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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Wednesday, September 30 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
       I was reading again recently the account in the gospel of Mark about the paralytic man who was healed when four of his friends brought him and laid him at Jesus’ feet. One of the features of the story, which many Bible readers fail to notice, or just plain choose to ignore, was the fact that Christ healed him according to the faith of His friends, not his necessarily. Mark 2:38 reads: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Of course, he was also healed) Some may say that the verse does not specifically say that He was referring to the faith of the four and it could also include the faith of their sick friend. That may be true, but just a touch of spiritual insight, or even just plain common sense, will point out the extent of the faith of the four. After all, not only did they have to fight an enormous crowd just to get to Jesus, they even carried their sick friend to the roof of the house and had to cut an opening big enough in it to permit them to lower him at the exact spot where Jesus was. Some may say that this was just a case of stubborn determination on the part of the four, but those who have that kind of mindset, whether they themselves know it are not, have it because of the faith that resides in their heart, the belief that it can be done.
       The truth I am trying to draw attention to is that many whose prayers have been answered, have come by the faith of those who are praying for them, not necessarily their own. The reason I am reminding you today of this truth is because I’m pretty sure that, at one time or another, some of you have been accused of not having any faith when one of your special prayer petitions has not been answered. It usually comes by way of the super spiritual types, but the one who is actually behind this evil scheme is the devil himself. He would like nothing better than to shake or destroy your faith. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting believers will fall for this lie and will actually believe that they have no faith at all. In light of the truth I just shared with you today, the next time some well-meaning, but uninformed, Christian accuses, or even scolds you for your lack of faith, you might want to turn the tables on them, in the love of Jesus, of course. Ask them if they have been praying for your special petition too. If the say they have, then you can tell them that they don’t have any faith.
       Child of God, don’t be a victim of the devil’s lies. In our church bulletin this past Sunday, I shared this important bible verse with our members, where Jesus said: "For your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."  (Matthew 6:8) God knows all about your needs and I dare say that that some of these needs He will supply whether or not you ask Him, and regardless of your level of faith. Faith is an amazing gift to have, but even greater than that is the fact that your Heavenly Father loves you and will always answer your prayers in His way and at the perfect time.
 
Bible verse for the week: (1 John 3:19-20 KJV) “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
 
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 29 2015
Tuesday September 29, 2015      
       One of the best known songs from the movie “The Sound of Music” is one titled “My Favorite Things.” Today, I would like to share some of my favorite things in Christ. Unlike the song, they won’t include raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but they are things I absolutely love nonetheless. Here they are:
1. To see gifts, abilities, and talents emerge from those children of God that not many knew they had. I love it even more when they use them for His honor and glory.
2. To see those who once had a bad reputation prove everybody wrong by living a completely different life in Christ. I relish at the thought of them shutting the mouths of those who used to accuse and belittle them in the past.
3. To see complete family units worshipping in church and even more so when they pray together at the altar.
4. To present and dedicate babies to the Lord in church. It thrills my heart just to think of the great start to their lives plus the belief that this will also make their parents more aware of their responsibilities and obligations to them, but especially to God. 
5. To see God’s children loving and forgiving one another. 
6. To see brethren mingle in church, talking, sharing, and laughing together long after the services are over. It makes me believe that my prayer to God long ago that our church always maintain a family atmosphere has been answered. Some pastors constantly seek more and more people to come to their church, while others wonder how they can get them to leave because they won’t go home. I love it!
7. To be able to greet people at the door before and after all services.
8. Some pastors don’t want to hear this, but I love it when we have seating problems in church and parking problems out on the lot.
9. To see people responding to the message and to see an altar filled with those who are praying as well as those who are praying for them and to see tears in many eyes.
10.  To see the presence of God’s children everywhere, especially in unlikely places and see members of our families living for Jesus. I think John felt the same way when he wrote to a Christian lady he knew, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” (2 John 1:4) What are your favorite things?
 
Bible verse for the week: (1 John 3:19-20 KJV) “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
 
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 28 2015
Monday,  September 28, 2015      
       Although very few will confess it, here is one Bible verse that has troubled many Christians probably through many ages: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38) My guess is that this verse mostly disturbs Christians who are quiet and unassuming. Because of their general nature, they make an effort to not attract too much attention to themselves and are content to remain in the background as much as possible. I suspect that, because of it, some overzealous believers may criticize them, perhaps even admonish them by citing this verse to them.
       Here is where many Christians trip over this verse: They assume that Jesus was speaking exclusively about our conversation with others and forget that actions speak louder than words. They forget that when He said that we should let our lights shine before men, He was referring to the lives we live before them, not just our conversation. Recently, my wife and I were in a local burger place and sitting in a table right next to us, I noticed a young man who removed his cap, bowed his head, and prayed right before he ate his burger. My first thought was: “Boy, I wish there were more young people like him in today’s society.” Then when he raised up again to eat, we noticed the bottle of beer he was drinking with his meal.  Now, let it be known that people won’t miss out on Heaven because of what they do or don’t do. People are saved forever once they believe in Christ, ask His forgiveness for their sins, and invite Him into their hearts. We are saved by what Jesus did not by what we do or don’t do. Even so, most Christians see saying the table grace in public as a good thing, drinking a beer, not so much.
       On the day we commit our lives to Christ, the issue of our eternal salvation is settled. After that day, all God’s children are visited from time to time with subtle voices which remind us that we are not saved, including the times when we don’t speak or stand up for Christ. Some of you may find it hard to believe, but I have never been the type to draw attention to myself, and I confess there have been times when I too felt convicted because I did not speak or stand up for the Lord when I should have. Even so, and because of God’s mercy and grace, I have been able to win many people to Christ. How did that happen? It happened because those around me mostly noticed the change God wrought in me, many of them inquiring how come I was different than others, which opened the door for me to speak freely with them about Christ. Child of God, remember this: you don’t have to look for opportunities to be in the light, you are the light. I didn’t say it, Jesus did.
Bible verse for the week: (1 John 3:19-20 KJV) “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”
             
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 25 2015
Friday, September 25, 2015 
       Have you ever wondered why many rich celebrities spend thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars traveling the world in the hope of finding themselves, as they put it? I was reminded of this trend some time back when I caught a few minutes of a popular TV talk show. In it, one supposedly famous book writer spoke of a life-changing concept she learned from an old witch doctor in Indonesia. I wonder how she is doing now. If you know someone personally who constantly expresses a desire to find themselves, may I remind you that this is nothing new? It is the same old feeble attempt by many to find a meaningful life on their own and in their own terms. They don’t want to do things God’s way. Poor deluded souls! They will throw away a good chunk of their fortune on this foolishness and never get anything meaningful in return.
       I do not know, nor do I remember ever reading in the Bible, that God wants us to find ourselves. I do know that He wants us to find Him. Isaiah 55:6 says that we should “seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near.” As for as finding ourselvesgoes, all we ever need to know about ourselves can be found within the pages of the Bible. The first stanza of an old, old hymn, “Holy Bible Book Divine”, which I sang as a boy in the Presbyterian church, says this: [ “Holy Bible, Book Divine / Precious treasure thou art mine; / Mine to tell me whence I came, / Mine to teach me what I am” ]
       The best way to know ourselves, is to know God first, and we will know Him by knowing His Son, Jesus Christ. Once we come to Him asking Him to forgive us and committing our life into His hands, we will know a little bit more about ourselves every day, assuming we will draw close to Him by way of church attendance, prayer, and bible study. In time, we will be able to confidently sing what a favorite chorus of many believers of today says, “I know who I am, I know who I am, I know who I am, I am His, and He is mine” Go ahead, make every effort to find yourself, as long as you do it by way of Christ.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 24 2015
Thursday, September 24, 2015    
       I was sharing with our Spanish bible class last night in church the importance of not only knowing God’s Word but what may be even more the important, to obey it. Many people who are in positions of authority will often give their subordinates certain orders just for the sheer satisfaction of showing them who’s the boss. Not God! May I remind you that anything that He has ever required of us is geared for our benefit? When we obey His Word or put it into practice, our lives as well as the lives of those around us are enriched. On the other hand, those who don’t, hurt themselves greatly. Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount that those who hear His words and put them into practice are wise, while those who do not, are foolish. (See Mt. 7:24-27) James later said practically the same thing when he wrote: “Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24) What is the principal purpose of a mirror? Is it not there so that, when we see ourselves in it, we can make an effort to correct what is amiss? It is the same with the Word of God. When we see ourselves in it, we can easily see what things need to be addressed or corrected. Then when we ask the Lord to help us with them, He does.
       This past Tuesday in our prayer meeting in church, I came up to the altar with my usual load of burdens, cares, and worries. As I was there in His presence, it was as if He was saying, “Remember what Paul wrote about worrying?” I was reminded of his words to the Philippians: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Ph. 4:6-7) Can you see the simple formula for eliminating worry from our hearts? First, we present our burdens to Him with thanksgiving. To me, it means that we thank Him for the privilege and opportunity He gives us to draw near to Him. We thank Him also that our burdens are no longer with us but now in His care. Lastly, We thank Him for the answer that’s on the way. Once we realize the process, a peace which the world does not know and one we ourselves often find hard to understand, comes over us and that peace, in turn, helps us focus on Christ and keeps us safe from worry.
       Why don’t you try that process for yourself today should worries trouble your heart and mind? And if you should be worry free today, keep this formula handy, for even when we know that we should not permit them to bother us, they have a nasty habit of reappearing. Many of God’s children everywhere woke up today with worries in their hearts and minds. Are you in that group? Well, the Lord just reminded you about the secret formula for eliminating worry. I pray you will put it into practice today.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015      
       One of the most beautiful hymns of the faith, “It Is Well With My Soul”, has comforted the hearts of millions of God’s people for over a hundred years. Ironically, it was written in a time of deep personal sadness by it’s author, Horatio Spafford. Mr. Spafford, a wealthy lawyer and devout Christian, endured a substantial financial loss in the great Chicago fire of 1873. If that was not enough, his only son died around the same time. (he had four daughters) Despite his personal losses, Spafford worked for two years helping the impoverished, homeless, and grief-stricken people of Chicago and in 1873, he decided to take his wife and daughters on a vacation to England where He would join Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic campaigns. (Though not as well known as Moody, if you have an old time hymnbook you will see the name, Ira Sankey, quite a bit) Due to some unexpected business, Spafford had to stay behind on the day of the ship’s departure and planned to sail at a later time to meet up with his family. That never became a reality because his daughters all died in a shipwreck and Spafford was not aware of the tragedy until his wife finally arrived in England and sent a two-word telegraph which read “saved alone.” Later, when the grief-stricken Spafford sailed to England, he was made aware of the very spot where his daughters perished and that is where he penned the words, [“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”] Like millions upon millions of God’s people throughout the ages, Spafford too had learned the secret the Apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4:11where he wrote, “For I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
       In the midst of tragedy and heartache, Spafford found the grace and strength to turn his calamities into a sincere expression of praise and thanksgiving to God. Because of it, even today many of God’s children find strength and comfort in the words of that wonderful hymn.
       If you are going through a time of great testing or are still hurting inside because of a past tragedy, take heart. Jesus knows all about it. In fact, He knows even better than you what you are going through. Can He relate? Absolutely! In fact, even before He came into the world, the prophet, Isaiah wrote that He would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”(Isa.53:3) And though He never promised us a bed of roses, He did promise to be with us until the end. If you are walking through a seemingly lonely road, may I remind you that you are not walking it alone? Just yesterday morning, the first thing I heard when I turned on the radio was someone singing “Your world’s not falling apart; it’s falling into place.” I have come to believe that, in Christ, the deeper the hurt, the greater the joy afterwards. Why? Simply because He specializes in turning our sorrows into joy.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 22 2015
Tuesday September 22, 2015         
       Pastor Leo preached a very good message in the Spanish service this past Sunday about the events in the 7th Chapter of Judges regarding Gideon and the 300 men God chose to accompany him in battle against the enormous and powerful Midianite army. Verses 2 and 3 read: “The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.” The original army of 32,000 was whittled down to 10,000 as soon as the Lord gave leave to those who were afraid, a reminder that the battles we face as God’s people are not for the weak hearted. We should also be able to see by these words that there are many people who boast of their accomplishments thinking they came by their own efforts, never giving God the glory. These folks fail to realize that anything we get or have in this life, comes because of God’s mercy. It is He who gives knowledge, intelligence, wisdom or anything else we need in order to be successful in life. If it were not because of Him, we would not even me able to get out of bed every morning.
       The Lord told Gideon to observe his men when they came to the water to drink. From among the ten thousand that went down, only 300 of them lapped water from cupped hands. The rest of them all got down on their knees to drink. Brother Leo pointed out that the 300 were those who kept their eyes open to everything that was around them, ready to spring into action when the need arose, while the rest were unprepared and were satisfied in drinking the water and seeing their own reflections in it. His point was that, in church, there are those who, while drinking the water, (the Word of God) are always seeking who and how they can help, while the rest are content just at taking it in, seeing no one else but themselves in it.
       In the end, the 300 that actually went into battle didn’t have to do much more than blow their trumpets and expose the torches that had been concealed inside their earthen jars while shouting “For the Lord and for Gideon.” God defeated the huge Midianite army in this way and that should serve as a reminder that our every day battles are really the Lord’s battles, as David announced to Goliath right before he slew him. (See I Samuel 17:47) The only thing He requires is that we be willing. As I mentioned before, the battles we face daily are not for the faint hearted, but then again, because of Christ, faintheartedness does not describe us.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 21 2015
Monday,  September 21, 2015      
       As many people my age do, I was dwelling this past Saturday on chores and tasks I used to do that don’t come to me as easily as they once did, and although there is some sadness in the fact, those of us who belong to Christ realize that there will always be something we can do in our service to Him. Later, I came across that day’s devotional thought by a favorite pastor and writer of mine, the late Adrian Rogers. His text for the day was: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10) I took it as God’s confirmation to me as well as a reminder that there is still plenty I can do and that just about all His children will keep on having opportunities until the day He calls them home. This was the last line I wrote on Saturday because as soon as I wrote it, my phone rang and my next opportunity appeared. I am writing the rest of this article today.
       I am reminded of the story in the 5th Chapter of Acts where Jesus’ apostles were beaten before being released from prison for continuing to preach His Word to the people. The beating not only did not discourage them, they left the prison rejoicing that God had permitted them to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Perhaps the apostle James had this in mind also when he later wrote that we should count it all joy when troubles and trials of any kind come our way. The particular verse is James 1:2 and I had it fresh in my mind because Pastor Ruben preached a great message about it yesterday in church. The point is that genuine believers find it a privilege and honor to serve God and that is the reason they jump on any opportunity God Gives to do something in His name.
       There is no doubt that the main reason God has given all people certain talents and abilities is so that they can share them with others, and every new day is a gift in itself. May we never forget that there are people all around us every day who desperately need the compassion of Christ or help of some sort. May we also see this as our opportunity to do something good for somebody and always be ready when that door is opened to us. Little things such as a smile, a hug, a phone call, a visit, paying someone's food tab, or even a few dollars can do wonders, not only for the recipients but for the givers as well. I hope you’ll take advantage when your next opportunity comes. Even better, perhaps you can go look for one today.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 9:36“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 17 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015       
       This item in today’s sports news on the internet caught my eye: “Adidas President Says James Harden Has To Stop Wearing Air Jordans.” Just in case some of you may not know, Harden is the star player with the NBA’s Houston Rockets who just signed a thirteen year, 200 million dollar contract with the Adidas Corporation. His contract becomes officialOctober 1 and I presume that makes him an official spokesman/representative/ad-man/poster boy for the company. And since he was recently spotted wearing the rival company Nike’s Air Jordan shoes in public, the president of Adidas also went public to announce his directive. I’m sure this happens daily but just two days ago, I spotted a Wal Mart employee buying his groceries at HEB. How do I know he works for Wal Mart? He was wearing his blue WalMart shirt with his name tag to boot. While Wal Mart may not have a policy banning their employees from shopping at their rival stores, I’m still pretty sure they are not too crazy about the idea.
       This situation involves a person doing something he should not, being in a place where he doesn’t belong, or associating with the wrong crowd. Addressing this issue regarding God’s children, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness.” This may sound a bit harsh to some of you but it is basically a reminder that being in places where we don’t belong or hanging around with the wrong crowd, can be harmful to us and to the cause of the gospel. Even common sense will dictate that these actions are wrong. Would you see a dove hanging around with buzzards or a mule running in the Kentucky Derby?
       Adidas will surely nullify James Harden’s contract with them if he continues wearing a rival company’s apparel, so he is in a position to miss out on 200 million dollars if he does. For much less than that, most people would be willing to tattoo or permanently paint the Adidas logo all over their body. Thank God that He is merciful and keeps His promises. He will never abandon or disown His children, even when they, willingly or unknowingly, support His main rival. If that were not the case, we would be in danger of losing out on something much more valuable than 200 million dollars, namely our eternal salvation. Even so, do we love the Lord so much that we will be more careful from this day forward not to do anything that will dishonor or mar His great name? I pray that we will.    
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 16 2015
Wednesday, September 16, 2015        
       The prophet Hosea, who actively served the Lord more than 700 years before Christ’s birth, uttered a truth that is just as pertinent today as it was then. It is found in Hosea 4:6, and these are the words: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Beginning in the Garden of Eden, and still continuing today, the devil has always tried to deceive God’s people and he begins by twisting His word. He said to Eve, “Did God really say ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1) What God had really told Adam and Eve was that they were free to eat from any tree in the garden except one. (See Gen. 2:16-17) Not the same thing, right? Another thing that the devil inspires many people to do is to take the Word of God out of context or make them pick out only the parts that are convenient to them. Here is an example of that. Lets say that the preacher says something like “I am not a man who will run in fear when the enemy approaches because I know the Lord is with me.” A devil inspired person will say “Did you hear what he said? He said he is not a man!”
       False prophets were prevalent in Old Testament times, and during Christ’s earthly ministry. Later, false teachers caused the Apostle Paul a lot of grief. Why would we think they are not around today? They are still here and will probably continue until Jesus comes back to earth. That is why it is so important to know the truth. The surest way to identify the false is by knowing the genuine. Experienced cashiers or bank tellers will easily spot a bogus bill because they see the genuine bills daily. It is the same with the word of God. Brother Mike reminded us yesterday of those folks who say that even though they don’t go to church, they see many preachers on TV. Therefore, they feel that they know all they need to know about God because of it. That’s the problem! A good number of the TV preachers I’ve seen are either preaching their own gospels or else they have been greatly deceived themselves. The sad part is that many of their followers trust them and believe their message, and one reason why they do is because they are being told what they want to hear. That is why Paul wrote: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim. 4:3)
       Through the Apostle Paul, God charges His ministers to study His Word constantly so that they can rightly divide it. (See 2 Tim. 2:15) Then, those who listen and believe them will be safe. On the other hand, those who follow and believe in those who themselves are mistaken, are in danger of being destroyed. Finally, God wants all His children to read and study His Word. The more they know it, the better they will know Him, and if they do that, they will not victims of today’s false teachers and preachers. Like the ref tells the fighters at the onset of the boxing match, “protect yourself at all times!”
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 15 2015
Tuesday September 15, 2015             
       One doesn’t have to be overly endowed with knowledge to know that just about every adult person struggles with the issue of stress. I suppose every one of you who is reading this blog, struggles with it too, and if you don’t I hope you will share your secret with the rest of us. I am in no way an expert but I believe that many of our illnesses and medical conditions are related to stress, either directly or indirectly. Nevertheless, keep this in mind: Though wrestling with stress can afford us a tough battle, it should not completely defeat us because Christ is forever with us. Because stress is an issue with me, I recently searched the internet for natural ways to control it. The Mayo Clinic website is one which I trust for medical information and one of their tips for lowering blood pressure levels (reducing stress) is more biblical than they may realize.
       They suggested that we change our expectations. To me, that is the same as lowering them or setting more reasonable goals for ourselves. For example, if I plan to fix my roof by myself on a certain day next month, I will obviously be under more stress until that day than if I were to plan washing the car or washing the dishes. Why? The latter tasks are more reasonable for a person my age. Next, they suggested we share our burdens and difficulties with others we trust. That advice is definitely biblical. (See James 5:16) They also advise that, if we can, we should avoid people or situations which have bothered us in the past. Another tip is that we constantly go back to the activities which please and relax us. One tip which mildly surprised me was their suggestion that we make it a practice to express our gratitude to others. To this one I say a hearty “amen” and it begins with constantly expressing our gratitude to God, plus all the deserving people in our lives as well. Unfortunately, we all know some people who rarely say “thank you” to anybody. I pray you are not one of them.
       Regarding this last tip, the Bible says it better and more completely in Philippians 4:6-7 which reads:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Now, I ask you: “Can their be a better  remedy for eliminating stress than the peace of God in our hearts?” Let me repeat this simple but powerful remedy for stress: Thank God constantly and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. If stress has been a problem to you, I trust it no longer will be.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 14 2015
Monday,  September 14, 2015      
       Today, I want to share with you a few excerpts from the message I preached in church yesterday which I titled “Seeking Motivation And Inspiration.” Everyone needs these two invisible forces in order to do things, especially as it relates to serving God. I’m sure you’ve noticed that some weeks I only write two or three of these blog messages. Sometimes I can’t because I’m not home and close to my computer, but there are times that I don’t because I lack either the motivation or the inspiration. Different things inspire and motivate different people, yet the Lord will always use someone or something in order to accomplish it, and what may move or inspire you, may not do a thing for me, and vice versa. In my case, the only inspiration and motivation that I have ever needed in my forty plus years in service to Him, came on the very day Christ came into my life.
       Remember the line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire” where Rene Z. said "you had me at hello"? Well, the same thing happened to me when Christ came into my life. I was all His on that day. I think David meant the same thing when he wrote: “My heart is fixed, oh god, my heart is fixed.” (Psalm 57:7) I didn’t know it then but since I fell completely in love with Him on that day for what He did for me, my love, gratitude, and devotion for Him has helped me overcome every obstacle and storm I've encountered, unlike many Christian servants who have dropped out of the race when the compliments and pats on the back stopped coming. Compliments, words of encouragement and praise, loud “amens”, applause and cheers are great things to get, but those who have truly surrendered themselves to Jesus, will continue on even when they get none of these things. They are like the man who was walking down the street one day with a bamboo pole on his shoulders. His neighbor asked where he was going and he replied he was going to a nearby pond to do some fishing. The neighbor asked “Got any worms?” He replied “Yes, but I’m going fishing anyway!” Christ’s devoted servants can likewise say, “I don’t see too many results, I don’t get too many compliments, sometimes I feel that no one is listening or no one cares……. but I’ll keep serving the Lord anyway.”
       I ended my message in church with this illustration: “It is said that Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, once captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my wealth,” was his reply. “And if I release your children?” “Everything I possess”, he answered “And if I release your wife?” “Your Majesty, for that I give you my life.” Cyrus was so moved by his devotion for his wife and children that he freed them all. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man?” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, “I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you—the one who was willing to give himself for me.”  Jesus was not only willing, he actually gave Himself for us. Shouldn’t that be all the motivation and inspiration we need in order to serve Him and never give up, no matter what life may throw at us? I hope so.                                                                   
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
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Friday, September 11 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015           
       On this momentous day, I was reminded of the many people whose lives were shattered forever because of the events of that infamous September morning in New York City. It is pretty clear to me that if it was not for God’s grace, most people would not survive life’s trials. Even for those of us who know Jesus, life’s experiences can inflict some knockout blows on us every now and then. Many super spiritual types may boast that the storms of life don’t affect them one bit and if that were true, they would be mightier in the faith than many bible heroes ever were. This, of course, is not true and just one example was the prophet Elijah. He was one of the greatest prophets of God but if you closely examine the events set forth in 1 Kings, Chapter 19, which featured him fleeing in terror from the wicked Queen Jezebel’s threats, you will determine that he too suffered through a season of depression.
       Since we are on this subject, I recently read with interest the tips given by a certain social website for fighting depression. Among the tips that were actually supported by scripture, were the following: (1) laugh more, (2) avoid alcohol, (3) focus on good things, (4) and be totally honest. Proverbs 17:22 says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I’m sure most of you are aware by now that I love funny stories. I’ve even been dubbed “Captain Corn.” Take this God given medicine and don’t take life more seriously than you have to, for laughter has the ability to lessen the pressure of life’s cares. Besides, all of us look a little bit better when we have a smile on our face.
       As far as alcohol is concerned, it doesn’t apply to most of us although one bible teacher I know once gave a long and exhaustive study on the deadly effects of alcohol and dancing to his senior citizen class. Some of them would have been hard pressed to stand up, let alone dance. As far as focusing on good things goes, the idea is supported by the advice given to us in Philippians 4:8. By experience, I have learned that this is true. Those who focus on good things and stay busy serving others for the love of Christ, seldom have any time to dwell on matters that could depress them.      
       Finally, being honest honors God more than pretending that we’re so spiritually strong that nothing bothers us, and it goes a long way when we are going through spiritual or emotional valleys. David wrote: “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6) Being honest with others, and especially with God will always hasten healing. Because Christ lives in us, there is absolutely nothing that can destroy us, and that includes depression.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 13:4)  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  
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Thursday, September 10 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015           
       I heard recently of a Texas pastor who kept a recorded telephone message from his dad who is now in Heaven. He listens to it every now and then just to hear his voice once again. By the way, his dad was a pastor too. Hearing that touched my heart because I also kept a telephone message from my older brother who died a few years ago. Unfortunately, that message was lost in the storm which knocked down our neighbor’s tree which, in turn, severed our power and telephone lines and kept us out of our house for nearly three months. I too had kept it so that I could hear my brother’s voice from time to time.
       My brother was a real hero to me and not just because of what he endured in a German concentration camp during World War Two, but because of the type of man that he was. The message I had recorded came from his last place of residence, a local nursing home. To give you a glimpse of the type of person he was, here is what he basically said in that message: “Hello, this is Brother Ruben. I’m just calling to tell you and Mary Helen that I’m doing fine and I am in good hands. Don’t worry about having to visit me. I know that you are a busy man and have many other obligations. I’ll see you later.” The truth is that I’m longing to hear his voice once again and, because of Christ, that wish will be fulfilled when I see him in Heaven.
       Some of you who are reading today’s blog also have a departed loved one’s voice you are yearning to hear again, and if you are a child of God your dream will come true. As I was thinking about my brother’s recorded message, it struck me that if your departed loved ones could call you from Heaven, their message would be very similar. They would tell you not to worry at all about them, that Heaven is beautiful and they are just as happy as they can be. Happiness and bliss will fill your soul on the day you hear their voice again and see them face to face. Even better, you will finally get to see the face and hear the voice of the One who loved you and gave His life for you, the One who made it possible for you to reach Heaven in the first place. What a glorious day that will be!
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 13:4)  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  
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Wednesday, September 09 2015
Wednesday, September 9, 2015        
       I may be biased because I love them so much but, to me, when God made dogs, He made the perfect pet for mankind. They are loving, faithful, and trusting, want to be close to their owners at all times, and one little hug or pat from them fills them with joy and happiness. Sometimes I wonder why humans can’t be as noble as they. Nevertheless, they almost all have one bad characteristic which many humans have as well. Namely, they don’t want any other dog getting the attention they feel belongs to them only. We can call it envy, greed, jealousy, selfishness, or something else but when it appears in people’s lives it is not a good thing and can hurt many people along the way. In fact, the first murder ever recorded in the Bible came because of someone’s envy or jealousy. The Lord, knowing that Cain was angry because his brother Abel’s offering was accepted and not his, told him before the fact: “But if you don’t do what is right, sin is crouching at you door.” (Gen. 4:7) That warning went unheeded and his innocent brother paid the price.   
       Many centuries have passed since this tragic incident, yet people continue to struggle with envy, jealousy, and greed. Sadly, I have seen it in church people as well and when pastors, teachers, singers, musicians or other church staff have it, most people will eventually detect it. Like all of you, all church leaders have their flaws and that includes me. Nevertheless, I can honestly say that envy and jealousy are not among them. I see my fellow pastors as associates, not as my competition. Would it sting a little if some member accidentally let it be known that they like their preaching and teaching better than mine? Perhaps at the onset because I’m human, but by God’s grace I would quickly brush that thought aside. I would immediately realize that their presence and participation is exactly what the church needs, including me. I know some capable and faithful people who have left their church because they were never given the chance to participate in their specialized ministry. Why? Someone there was not willing to share the spotlight, so to speak.
       If you struggle with jealousy and envy and there is someone in your life who happens to be in competition with you for the attention of someone you love, and that includes the Lord, ask God to help you with it before people get hurt along the way. The love of God resides in His children and among it’s characteristics are that it does not envy and is not rude and self-seeking. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-5) As much as I love our dogs, they will always continue wanting all the attention for themselves. With God’s children, on the other hand, there is hope and the Lord can help us free ourselves from hurtful habits.
 
Memory verse for the week: (1 Corinthians 13:4)  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  
              
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Friday, September 04 2015
Friday, September 4, 2015             
         An old man who was walking the beach at dawn one day noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,” countered the man. “How can your effort make any difference?” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. “It made a difference to this one,” he replied. (anonymous source)
       Many, many years ago a postal clerk shared his new found faith in Christ to many  fellow employees. For the most part, the majority of them ignored him and nothing came of it, that is, until he shared it with me. His efforts may not have made much of a difference with most of the others but it certainly made a difference in my life, and later my immediate family, and later my siblings, and later some of my friends at the post office, and I trust many years later it has made a difference in the lives of many of our church members. I am reminded of Andrew, one of Jesus’ Disciples. Not too many people know much about him, but they definitely know of his brother, Peter. Have you ever wondered what would have become of Peter had his brother not introduced him to Christ? Andrew sharing his faith with his brother, in time, eventually made a difference for all believers everywhere.
       It may be true that we can’t change everybody and not make much of a difference in the world, but if we live for Christ and love others, the day will come when we will make a difference in someone’s life. Speaking with Pastor Ruben Wednesday night regarding some of our ministerial obligations, he said something that really impacted me. He reminded me that we were not called to change the world, our duty is just to share the gospel. Changing people is God’s part. 1 Peter 3:15 gives us this advice: “ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Be prepared! The next person you encounter may be your opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life.
      
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.”
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Thursday, September 03 2015
Thursday, September 3, 2015           
       I know I’ve shared with you before the story of a man who wanted to sell a summer vacation property he seldom used. A Good friend of his told him he would put an ad in the newspaper to try to sell it for him. Before submitting the ad however, he sent the seller a copy of the ad that would appear the following day. It read: “Lovely 5 acre ranch property for sale by owner. It has a two bedroom home, swimming pool, a separate guest cottage, picnic area and a quiet sparkling river 500 feet away which is surrounded by many beautiful shade trees.” When the owner read the ad, he quickly called his friend to tell him he had changed his mind and not to submit it. What made the difference? Simply, the owner had forgotten the treasure that he had, seeing his unused property in a different perspective.
       He had seen it as something he didn’t really need or had time for. He may have thought: “No, it is too far, too much trouble to pack and unpack, gather all the family together, or it may rain or be too hot or we may be annoyed by mosquitos and other pests, or I don’t have time for that; I have to stay close to my business calls and constantly keep up with my facebook friends, etc.” He had not seen it as a way to relax and get away from the pressures of daily life, or a chance to spend some quality time with his family, or the joyfully good times they would spend together, or the great memories they would create for the future.
       Why am I telling you all this? People see serving the Lord or getting actively involved in a ministry through different perspectives as well. Some see it as not for them because they are either unqualified or just don’t have the time for it. They may think that it is going to keep them away from their family or put a crimp on their lifestyle. In his Parable of the Great Banquet, Jesus spoke about those who turned down the gracious invitation of the rich man who made a great feast. Luke 14:18 says: “But they all alike began to make excuses.” In other words, they all envisioned the  banquet in a negative perspective. They did not see it as an opportunity to sit down and fellowship with their friends and neighbors, have a good relaxing time, and enjoy a feast like they had never known before. Those who serve God willingly and with all their hearts, know of it’s joys and benefits. They see it as a glorious opportunity to serve God, touch the lives of others, and put a smile on the face of the One who loves them the most. These are they who will one day hear their Master tell them: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” In the end, those who serve God get more out of it than those they serve. Have you ever seen serving the Lord in this perspective?
 
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 11:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 02 2015
Wednesday, September 2, 2015                   
       Pastor Chuck Swindoll believes that life is 10 percent of what happens to us and 90 percent of how we react to it. How we react to life’s ups and downs reveals what kind of attitude we possess. When teaching on the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:3-11) at church recently, Pastor Mike reminded us that these are “be-attitudes”, not “do-attitudes.” God is more interested in who we are than what we do. A “super spiritual” type man came up to his pastor one day and proudly told him that his life long dream was to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, climb Mount Sinai, and read the 10 Commandments out loud once he reached the top. His pastor replied: “I have a better idea. Why don’t you stay here in town and try to keep them?”
       This past Sunday in the Spanish service I preached on a topic I wrote about in my blog of 8/21 regarding straying sheep. I reminded those present that people can stray from God even when they are in church and attend every service. They have not left physically but their hearts are far from Him. I cited Isaiah 29:13 where the prophet wrote this: “The Lord says:   " These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” A biblical example of this type of straying believer is the older brother of the Prodigal Son, whose story is found in the 15th Chapter of Luke. Though he remained in his father’s house, he did not rejoice that his lost brother had returned, did not address him by his name but referred him to his father as “this your son”,  and judged him by saying he had squandered all his inheritance on prostitutes. How did he know that if he didn’t go with him? Besides that, he never made an effort to go look for his lost brother, probably never prayed for him, and he passed himself as being much better than him. He also demonstrated that he was the type that never asked his father for anything, another red flag. These are characteristics that indicate the true condition of the heart.
       Dear reader, have you examined your attitudes lately? How do you react to good and bad news? How do you react when someone slights, criticizes, or ignores you? How do you react to other people’s actions or reactions? Do you get angry, criticize, or speak badly about those whom you feel have walked out on God? Are you happy and content thinking they are getting all the misery they deserve? On the other hand, when was the last time you prayed for those who appeared to be straying from Him or rejoiced because they came back? When was the last time a song, sermon, or testimony stirred your heart and brought tears to your eyes? Finally, when was the last time you spent some good quality time with God in prayer? The Bible gives us this valuable advice: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Lets keep an eye on our heart and check our attitudes regularly.
 
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 11:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, September 01 2015
Tuesday September 1, 2015             
       I liked very much an article Pastor Ruben recently wrote for our church bulletin regarding 2nd class Christians. His general conclusion was that there is no such thing. I liked the article because there is a real problem in almost every church regarding some members who make others feel inferior. This type causes a lot of problems and makes many fellow members feel more than slightly uncomfortable. They are what I refer to as “super spiritual Christians.” These are they which like to announce to others all the things they do for the Lord, take over conversations, claim that God speaks to them and tells them to do this or that, do a lot of talking but no listening, and constantly speak about the love of Christ yet never show it. They, of course, like to draw attention to themselves and often are the ones with the loudest and the most frequent “amens.” Don’t get me wrong; the majority of folks who say “amen” in church do it from the heart. Nevertheless,  there will always be some who do it because they want to be noticed. Even when they don’t say it directly, this type of church member makes many innocent folks consider themselves inferior. Has any of you felt their sting?
       A true child of God has the characteristics set forth in Jesus’ opening words in His Sermon on the Mount. They are poor in spirit, (humble) tender hearted, (they that mourn) meek, righteous, merciful, pure in heart, (genuine) and peaceable. (peacemakers) In a literal flock, sheep will run away when they see a wolf approaching and will avoid the bullies in the group. It should not be surprising, then, that the Bible would advise us: “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (Romans 16:17) Neither does a genuine child of God go around boasting about his or her accomplishments. Proverbs 27:2 gives us this advice: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.”             
       No matter how far off “super spiritual” Christians may be from actively living and displaying the love of Christ, there are still many church members who still take their words, actions, and advice into account. If the Holy Spirit does not accuse, embarrass, belittle, or discredit God’s children, how can we possibly believe that any person who does can be a good Christian in the first place? To believe that there is such a thing as an inferior or 2nd class Christian, or even human being for that matter, is to believe there are honest thieves, truthful liars, and kind demons. In fact, if we are all created in God’s image, how can anybody be inferior? Take heart Child of God! You are just as precious to Him as anyone else, regardless of who you are.
 
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 05:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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