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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Wednesday, December 28 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016   
       I know that most of us don’t like to admit it, but there are times when we feel someone has wronged us, or things haven’t gone our way, or our special petitions are not answered, when we feel that gives us a right to sin or do our own thing. Consulting with couples in the past, this issue has come up many times. It is not uncommon to hear one of them say something like: “Well, I wouldn’t have done that if so and so hadn’t first done this or the other.” That’s like telling the police officer who pulls you over for speeding, “I was just following the cars that were in front of me.” I’m sure the officer will not reply: “Oh, in that case, forget it. I’ll see if I can catch up with the others and give them the ticket.” The bottom line is that it is never right to do wrong, period!
       In case we have forgotten, Adam started the ball rolling to this devilish little game in the Garden of Eden. When God confronted him about disobeying Him, he tried to justify his actions by implying “if you had not given me the woman, this would not have happened.” That, of course, would have made God the responsible party. The bible is filled with stories about those who tried to justify their evil actions. One example was Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi. These two killed many innocent men in retribution for one of them violating their sister, Dinah. They tried to justify their wicked sin when Jacob confronted them about it by replying:“Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31)
       In Psalm 143, one of David’s prayers to God was: “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (verse 2) David knew that there will never be a time when, after we have done wrong, God will say: “Come to think of it, you have a point.” I repeat: It is never right to do wrong. May we never forget this eternal truth. Because we are human, the day will come when we will contemplate doing something amiss, especially when we have been wronged. May God remind us of this truth and give us the grace to resist. If you, on the other hand,  have already fallen into this trap, I urge you to ask the Lord’s pardon. He will quickly forgive, cleanse, and restore you.
 
God’s promise for today: (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, December 28 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016   
       I know that most of us don’t like to admit it, but there are times when we feel someone has wronged us, or things haven’t gone our way, or our special petitions are not answered, when we feel that gives us a right to sin or do our own thing. Consulting with couples in the past, this issue has come up many times. It is not uncommon to hear one of them say something like: “Well, I wouldn’t have done that if so and so hadn’t first done this or the other.” That’s like telling the police officer who pulls you over for speeding, “I was just following the cars that were in front of me.” I’m sure the officer will not reply: “Oh, in that case, forget it. I’ll see if I can catch up with the others and give them the ticket.” The bottom line is that it is never right to do wrong, period!
       In case we have forgotten, Adam started the ball rolling to this devilish little game in the Garden of Eden. When God confronted him about disobeying Him, he tried to justify his actions by implying “if you had not given me the woman, this would not have happened.” That, of course, would have made God the responsible party. The bible is filled with stories about those who tried to justify their evil actions. One example was Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi. These two killed many innocent men in retribution for one of them violating their sister, Dinah. They tried to justify their wicked sin when Jacob confronted them about it by replying:“Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31)
       In Psalm 143, one of David’s prayers to God was: “Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.” (verse 2) David knew that there will never be a time when, after we have done wrong, God will say: “Come to think of it, you have a point.” I repeat: It is never right to do wrong. May we never forget this eternal truth. Because we are human, the day will come when we will contemplate doing something amiss, especially when we have been wronged. May God remind us of this truth and give us the grace to resist. If you, on the other hand,  have already fallen into this trap, I urge you to ask the Lord’s pardon. He will quickly forgive, cleanse, and restore you.
 
God’s promise for today: (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 26 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016 
       Paul wrote in Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (KJV) For Paul to have pleaded with God’s people to live a life of sacrifice signifies how much he was convinced that it would be of great benefit to the church in general. Why is a life of sacrifice so important? To begin with, it goes in line with what Jesus was quoted in the gospels as saying. He made it clear that no one could consider himself or herself a true follower if they had not learned to deny themselves.
       In Old Testament times, anytime a sacrifice was offered, God’s presence would appear. Why would it be any different today when God’s people offer their sacrifices to Him? I often hear Christians say that they would like to feel more of  God’s presence in their life. Well, here is one way of accomplishing that. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul acknowledged their gifts to him as being a fragrant offering and a pleasing sacrifice to God. In fact, that’s what prompted him to add: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Ph. 4:19) It is one more reminder that those who give get more in return and that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive. Secondly, sacrifices bring results. For example, those of you who have been successful in losing weight know that to be true.
       Now that another Christmas has come and gone, I was thinking this about of you: I sincerely believe that many of you would be greatly troubled this morning if you felt that this Christmas you  received more than what you gave. I used to wonder in the past about Paul calling a life of sacrifice “our reasonable service.” My first impression of a reasonable person was one who is not unreasonable. In comparing the different renderings of the many bible versions at my disposal, however, I have come to see that instead of “reasonable service”, others signify it as “rational, logical, intelligent, proper, and appropriate acts of worship”, among other things. Therefore, practicing a life of giving and sacrifice is the rational, logical, intelligent, proper, and appropriate thing to do. I pray the Lord will help us all to live that kind of life.
 
God’s word for today: (1 Peter 2:5) “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, December 23 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016  
       I bet these thoughts have invaded your mind more than once: “Am I really saved?” “Am I really a genuine child of God?” “Am I really sure that I will be in Heaven someday?” And here is another question that pops in from time to time: “Who do you think you’re fooling?” I seriously doubt that anyone who is reading this blog can honestly say that these thoughts have never crossed their mind, and I suspect that the devil plays a part when these thoughts come to us. In fact, he started the ball rolling back in the Garden of Eden when he attempted to get Eve to doubt God’s commands by asking: “Did God say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1) Up to this point, Eve knew that God did not say that. She knew that what He really said was that they could eat of every tree in the Garden, except one. The serpent, just like he still does today, did not give up that easy. He got her to believe the lie that she wasn’t going to die if she ate from that forbidden tree and that God just told them that because He knew that once they did, their eyes would be opened and then they would know good and evil, just like Him. The thought of reaching that plateau plus the delicious looking fruit from that tree was too much for her to resist. You know the rest.
       Right after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River and hearing His Father say from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, He was led up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Satan, knowing that Jesus was thirsty and hungry because he had just fasted forty days and forty nights, posed this first question to Him: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:3) Satan never succeeded in getting Jesus to give in to the temptation but the truth is that if he tried to plant seeds of doubt in the Son of God Himself, he will try it with you and me as well. If he asked Jesus “are you really the Son of God?” why would he not ask you and me the same question? Jesus defeated Satan with the truth of God’s word and so can we.
       The questions I began this blog with can also be answered by God’s Word. (1) Q: “How do I know I’m saved?” A: Romans 10:13 reads: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If you ever called on Him to save you, you’re saved. (2) Q: “Am I really a child of God?” A: John 1:12 says: “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” If you received Jesus,  (opened your heart to Him) you’re a child of God. (3) Q: “How do I know if I’ll be in Heaven someday?” A: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” In Christ, your place in Heaven is guaranteed.
 
God’s word for Today: (Hebrews 11:6) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
 
 
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 22 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016   
       I was reminded this past Tuesday morning about a popular top ten song in the early sixties by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles titled, “You Really Got A Hold On Me.” It started off with this seemingly contradictory line: “I don’t like you, but I love you.” Back then, that phrase made no sense to me. I thought to not like but love someone was not possible. I have since changed my opinion, one reason being that I have seen it in the Word of God.
       I remember one often used phrase many years ago concerning the great American humorist and screen actor of the past, Will Rogers. He was once quoted as saying : “I never met a man that I didn’t like.” Well many comedians of that era would quote that saying and then add: “Yeah, but he probably never met _________ .” I suppose some of you immediately thought of someone’s name you could fill in the blank with. If we’re honest most of us can think of family members, friends, or people in our life that fit the bill. We don’t like them but we love them. To be more specific, we don’t like their ways. Think about this: If our friends and loved ones can be unlikeable, does it not stand to reason that we can be unlikeable as well?
       The truth is that God can and has gotten angry with His people, yet He never stopped loving them. Asaph wrote in Psalm 85:4-5 “Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?” But right before this plea we see that God had been angry with them before but later forgave and restored them. He did that because He loved them. It is an eternal truth that God can get angry with His children because they have done things which are more than unlikable. If you feel that God has indeed chastised or is doing it right now, it may be that you did something He didn’t like. But take heart; Hebrews 12:5-6 reads: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his child.” Bottom line: let’s make a sincere effort not to be unlikable.
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 30:5) “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 19 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016  
       Monday, December 19, 2016 If you've ever had a chance to talk to people about the day of their encounter with Christ, there is one phrase you will hear often. It goes something like this: "I had nowhere else to look but up." I bet many of us found ourselves in situations in our lives when we could have said the same thing. Reading Psalm 121 this morning, I sense that David had this same thought in mind when he penned it. He begin this favorite psalm of many with these words: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth." I strongly believe that David really meant Heaven instead of hills and I'll tell you why. Let me remind you that all of David's psalms were originally songs and I know that it is common for song writers to often use a substitute for the word they originally intended to use in order not to break the flow of the song. Let me give you an example: Let's say that the writer of "Jingle Bells" really wanted to write about riding in a toboggan. How would it have sounded if the song went like this: "Dashing through the snow in a one horse, open toboggan"?
       Another key word in this psalm, at least in the NIV Bible, is "watch." He wrote that the One who watches over you, will not slumber, is your shade (cover, protection) at your right hand and will watch over your life. David ended this short psalm with these words: "the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." I want David's psalm to remind you today, as it did me, about the One who is always watching over us, especially those of you who may be going through a hard trial.
       Nowadays it is common to hear of helicopters being used to help motorists through crowded streets or highways, aid the police or rescue those in distress. We can safely say that their help comes from above. Even so, that kind of help cannot compare to the help from above that comes to all of God's children when they need it. If you need His help today, call Him. Besides, He is already watching over you.
 
God's promise for today: (Psalm 33:18 NLT) "But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on His unfailing love."
 
      
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:40 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 16 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016  
       Yesterday, I wrote about the gift of forgiveness. Today, I’ll focus on the opposite, unforgiveness. Did you know that it is the number one reason many prayers go unanswered? Jesus said: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:24-26 KJV)
       So many times, Christians just can’t understand why some of their special petitions are not answered. They often search for answers, never once thinking that the answer lies in their heart. Why is it that some people we know think that their feud with someone is a private and personal matter and that it has nothing to do with their relationship with others and especially with God? This situation always reminds me of Christians who foolishly say: “Well, I guess the only thing I have left now is prayer.” My dear fellow believers, praying is the FIRST thing to do when confronted with a trial or any other obstacle, not the last.
       I don’t know if businesses or stores still have this practice, but I do know that many of them used to do an inventory at the end of the year or at the start of the next. That is a good spiritual practice as well for God’s people. It would be good to search our heart from time to time to see if we have allowed anger, bitterness, or resentment to creep in. Could it be that we are holding a grudge against our spouse, family member, co-worker, friend, even another church member and have not yet noticed or acknowledged it? I suspect that David believed in this practice also because this was one of his prayers to God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24  KJV) The next time we begin to investigate why certain of our petitions are not being answered, may the Lord remind us that the first place to look is deep into our heart.
 
God’s word for today: (Ephesians 4:32“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 15 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016   
       I suppose that a few of you are wondering what Christmas gifts you will give to certain people in your life this year, but I was thinking today of one particular gift some people we know would like to receive this Christmas. Some may not even think about it as being a gift, but it is. I am referring to the gift of forgiveness. Perhaps very few people will receive it, but I bet you that those who do will cherish it more that those expensive gifts people buy at Christmas.
       Do you remember when you first understood that God had forgiven you? Because people are people, there will always be those who think that some needed more forgiveness than others, or that there are some who didn’t deserve to be forgiven in the first place. Thank God it is He who decides and not people. The truth is that we are all sinners. I always feel slightly uncomfortable around Christians who declare that they were never really that bad before they came to Christ. Even the Apostle Paul, whom God greatly used in the propagation of the gospel, confessed that he was the “chief of sinners” before his encounter with Christ. He said it this way:“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
       I can’t speak for everybody but I know that when I understood that God had forgiven me, I was amazed, extremely grateful, and greatly relieved. And I would not be surprised if many of you felt the same. With that in mind, why can’t many more feel that way when they are forgiven? How many gifts people give can have that same effect? This Christmas, perhaps you may emphasize God’s gift of forgiveness to those around you that, for whatever reason, have never experienced it. Remind them that just like Christ and His salvation, that is God’s gift to them. One more thing: I sense that it is very possible that none of you have to consider giving that gift. But if it is you that needs to forgive someone in your life, even if it is someone no longer living, why don’t you give them the gift of forgiveness? We all get happy and blessed when we sense that one of our gifts was greatly appreciated and very well received. Well, the gift of forgiveness does that and much more.
 
God’s word for today: (Psalm 32:1) “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, December 14 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016     
       Most bible scholars believe the Apostle Paul wrote thirteen or fourteen letters (epistles) to different churches during his ministry. Even so, I suspect he never thought they would one day become books of the New Testament. I was thinking about that possibility as I was reading his second letter to Timothy because he shared some things in that letter which, in my opinion, were of a personal and confidential nature.
       These are some of them: (1) He told him about Demas deserting him, seemingly assured that he did so because he was more in love with the things of the world than on the things of God. (2) He asked Timothy to bring him his cloak, scrolls, and parchments when he came to see him. Some have wondered why that is in the Bible in the first place. Paul would probably have had the same question himself. (3) He specifically pointed out Alexander the metalworker as doing him a great deal of harm and advised Timothy to be on guard against this enemy of the gospel. (4) He told him that none of his friends stood by his side to give testimony on his behalf in his trial before the emperor. Imagine that; a man who did so much for others had no one to stand with him when he needed them. The way in which he related this fact gives me more reason to think that he thought no one but Timothy was going to read his letter. Here’s how he wrote it: “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” (2 Tim. 4;16)
       Having said that, whether or not Paul knew others would read his letter, by sharing these personal things with Timothy he also said a lot about his young associate, which, in the end, should remind us why God decided it would be in the Bible in the first place. Evidently, Timothy was the type of person Paul could confide it, a confidant, if you will. The MW Dictionary says that a confidant is “one to whom secrets are entrusted; especially intimate ones.” I also do not believe Timothy shared these things with anyone in his lifetime and suspect that the letter did not become public until many, many years later, perhaps even centuries. We should all have at least one person in our life we can trust with personal and delicate matters. Unfortunately, I believe all of us can admit that we have been burned more than once by people we thought could be trusted. How about you? Can you be trusted to keep someone else’s shared private matters to yourself? I choose to believe that many of you qualify as being confidants. In the end, all those who prove themselves to be trustworthy honor God in the process.
 
God’s word for today: (Proverbs 20:7) “The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, December 13 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016   
       Its that time of year again, the time when many people out in the world will be “offended” because many of us want to “impose” our beliefs concerning Christmas. I was reminded about that issue this morning when I read about the uproar that was caused in Killeen, Texas, when a nurse’s aid in a middle school posted a cutout of Linus and his now famous line from the 50 year old Christmas special “A Charlie Brown Christmas”  In the special, when his classmates push him to modernize the production and mock his sparse Christmas tree, Charlie Brown, exasperated, shouts out: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus takes his thumb out of his mouth long enough to say: “Sure, Charlie Brown,” I can tell you what Christmas is all about. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” The Killeen Independent School District decided to remove the nurse’s aid’s poster for fear of offending those who do not believe in Christmas like we do.
       I’m sure all of you have heard the phrase “keep Christ in Christmas” and what it would mean if there was no Christ in Christmas. To me it would just be “mas” which sounds a lot like mess. In fact, anybody who does not have Christ in their life, is really in a mess. That’s my opinion. I’m glad that, up to now, we can all still give ours.
        A popular position of many who oppose Christianity in general is this: “I want my children to make up their own mind about what they will choose to believe.” Really? Do you want them to decide if they want to go to school, take a bath, or do house chores? In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses told the people the Lord Himself directed him to teach them His commands, decrees and laws. Among them were these: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:6-7) I bet Moses never once hinted that they could let the children decide for themselves if they wanted to believe it or not. Back then, that was the law! It was pretty clear and no one would have had any trouble whatsoever interpreting it. Our laws today, however, are hard to figure out, and many, many times, they clearly go against the Word of God. People, the day may come when you will not be able to go to church, read your bible, and other things you enjoy doing today. They may someday even force you to remove your lights and your Christmas tree. One thing no one will ever be able to do, however, is remove Jesus from your heart.
 
God’s word for today: (Luke 2:11“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 12 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016  
       The late singer-songwriter, Charles “Rusty” Goodman is still a legend in the world of Southern Gospel, my favorite Christian music genre. He wrote such inspirational songs as “Had It Not Been”, “Because Of Calvary”,”I wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now”, and an all time favorite of mine, “Who Am I?” He also wrote a song which I can now identify with more than before, now that I have passed the three quarters of a century mark. It is titled “Leavin On My Mind.” It’s first verse says:  “This old house I'm living in; it sure needs some repair; /  The windows and the shutters are letting in the cold, cold air. / I say to myself, I'm gonna fix them, if I can find the time; /  But all I've been getting lately, is leaving on my mind.”
       I suppose this thought comes more often to God’s children than to others, those who have the hope of Glory, especially the elderly saints of God. Whenever I hear that old gospel song, it also reminds me of these words the Apostle Paul shared in his letter to the Philippians: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Ph. 1:21-24) Paul confessed his constant inner struggle between two desires, to stay here or to go to be with the Lord. He played his hand by saying that to be with Christ would be better by far, but he also realized that the more he stayed, the more he could be of some benefit to his fellow believers. Like me, many other servants of God have the same struggle, but as the Lord’s genuine servants they think about the needs and wishes of others before they think of their own.
       That is one issue we all should consider carefully. Throughout the years I have seen those who get angry with God because He called a loved one home, not once thinking that to go home was their desire in the first place. Many times, the ones that are weeping bitterly are really crying because of their own pain. If their loved one has gone to be with the Lord, those tears should be tears of gladness because the desire of their loved one’s heart has been fulfilled. In the end, we are all in the same situation. We should all have the Apostle Paul’s mindset. Of course, to be with Christ is far better, but as God’s children, we should want to hang around here as long as we can so we can be of service to God and a blessing to those around us.
 
God’s word for today: (Psalm 116:15) “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants.”
 
Song: “Leavin On My Mind” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GILnvo4pyzE
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, December 09 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016            
       I suspect there is no such word as “accounter” in the dictionary. Even so, I took the liberty to make it up as I recently read Hebrews 13:17 (KJV) which says: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”Paul was clearly referring to the leaders of the church, mostly pastors. He wrote that these are they who must give an account to God. Therefore, among other things, I see pastors as being “accounters.”
       This verse, like so many others in the Bible, is often misinterpreted and misunderstood, sometimes even by pastors themselves. Even assuming that they are genuinely called of God to be the spiritual heads of a congregation of believers, this does not mean that they merit the same level of obedience and submission we render to God. Neither does it mean that pastors have a right to Lord it over the members of their flock because these are the Lord’s sheep. Nevertheless, pastors, just like all others in some sort of leadership role, are placed there by God’s choosing. Romans 13:1 reads: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This is important because there will always be some church members who feel that they know more than their pastor and I suppose that may even be true in some cases. Even so, God does not necessarily call pastors because they are more gifted, talented, or intelligent. The bottom line is that He makes no mistakes and He knows why he called them.
       Even though they are imperfect and are prone to error like everyone else, God has called pastors to watch over His sheep, to lead and spiritually feed His flock. Going back to our initial verse, it is God’s will for church members to obey and submit to their pastor. When they make mistakes or use bad judgment, they are the ones that will have to answer to God, not the members. Child of God, the day will come, if it hasn’t already, when your pastor will say or do something you will not agree with. Don’t hesitate to approach your pastor if you have an issue with anything he said or did. Any true servant of God will always be ready and willing to explain his position or actions to members who approach him. However, please don’t do it continually, especially if the matter is not really important. Above all, pray for your pastor constantly. Make a sincere effort to do everything you can reasonably do to make him happy to be a servant of God because, besides God, his happiness or success may depend on you. Be sure of this: he definitely needs the prayers and support of his members.
 
God’s promise for today: (Jeremiah 23:4) “I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, December 08 2016
Thursday, December 8, 2016   
       No one can find anything in the Bible that is there by accident or coincidence. 2 timothy3:16 reminds us that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Besides being given for these purposes, in other parts of the Bible we see that God’s Word can also encourage, inspire, comfort, and guide among other things. Unfortunately, too many of today’s preachers, knowing what people really want to hear, instead focus almost entirely on health, prosperity, or the spiritual gifts, never giving their hearers the more complete message of the Bible. Before I stray, let me get to my previous point that what we read in the Bible is there for a specific purpose.
       That being said, we often like the sound of some particular and well known bible verses, even know them by heart, and often do not consider the complete meaning of them. I Peter 2:9 is one of them. It reads: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (KJV) A royal priesthood sets us off as kings and priests and if God has called us to show forth His praises, this puts us in the same position as the prophets of old. In Old Testament times, there were only three types of persons who were anointed into God’s service, prophets, priests, and kings. The anointing today of God’s servants comes by way of the Holy Spirit. As a prophet, you are called to share God’s Word with others. As a priest, you should live a life which honors Him, which is your spiritual sacrifice to Him. And as kings, we have been called to reign with Christ in this life. I know, we seldom think of ourselves in this way and we tend to settle comfortably in the bracket that people around us have placed us in. Why can’t we see ourselves as God sees us? Why can’t we take Him at His Word and make a sincere effort to be the people He wants us to be?
       Are we doing the work of a prophet? Are we sharing with others what we have learned of Him?  How about playing the role of a priest? Do we intercede for others and pray on their behalf? Are we ready and willing to answer their questions about God as we know them? As do kings which are obedient to the divine call, are we doing our part to make the lives of those around us better? I trust we are not in the same frame of mind Cain demonstrated before God when he flippantly asked “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) It was bad enough that he did not care for or make an effort to defend and protect his younger brother, Abel; he murdered him in a jealous rage. A good king, is aware of his responsibility to look after and provide for those assigned to his care. We should have the same attitude.
 
God’s word for today: (Romans 12:1 KJV) “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:10 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, December 07 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016   
       Though many people have nightmares, some so often that they fear going to bed at night, its been so long since I had one that I can’t even recall now how many years it has been. Though I don’t often have them to begin with, I do have some troubling dreams from time to time, however. In fact, I had one last night. In it, my wife and I missed going to church on a Sunday morning. What, that troubled me? You don’t know how much! And like many people after they wake up from a bad dream, I was very happy that it didn’t really happen. In the dream, I was troubled that for whatever reason, we were running late. (In real life, just the thought about being late to church troubles me.) Then, I couldn’t find my shoes, which after a long search I found out in the front yard. Then, I couldn’t remember where my ties were. That would never happen in real life. I was already upset that we we’re going to be late. Yet, when we were about to leave the house, we saw that it was raining so hard that our street no longer looked like a street but a raging river. We weren’t  able to get out of the driveway. The unthinkable had happened, we were going to miss church.
       I don’t blame you if some of you suspect that I’ve lost my marbles or think that I am making a big to-do about something that’s not really that important, but church to me is that important. It  characterizes my life. I remember my daughter telling me one day that her little girl, our first grandchild, who could barely say a few words at the time, upon realizing she was at the church parking lot, said “Grandpa!” Even at that early age, to her, church and her grandpa went together. When I fell in love with Jesus, I fell in love with just about everything that is associated with Him. I remember taking my wife and family many evenings to church when there was nothing going on. I just wanted to be there.
       Okay, why is church that big a deal to me? If I gave you every reason, I would take so much time, you’d soon get bored or I’d keep you from your daily chores. Therefore, I’ll just share a few. I love church because it represents Jesus. It’s the place where the people I love the most in this life will be. I will have time to sit down and talk with many of them. In it, I will feel God’s presence. I will be able to pray at the altar, either for me or for someone else. I will hear an encouraging, instructional or comforting word. I will be energized and prepared for the rest of the week. (In many cases, the energy runs out by Tuesday. Therefore many go back to church on Wednesday.) In church, I’ll have one more opportunity to serve God, to perhaps be a blessing to someone. I don’t expect you or anyone else to love church as much as I do, but if you should some day, I know it will make your life so much better.
 
God’s word for today: (Psalm 84:10) “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
 
            
 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, December 06 2016

Tuesday, December 6 , 2016    

       I have often been asked this question, perhaps you too have wondered about it: “What does the bible say about cremation?” Some believe the bible disapproves while others think the opposite. As far as I know, the bible says absolutely nothing about the subject, and if you know even one scripture that supports the pro or the con, I would like to hear it. The one thing I am sure of is this: Regardless of the way a body is prepared for burial, eventually it turns to dust. From the very beginning, God told Adam: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you areand to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) It seems to me, therefore, that cremation merely speeds up the process. Another thing that we all know is that it is more prevalent today than it used to be. If you are familiar with the extremely high cost of a traditional funeral today, it is understandable why so many families prefer cremation.

       I’m sure most of you know that the ancient Egyptians used to embalm the dead in order to delay the decaying process and to prepare for the afterlife. In bible times, the Israelites used to bury their deceased on the very day of their death. They would wrap the bodies with a sixty foot length of one-foot-wide cloth and then sprinkle the wrappings with all sorts of spices in order to reduce the stench. Then they would place the bodies in caves or in sepulchers. If you remember at Lazarus’ tomb, his sister Martha, upon hearing Jesus’ order to roll away the stone to the tomb’s entrance, said : “By this time he stinks because he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39)

       Some people hesitate to choose cremation for their deceased loved ones feeling that at the Rapture, how can they be resurrected if they no longer have

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 05 2016
Monday, December 5, 2016  
       I have read Psalm 94 before, but as I was reading it again this morning I saw some great truths in it we can all take comfort in and I would like to share three of them with you today. This was one psalm David did not write and although it’s author is unknown, it is believed it was written by one of Moses’ descendants at the time when God’s people were living in exile in Babylon.
       Verse 9 says: “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see?” If for some reason you are thinking today that God can’t see what you’re going through or that He is not listening to your prayers, reject that thought. We are talking here about the One who formed the eyes and ears. To add even more strength to this truth, verse 14 reads: “For the Lord will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake his inheritance.” Child of God, the Lord will never forsake you.
       The one truth in this psalm, however, that spoke the most to my heart and one which I quickly identified with, was verse 19 which reads: “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.” To coin a well worn phrase, many of us have “too many pans in the fire.” In other words, we often seem to have more obligations and responsibilities than we can handle. Because of it, our minds dwell on these thoughts more than they should. If it were not for the comfort in God’s truths, these thoughts could overwhelm us, making it difficult for us to adequately perform our duties. For whatever reason, this verse reminded me of the day, many years ago, when my dad died. I remember how troubling it was for me to preach that Sunday morning knowing that my dad was, at the same time, in a coffin at a local mortuary. I remember how hard it was on the following day to perform my duties at work. I was given permission to take the time off that I needed but I chose to go to work instead, thinking it would keep my thoughts from overwhelming me. I was wrong. I had an extremely difficult time at work with it. Yet, the one thing that helped me eventually do the job that was expected of me,  was the tremendous comfort I got as I thought of the promises of God. Child of God, because you are human, you too may be going through a stretch where the different thoughts that are racing through your heart and mind, are making it very hard for you to accomplish your daily tasks. To you I say: interrupt those troubling thoughts. Replace them with your heart and mind resting on God’s promises. For starters, dwell on today’s eternal truths and then on the rest of His promises. You’ll be glad you did.
 
God’s promise for today: (John 16:33“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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