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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, March 31 2017
Friday, March 31, 2017      
       In David’s prayer of repentance to God, he included this eternal truth: “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6) A more modern bible version says it this way: “You want me to be completely truthful. So teach me wisdom.” We all have people in our lives who seem to have an answer to every question. Common sense alone should tell us that that is not possible. The only One who knows everything is God. I am not a psychologist and don’t know why people are like that. Maybe they want to appear to be knowledgeable to others or maybe they are just full of themselves. Nevertheless, God wants us all to be completely honest. It is totally acceptable if we confess from time to time that we don’t know or have an answer for a question that is asked of us.
       With that in mind, I’ve been in the gospel ministry for over forty years and yet there are many bible verses I don’t fully understand. Here is one of them: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) One of my guesses concerning this verse is that there is a little bit of God in every human being which is one reason that, from time to time, even normally wicked people do kind things. When God was in the process of creating the earth, several times we read that He saw it and said that it was good.
       I know I have done this often, perhaps you have too. I am referring to doing a certain chore or task, like working the yard for example, and after it is all done, come back and admire the work I just did. Is that not what God did in creation? However, here’s where the tricky part enters the picture: We must not think that nobody else can do as good a job as us, and we must not boast about it to others. We must always keep in mind that if it were not for the Lord helping us, we could have never accomplished what we just did. I feel slightly uneasy every time I hear someone trying to take all the credit for themselves. It happens almost every day at work or at home, even preachers do it. I’ve heard some of them say from the pulpit something like : “People, get ready. I’ve got a message today that is going to knock your socks off.” Perhaps they don’t realize that they are, in fact, robbing God of His glory. Most of the time, that fantastic sermon that was announced was not all that great in the end, probably because God was not given the glory. It is not a sin to admire the things we do, as long as we give God the glory for it. In closing, did you hear about the fellow who proudly proclaimed, “I used to be very conceited but now that I belong to Jesus, I’m probably the nicest guy you will ever meet” ? Besides chuckling a bit, I bet some of you are thinking “Hey, I know somebody like that!”    
 
God’s word for today: (Revelation 4:11)  “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 31 2017
Friday, March 31, 2017      
       In David’s prayer of repentance to God, he included this eternal truth: “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6) A more modern bible version says it this way: “You want me to be completely truthful. So teach me wisdom.” We all have people in our lives who seem to have an answer to every question. Common sense alone should tell us that that is not possible. The only One who knows everything is God. I am not a psychologist and don’t know why people are like that. Maybe they want to appear to be knowledgeable to others or maybe they are just full of themselves. Nevertheless, God wants us all to be completely honest. It is totally acceptable if we confess from time to time that we don’t know or have an answer for a question that is asked of us.
       With that in mind, I’ve been in the gospel ministry for over forty years and yet there are many bible verses I don’t fully understand. Here is one of them: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) One of my guesses concerning this verse is that there is a little bit of God in every human being which is one reason that, from time to time, even normally wicked people do kind things. When God was in the process of creating the earth, several times we read that He saw it and said that it was good.
       I know I have done this often, perhaps you have too. I am referring to doing a certain chore or task, like working the yard for example, and after it is all done, come back and admire the work I just did. Is that not what God did in creation? However, here’s where the tricky part enters the picture: We must not think that nobody else can do as good a job as us, and we must not boast about it to others. We must always keep in mind that if it were not for the Lord helping us, we could have never accomplished what we just did. I feel slightly uneasy every time I hear someone trying to take all the credit for themselves. It happens almost every day at work or at home, even preachers do it. I’ve heard some of them say from the pulpit something like : “People, get ready. I’ve got a message today that is going to knock your socks off.” Perhaps they don’t realize that they are, in fact, robbing God of His glory. Most of the time, that fantastic sermon that was announced was not all that great in the end, probably because God was not given the glory. It is not a sin to admire the things we do, as long as we give God the glory for it. In closing, did you hear about the fellow who proudly proclaimed, “I used to be very conceited but now that I belong to Jesus, I’m probably the nicest guy you will ever meet” ? Besides chuckling a bit, I bet some of you are thinking “Hey, I know somebody like that!”    
 
God’s word for today: (Revelation 4:11)  “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 29 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017  
       Reading in the 3rd Chapter of Colossians yesterday, this verse caught my attention: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." (verse 15) My first thought as I read this verse was one of surprise. To me, it was odd that the apostle would ask the people of God to do something that I thought was virtually automatic. I am referring to being thankful and having peace. As I meditated on this, and remembering what I have learned by personal experience, God’s children don’t always have peace in their hearts. Of course, that is not God’s fault. Secondly, although we can assume that all of us are naturally grateful, we are not always good at demonstrating it. 
       How often have we heard those who are accused of being unloving or ungrateful say that their actions, not their words, should have already proved their love or thankfulness? How often have you heard a father say something like "I’ve put food on their table and clothes on their back, provided a good education for them and have supplied all of their needs. Have I not proved by that that I love my children?" A husband may say something similar to his wife, then add: "Does that not prove that I love you?" To be fair, being unloving or unthankful is not confined to men only; women and children can be like that too.
           As a pastor, I can assume that all of our members love God and are genuinely thankful. Nevertheless, only a very small percentage of them seal the deal by their words and expressions. I bet you know people who though they may be very nice, you never see them show much emotion or enthusiasm. You never hear them actually say things such as "Thank you" or "I love you."  
        Lets keep the general message of this verse in mind. Lets not permit anything or anyone rob us of the peace of God and lets make a sincere effort to show others, and especially God, that we truly are thankful. Our good deeds are important and very necessary but we only seal the deal when our words and expressions of love and gratitude accompany them.
 
God’s promise for today: (Philippians 4:7) “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 28 2017
Tuesday, March 28, 2017          
       Pastor Ruben preached a great message about selfishness this past Sunday in church. He cited the rich man whose story is found in the 12th Chapter of Luke who foolishly planned to store as much grain as he could so he could enjoy his retirement life in ease and pleasure. He pictured himself in his later years, eating, drinking, and being merry. He was not only wrong, he was dead wrong! God said to him: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20
       To give additional confirmation to Pastor Ruben’s sermon, I saw a TV commercial yesterday morning where a woman starts by saying something like this: “I’m in my sixties, I’ve got a long life ahead of me.” Really, who said so? The world is filled with folks that make one plan after another for this life and never take eternity into consideration. They want to make all the money they can and don’t have any time for God in this life. They certainly don’t have time for something as silly as going to church every Sunday. Just like the man in the bible story, they only think of themselves, seldom thinking about what they can do for others. It was no different with the rich man Jesus spoke about in the 16th Chapter of Luke. In his lifetime, he never did anything for the poor beggar, Lazarus, who was at his gate every day just hoping someone would give him a few crumbs. Later when they both died, the rich man went to hell and Lazarus to paradise. This rich man too, selfishly lived for himself and when death found him, he was totally unprepared for eternity. To be fair, selfishness is not confined only to the wealthy. There are many selfish people in this world who are far from being rich. 
       The rich man in Luke, Chapter 12, never took this into consideration: Who made the rain that made his crops grow? Who made the soil from where they grew? Who made the seed he planted? Who caused the sun to shine? Who gave him the strength to do the work, or the wisdom to teach his workers how to do it? Lastly, who gave him his life? Is it any different for the people of today? Who has given them their jobs, careers, strength, wisdom or intelligence? You may have family members or friends in your life who are like that. Pray for them. Do what you can that they may hear the bible’s message of salvation while they are still on this side of eternity. As far as we are concerned, lets ask God to help us because if it appears in our life, selfishness is definitely something to be concerned about.
 
God’s word for Today: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 27 2017
Monday, March 27, 2017                  
 
       One character trait all true children of God should have is a good sense of humor. In fact, I believe that for a minster it is an absolute essential. Laughter is like the release valve in a pressure cooker; if it does not function properly, the pot will explode. Through the years I’ve known many God loving folks whose “release valve” does not function properly. They let some situation in their life fill them with anger, resentment, bitterness, anxiety, worry, sadness, or fear. And because they linger in those seasons much longer than they should, that, in turn, robs them of the joy Christ wants them to have. We should all take the things of God seriously, but never ourselves. Paul wrote: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3) I confess that, early in my ministry, I went through a stretch where I thought that, as a servant of God, it was my duty to try to appear to others as always being serious, spiritual, and godly. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was being hypocritical, pretending to be somebody I was not. Once I better understood the grace of God, I decided to be myself. I felt confident that the Lord could use me in spite of my silliness or goofiness. And since He has, that reinforces my personal belief that God Himself has a sense of humor.
 And because I don’t take myself too seriously, it often manifests itself in my messages and bible studies. On one occasion, a lady member came after our Sunday morning service to scold me for poking fun at myself during my sermon. Her position was that since I was a dignified servant of the most high God, I should conduct myself accordingly. To be honest, I initially felt flattered that she thought of me in that fashion. That changed when I later found out that she had started a secret movement among our members to have me “impeached.” I never knew pastors could be impeached but that was the word she used. This happened about twenty years ago, so I’m thankful that our membership never took her seriously, even though she definitely took herself seriously.  
        Laughter produces a merry heart and according to Proverbs 17:22“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Nothing that is in the word of God is there by accident or coincidence. Therefore, let’s take it’s advice and make laughter a big part of our lives. It may be just the medicine our soul needs right now. Before I go, did you hear about the little Mexican boy that was born with a rubber toe? His parents named him Roberto.
 
 
 
God’s word for today: (Psalm 146:5) “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
 
      
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:28 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 24 2017
Friday, March 24, 2017     
       Has this ever happened to you?: You are trying to do a fix-it job at home on an appliance or gadget and just when you think you’ve done all the necessary steps, nothing happens. Then, after a while, you realize the power is off. I hate to admit it but this has happened to me much more than once. I think it is the same in our Christian life. Sometimes we can’t figure out why we don’t get a certain petition answered. After a while, it dawns on us that we are not connected to the power. Something has happened to interrupt our relationship with God. When dealing with certain members’ issues, I give them what I believe is the biblical remedy for their situation. If, after a while, their issue is not  resolved, I ask them about their relationships, first with God and then with people in their lives. You’ll be surprised how often they confess a hidden sin or a falling out with someone. Once they do what needs to be done, their fellowship with God is restored and the joy and victory returns.
       In his first letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul pointed out some reasons why some of it’s members had become sick or even died. They were participating in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. To put it more simple, they too had unconfessed sin in their lives. Paul advised them to examine themselves before they participated in the Lord’s holy ordinance so that they wouldn’t suffer the same fate as those before them. The writer of Psalm 66: apparently knew this truth as well. That is why he added: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (verse 18) This speaks of a sin a person likes and is not willing to let go, much less confess it.
       After Adam and Eve sinned and later heard the sound of the Lord walking in the Garden, they tried to hide from Him. And since we were all blessed with Adam’s nature, it is not unusual if one of our first instincts is to try to hide from God when we have failed Him. Thank God that, because of Christ, we no longer have to hide after we sin. I John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He is so willing to receive and forgive us when we sin that He even invites us to draw near. The writer of the book of Hebrews said it this way: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
       If you have wondered why God hasn’t answered one of your special prayers, perhaps you may want to examine your life. If you have sinned or if there is something amiss, whatever you do, please don’t run and hide. The Lord wants to heal and restore you. 
 
God’s promise for today: (James 4:8) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” 
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 23 2017
Thursday, March 23, 2017            
       Reading in Isaiah 51 this morning, I saw some things we, as God’s children, can definitely identify with. From it’s very first verse, we get this eye-opening reminder: “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.” Clearly God is telling us here to remember who we are. Since we gave ourselves to Christ and now belong to Him, we no longer belong to the World and we are very much different than they. And because of it, those who do not know Christ see us totally different than how God sees us. Their concept of us can range from simple silliness to complete dementia. Speaking about that, even when someone tells you that you are crazy, you must remember that, for a child of God, that is impossible. 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Therefore, who are we going to believe? Did Jesus not say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” in John 14:6? 
       If we are in Christ, we are in the truth. This is something we must keep in mind constantly because there will be times when the world, or our mind, or our eyes, even our heart, will tell us something other than the truth. This happens because our old nature is still within us. Today, for example, some of you may be going through a difficult trial. And because you’re human, it just may be that you have worried more than you should about it, maybe even suffered some sleepless nights. To you, I say: “Let the truth in!” The Lord says He is with you, and that’s the truth! Later on in Isaiah 51, the Lord says: “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass?” (verse 12)
       I feed my dogs at night and every time I step outside the first thing I do is look up to the sky. I love seeing the moon and the stars but sometimes I can’t see them. Sometimes I can count only a handful of stars. Yet, I know they‘re out there. I was amazed recently when someone showed me a photo they took of the sky while out on an ocean cruise. My goodness! Even with an I-phone camera the view was amazing. I thought, “is this the same sky I’m looking at back home when I’m feeding our dogs, when I can only make out a handful of stars?” The answer is: “of course it is.” It is the same with us at times. We are going through a rough stretch and we’re desperately looking for God but we can’t see Him. By no means should we think that He’s not there. Believe me, God is always there with us and much closer than we can think or imagine. And that’s the truth!
 
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 43:2) “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.”
       
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 22 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017  
       In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1 NKJV) It is a wise thing to try to learn from and then emulate those who faithfully serve or have served the Lord, in particular the heroes of the faith. When the subject of bible heroes comes to mind, who is the first one on your list? Is it David, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, or someone else? The fact is that we can learn good things from any of these and other bible figures. I was thinking about that recently as I was reading again in Numbers, Chapter 12. It is the account of the time when Moses’ brother and sister criticized and openly spoke against him. I, like many other teachers, look for examples, lessons, comparisons, and application when reading a bible story. I found all of that in Numbers 12. I can only go over some of them lightly due to the limited space I have chosen to allot for our blogs, but I trust you’ll read that story for yourself and see what other good things you can learn from it.
       Here are some of the valuable lessons I found in this story: (1) It is not wise to openly criticize a faithful servant of God. Though Moses never complained to God for what Miriam and Aaron did, the last part of verse 2 says: “And the Lord heard it.” (2) Meekness, or humility, like we saw in Moses, is a characteristic of God’s exceptional servants. As I often tell our congregation: “Meek does not mean weak.” (3) Our biggest critics and fiercest opponents are often those in our own family. (4) To desire God’s punishment on those who hurt or offend us is not a Christian characteristic. When the Lord was about to punish Aaron and Miriam for it, who was the first to intercede in their behalf? Correct! It was Moses! In fact, the punishment could have been much worse had he not interceded for them. Centuries before Jesus taught it in His Sermon on the Mount, Moses already knew that is God’s will to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (See Luke 6:28)  
       Can we be imitators of Moses? Can we behave as he did the next time someone offends or hurts us? Can we pray for them and not rejoice or gloat if or when God decides to punish them? Can we patiently accept our trials and tribulations without crying “poor me” or complaining to God about it? If we can, God can use us. It may not even come close to Moses’ level, but He can use us anyway.
 
God’s promise for today: (Matthew 5:11“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”
 
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 20 2017
Monday, March 20, 2017    
       Though I was never much of a fan of Country Music, there were a few tunes here and there which I either liked or else they certainly got my attention. One such tune, sung by David Allen Coe, had this rather odd line: “But you don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin.” To be honest, I never quite understood the song’s story line but, to me, it reminded me of those who flatter others or call them by sweet sounding names when it is pretty apparent their expression is less than genuine. Does the line: “You look marvelous, dahling” come to mind? 
       Anyway, that old tune came to mind recently when I was reading in Chapter 12 in the book of Romans. Verse 9 reads: “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Other words for “dissimulation” are “hypocrisy” and dishonesty.” To me, it is a reminder for God’s children to be different than those in the world who only go around pretending that they sincerely care about others. How hard a task can that possibly be for those who have the love of Christ residing in their hearts? I choose to believe that the majority of those of you who are reading this blog, whether or not you are aware of it, are just looking for an opportunity to express or share the love of Christ with others. You are like the group of folks Jesus spoke about in the 25th Chapter of Matthew. They didn’t realize that the good they had done for others was the same as if they had done them for the Lord. That is why they asked: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” (verse 37)
       The second part of Romans 12:9 reminds me that life is like eating at a cafeteria or buffet restaurant. We get choose what we want on our plate. We should reject that which is not good for us (abhor that which is evil) and really go for “that which is good.” It is the same when we hear someone preach or teach. We don’t have to receive something we didn’t like or agree with. We can pass it by just like we do with items at the buffet bar we don’t like. In fact, it is the same with these blogs. If you didn’t agree with something I wrote, pass it by just like you do at the cafeteria. After all, there is no preacher, teacher, or writer who is right every time. Some of us may not even be right half of the time. God’s instruction, however, remains: Our prayer should be: “Lord, help me to abhor and reject those things which are evil in your sight, and tightly cling to those which are good.”
 
God’s word for today: (Psalm 139:23) “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.”
 
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 10 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017     
       The 4th Chapter of Philippians is one of my favorite chapters in the bible. Yet, every time I read it I feel uneasy at the start of it when I am reminded of the reality that strife and contentions can arise even in the best of churches and families, as it did among the Philippians. The way the Apostle Paul started the chapter is evidence that the Philippian believers were near and dear to him. He called them his joy and crown and was obviously very proud of them. Because they meant so much to him, I can only imagine how much it hurt him to learn that strife had arisen among two of it’s prominent members. In the 2nd verse, and part of the 3rd, we read: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel.” Besides begging these two dear ladies to end their strife and settle their differences, he appealed to the pastor to do everything that he could to help them as well.
       Strife is a terrible and hurtful thing especially when it occurs among God’s children, those who should love one another dearly. If it is unchecked and is allowed to continue it can break up marriages, families, even churches. The bible has a lot to say about this damaging sin. Here are just three examples: (Proverbs 16:28 NLT) “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.” (Pro. 17:14“The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” (Pro. 20:3) “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” To sum up the general truths of these three verses, the one who starts the quarrel is a troublemaker who causes the breakup of even the best of friends. Secondly, once the floodgates of strife are open, very little can be done to contain it or “take it back.” Thirdly, those who are quick to start quarrels are called fools while those who avoid them are called honorable.
       Someone asked me recently: “In a quarrel, who should be the first to ask forgiveness or say that they’re sorry?” I replied that I wasn’t sure but what I do know is that the one who usually puts an end to a quarrel is the strongest in character and grace of the two. The one who ends strife is usually the one with the biggest heart, the one who loves Christ the most, the one who is more like Him. I feel that way because of what I read in these two particular verses: (Proverbs 15:18 NLT) “A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.” (Pro. 15:1) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Since we are all capable of it, none of us are exempt from strife. Therefore, it is possible that one, two, or more of you are presently experiencing it. If you are, I have one question for you: “Are you the weak one or the strong one?”
 
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 10:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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