its not what you know but who you know", especially when it is done in an arrogant manner. Now, I suspect I may have to grudgingly admit that there may be more truth to the saying and that I may have to give it more credit than I had hoped. Now I'm beginning to believe that if we had known the right people, either at the city, our insurance company, or CPS, we would not have been out of our house for as long as we were after the storm of May 29. That being said, we know that the Lord allowed it to happen for some reason and although we do not know at this point what it is exactly, we believe that, in the end, the experience will result in a personal blessing or benefit. We cling to the promise of Romans 8:28. For the present time, I can honestly say that this ordeal did not embitter us and probably strengthened our faith in God. I have always told you that the storms of life don't last forever and that truth is evident now that this particular storm has ended for us. Therefore, I want to encourage those of you who are still in the middle of one to hold on to your faith in God; your plight will soon come to an end as well. You have to trust in God more than ever because if you don't, difficult experiences in life can discourage or make you bitter and resentful and rob you of the joy and peace God wants you to have. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us that if we keep our mind on good things, the God of peace will be with us. It confirms the truth found in the Old Testament where Isaiah wrote: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." (Isa. 26:3 KJV) If you just can't get the thought of a bad experience out of your mind, including those who were behind it, ask the Lord to give you the grace to forget it. Although it is an extreme case, just yesterday we heard in the news of the the TV reporters killed on live television by a disgruntled ex-employee of the station, a shocking reminder of what unchecked anger, bitterness, and resentment can lead to.
        Fellow believers, the storms of life can only harm us if we permit them to and God's grace is more than sufficient to keep us safe. The truth is that they all eventually end on a good note for us because of who we know, namely Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And we know Him because we belong to Him. Perhaps it doesn't apply in every case but "who we know" certainly applies here. Child of God, aren't you glad you know Him?
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:15) "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 26 2015
The Apple Of His Eye
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
       Nobody can say that King David was not a courageous, battle tested warrior, yet in many of his psalms we hear of the times when he was afraid of many things, especially death by the hands of his enemies. One such occasion is depicted in Psalm 17:8 where he wrote: "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings." Many people can boastfully claim that they fear nothing or no one, but the truth is that we all experience fear in one capacity or another. Even those who walk close to God will go to bed in fear on some nights, sometimes even in utter terror. The reasons may be many and the episodes may last a few minutes or a few hours, but all honest believers will confess that this is true. When fear strikes the heart, God's children immediately look to Him for strength, comfort, and assurance.
        David asked the Lord on this occasion to hide him as "the apple of the eye", a phrase that may have several meanings and one that has been used often by song and poem writers. In David's case, it ultimately refers to something precious, very well hidden and protected. He may have meant the very center of the eye which God has positioned so that it will receive the best protection possible or the tiny reflection of yourself in somebody else's eyes. He also may have meant it as some folks do today when they say that a certain someone is the "apple of their eye." If that is what David meant, then he was asking the Lord to see him as His most precious possession. Regardless of the exact meaning, David was seeking the assurance that God would hold him safe while he was going through a terrifying storm, which is why he added, "hide me under the shadow of thy wings."
        The last two lines of a favorite hymn of mine, Till The Storm Passes By, read: "Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of thy hand. Keep me safe till the storm passes by." This really is a picture of the life of a child of God. In this world we will go through many frightful storms, but the Lord will always keep us close to Himself and in the end we will arrive safely at Heaven's shore. As I have been known to say often, "the storms of life don't last forever." If you are going through one today, child of God, take comfort in the fact that you are safely enclosed in the loving arms of your Heavenly Father. He won't let anything harm you. After all, you are "the apple of His eye."
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:15) "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 25 2015
In Every Thing?
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
        One well known and favorite bible verse of many Christians is 1 Thessalonians5:18 which reads: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Even among those who have memorized the verse, many seem to ignore or overlook the fact that this includes even things that are tragic and painful. The great hero of the faith, Job, apparently knew this eternal truth many centuries before the Apostle Paul even penned the words. He had just passed through the most painful series of events one can imagine when he uttered these words: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;may the name of the Lord be praised." (Job 1:21) He may have done it with halting speech and a devastated heart but He praised God anyway. Job's wife on the other hand, had the same mind set of many people in the world, those who will quickly and easily thank and acknowledge God when He "blesses" them but will just as quickly express their rage and defiance when things go the other way. When Job's wife encouraged him to just curse God and die because of their troubles, he immediately admonished her for her selfish foolishness.
        One Sunday in church, a man and his wife heard of a couple who gave a significant love offering in memory of their son who was killed in a battlefield. On the way home, she said to her husband, "Why don't we do the same?" He quickly replied, "Why? Our son wasn't killed?" She replied, "Exactly!" This is precisely what our initial bible verse teaches us, that we are to thank God in every thing.
        I realize it is very difficult for all of us to thank God when we are going through a painful experience. God knows it too, but He also promised that He would never give us anything we couldn't bear and would give us a way to endure. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13) What's even better is that He promised never to leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) Keep in mind that any thing God has ever asked of us or has planned for our lives is geared for our benefit. Lets not forget to thank God in every thing! We will have many reasons for it every single day.
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 13:15) "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His name."
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 21 2015
Straying Sheep
Friday, August 21, 2015
        Most people are familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the 15th chapter of the book of Luke but there is also a beautiful and compelling truth about the love of Christ for the lost in the very same chapter. Christ's most vociferous opponents during his earthly ministry, the scribes and Pharisees, were incensed at Him because of His mingling with the outcasts of society. Jesus was then, as He is now, the Friend of sinners. Jesus decried the erroneous stance of these wicked religious leaders with these words: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.(Luke 15:4-7) An eternal truth in these verses is that, even today, Jesus (The Good Shepherd) still goes out looking for His lost and straying sheep.
        In one of the most beautiful depictions in song of this occurrence, the Spanish tune of Juan Romero, "Vision Pastoral/Las Cien Ovejas", he wrote this: (my general translation into English) "There were a hundred sheep in the flock, a hundred sheep that He (The Good Shepherd) lovingly watched over. But one evening one of them was missing and sadly, He wept. So He left the ninety nine in the sheepfold to go look for His lost sheep up in the mountain. He found it weeping and shivering with cold. So He tended to it's wounds, put it on His shoulders and brought it back home. But this same story keeps repeating itself. There are still sheep who are straying. They are wandering out in the world without God, without comfort, and without His Forgiveness."
        Juan Romero's story in song is filled with truth, and even as you are reading this blog today there are many out in the world who are either completely lost or else are straying from God. Though many of them will deny that they are sad and lonely and missing out on the love, joy, and peace they once knew, that is their true condition. The lost sheep in the song would have died alone, cold, and afraid had not the Good Shepherd found her. On the other hand, when Jesus finds one of His lost sheep, all of God's children and the angels in Heaven rejoice. One sad sidelight, however, is that many who are lost and straying prefer to remain that way. The truth is that God knows where they are even if they think they are hidden from His view. Even so, He will not bring them back into the fold if they are unwilling. Anyone who strays from the Good Shepherd will be in serious danger until he or she decides to come back to Him. If you are a straying member of the flock, come back to the One who is waiting for you with outstretched arms.
Memory Verse for the week: (Philippians 4:7) "And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 20 2015
The Need For Unity
Thursday, August 20, 2015
        The 4th Chapter of the book of Philippians is very instructive and helpful and a favorite of many Christians, many of it's verses being often repeated by memory. There is, however, a troubling verse in it, namely verse 2 which reads: "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other
in the Lord." The Bible does not tell us the nature of the disagreement between these two ladies but the matter was serious enough in the eyes of the Apostle Paul that he would plead with them to be of the same mind. When he exhorted the church two verses later to rejoice in the Lord, he realized that it would have been difficult for that body of believers to truly rejoice if two of it's members were at variance with each other.
        Paul added that these two ladies had been very helpful to him in his ministry and considered them a vital part of his work in the gospel, reminding us that disputes and quarrels can occur even among faithful church members. It should be obvious to all of us that the Devil would like nothing better that to see divisions and strife in the family of God, knowing that it's effectiveness can be greatly minimized by it.
        Because of the love of Christ that lives within us, there is absolutely no reason why we cannot be reconciled to someone we have been at odds with. God's grace is strong enough to help us say "I'm sorry" even if we have to do it grudgingly, especially when we believe we are in the "right." If you have had an experience which distanced you from a fellow believer or loved one, do them and yourself and them a favor by patching things up with them. If you do it in the love of Christ, it will not be as hard as you envision it now. One more thing: Paul asked a certain member of the Philippian church to help these women, apparently to see what he could do to bring them back together. Maybe that message is for one of you today. Perhaps you know two dear souls who have had a falling out. In your case too, with Jesus helping you, that is not such a daunting task as you may imagine. After all, Jesus did indicate in His Sermon on the Mount, that God's true children are "peacemakers." (See Matthew 5:9) Where can you go "help" someone today?
Memory Verse for the week: (Philippians 4:7) "And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 14 2015
Friday, August 14, 2015                
       I have heard the phrase “God inhabits the praises of His people” so often, I decided to research it. To begin with, the only place in any English version of the Bible where the root word “inhabit” even appears is in Psalm 22:3. The KJV renders it: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” The NIV’s rendering of the same verse says: “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel” which is somewhat different. As far as the premise that God “inhabits the praises of Israel” (His people) is concerned, the great bible Commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote: [ This bespeaks God’s wonderful condescension to his faithful worshippers—(that, though he is attended with the praises of angels, yet he is pleased to inhabit the praises of Israel), and it may comfort us in all our complaints—that, though God seem, for a while, to turn a deaf ear to them, yet he is so well pleased with his people’s praises that he will, in due time, give them cause to change their note. ] Therefore, although the phrase “God inhabits the praises of His people” is not found per se in the Bible, we must conclude that it’s truth is a valid one.
       BTW, Psalm 22 is a prophetic psalm where David depicted the sufferings of the coming Messiah. Jesus later uttered the same words found at the beginning of the psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” while he was hanging on the cross of Calvary. Because David was like all of us, we can believe that he too went through some times in his life where he felt forsaken of God. It is not a sin to have these thoughts about the Lord from time to time. Sin enters the picture only when we dwell on that belief and continue on our way actually believing that He has completely abandoned us. If you read the rest of the psalm you will see that in the end David encourages God’s people to praise Him for He has not despised the sufferings of the afflicted. (See verses 23-24)
       If you are going through a difficult stretch right now, do not despair even though it may seem to you that God has forgotten or is ignoring your pleas for help. It is not unusual for God’s people to have this type of experience from time to time. Even the strongest in the faith and those who walk closely by His side have them. God’s children do not always understand what He is doing in their lives, but even when they don’t, they eventually mutter courageously “He is still my Hope and I will continue to trust Him.” They know that this game is not over. Such was the case with Job and he too concluded: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” (Job 13:15) God’s true children don’t turn their backs on Him when things don’t go their way. I bet that includes you, child of God.
Memory Verse for the week: (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT) “As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 13 2015
hursday, August 13, 2015          
       One thing that bothers me every time I hear it is the generally perceived and accepted notion that everybody that is a member of a church or religion is automatically saved. It may not always be stated directly but I hear that premise expounded time and time again at funeral services. The deceased may have never attended the particular church that is conducting the service and seldom gave any indication that he or she even believed in God, yet everyone seems to be in agreement when the presiding minister states repeatedly that he or she is in a better place. This is not to imply that people who don’t attend church cannot be saved and though only God would know the numbers, I choose to believe that the probabilities are very slim in those cases. It makes no sense whatsoever to think that those who couldn’t stand church or Christians in their lifetime will all of a sudden be around them for an eternity.
       Salvation can easily be attained but it is not automatic. God has offered all mankind the free gift of eternal life by way of giving His Son as a sacrifice at the cross of Calvary. However, not everybody accepts the gift. If I offer you a present but you never come for it, then you don’t have it, right? It is the same with salvation. God wants everyone to have it and He is certainly not happy when people perish, but many perish anyway because they never did anything about His free offer. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish , but that all should come to repentance.”
       Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 that not everybody who calls Him “Lord, Lord” will see the kingdom of Heaven, only those who do the will of His Heavenly Father. To be saved, one has to truly believe in Christ; calling Him “Lord, Lord” is not enough. And if you truly believe in Jesus, the way you live your life will reflect it. Don’t let this happen to you, that on the day of your funeral, those in attendance will be wondering if you were or weren't saved.
Memory Verse for the week: (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT) “As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 12 2015
Take Your Medicine
Wednesday, August 12, 2015                         
       I had an odd dream a few nights ago in which a lady called me to go pray for a wayward son of hers. When I got to their home it did not take me long to realize that the one who needed the prayer was the mom and not the son. He, in fact, seemed to be a quiet and level headed young man and, as it turned out, appeared to be more interested in her well being than she was in his. His complaint against his mother was that she had the habit of not taking her medicine, something she readily admitted. I’m sure we all know some folks who have that risky habit as well. At the time of this writing, I take aspirin plus four other medications daily. I rarely forget to take them and the few times that I do, I rush home as quickly as I can so I can take them.
       Some of you may find it strange that a person like myself, one who believes in God’s power of prayer and healing, would seem to be so reliant on prescription medicine. First let me say that I totally believe in God’s power to heal but I also am honest and realistic. It was not God’s fault that I reached the point of needing this medication. It was not His fault either that I did not take better care of myself through the years. Did He cause my present medical condition? Wasn’t it rather that I did this to myself or that it is just the result of my years of carelessness? How often have you heard someone say at a loved one’s funeral that the deceased did not take their medications as they should have? Paul wrote: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) This is just the physical result of breaking a spiritual law. Why, then, would I expect God to bail me out? Would that be fair or even reasonable? It is true that the Lord can do anything but would you ask Him to move a chair for you from one room to another when you can do it yourself? In His providence and mercy, nevertheless, God has given man the knowledge to develop pharmaceutical drugs to help ease or maintain our medical maladies. If you are the cause of your present medical condition, it is not a sin to ask God to heal you. Meanwhile, your next best option is to just take your medicine as you should.
       Speaking of medicine, God has the best medicines and vitamins available for our souls. They include, prayer, bible reading, church attendance, and living right, among other things. If we take them as regularly as we should, they will do us a world of good. Are you taking yours?
Memory Verse for the week: (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT) “As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 11 2015
Tuesday August 11, 2015             
       I read with interest the recent story on the internet regarding Houston Texans running back, Arian Foster’s public revelation that he is an atheist. My first reaction was one of sadness because his being surrounded by teammates who are openly Christian throughout his football career stretching from high school to the pros, apparently never rubbed off on him. I read where he made the presumptuous assessment most atheists make, namely that a “God” would not create all the evil and suffering in the world. Where do folks get the notion that God and not people creates evil in the first place? Needless to say, a great number of people commented on that story, quite a few of them being Christians writing that they would pray for Foster with the hope that one day he too can come to know Christ. To me that was an exercise in futility because most of these well meaning posts were quickly ridiculed by others. That reminded me of Jesus’ words, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mt. 7:6)
       Speaking of pigs, remember the story of the pig farmer who stopped at a city restaurant one day and when served his meal, he removed his hat, bowed his head, and prayed silently? A group of scoundrels who were nearby came to his table as soon as the farmer bowed his head. When he was through praying, one of them said sarcastically and in a loud voice: “Hey farmer, does everyone where you come from pray over their food?” The farmer replied, “No, the pigs don’t.”
       Actually, that Christians and their views would be attacked in today’s society should not come as a shock to any of us since the Bible predicted it. Paul, writing about the general character about people in the last days said that they, among other things, would despise those that are good. (See 2 Timothy 2:3)  Have you ever wondered why so many Christians, especially those who lead exemplary lives, are despised? The answer is really quite simple. A godly life is an indictment against all who live ungodly lives. That is why Christ was hated by the religious leaders of His day. He exposed the wickedness and corruption that was in their hearts. That being said, we must not stop trying to live a God honoring life. Though many in this world may despise and verbally attack us, especially those in an open public forum, there will always be a few who will believe our testimony, whether they hear it or just simply see it in our lives. One day we will see it’s fruit and if not in this life, surely in the next. As a favorite Christian song declares: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”
Memory Verse for the week: (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT) “As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 10 2015
Monday,  August 10, 2015               
       Many songs, especially the Christian type, have meaningful and sometimes powerful messages. I have no idea what the numbers are but I suspect that among the millions upon millions who have come to Christ, a good percentage of them came by way of a hymn or a song because all of them are really musical sermons, and that includes today’s contemporary Christian music. Most of the Psalms are comprised of poetry and songs. 
       The world has known many prolific songwriters but I believe that David and his son, Solomon, were the best of the best. Today’s blog is about a message found in one of Solomon’s songs. Song of Solomon 2:15 says: “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Although this obscure bible book pictures the pure and beautiful relationship between a godly man and his fiancé, later his wife, this one verse alone has valuable advice for all of us. It reminds us that in this life, “little things” can cause a lot of damage. The great missionary, Hudson Taylor wrote this regarding the “little foxes.” [ "The enemies may be small, but the mischief done great . . . And how numerous the little foxes are! Little compromises with the world; disobedience to the still small voice in little things; little indulgences of the flesh to the neglect of duty; little strokes of policy; doing evil in little things that good may come; and the beauty, and the fruitfulness of the vine are sacrificed!" ]
       I have lost count of the times and the people I have known throughout the years that have been greatly harmed, some even destroyed completely, by “little things.” These can include, among others, a careless remark, a missed hug or handshake, a little less time for praying and bible reading, a missed church service here and there, etc. If left unchecked, these become “big things.” In fact, because of a “little thing” back in the Garden of Eden, namely a piece of fruit, the wheels of sin began to turn. Not long after that, a “little thing” was the cause of the first recorded murder in the Bible. When you think about it, that God would accept one brother’s offering and not the other, could never be a reason for murder. Abel died even though he himself never did anything to his brother. In that case, Cain made a mountain out of a molehill. Again, a “little thing” was the reason for much pain and sorrow. And that trend continues today. What is the remedy or solution for that situation? Our text verse advises us to catch those little foxes before they do any damage. As it relates to us, we are to always stay close to God and to ask Him to help us identify these "little things" quickly and then give us the grace and wisdom to keep them under control.
Memory Verse for the week: (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT) “As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.”
Editor’s note: This has no bearing to most of you, but I wrote this message last Friday.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 07 2015
Deceptive Vision
Friday, August 7, 2015          
       Though many of us may deny it, we are all prone to making judgments based on appearance. When an usher noticed a man stretched across three seats in a movie theater, he walked over and whispered "Sorry sir, but you are allowed only one seat." The man moaned but didn't budge. "Sir," the usher said more loudly, "if you don't move, I'll have to call the manager." The man moaned again but stayed where he was. The usher left and returned with the manager, who, after several attempts at dislodging the fellow, called the police. The cop looked at the reclining man and said, "All right, what's your name, joker?" "Joe", he mumbled. "And where are you from, Joe?" He responded painfully, "The balcony!"
       The incorrect perception that many people had during the earthly ministries of Jesus and also John the Baptist was largely due in part to what they saw. In the case of John, many people who came across him could not believe that any man who dressed himself in an outfit made out of camel’s hair fastened by a leather girdle and one whose diet consisted of locusts and wild honey could be a true prophet of God. Many perceived him only as a long haired wild man. Others thought “How can he be a prophet of God? We’ve never seen him do any miracles.” Yet, Jesus said he was more than a prophet and added: “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John.” (Luke 7:28) In the case of Jesus, many missed out on the chance of knowing Him because he did not dress, act, or speak the same as the religious leaders of the day. In fact, Jesus uttered these words to his religious opponents:“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:24) That advice is for us too and the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is widely accepted even by the world.
       I was out by the car yesterday evening and a young man wearing a white t-shirt and red shorts and with a skate board under his arm came asking if he could do our yard. My first impression was that a skateboarder cannot possibly do a good job on a yard but then I thought “why not give him a chance?” so I asked if he could come back today. Before he left I asked him “what is your name? He replied “Johnny Angel.” Hmmm! If he doesn’t turn out to be a real angel, the Bible states, nonetheless, that some people have entertained angels and didn’t know it. Why? Most likely because, to them, they did not look like angels. Could it be that this young man is, in fact, a heavenly visitor and the Lord sent him just to see how I would treat someone whom others would turn away? Had I turned him away and not shared the Word with him, like I did, perhaps I would have failed my test. One never knows.
Memory verse for the week: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing1 Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”     
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 06 2015
Thursday, August 6, 2015                  
       If you’re the kind of person who often gets criticized, reprimanded, or corrected, it can mean several things. It most likely means that you’re like the majority of us, so welcome to the club, but it may also be an indication that you hardly do much of anything. A fellow postal employee I once worked with, whenever something went wrong in our unit, was always quick to tell the boss: “It couldn’t possibly be me. After all, you’re always telling me that I don’t do anything.” On the other hand, if others seldom bring your errors and faults to your attention, it could mean that you do most things well and always treat people with love, kindness and respect. It’s more likely, however, that others hesitate to point out your faults because of fear. However, its not so much that they fear you, they just fear that their efforts will get them nowhere. It is likely that you have built a reputation for yourself because you have been known to get defensive, go on attack mode yourself, or else you have ignored those who have tried. I can’t speak for all pastors, but I already have a list of members I will no longer try to correct, except when its absolutely necessary. And its not because I fear any of them; I’ve just concluded that they can’t take it.
       Some folks relish in the belief that other people fear them, thinking it is a good thing. It is not! If people really fear you, shame on you. That certainly is not representative of Christ nor one of His true servants. 2 Timothy 2:24 says: “And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” If others fearing you means anything, it is that you are not living a Christ honoring life.
       If anyone tells you they like it when others criticize, correct, or reprimand them, I suspect they are not being totally honest. When our errors and faults are brought into question, none of us likes it and we need God’s grace to be able to take it well, especially at the onset. Hebrews 12:11 says: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace1 for those who have been trained by it.” Because our old nature is still within us, more likely sooner than later we are going to do or say something that will make us prime candidates for someone’s correction. Even if we are living a God honoring life, our usage of phrases such as “I’m sorry” or “forgive me” should be common. I confess that when someone corrects me, it stings a little. The truth is that it hurts me just as much whenever I need to correct others. Nevertheless, lets not be overly shocked when others reprimand us; it will happen. When it does, however, lets immediately ask the Lord for the grace to take it well. How about it, can you take it?
Memory verse for the week: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing1 Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 05 2015
A Hidden Danger
Wednesday August 5, 2015               
       In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, one group was represented by the seed that fell among the thorns. He said: “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, choke the Word , and it becomes unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) Perhaps because I’m a pastor and am familiar with this dangerous situation, I worry whenever I see it begin to take form in the life of one of our family members, church family included. The “cares of this world” quite simply are the things that people in the world normally care about. To put it another way, these are the top things in the priority list of most people. Then, we have the “deceitfulness of riches.” It is understandable how the world in general places more importance on money than it should and it is not surprising how wildly popular all the different types of lotteries are. What is alarming, however, is that too many Christians also get swept up in that craze. Jesus knew exactly what He was talking about when he said that riches are deceitful. Perhaps for that very reason, Romans 12:2 warns us to not be conformed to the thinking of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we walk close to God we can see the pitfalls that arise out of the love for money, something the world cannot see.
       Throughout my forty plus years in the ministry, I’ve seen many church members walk out on God because of the lure of money. They thought they would be making a better life for themselves and their families when the opposite was true. It would be bad enough if I told you that in the end they stopped attending church altogether. Sadly, it was worse than that and many of these wound up losing their jobs, health, money, marriage, and family. Folks who make a lot of money often give their spouses and children all the material things they desire thinking this is the best they can do for them. The truth is that children, regardless of their age, and spouses too, need our time more than our money. Even in young couples who are planning to eventually get married, too much importance can be placed in seeking financial stability before they get married. The truth is that when two people are truly in love, their marriage will succeed no matter where they live or what they have.
       Some Christians have a very heavy daily workload and have no choice but to spend many hours at work and although that is understandable, I am greatly concerned when one of our church members is in that type of situation. What good will money do when health begins to fail because of overwork? What good will money do when we lose spouse and children because we’re  seldom around for them?  Dear reader, if you are in a situation that keeps you away from your family more than it should, ask God to help you. He’ll make a way for you. I know because He got me out of that kind of trap many, many years ago. In the end, anything that keeps us away from our loved ones, and especially God, cannot be a good thing.
Memory verse for the week: Philippians 3:8 “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing1 Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”     
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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