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Wednesday, August 31 2016
Wednesday, August 31, 2016    
       Some great advice for living is found in these three verses: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
This verse shows us one formula for having a full and meaningful life. The great bible commentator, Matthew Henry, believed this meant a long and prosperous life, much like the promise of a long life for all who obey the Commandment to honor their parents. God expects His children to be honest and refrain their tongue from speaking evil. Christians who do not follow this rule and are careless with the words that proceed from their mouths, dishonor and misrepresent Him, causing much harm to the cause of Christ.
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
Here, we are told to shun evil. To me this includes expressing our disapproval of anything that dishonors the Lord. Jesus strongly implied in His Sermon on the Mount that God’s true children are peacemakers. Instead of looking for quarrels they look for ways to ensure peace. Here again, any child of God who has a reputation for getting into quarrels or disagreements paints a very negative picture of the gospel of Christ and causes much damage.
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12 KJV)
This trio of verses ends with a very encouraging thought, a promise, to be more exact. My wife and I were recently discussing the ways in which we sometimes limit God and His power. We do so because we are human with finite minds, while God is infinite and all powerful. God made it very clear that His ways and His thoughts are way above ours. (See Isaiah 55:8) Because we think as humans, we sometimes reason within ourselves: “How can God’s eyes be upon millions upon millions of people at the same time?” Well, didn’t He bring the universe into existence just by saying the Word? There is no limit to what God can do and if we are told here that His eyes are always upon us and His ears always open to our prayers, how can we not believe it? Therefore, I remind you: Forget the foolish notion that the Lord at anytime will not see you or hear your prayers. As far as your prayer petitions are concerned, fire away! And don’t worry that you, as a child of God, are in the same group with those that do evil. A more precise rendering of that verse (12) is “those who practice evil.” The Lord does not answer our prayers because we are good but rather because we are His children.
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 34:17) “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”
             
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 30 2016
Tuesday, August 30, 2016     
       (Today’s blog is an amplified version of the meditational thought I wrote for our church bulletin this past Sunday concerning our life burdens.)  Galatians 6:2 gives us this solid word of advise: "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." I was reminded of this verse recently as I became aware of a very private Christian family who has been carrying an immense personal burden but has not, up to this point, confided it with anyone. My dear fellow believers, if sharing our burdens with others or helping others carry theirs was not a good thing, this biblical advice would not be here.
       I am very much aware that our ultimate strength and healing in times of trouble eventually comes from above, and if you are among the select few that can endure life’s trials without too much effort, then by all means keep your personal burdens to yourself. On the other hand, I also ascribe to the old time adage which tells us that"no man is an island." Apart from God, we need each other. If you have not needed to share your personal burdens with anyone up to now, don’t be surprised if some day soon you find yourself in need of seeking help from someone other than the Lord. And should you never need help with your burdens, please realize that there will always be people around you who will need you to help them carry theirs.
       The advice in Galatians 6:2 is connected to the one in James 5:16 which tells us to confess our “faults” one to another. That one deals with sins and weaknesses and this one in Galatians with our personal burdens. And although we are all one family in Christ, we should be wise in choosing with whom we will confide our faults, weaknesses, or personal and sensitive burdens. We must not share them with those who have not earned our trust. Nevertheless, God’s Word is sure, and because it is, don’t bear your heavy burdens alone. Trust God and He will direct you to those who will faithfully and lovingly help you carry them.  
 
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 49:13) “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 29 2016
Monday, August 29, 2016         
       In His Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes in particular, Jesus spoke of the blessedness of God for all who have Christ-like qualities such as the meek, pure in heart, poor in spirit, and mournful, among others. Apart from having the blessings of God upon them, for all who possessed these godly traits there was an eternal promise attached to it. It seems to me, however, that Jesus saved the toughest Christ-like characteristic to emulate and perhaps the one with the greatest promise and the highest degree of blessedness, to include at the end of the Beatitudes. I am referring to this one: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12) The deeper one goes in his or her service to God, the greater the probability of being rejected, persecuted, criticized, or slandered. In fact, the stronger our stand for Christ, the stronger the enemy’s blows against us.
       Because we are human, we sometimes subconsciously feel that the whole world is going to love and appreciate us because we are actively involved in ministry. And the ones who we feel are those who will love, understand, and stand up for us, are often the ones who attack us the most. We must never forget Jesus’s declaration that if the world hated Him it will hate His followers as well. Neither can we forget that when these pointed signs of opposition come against us, the real perpetrator is the devil and his demons. In other words, our fight against evil is never against human beings. (see Ephesians 6:12) Again, because we are human, it is easy for us to lash out and defend ourselves against those who attack us. That is when our new nature in Christ within us should surface.
       The next time we experience undue criticism or false accusations, may we remember Christ’s reference to His prophets of old, that they suffered worse things yet never gave up. He implied that just as they received a great eternal reward for it, so will all those today who do the same. On that day, may we remember that it is the Lord who will defend us, cover us, and fight our battle. And if He fights our battles, who can overcome against Him? In closing, do you want to be stronger against the enemy’s attacks the next time they come against you? Here’s one way: A good Little League coach will always set this rule for his players when the other team is at bat: Be aware of the present situation before every pitch and imagine that the ball is about to come in your direction. This way, you’ll know in advance what your play will be. You can follow that same process. Imagine that today you will be attacked in some way. Now ask the Lord to make you as filled with His Spirit, as were the old time prophets. This way, you’ll react as a genuine child of God and not as you did before. This formula always works.
 
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 54:17) “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 26 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016     
       I was reading Psalm 92 this morning and it made me glad. In fact, one of it’s verses says:  “For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (vs.4) It made me gladder still when I saw the promise at the end of the psalm which reads: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” (verses 12-15) I was especially encouraged by the promise that God’s people will still bear fruit in their old age. It spoke to me.
       I suppose all seniors are constantly reminded of the effects of getting old. I think about it every time I do yard work and other domestic chores I once did with relative ease. And on a ministerial standpoint, I can’t remember how long it’s been since I conducted a funeral service for someone older than me. Nevertheless, this psalm reminds me that, even in our old age, we can still be fruitful. One fear most elderly persons have is that they will reach the stage in their lives when they are more of a burden to their loved ones than a benefit. They have grown accustomed to helping their children. Therefore they find it very difficult when it is they who have to be helped. But every one of these who love the Lord, trust Him to help them when they reach that point in their lives. It goes beyond that. Now they have the promise that they can still be of service to Him and others in their old age.
       This promise today brought me back fond memories of my orange-red Chow dog ,Bevo. Even in the last year of his life, (13) he would still chase after a ball every time I threw it in the yard. I would often think to myself: “Bevo, you’re too old to be doing that!” He, obviously didn’t think so. “Ah, Bevo, I can hardly wait to see you again.” I bet some of you are thinking that old age has affected my mind by what I just said about Bevo. I know many folks will say, even Christians, that there is nothing in the Bible that says that dogs will be in Heaven. I beg to differ. In fact, I challenge you to show me a bible verse where it specifically says that there won't be any pets in Heaven. To me, it’s just one more promise from God. And God’s promises, my dear readers, make our lives exciting and meaningful.
 
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 46:4) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 24 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016    
       From time to time, this question arises in the hearts of God’s children: “Are there prophets today as there were in Old Testament times? Before I elaborate a bit, the answer is “no”! If you ask me when the changeover came, I don’t believe anyone knows the exact day but in general terms the prophets eventually disappeared because God would no longer do things as before and they would thus be no longer needed. Hebrews 1:1-2 reads: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe.”
       Regarding these two verses, here is what the great bible commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote: The prophets of old were, [“the persons by whom God delivered His mind. They were the persons chosen of God, and qualified by Him, for that office of revealing the will of God to men. No man takes this honor to himself, unless called; and whoever are called of God are qualified of Him.”] We must keep in mind that people in Old Testament times did not have the entire Word of God (the Bible) available to them. This was way before Christ would come into the world. Today, because the bible is now complete, we can know God’s will not only by reading His Word, but also by the leading of the Holy Spirit, who was given to all who would believe in and commit their lives to Christ, beginning on the Day of Pentecost.”
       Why is this important to you and me? There are many people around today who proclaim they are prophets of God. Now, I realize that certain churches choose to call their leaders “prophets” but they are not at all like the Old Testament prophets. Today’s true prophets are only relaying the message of God which has already been revealed. Unlike the Old Testament prophets, they are not revealing anything new or something which was not known before. When coming across one who proclaims to be a prophet of God, pray, and let the Word of God be your guide. Additionally, Jesus said that  we can know them by their fruit. This includes the things they say, the way they live, and what others say about them. If and when you have determined that they are false teachers or preachers, do your best to separate yourselves from them.
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 61:2-3) “lead me to the rock that is higher than I; For you are my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 23 2016
Tuesday, August 23, 2016     
       In His Sermon on the Mount, particularly the 5th Chapter of Matthew, Jesus uttered this phrase five times:“You have heard that it was said.” Another time he moderated it slightly by saying: “It has been said.” He was referring specifically to the way the scribes had interpreted God’s commandments, more particularly twisted them, for their convenience. The subjects in question were murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, revenge, and our obligations to those around us. It was absolutely necessary for the multitude to hear the correct application of the Word of God, something they should have had from the beginning. Jesus knew that, because of this apparent deviation from the true Word of God, many would not know His ways. He also knew that those who believed the scribes’ renderings of God’s laws, would never come to know Him as they should.
       It is not much different today. A few days ago, I heard a young lady declare that she was being the best person she could be hoping that by doing so, one day she could be reunited with her loved ones in Heaven. It appears she too believes what she has been taught in her church. I am referring to the widely accepted but erroneous teaching  that one can gain Heaven by doing good works. My first impulse was to tell her point blank that salvation is by grace and not by works, that it comes by believing and trusting in Christ and not in our good deeds. I wanted to tell her badly that if people could actually win Heaven by doing good works, Jesus would have never gone to the cross. I wanted to but I didn’t, sensing that this was not the right time and being confident that I will speak to her again soon and the Lord will open the door some other time. We share God’s Word and message at His time, not ours. Many who jump the gun, lose those they are speaking to before they get a chance to win them for Christ.
       What about you? Do you believe everything you hear at your church or what certain ministers and religious leaders say? A true minister of God will never be offended when others read the bible to verify their message. In fact, they encourage the practice. What’s better, the Bible encourages it as well. Acts 17:11 reads: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” One of the greatest fears God’s genuine servants have is that they may misinterpret His Word or misrepresent Him in any way. Nevertheless, because they are human, they may slip up here and there. That is why it is so important for you to check things out for yourself. I am absolutely confident that what I said a few lines ago about salvation is true. Even so, if you disagree with my position, I invite you to search the Bible for yourself.
 
God’s promise for today: (1 Timothy 4:16) “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 19 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016     
       One of my favorite psalms, one which I use often when visiting the sick, is Psalm 103. It begins with praise to God which is immediately followed by an excellent word of advice. The first two verses say: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
       One can not possibly count the many benefits for the which we can thankfully praise God daily, but several of them are mentioned in this psalm alone. Among them are His forgiveness, mercy, compassion, grace, and understanding. The psalmist’s advice to not forget His benefits has a two-fold application. First, we must not forget them because to do so is to take Him for granted and eventually forget Him altogether. To do so would place us in the same category as the wicked, of the which David also wrote: “The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.” (Ps. 9:17) So that would be a big mistake on our part. The second meaning is this: The next time you find yourself needing healing, comfort, forgiveness, or any other benefit, remember the One you should always run to first.
       Whatever benefit you need today, don’t forget the One who can supply it. And if you just happen to find yourself on Cloud Nine and everything is going smoothly at the present time, don’t forget the One who gave you this time of Joy, peace, and happiness. Whatever your situation today, you have many reasons to be able to declare, as did the psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 103:17) “But from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 18 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016 
       We often hear people say “I am who I am and I’m not going to change.” Different people employ this phrase for different reasons. Some, even when they know they are wrong, will arrogantly say it, almost as if they are proud of it. As children of God, and assuming we are honest with ourselves, we will make a genuine effort to change those things in our character that are amiss. I said all this to confess to you one of my character flaws, one which other children of God have repeatedly brought to my attention, implying that I need to change. To use their own adjectives, I am prone to being too soft, lenient, or forgiving, causing many to take advantage of me. Having said that, I imagine that some of you who are reading today’s blog share this same fault with me. That, in turn, has caused those who love you to be worried about you as well.
       As I suggested earlier, most Christians will ask the Lord to help them change anything in their character that does not honor Him; I am no different. By the same token, those who are convinced that what they do is not against God’s will, will not seek change even though others around them advise them to do so. Here is one example: Since the time I started in the ministry and continuing till today, every time I climb the pulpit or approach the teaching lectern, I feel nervous. Most of those to whom I have confessed this to, will almost always say that I look perfectly comfortable and at ease when I’m preaching or teaching. All I can say to that is thank you Lord for your grace. Well, From the beginning I asked the Lord to Help me drive away my nervousness because other servants of God advised it, and although I’m far from being highly spiritual, I sensed the Lord telling me He preferred me being nervous every time. This way, I would not trust in myself but on Him and would keep my focus on the task at hand.
       I bet it hurts and really bothers those who love me, when they sense that certain people are taking advantage of me. I love them deeply for it and sincerely appreciate their concern. As far as taking advantage, however, I think we all do it, oftentimes without noticing it. In fact, I believe it is a natural human tendency. I also think this is what David had in mind when He wrote: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalms 19:13 KJV) To me, a presumptuous sin is one where we subconsciously try to take advantage of God’s goodness presuming that He won’t mind or chastise us for it. After all, He loves us too much and is too forgiving. Big mistake! Bottom line: We all take advantage of others from time to time. Even so, I would rather permit others to do it to me, continuing to be who I am, because I prefer being soft, forgiving, even gullible, over becoming cold, callous, or uncaring.
 
God’s promise for today: (2 Corinthians 13:11) “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
     
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 17 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016    
       One of the features in the biblical story of Esther concerning her intercession for her people is that anyone who approached the Persian king uninvited risked being put to death according to the law of the land at the time. In the end, it was Esther’s intercession that saved her people from being completely destroyed. Esther herself, even though she was the queen, was not exempt from that law and would have been executed if the king had not extended the gold scepter to her to indicate that she had been spared. In fact, because she sensed her life was in the balance, Esther asked her uncle Mordecai to gather all the Jews to fast on her behalf for three days and three nights, declaring “And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
       Although it is the complete opposite for God’s children, we often forget the unmatchable benefit of being able to approach the King of all kings at any time or place with confidence and assurance. Hebrews 4:16 extends this invitation to us: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Although many have, in particular ministers, this is one promise we must never forget. The truth that God can be approached at any time, should remind His ministers everywhere to make themselves available as much as they can to all who call upon them, especially God’s people. Sadly, some churches, and especially their pastors, don’t always make themselves available, and that includes their own members.
       If you have ever felt the sting of being rejected because you were not able to approach one of God’s ministers, let me remind you that we can always go to Someone much greater. Our Heavenly Father will always be willing to hear us. In fact, He is more anxious than we are to have a time of personal fellowship with us. And although He is the Creator of the world and the King of all Kings, He also is our Father in Heaven. So don’t ever hesitate to draw near to Him for any reason. Think about this: Don’t you just love to hang out with the people in your life you love the most? Well, you’re the one the Lord loves the most and He always wants to hear from you and spend some quality time with you. Spend time with Him often.
 
God’s promise for today: (Ephesians 3:12) “In Him and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 16 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016     
       I bet that some of you are more than just casually concerned about the effect of today’s perilous times upon your children and grandchildren. They face more danger, violence, cruelty, ungodliness, and temptation than we ever did. It stands to reason, therefore, that parents and grandparents will struggle with the question of who will watch over them and protect them since, in the case of many of them, they are own their own. Because of it, I have heard many parents and grandparents throughout the years express their fear of dying, saying “who will be around to help them?” or “what are they going to do without me?” Since I am familiar with these concerns, I always remind them that it is actually the Lord who has watched over them and protected them, although their part is important and precious to their loved ones. After all, even if we were to leave them, we must not forget the eternal truth in Psalm 68:5 which says: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
       So today, my dear brethren, rest in the confidence that the Lord will watch over and protect your loved ones whether you are here or in Heaven. Trust in the Lord and redirect your focus on other pressing matters. Remember that they, as well as us, are in the best of care.
 
God’s promise for today: (Proverbs 14:26) “Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 15 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016         
       I read the strange but interesting account that was shared by a fairly well known minister of God. There was a time that for several nights he was awakened by what sounded like a very faint chime or bell. He would climb out of bed every time he heard it but before he could find where the sound was coming from, it would stop. He finally found the source after many tries. It was an old watch he had tucked away in a drawer under some junk. He viewed the incident as a reminder from God that His love in our hearts can be like that. It sounds regularly but we seldom hear it because it is buried under our personal ambitions, cares and problems, daily routines, and our cluttered lifestyles. It is very much like the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches Jesus spoke about in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) that choke the Word of God, keeping it from reaching the heart.
       We have to learn how to block the cares and worries of life that can keep the love of God from flowing freely in our hearts. Believe it or not, that love is in the heart of every child of God, although we sometimes forget it is there, much like the absence of the sun on gloomy rainy days. Romans 5:5 tells us that “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” That love compels us ! It is the driving force within us that gives our lives meaning and purpose. That is why Paul wrote: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
       How can we assure ourselves that we will hear God’s voice next time He calls us? The answer is really quite simple. When someone calls out to you and he or she is doing it from a distant room, you will probably not make out what they are saying, but the closer you draw to him or her the better you can hear and understand. And that leads us to:
 
God’s promise for today: (James 4:8) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:09 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 12 2016
Friday, August 12, 2016     
       When hearing or learning of some notable event in history, do you often remark to yourself or those around you, “I sure would have liked to have been there on that day.” ? For me, one of those events is found in the 14th Chapter of the gospel of John. Right before His appointment with the cross of Calvary and His subsequent resurrection, Jesus gathered His Disciples to tell them the news and to prepare them for his return back to the Father. In other words, He was going to leave them. And because He knew this was going to be an extremely difficult time for them, He told them not to be troubled, to believe in Him as they believed in God. Then He told them about preparing a place for them in Heaven so that one day they could join Him there. When He said: “You know the way to the place where I am going, Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (verses 4-5)
       On a human standpoint, we can’t fault Thomas for his reaction to Christ’s words. After all, if someone were to tell us to go to a place where we have never been, would it be outrageous to say “how do I get there”? On the other hand, we can fault him for not paying attention when Jesus had said previously, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (verse 3) If Thomas had been attentive and had focused on Jesus’ promise to personally come back for them and take them to Heaven, how to get there would not have been an issue.
       My dear brethren in Christ, this is one promise we can rest upon and rejoice over. If it was our assignment to go to Heaven on our own, we wouldn’t even know where to start, much less find it. Someone may have wondered why I just said previously that Jesus promised to personally come back for His Disciples. Could He have not sent angels for them instead? Certainly, but if Jesus said “He” was going to come back for them, that’s exactly what He was going to do. And that is the basis of all God’s promises; if He said it, He will do it. I pray we will all learn to trust and rely on His promises daily. They are like money in the bank and are there for us to use them whenever the need arises. Whatever your situation is today, if it worries or concerns you more than it should, remember that there is a promise for it.
 
God’s promise for today: (1 Thessalonians 4:16) “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 11 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016 
       One specific thing that worried Job was the spiritual wellbeing of his children. Whenever they would get together at some family celebration, Job would get up early and offer a burnt sacrifice to God just in case in their festivities they had sinned against Him the previous night. All godly parents share this same concern for their children. Even as you are reading today’s blog some of you may be worrying about your children or grandchildren’s relationship with Christ. We raise them as best we can in the knowledge and nurture of the Lord and then trust that when they are on their own they will continue in close fellowship with Him. Therefore, whenever we see indications that they are slipping or straying, we start to concentrate more on our prayers for them. Prayer will always help in that regard and, if nothing else, God’s blessing and protection will be upon them until they snap out of their lapse and get back on track.
       I was thinking about that situation yesterday as I read this verse: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 KJV) Many bible readers assume that the word “fault” in the verse simply implies sin. Actually the Greek word in the original manuscript is the word paraptoma which means: “a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness.” Therefore, we can conclude that this will include our children, or any child of God, who is straying from Him or is going through a spiritual funk. Apart from praying for them, the verse advises us to be proactive and make an effort to “restore” them. The question is: “how do we do that?”
       I don’t think there is any certain or prescribed way and I assume that the Lord wants us to pray and ask for direction or for an opening. We must remember, nevertheless, that if we don’t do it when the Lord opens the door for it, at the Spirit’s leading, if you will, we won’t have much success. Even so, if we really love our children, brethren, or friends that are having a spiritual relapse, we must do what we can to bring them back quickly to the Lord before they hurt themselves even more. Doing it God’s way, we will be doing more for them that we can possibly imagine and, as a result, we will be the recipients of…….
 
God’s promise for today: (Daniel 12:3) “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 10 2016
Wednesday, August 10, 2016                 
       “When We See Christ” is a fairly well known Christian song which was popular around a generation ago and is still among my favorites. I encourage you to check it out when you can. I'm sure you can find it on you tube. To me, it’s main message is that anyone who trusts in the Lord and lives a Christ honoring life can expect to receive many blessings because of it. Of course, the majority of those who live for God do so because they just flat out love Him. Because we are human, however, we sometimes wonder if the things we sacrifice from time to time will be worth it in the end. The writer of the above named hymn, Esther K. Rusthoi, addressed that particular issue in her beloved song. Here’s what the very first stanza and it’s chorus says: [ Oft times the day seems long / Our trials hard to bear / We're tempted to complain /  to murmur and despair / But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away / All tears forever over in God's eternal day……… * It will be worth it all when we see Jesus  /Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ / One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase / So bravely run the race till we see Christ ]
       One day, Peter heard Jesus’ conversation with a rich young man who asked Him what he had to do to gain eternal life. When the Lord suggested he sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, Peter saw the rich man walk away sad because he was not willing to go that route. Because of it, Peter turned to Christ and, implying that he and the rest of the Disciples had left a lot to follow Him, asked Him “what will be there for us?” Jesus replied in part: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29) Simply put, serving the Lord, just like today’s hymn says, is definitely worth it.
       Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t waver in your Christian walk. If we are honest, we will all admit that sometimes living for Christ and standing for what is right, is not easy. I read this quote recently which impressed me so much, I intend to put it up soon on our church’s marquee: “It is better to walk alone, than to walk with a crowd that is headed in the wrong direction.” Remember that one day we will all say: “it was worth it!”
 
God’s promise for today: (Galatians 6:9) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
 
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Tuesday, August 09 2016
Tuesday, August 9, 2016     
       It is widely believed that David wrote Psalm 56 while being hotly pursued by the Philistines in Gath. It was at that time that he turned to God for mercy and courage. In verse three he wrote: “When I am afraid, I (will) put my trust in you.” Please bear in mind that he did not say that if he were ever to be afraid, he would trust in God. Rather, what he clearly implied was that every time he was afraid, he trusted in the Lord.
       This is important because many of God’s children sincerely believe that if they are afraid, either their faith is weak or else they have sinned against the Lord. The great Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry wrote this about verse 3: [ In the midst of his complaints, (David) and before he has said what he has to say of his enemies, he triumphs in the divine protection. He resolves to make God his confidence, then when dangers were most threatening and all other confidences failed: “What time I am afraid, in the day of my fear, when I am most terrified from without and most timorous within, then I will trust in Thee, and thereby my fears shall be silenced.” Note, there are some times which are, in a special manner, times of fear with God’s people. In this time it is their duty and interest to trust in God as their God, and to know whom they have trusted. This will fix the heart and keep it in peace. ] I wholeheartedly agree with this position and formula and although I can see why many Christians would not want to make it known every time they are afraid, the truth is that no one can comfort or encourage us in those times better than God.
       Although I will confess it at times, I seldom tell others when I am afraid. First, it is not necessary because once I ask the Lord in faith to help me, the issue is resolved. Secondly, those around me whose faith is weak, could be negatively affected by it. Thirdly, I don’t want the devil to know when I’m afraid because he will then know when and how to attack me in the future. The devil is not like God. He only knows what he sees or hears, unlike God who knows our hearts and minds. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter much whether or not we tell others when we are afraid; the bottom line is that when we are and ask the Lord to help us, He always will. Next time you are afraid or if you are afraid right now, lift up your prayer to God. This formula works! That’s a promise!
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 112:7) “They (those who trust in God) will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 08 2016
Monday, August 8, 2016            
       “Standing On The Promises” is a favorite old time hymn we used to sing with regularity many years ago. The last stanza goes this way: [Standing on the promises I cannot fall /Listening every moment to the Spirit's call / Resting in my Savior as my all in all /  Standing on the promises of God] In reality, it is the personal testimony of the man who wrote it, Russell K. Carter. (1849-1928) Though he was an ordained Methodist minister, it wasn’t until suffering a medical crisis in his life at the age of 31 that he really began to believe and trust in the promises of God’s Word. When doctors gave him no hope for his heart condition, Carter turned to God for health and healing. [ He knelt and made a promise that healing or no, his life was finally and forever, fully consecrated to the service of the Lord. It was from that moment that the written Word of God became alive to him. He began to stand upon the promises of healing, determining to believe no matter what his physical condition, no matter how he felt. Over the course of the next several months his strength returned, and his physical heart was completely healed. Carter lived another 49 years after that. ](Source:sharefaith.com)
       Even before I read Russell Carter’s bio last Friday, I was thinking in the wee hours of the previous night about my purpose in life. I suppose that anybody past the 3/4 century mark will ask himself from time to time, as I did, “why am I still here?” Well, the Lord reminded me then that one of my main purposes is to do whatever I can to encourage others while I’m still here, especially by way of these daily blogs. I’m not sure how well I’m doing in that regard because there are times when I just don’t have the time, energy, frame of mind, or inspiration I need in order to do it on a daily basis. The Lord reminded me that night that I was doing what I vowed I would not do a long time ago, namely putting too much pressure on myself. He also reminded me that it is by way of the promises in His Word that His children find, healing, grace, comfort, and encouragement, not by my words.
       With that in mind, I will make a renewed effort to write on topics that will encourage our readers, and should I fall short of that goal, I will include a promise from the Word of God for the day to replace the “memory verse for the week” format. This way, I can rest assured that our readers will truly be encouraged on a daily basis. In fact, the next time I suffer from brain freeze or have nothing to write about, the promise of God for the day will be enough for all our readers to stand upon. Those who stand on God’s Word never fall. Be encouraged!
 
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 71:6)  “I have cared for you from the moment you were born.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:20 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 05 2016
Friday, August 5, 2016     
       To finish off your week on a high note, I want to share with you today one of my favorite bible verses. Because it is a very comforting promise, it is a favorite of many of God’s children everywhere as well. Here it is:“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”(Isaiah 43:2) 
       It is very possible that one or more of you is going through such a rough stretch in your life right now, that it appears that it will drown you. It won’t. I was reminded recently of this fact: sheep are not very good swimmers. That is why a good shepherd would never allow his flock near strong currents waters. If he did cross them through these types of rivers, he would carry them over himself. It is the same with you and me. As God’s children, we know that when we go through hard trials, He is always with us, whether it seems like we’re in the midst of a raging river or a huge fire.
       When I was a boy, the bathroom at our house had an elevated screen window. Oftentimes, one of my older brothers would cut out the picture of a mean looking man an attach it to the corner of the screen. When we first went it and turned the light on, at first glance it appeared that this man was really there and ready to attack us. Of course, it was just a cutout. Life’s difficult trials are like that. At first glance, they are very menacing and it may seem that they will be the end of us. They won’t, because they are nothing more than a picture. The reality is that the Lord is always with us and we are safe in His arms. If you are going through a fire or storm right now, remember today’s promise. You have nothing to fear or worry about.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 9:10 KJV) “And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 03 2016
Wednesday, August 3, 2016                 
       When paying for an item at the store with a fifty or a hundred dollar bill, I’m sure you have noticed the cashier hold it up to the light. Assuming you don’t look like an untrustworthy person, I hope you don’t get offended when this happens to you because, for the most part, store cashiers are just following the instructions they have been given. Nevertheless, the point I am trying to make is that counterfeit bills can be easily identified when held up against the light. It is the same in life, error can be exposed when held up against the light.
       I have been thinking of this eternal truth as we are in the midst of another presidential campaign. We hear claims or accusations from both the Republicans and the Democrats about the candidates and it is up to us to either believe them or reject them. It seems to me nonetheless that, whether they are true or not, many believe them. In the end, the side that is able to convince the majority of the voters is the one most likely to emerge victorious. The question is: How can we know which side’s claims were the most truthful, since it is highly possible that the truth will be stretched by both? You have the right to disagree because I am no expert on this issue but I believe that we will never know the answer to that question in this life. We are left with the dilemma of who we trust or distrust the most.
       You may think that now, more than ever, people can’t be trusted but this has always been the case. This is not to say that we should go around distrusting everybody but the bottom line is that, generally speaking, man cannot be trusted. Why? We can’t be trusted due to our sinful nature. We all fall short of the glory of God as Romans 3: 23 declares. That is why Paul also added: “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4) Not believing in the truth as it relates to the current presidential campaign will have it’s consequences in this life, but not believing in the truth (Christ) as it relates to spiritual matters will have eternal consequences. Vote for the candidate of your choosing but whatever you do, don’t place your complete trust on anybody other than God.
 
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 9:10 KJV) “And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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