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Friday, January 29 2016
Friday, January 29, 2016
        Throughout the years, I have encountered many children of God expressing their fear of dying and leaving their families behind without the help and support they need in order to survive in this world. Because it is a basic human concern, like many of you, I have these thoughts myself from time to time. Quickly, though, the Lord reminds me that it is He who has always provided and watched over all of us, parents and children included. Now, whenever one of our members comes to me expressing that fear, I do my best to encourage them with the truth that the Lord will continue to care and provide for our children long after we are gone, just like He did when we were here..
       In Psalm 127, David reminded his son, Solomon, of this same truth, that he could always count on the Lord’s faithful provision for all His children. In verse 2, he wrote: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those He loves” He was referring to those who lie awake at night wondering if they will be able to provide for their own, losing out on the restful and refreshing night’s sleep the Lord provides for us all. Those who know and trust God, on the other hand, know that they can go to sleep at night fully assured that He is ever watching over them and their families, and that He will provide for them the next day. Staying up at night and worrying will not change a thing. Because he had this type of confidence in his God, David also wrote: “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)
       Some of us often stay awake until the early morning hours but it is not always because of worry, and when we do stay awake while the rest of the world sleeps, we take advantage of it and spend hours of sweet fellowship with the Lord. If worry is the reason you lose sleep at night, however, ask God to give you the type of faith in Him that will allow you to get all the restful sleep you need. He is faithful. He will help you. Later on, when you just want to stay up to have a lengthy quiet time with Him, He will answer that prayer too.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 5:16“let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:57 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 28 2016

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Thursday, January 28, 2016       
       In yesterday’s blog, I wrote that everybody, sooner or later, will have a day when they are humbled and/or humiliated. I used the old phrase, “meeting our Waterloo.” Today, I want to write about what happens next. How will our Waterloo affect our life? Will it crush or dispirit us and cause us to lose our self confidence or will it make us stronger afterward? I included yesterday Psalm 119:71 where David wrote: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; (humbled)that I might learn thy statutes.” “Have been” shows that he was speaking in the past tense. Of course, besides “Waterloo” type experiences, David had many other painful experiences in life in which he was persecuted, tormented, or terrified. Still, he was implying that they all turned out to be a benefit for him. We must assume that they caused him to seek God more deeply and as a consequence, to better understand Him and His ways.
       About a thousand years later, the apostle, Paul, referring to the missionary gospel work he and his associates were called to do, wrote these words: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) May I remind you, child of God, that the same grace, courage, and strength that kept Paul and his team going is at our disposal too?
       I’ve shared this silly story before but here it is again anyway: A little boy was trying to reach a doorbell to a certain room in an apartment hallway. An elderly gentleman who was walking by decided to help the lad so he rang the doorbell for him. When he did, immediately the kid scampered away and yelled back to him, “run!” If you are dealing today with a “Waterloo” or any other painful experience, my advice to you is the same as the little boy’s: “run!” But I don’t mean run away from your problem but rather “run” to the Lord. Proverbs 18:10 says: “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 5:16) “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
 

 

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 27 2016
Wednesday, January 27, 2016      
       When I was a young man, there was a reasonably popular song by a fellow by the name of Stonewall Jackson entitled “Waterloo.” It started off with these lines: [Waterloo, Waterloo, where will you meet your Waterloo? / Every puppy has his day, everybody has to pay / Everybody has to meet his Waterloo.”] Waterloo was a place where Napoleon and his supposedly unbeatable French army got routed by the British. Meeting your waterloo, therefore, is a phrase that speaks of the high and mighty getting their posterior part kicked in a humiliating fashion. I was thinking about that song last Monday night after our beloved Spurs got a stepchild style whipping at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. I also thought of two particular verses in the Bible that address that issue. The first is Proverbs 22:4 which says: “By humility and the fear of the Lord, are riches, and honor, and life.” and the second is: Psalm 119:71 where David wrote: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”Other Bible versions have the word “humbled” instead of afflicted.
       The general message in both verses is that, in the end, (no pun intended) it is a good thing to be humbled every once in a while so we don’t start thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. The more highly we regard ourselves, the longer and more painful will be our fall on the day we get humbled. Since he knew I am a life-long Yankees fan, a close friend told me one year when they lost in the World Series, “You can’t always take the world serious!” I’m still not sure whether he meant to say “serious” or “series.” Anyway, I got his message and when Christ changed my life that truth was reinforced even more.       
       I bet all of you can look back at the times in your life when you have been embarrassed and/or humiliated. I hope you can laugh about it today and see that it, in time, it helped mold your character. Even philosophers contend that losing builds character. That being the case, by now many of us should be people of very high character. Because it has been proven in the past that our Spurs handle defeat quite well, whether they win the NBA championship this year or not, they will always be champions in life. The truth is that all God’s children are more than champions. That is why Paul wrote:“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37) Even late Monday night, I kept telling myself over and over again, “Its only a game! There are much more important things in life to get concerned about than a basketball game.” May we never forget that truth. Even so, the Spurs will bounce back.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 5:16“let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
  
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 25 2016
Monday, January 25, 2016    
       I saw a sports item on the internet early this morning that quite naturally caught my attention. It reported a story of a noted columnist and sports analyst who was suspended for disparaging remarks he made against a basketball announcer who was once an NBA coach. Among other things, he called the ex-coach a “bible-pounding phony” and “con man.” Let me be clear in telling you that I have absolutely no idea if the charges against this professing Christian have any validity whatsoever. If you have been paying any attention to the current presidential races and it’s candidate’s claims, you are familiar with the excessive slander that makes the news on a daily basis. None of these presidential hopefuls nor those who are incumbents already, are exempt targets, and while many charges against them may be true, most reasonable people will conclude that much of it is slander. The dictionary says that “slander” is “a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone.”
       This morning’s item reminded me of Jesus’ words to His followers in His Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) The truth is that accusations, whether true or false, against any child of God are common. Once people sense we are Christians, and especially once we confess Christ publicly, the world will be watching our every move and marking our every word. And one thing that definitely does not help is that there are many “phony” professing Christians around causing many to believe that “all” Christians are like that. These are they who pretend to be super spiritual and go around passing themselves as superior to others. They are much more harm than help to the gospel. They are certainly not the type of people Jesus’ depicted in His Sermon on the Mount, in particular Matthew 5:2-9, as representative of God’s true children. Genuine believers are humble, quiet, tender-hearted, meek, merciful, pure in heart, and are peacemakers. Any person who generates strife just about every where he or she goes, cannot be considered a true Christian.
       Therefore, it is important for us to ask God constantly to help us live in such a way that His name will be honored and not defamed. We may slip up here and there, but if and when we do, we can count on God’s help, mercy, and forgiveness to set us back on the right path. Lets not forget: the world is watching us.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 5:16) “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 22 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
       Jesus was criticized often and for many reasons by the religious leaders of His day. They accused Him, among other things, of mingling with sinners, healing on the Sabbath, and finally about His Disciples not fasting. Jesus answered this last charge by saying that the Disciples indeed would fast when He was no longer with them, intimating that, like many other things, there is a time and place for it. Perhaps my theology is out of whack but I doubt we will be doing any fasting once we’re living with Jesus in Heaven.
       There are things we can learn about fasting if we take a more careful analysis of Luke 5:33-39. Here are some of them: The Pharisees and scribes thought they were better than Christ’s Disciples because they did not make it a practice to fast twice a week like they did. Jesus told His accusers: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.” (Luke 5:36) Like so many Christians still do today, the Pharisees and scribes wanted to join the “old” with the “new.” Jesus ushered in the age of grace; His people do things today because they want to, not because they have to. Fasting should be like that. Secondly, fasting does not make us better than others and God does not love the “fasters” more than the “non-fasters.” Thirdly, those who fast and criticize others who don’t, apparently have gotten no benefit from their fasting. Fourthly, if you view fasting as mandatory, you’re missing the point completely. 
       As Christ alluded, there is a time to fast and there is a time to desist. We should do it when we feel led of God to do so, and that includes when we choose to join others who are doing it. If you fasted this week or recently, I pray you receive the full benefit of it. If you have, now its time to break yourfast , even if it won’t be “breakfast.” On the other hand, there are many good places around which serve breakfast all day. And as we hear waiters and waitresses tell us often, “Enjoy!”     
 
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 21 2016
Thursday, January 21, 2016       
       In the His Sermon on the Mount, the start of Matthew 6 in particular, Christ mentioned three Christian duties in this order, giving, praying, and fasting. We must assume they are expected duties in the lives of His followers because in all three, He spoke of “when” we do them, not “if” we do them. A quick and simple analysis of Christ’s instructions to us on these duties shows that all three of them should be done without any fanfare. We must keep in mind that although doing the things which are required of us, is commendable, it does not qualify as being praiseworthy. On another occasion, when Jesus was teaching His disciples concerning their duties, he told them that masters don’t thank their servants when they are performing their expected duties. He added: “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” (Luke 17:10) Permit me to clarify: Jesus did not say that faithful servants were unworthy, he just told His disciples that they should consider themselves as such, that is, be humble.
       Jesus wanted His followers to be the opposite of the scribes and Pharisees of their day. In their case, all the people knew when they gave, prayed, and fasted, because they did it in public and in full view of everybody. They even disfigured their faces so that all could see how pious they were, and although they received the praises of the simple and unlearned, Jesus made it clear that they would get no praise from God. Fasting involves self-denial and is geared to make it’s participants humble. The Pharisees and scribes were the opposite. They were proud, arrogant, boastful, and obviously hypocritical.
       When we fast, may we keep these things in mind. Let’s remember that fasting is for our benefit. It should help us develop a closer and more intimate relationship with God. It should also be done with as little fanfare as possible. The more secret we can keep it, the better. If done in the right way and in the right spirit, we will notice a positive change in our lives and in our way of thinking.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 20 2016
Wednesday, January 20, 2016      
       Not all fasts are pleasing to God and equally true, not all of them are beneficial to it’s participants. If you read the 58th Chapter of Isaiah, you will get a clearer picture of the types of fasts which please God as well as those which don’t. In it, the Lord reprimanded those who did it only to impress Him while they did as they pleased on the day of their fast, exploiting their workers, and fighting and quarreling amongst themselves. This is basically someone doing something good but doing it in the wrong way. Many years ago, I had an old postal service friend who always managed to get on our boss’ wrong side. One day he told me with a very surprised look on his face: “Hey Joe, guess what? The boss greeted me this morning with very kind and sweet tone in his voice.” I said “Wow! What did he say exactly?” Trying to mimic someone asking a sweetly sincere question, he replied, “He said, ‘Good morning dummy’.”
       Fasts are like diet programs, the most effectual ones are those where the participants want to better themselves and develop a closer relationship to God for their lifetime, not only for the duration of their appointed fast. And while fasts are geared primarily for our spiritual growth, it is also a time when we can really get down to business about something very near and dear to us, especially when it involves our loved ones. That is what the Lord wanted to impress His people with in the 58th Chapter of Isaiah, the idea that there were people all around them that needed their help.
       So other than yourself, are there some folks in your life which are struggling with issues such as their, health, finances, family and marriage, etc.? Well, during your fast, when you get closer to God than ever, you will see them as the Lord sees them and feel about them the way He does. Then your prayer will be more sincere and urgent, and because of it, be more effective. It is no coincidence that the Bible says “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful.” (James 5:16) In the end, your fast will not only please the Lord, it may even wind up being more helpful and beneficial to a dear person in your life than to you. Then, you will be eagerly looking forward to your next time of prayer and fasting.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 19 2016
Tuesday, January 19, 2016  
       In yesterday’s thought, I mentioned that prayer and meditation are an integral part of fasting; another is thankfulness. Paul wrote: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”(Philippians 4:6) In the 1st Chapter of Romans, Paul wrote that the wrath of God comes upon those, who among many other things, are unthankful. If God is greatly displeased with the ungrateful, it should be evident that thankful people, on the other hand, are pleasing to Him.
       Speaking about thankfulness, this is what I wrote this past Sunday, in part, for our church bulletin: [“I know that Thanksgiving Day is past, but I was thinking this past Friday of the joy it brings my heart when I see people who have genuinely thankful spirits. Very often our lives are soured because some of us live among certain people who are always whining and complaining about something. Then our hearts are lifted when we come across those who are the opposite. I’m sure we all know those who are thankful although they have a hard time expressing it, but to me it is truly refreshing when grateful folks clearly demonstrate their gratitude and appreciation.”] If people with thankful hearts please us, imagine how the Lord feels about them.
       I trust you will keep that in mind and make thankfulness a part of your time of prayer and fasting. In fact, if you were to analyze the pattern of the best prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, you would notice that it begins and ends with praise to God, with an apparent touch of thankfulness at the end for being the recipients of God’s strength, faithfulness, and care for His children.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all yo
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:42 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 18 2016
Monday, January 18, 2016            
 
 
Note: To coincide with the week long observance of prayer and fasting at our church, the meditational thoughts this week will all be related to that subject.
      
       One of you asked me in church yesterday about your interest in joining a class on meditation and what my thoughts were about it. I replied that what the world considers mediation is not the same as what the Bible says about it. This is what Wikipedia says about it: [“ Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content,[1] or as an end in itself.[2] The term refers to a broad variety of practices that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.”] As old Colonel Potter from MASH used to say: “Horse feathers!” Meditation is like faith; both are as good as the source of it. For example, if I have faith on a person or thing it cannot be nearly as reliable as if I have faith in the One who is everywhere, knows all things, and has the power to do all things.
       Back to meditation: It can only be of any benefit and value if your meditation is on God and His ways: David wrote: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer.”(Psalm 19:14) Quite obviously, his thoughts were on God and His Word, and equally true, if they were on something or someone else, they would not be acceptable in His sight.
       If you are going to join us in our week-long fast in any of the different methods one can employ, or if you plan on fasting on your own, keep in mind that it will be much more beneficial to you if prayer and meditation on God and His Word are part of it. If you fast with your focus on God, it will honor and please Him but the entire benefit will be yours. In other words, we are the ones that need the fast, not the Lord.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Joel 2:12 KJV) “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 06:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 15 2016
Friday, January 15, 2016
       With the exception of those with huge congregations, most pastors counsel with their members from time to time about certain personal issues in their lives. A matter which comes up often is one involving a strained or broken relationship, particularly marriage. In almost every case, the distraught person who requests the counseling is desperately intent on saving his or her relationship because they feel they just cannot live without the one who has left. Almost everyone has similar relationship problems at one time or another but many have a faith in God which is strong enough to give them hope, comfort, and the assurance that He will help them. Sadly, there are many people around, including Christians, who are overly dependent on a spouse, family member, or friend and although they won’t always see it nor admit it, they are committing spiritual idolatry because a human being has become more important in their life than God.   
       One of my biggest fears in life is failing God and it’s not because I fear His punishment but rather that I will disappoint Him. Unfortunately, in the case of many people, Christians included, their fear of failing a certain person in their life is greater than their fear of failing the Lord. That too, is idolatry. If our every breath is dependent upon our Heavenly Father, why should a mere person in this life evoke such devotion?
       All of us have one or several people in our lives whose departure would crush us. Still, we should have been aware from the beginning that all of us are here on loan. Just as sure as we are here today, any one of us could be gone tomorrow. James 4:14 tells us: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” But Christ’s victory over death has assured us that the loss of our loved ones in Christ is temporary and further assures us that we will be reunited in glory, never to be separated again. Anyone who can do all that for us deserves to have first place in our lives. Only the Lord deserves all our praise, honor and glory. By way of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said from a long time ago:“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Is. 42:8) God does not change! He still does not like for us to love or depend on others more than Him. May we never again believe that we just cannot do without certain people in our lives. We can love and appreciate them, but lets be careful not to elevate them to God’s level.
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 13:8) “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 13 2016
Wednesday, January 13, 2016      
       I was reminded yesterday morning of a biblical account in I Samuel, Chapter 30, which depicts a difficult event in the life of David. It was one of those times in life I think it is safe to say we are all familiar with, one when bad things get even worse. Obviously, David got careless and failed to provide security in the city where they were temporarily housed while he and his men went out on a mission. While they were away, the Amalekites came and took with them all the wives and children. Though these were hardened men of war, verse 4 tells us: “So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”  These men who had chosen to follow David, and who had been extremely loyal and faithful up until that point, were so overcome with anguish that now they considered stoning him to death. To emphasize the gamut of emotions that may have raced through David’s heart and mind at that point, here is what the great bible commentator, Matthew Henry wrote about it: [[“Saul had driven him from his country, the Philistines had driven him from their camp, the Amalekites had plundered his city, his wives were taken prisoners, and now, to complete his woe, his own familiar friends, in whom he trusted, whom he had sheltered, and who did eat of his bread, instead of sympathizing with him and offering him any relief, lifted up the heel against him and threatened to stone him.”]]
       It may be that one, or two, or more of you who are reading today’s blog is going through an experience similar to David’s. You are going through a difficult trial and instead of things easing up, they are getting tougher. To make things worse, even those in your life who usually pick you up during hard stretches, are offering no comfort or support now that you need it. So what are you going to do now? What is your next step? May I suggest you do what David did? Verse 6 tells us: “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
       When finding ourselves in a situation such as this, there can be no better formula for relief and subsequent victory than this. When David sensed he had no one or nowhere else to turn to, he took his plea for help to the Lord, his God. In the end, the Lord helped him recover the wives and children, and the extremely strained relationship between him and his trusted soldiers was restored. If you, like David, are greatly distressed and feel all alone in your trial, lift up your head; the Lord will be as faithful to you as He was with David. Relief and victory are on the way.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 13:8) “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 11 2016
Monday, January 11, 2016      
       At the age of 11 or 12, I memorized a poem entitled “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I can still recite most of it today and with a little bit of practice, I’m confident I can recite it completely, word for word. The poem has valuable life lessons in it and perhaps at that age I was still pure in heart because I took the poem’s lessons to heart. At that stage in my life I believed that all adults were honest and hard working, as depicted in the story of the blacksmith, even more so because it described my father’s character. The Bible says in Titus 1:15 that “unto the pure, all things are pure.” This is what the second stanza of Longfellow’s poem says: [ His hair is crisp, and black, and long,  /  His face is like the tan;  / His brow is wet with honest sweat,  /  He earns what'er he can,  /  And looks the whole word in the face, //  For he owes not any man. ] As you may have guessed, this blog is about meeting our obligations, specifically about paying our debts. And since we are still in the infant stages of it, may today’s thought serve as a reminder to us, as God’s children, to make a sincere effort to pay them this year. 
       I know I can’t speak for everyone but I would guess that the majority of us go around feeling uneasy whenever we know we  have debts which are unpaid and are familiar, on the other hand, with the feeling of relief when we pay them off. Because there are things which do not look well in people’s lives, Paul wrote: But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints. (Ephesians 5:3) I know we don’t go around conversing in the King James English but I will take the liberty of declaring:  "The adjectives “deadbeat”, “tightwad”, or “moocher”, let them not once be named among you as becometh saints." Not paying our debts is one fault which definitely hurts the testimony of God’s people, and it makes it all the more difficult for them to win others to Christ. David wrote in Psalm 37:21: “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” As you can see, not paying debts characterizes the wicked, not God’s children.
       Even the most excellent debt payers will always have at least one debt which can never be repaid. I am referring to our debt to God. I realize there are many people in this world who are foolish enough to think that they are solely responsible for all their successes in life. They are gravely mistaken. The great thing about that is that God does not expect us to pay Him back. That is the more reason to live our lives in a manner which would honor and please Him. Paying our debts to others is one way of doing it.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 13:8) “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”
 
Note: I wrote most of this blog last Friday, and as many ministers do, I was looking for confirmation that my topic for today was of God. Yesterday, pastor Mike preached a very informative and enlightening message regarding giving, something we rarely do in our church.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, January 08 2016
Friday, January 8, 2016
       This past Wednesday, I spoke about the present-day overused phrase of throwing someone “under the bus.” Today’s topic is also about a well known phrase which is somewhat related to the previous one, namely airing our “dirty linen” in public. It refers to the practice of telling others private or embarrassing things about a spouse, family member, or close friend. Matters such as these should be private and should remain in the confines of the home. I touched on this matter in my bible study class in church this past Wednesday night. I said that a model wife-husband situation is depicted in the 31st Chapter of Proverbs which more specifically speaks about a “virtuous woman.” Verses 11-12 says this about her: “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Among many other things, it is apparent that her husband has full confidence in her because she has never spoken ill in public about him nor has she revealed any of his faults and weaknesses to others. That is also one reason that “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” (Vs. 23) He is respected because neither she nor her children have ever said any negative thing about him in public, and as far as they know, this man is worthy of respect. Verse 28 reads: “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Can you see now that this woman was praised, in part, because she never shared her “dirty laundry” and never threw her husband “under the bus”?
       I have lost count of the many times I have heard folks speaking badly about a spouse, friend, or a loved one in public. Although sometimes we do it without realizing it, that should not be. In marriage, since the “two” have become “one”, to speak badly about your spouse is to speak badly about yourself. And sometimes, we give out more information than we should. For example, someone may notice that we are having marriage or family problems and will ask us about it. We should be very careful just to say something like “We’re having problems, please pray for us” and leave it at that. On the other hand, if someone has given us more information than they should, as God’s children, lets keep it to ourselves. We can’t help them any better than by doing that and praying that the Lord will help them.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 14:21“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 06 2016
Wednesday, January 6, 2016      
       I only touched on this matter lightly this past Monday but today I would like to expand on the subject of our personal obligations. We all have them. The simple dictionary meaning for the word “obligation” says that it is “something you must do because of a law, rule, promise, etc. or because it is morally right.” The more things in our lives we view as obligations, the more things we will do to touch others in a positive way, honoring Christ in the process. I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing but I personally detest hearing someone remind me that I “have to” do this or the other. To me, it takes the away the joy and sense of fulfillment because I would rather do things out of love and not of necessity. Apart from that, it also eliminates the pressure. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that we all have our obligations. For example, giving our offerings and tithes and offerings at church, in order to keep the work of God moving forward, should definitely be one of our obligations. Even so, Paul reminded us: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV) Simply put, though giving to God is an obligation, it means so much more when it is done cheerfully.
       In His Parable of the Good Samaritan in the 10th Chapter of Luke, Jesus made it quite clear that helping a neighbor in need is one of our obligations and that we should consider anyone we come across, as our neighbor. In the parable, he mentioned two who pretended that helping a wounded countryman they came across was somebody else’s problem. On the other hand, a man who was not “one of them” not only came to his aid, he went above and beyond in his care of the wounded man.
       As I mentioned in Monday’s blog, we can bury our head in the sand and pretend they’re not there, but our obligations are not going to go away. We’ve got to meet them head on and know that, with God’s help, we will get them done. Whether it is our debts, church giving, or anything else, may 2016 be a year for us that will be characterized as one when we took care of our obligations.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 14:21“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
 
PS: Ironically, other obligations kept me from writing a blog message yesterday.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, January 04 2016
Monday, January 4, 2016      
       Since it is an overused cliché in today’s society, I’m sure most of you know what the phrase “to throw someone under the bus” means.  This is what Wikipedia says about it: [“ To throw (someone) under the bus is an idiomatic phrase in American English meaning to sacrifice a friend or ally for selfish reasons. It is typically used to describe a self-defensive disavowal and severance of a previously-friendly relationship when the relation becomes controversial or unpopular.”] This phrase became widely used about ten years ago, but the practice of it is as old as the Garden of Eden. After Eve, and then Adam, disobeyed God by eating fruit from the only forbidden tree in the Garden, God asked Adam: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam replied: “The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (See Genesis 3:11-12)  In this case, Adam threw Eve “under the bus.” It was his way of telling God: “Don’t blame me, it was Eve who started everything. In fact, you’re the One who put her here.”
       Since we all have been blessed (or cursed) with the Adamic nature, it is very easy for us to justify or defend ourselves, often at the expense of others, even our loved ones. We are very good at “passing the buck”, often even finding a way to even blame those who brought up a charge against us in the first place. For example: If caught speeding on the highway, we can tell the arresting officer that the speed limit should be much higher, that others were going faster than us, that our speedometer is faulty, or anything else that pops into our head but this is the bottom line: These are the rules, we violated them, case closed. It applied to Adam and it applies to us. Here’s another scenario I was thinking about recently: Lets say that your spouse caused you to arrive late for church. If someone asks if everything is okay, the first tendency is to say you would have been on time had not your spouse caused you to be late. Maybe others won’t really see them but your spouse just walked into church with tire marks all over his or her body. Just as Adam should have done, we need to remember that, good or bad, my spouse and I are in this together. Whether blame or praise, we’ll receive it together.
       Perhaps we can make this our prayer, even a resolution, for the coming year. Lets ask God to help us not to play this silly but devilish little game. In fact, lets make it one of our obligations. We all have them, but speaking of our obligations, let me remind you that even though we may choose to ignore them or pretend they’re not there, they are not going to go away. Because of Christ, we are all members of the same family. And God’s children will never throw any of their siblings under the bus.    
 
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 14:21“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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