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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, June 26 2015
Friday, 6/26/15  
       A favorite verse of many Christians is Proverbs 3:5, which reads: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”, but lets be honest here; do we always trust God with “all our heart”?  Could it be  possible that one or two of you who are reading today’s blog are going through a situation for the which you have already determined a course of action? You are already convinced that this action that you are about to take will work perfectly for you; yet, how can you be sure? The Bible is filled with accounts of kings, as well as people, who acted upon something which they believed would work for them, and it did not, so lets consider the verse a little bit more carefully.
       Lets say that someone you know just made you a promise. In the past, this person has never lied to you, has never let you down. If you say that you trust that person with “all your heart” for that very reason, what guarantees do you have that he won’t fail you this time? Are you sure he will even be alive to come through with his promise? Now, lets say that a person you love dearly makes you the same offer. In his case, he has failed you on several occasions already and has been known to not always keep his promises, yet you say, “but my heart tells me that this time he is on the level.” Really, can anyone of us really trust our own heart? Does not the Bible say in Jeremiah 17:9 that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” So much for the malarkey to “follow our heart.” On the other hand why should we not trust “with all our heart” the One who lives forever, who is mighty to do anything He says He will do, who not only has never lied, it is against His very nature. To trust God with “all our heart” is to believe Him even if our plans don’t coincide with His. It is to believe He will help us even if we don’t understand how He will do it.
       Are you going through a puzzling situation in your life. From a human standpoint, do you see it as a high mountain you can’t climb or one which has no possible solution? Snap out of it! There is absolutely nothing God cannot do. I am reminded of a corny story of long ago about a riot that broke out in an Old West saloon in which the Texas Rangers were summoned. When only one ranger arrived, the local sheriff asked him “How come you’re the only one who showed up?” The Ranger replied, “Its only one riot.” Relax! God can handle whatever situation you are going through, as well as everybody else’s. Just bring your petition to the Him, lay it at His feet, then sit back and let Him take over. Once you get through this trial, perhaps you’ll better understand what trusting Him with “all your heart" really means.
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 24 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015           
       Recently, as we drove into our driveway, I noticed a couple who was doing a pretty good job mowing our neighbor’s lawn. Since ours needed cutting too, I walked over to ask the man if he could do ours and what he charged. He said he could but that he was booked for the next two days and would do it after that. His price was very reasonable so I asked him for his phone number and name for future reference. After he gave me his phone number, I said, “and the name?” I heard him say Johnny Okani, and as I looked him over I thought to myself, “Well, he does look like he could be Hawaian or Polynesian, though he’s a little bit too slender” so I said, “I’m sorry, can you please spell your name for me?” He answered, “J-O-H-N-N-Y” and pointing to his wife he said in Spanish “o (or) C-O-N-N-I-E.” Because I was not expecting him to reply in Spanish, I only heard “Johnny Okani.” What he was really saying in Spanish was that when I called, I could ask for Johnny or Connie.
       I don’t think I will soon forget that encounter. Nevertheless, it will always remind me of the need to be as clear as I can when someone asks me a question in the future. We also need to keep in mind the person who is asking the question so that we answer accordingly. I am reminded of several occasions when Jesus’ words were misunderstood by His Disciples. Here is but one of them, found in the 11th Chapter of John: They knew Lazarus had been sick but were not aware that he had died so when Jesus told them “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up”, they thought He meant a natural sleep so they replied, “Good, if he sleeps he will get better.” Jesus had to turn to them and tell them point blank, “Lazarus is dead!”
       The same holds true when we’re sharing what we know about the gospel. Regardless of our level of understanding, we have to keep it simple. For example if someone asks us “How can I be saved?” (They may phrase it differently and ask about going to Heaven or being forgiven but the answer to them should be simple nonetheless.) There are some churches that, for whatever reason, will add things such as “You have to give up smoking, drinking, and cussing, get yourself a Bible, start coming to our church, take classes, start giving your tithes, the list sometimes goes on and on. Keep in mind that these are all good things in themselves, but that would not be the correct answer. The Bible really makes it as easy as ABC (A: admit you’re a sinner, B: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, C: Confess it with your lips.” Too simple? When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” they replied, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your family will be saved.” (See Acts 16:30-31) Therefore, keep it simple. BTW, wouldn’t it be something if there really is a Johnny Okani somewhere?
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:11 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 23 2015

Tuesday,  6/23/15               
       Hezekiah was a very good king but I must admit that the more I read about him in the Bible, the more I can see that he was a hard man to figure out. Then again, this same thing can be said about the majority of us. There is no doubt about his outstanding general character for the scriptures say this about him: Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. (2 Kings 18:5)However, like everyone who has ever walked this earth, besides Jesus, Hezekiah had his character flaws and made some obviously unwise decisions. Nevertheless, most of them were good ones and there was one which I especially liked. I was reminded of it recently by a remark that was made at church by our praise team leader.
       The events that led to that decision are found in the 18th and 19th chapters of the book of 2nd Kings. The king of Assyria, who had previously caused much grief to Hezekiah and his people, came up to invade them again but before he did, he offered them a chance to surrender themselves completely to Him. He made a grave mistake, however, for in the letter that he sent to Hezekiah, he not only insulted God’s people, he insulted God Himself. In great distress, Hezekiah first sent some of his officials to the prophet Isaiah to have him intercede for them before the Lord. Secondly, he took the letter to the temple and opened it up before the Lord so He could see how the king of Assyria had insulted Him. That king had defeated every nation that stood in his path but this time He took on the mighty God of Israel. To the Lord, men’s armies are nothing and in response to Hezekiah’s prayer, the Lord sent just one of His angels who, by himself, destroyed the Assyrian army killing 185,00 men.
       What does that have to do with you and me? Well, we too have enemies of all kinds, very few of them human. They could be, among many other things, fear, worry, doubt, anger, bitterness, impatience, or an addiction of some sort, but like Hezekiah we can bring our petition to an intercessor. In our case we have the greatest One of all; his name is Jesus. We can tell Him what our enemies are doing to us and add that they have even dared to insult Him in the process. No one can do that and think he will be blameless. And the Lord has no favorites; all His children are equally special in His eyes. If he delivered Hezekiah and his people, He will deliver us too. Therefore, bring you case to the Lord. Its that simple.

Memory verse for the week: (Matthew 18:6 KJV) “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 19 2015
Friday, 6/19/15                   
       A good number of them won’t admit it but many people struggle with the reality of growing old and I bet you know some grandparents that don’t like to be called “grandma” or “grandpa.” Sadness, anger, and frustration are among the many emotions that folks that have passed the half-century mark deal with constantly. They are sad because they recall and miss the “good old days”, angry because there is very little they can do about it, and frustrated because they can no longer do things they once did with ease.
       On the other hand, being a senior citizen has many perks as well, beginning with sweet deals and discounts everywhere. I was reminded earlier today of another bonus seniors enjoy, one you will notice yourself once you’ve arrived at the doorstep of “the golden years.” Some of you are that already but those of you who have not yet been noticed will one day find that, without any effort on your part, all of a sudden folks everywhere realize that you too are now a “sweetheart”, “darling”, “honey”, “cutie”, or “sweetie pie.”  I know some people my age who, though they will not admit it, resent being called by any sweet sounding name, but those who refer to them this way mean well. It is a form of honor and respect. Among the rules for living that God gave to Moses for His people was this one: “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.”
       I bet some of you who are reading today’s blog struggle with the thought of growing old because more than likely you have seen it’s emotional, physical, and other effects on one or more of your loved ones. Humanly speaking, that is understandable. On the other hand, in Christ, there is nothing to fear. The truth is that all people, regardless of their age, struggle with many issues. If it is a genuine concern for you nonetheless, the Lord wants you to know that He’ll be there waiting for you when you get there. There are many more, but here is just one promise to those who fear growing old, one which gives me comfort as well: “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.” Before I go, here is one more advantage of growing old: Each new day means we are one day closer to seeing Jesus and being reunited with our loved ones who went before us. I trust you will find comfort in that promise, “sweetheart.”  
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 18 2015
Dealing With Guilt
Thursday    6/18/15   
       I would have shared this topic with our Spanish Bible Class in church last night if a fast moving rainstorm had not forced us to cancel. The reason I thought of this subject was because I dealt with it momentarily myself this past Tuesday night. Someone made me feel guilty about something I did not do and should have, at least in that person’s opinion. Therefore, if it happened to me, I sense it is an issue some of you may be dealing with even as you are reading this blog. Our scripture text would have been Matthew 26:75 which reads: [Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "  Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."  And he went outside and wept bitterly.]  Quite obviously, Peter, among other things, dealt with guilt for quite some time after he denied his Lord and these things also probably more than crossed his mind: unworthiness, worthlessness, and hopelessness, feelings all who permit guilt to creep into there lives will encounter.  
       These are the points to consider: (1) Peter’s denial did not catch Jesus by surprise. As we saw in the opening verse, Jesus told him beforehand that it would happen. In fact, Peter’s restoration was part of Christ’s plan for him even before he actually fell. (See Luke 22:31-32) (2) Peter’s denial did not change God’s plan for his life. Sometimes, people feel guilty for something that happened to a loved one because they were not there for them. The truth is that nothing we can ever do or not do will ever change God’s perfect will or plan for our lives or anybody else’s. (3) God has never called anybody into His service who is without faults and weaknesses. (4) Jesus did not come into this world to condemn, accuse, or judge. Why should we therefore allow someone to do that to us, even if it is we ourselves. Paul said this in his letter to the Corinthians: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.”(1 Cor. 4:3) Clearly, we don’t even have the right to judge ourselves.
       Someone who is reading this blog today has allowed someone or something to make them feel guilty. It just may be that you have dealt with it for quite some time now. The question is: Are you going to believe these condemning and accusing thoughts about yourself and do you think that those who let these troubling thoughts invade their hearts and minds live a joyful and fruitful life? On the other hand, if you believe what God says about His children, and you should, that we are more than conquerors, (Romans 8:37) that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people, (1 Peter 2:9) then you will enjoy the benefits Christ offers. Apart from taking our sins upon Himself at Calvary, Jesus also bore our guilt. Don’t let it ruin your life. It can only hurt you if you let it.
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 17 2015
Wednesday 6/17/15          
       I’m sure you all have noticed by now that I often refer to ourselves as “the children of God.” I suppose some of you may feel slightly uncomfortable when someone refers to you as such, especially as you get older; some of you may even resent the connection. I was thinking of this particular matter last Saturday as I was reading again the NIV’s version of the 21st Chapter of John which speaks of Jesus’ encounter with seven of His Disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee and Gennesaret. When I read verse 5 which says: [He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered.], my first thought was that the translators who produced the New International Version (NIV) perhaps themselves felt uncomfortable referring to grown men as children because I know that in the King James Version, Jesus called them children. So which translators were correct? Was it “friends” or “children”? The answer is easily found by checking with a New Testament Greek Lexicon which reveals that the original word which was used by Jesus on that day wasPaidion which can mean an infant, young child, or a little one. Clearly, it could not be “friend.”
       You may wonder, “Why would this be important?” and why did Bro Joe go to all this trouble just to make the distinction? Well, to me it makes all the difference in the world! Assuming you are like those in the majority, whom do you love more and who is closer and dearer to you, your children or your friends? I know, you don’t have to remind me that Jesus also referred to His Disciples as friends (Gr. Philos) in the 15th Chapter of John because He is that to us also. The truth is that it is very comforting to me to remember that He is the Friend of Sinners, us included, and one of my favorite Hymns is “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” Nevertheless, for Him to consider me as one of His children means so much more to me. I trust it will mean as much to you. Another of my favorite bible verses is Psalms 103:13 which says: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Here again, who will we generally have more compassion for, our children or our friends? Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, added, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Mt. 7:11)
       There you have it! As children of God, we know that there are no limits to the love, care, and compassion He has for us and there is nothing He won’t do for us. I bet Jesus’ Disciples did not get offended at all when he called out to them, “children!” I hope you won’t either. In fact, the next time someone refers to you as a child of God, I hope it will make you feel more important and more special. After all, this is exactly how your Heavenly Father sees you.
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 16 2015
Love Letters
Tuesday,  6/16/15             
       As a basketball coach, he is legendary. Anybody that knows anything about the sport and it’s history knows John Wooden and the unmatched success he had with his UCLA basketball teams. It is very unlikely for a college basketball team to win back to back national championships; Wooden’s teams won seven in a row from 1969-1975. I sincerely believe his character and work ethic had a lot to do with his success. He believed in the simple fundamentals of the game, never allowing his players to dribble between their legs or behind their back and taught them to always acknowledge the teammate who assisted them in scoring a basket. That’s quite a difference from today’s jersey stretching, chest thumping players who secretly desire to make the Sports Center highlights as often as they can. Wooden loved his players and they loved him back, calling him on a regular basis after their careers were over. And although he had some exceptional players on his teams, he loved and treated them all the same. They later shared some of the simple life lessons he taught them, things such as, “discipline yourself, and others won’t need to”, “Never lie, never cheat, never steal” and “earn the right to be confident.” He also didn’t allow his players to have facial hair and one year, hall of fame player, Bill Walton, showed up for the first practice of the season sporting a full beard. When Wooden confronted him about it, Walton kept insisting it was his right. Wooden replied: "That's good, Bill, I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We're going to miss you." Walton shaved it right then and there. After his career was over, Walton called him once a week just to tell Coach Wooden he loved him.
       There is much to love about this man but the thing that touched my heart the most about him was his nightly ritual every 21’st day of the month starting in 1985. He wrote a love letter to his deceased wife for over twenty years and only stopped because he could no longer see. After writing it, he would fold it, put it in an envelope and stack it on top of the previous one on top of her pillow. That is what I call love, devotion, and faith! He said he was not at all afraid to die, adding “Death is my only chance to be with Nellie again.”
       How would you like to be loved liked that and have someone write a monthly love letter to you after you have left this world? The truth is that you are loved even more than that. In fact, there is One whose love letters to you can be read on a daily basis, namely, the Bible. Here is just one line, spoken by Jesus, from one of His many letters, and is the :
Memory Verse for the week: (John 15:9) “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
Note: This should have been yesterday's message but our present internet provider decided to take a day off.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:49 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, June 12 2015
Two Unwelcome Visitors
Friday, 6/12/15                   
       As Children of God, I think most of us consider ourselves people who are generally free from worry and fear. We like to believe that goodness and mercy follow us every day of our life but from time to time, these two villains come to pay us a visit us as well. Just when we are riding the crest of the abundant and victorious life Christ offers, these fellows show up just to see if they can rattle us enough to turn our world upside down. As I read today’s devotional from one of my favorite pastors, I was reminded of these two unwelcome visitors. It made me believe that some of you, just like my wife and I, are being visited right now by these two guys. In our case, a midnight storm of two weeks ago managed to upset our apple cart and the many things we have to do to cope on a daily basis, including long drives, meetings, calls, appointments and emails has opened the door for worry and fear to add their two cents into the mix. 
       The Lord knows we will meet with situations which will shake us up from time to time. In fact, Jesus said it would be so when he told His Disciples: “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.” (John 16:33) Being reminded of these words of Jesus reminds us also that we can have His peace override whatever else may be trying to disrupt our peace.
       If you just got visited by these two unwelcome visitors, ignore them; they can only bother you if you pay attention to them. In times like these, we need to focus on who we are and what we have in Christ. As children of an Almighty God, we are always loved, shielded, and protected and have at our disposal always such things as joy, peace, love, comfort, and assurance, just to name a few. Like Alfred E Neuman of the Mad Comics of long ago, we can say: “Me worry? Heck no!”
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 16:11Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of His making.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 12:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 10 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015            
       Sometimes I see myself as being either too soft or overly diplomatic, and I suppose it could be because of my upbringing but I hope its mostly because of the Lord. There are times when I wish I could be as straightforward or as blunt, if you will, as some people I know but most of the time, not so much. I am referring to those who don’t blink or stutter when they tell others exactly how they feel about them and clearly point out their defects and faults. I know most of us have had occasions when, after we had the chance to express ourselves, we want to kick ourselves because we either were not too happy with the words that came out or because we forgot to say some things we had planned to say. That has happened to you, right?
       I don’t know if you see yourself as being too soft like me, or too hard, and I hope you don’t see yourself as being exactly where God wants you to be. I do know however, what the Bible says concerning the tongue. In the Epistle of James alone, we are told that the religion of those who can’t control their tongue is vain, (1:26) that though the tongue is a small body member it can cause exceeding great damage. (3:5) We all have seen that firsthand. James 3:8 says: “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Keep in mind that though man can’t tame it, God can. In other words, with the help of His Holy Spirit, God’s children, can keep their tongue under control, and if we’re honest we’ll all admit we could use some help in that area. If we are led by His Spirit, we will be able to prepare our words carefully before we let them leave our mouth. Colossians 4:6 says it this way: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer every man.”
       Because we are human, this is one life issue we need to work on daily. May God help us to ever be careful when we interact with others and may one of our goals be to be more like Jesus every day. We all know that He was meek and tender, yet He always got his point across. Because He lives in us, we can be that way too. On the other hand, if you say that you are happy with the way you are already and have no need to change, or else you say you couldn’t care less what others say or think about you, may God especially help you.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 16:11) Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of His making.


Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 09 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Whenever you see a movie where at the beginning of it, it appears that the "Bad Guy" is going to "get away" with a crime he just committed, do you catch yourself just hoping he'll be caught before it is over? If you're like most people, you probably do. On the other hand, do you ever try to "get away" with stuff yourself. For example, when you speed up to beat a red light and as you pass the intersection you realize you were a little bit late, do you glance at your rear view mirror to see if a cop is following you? When there isn't, do you get the feeling that you got away with something?
With the hope of reminding my children to always be honest, when they were still living with us, I would remind them from time to time of the truth found in Numbers 32:23 which says: "be sure your sin will find you out." Originally these words were uttered by Moses to leaders of the tribes of Ruben and Gad when right before God's people were to enter their promised land, they requested the territory east of the Jordan River which was perfect for them to tend to their cattle. Moses protested at first because it was likely that Israel would be involved in battles and it seemed that these tribes would not be around to help their brethren. They promised Moses they would accompany the rest of the tribes until they were all settled and then return to their own territory. Moses accepted their proposal but reminded them that the Lord would hold them to their promise. Here is what the complete verse says: "But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out."
I thought back to those days yesterday when I went to pick up my computer which was affected by the same storm that has temporarily displaced us. I asked for a receipt of the repairman so I could send a copy to my insurance carrier. He asked what amount I wanted him to write, implying he could write down a much larger one. I quickly asked him to write down what I actually paid making sure to also inform him that if I was dishonest, it would come back one day and bite me in the behind. I added that in this life people only "get away" with stuff temporarily and they will pay for it sooner or later; if not in this world, certainly in the next. Many in the world have the "do it to them before they do it to you" mentality. Don't fall into that trap! Paul wrote: "Let no one deceive you
with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." (Ephesians 5:6) It may be an old, overused cliché, but "honesty is the best policy." It always has been, and always will be.

Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 16:11) Honest scales and balances are from the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of His making.

Note: It is Good to be back. I hope to visit with you again as often as I have the opportunity.

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 03 2015
Time Out

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

For the benefit of those who are unaware, the reason for the missing blog messages is that we have been temporarily have been displaced and may not be back home for another month or so.  I plan to write some more whenever I have computer access and the time necessary for it.  The recent storm of late last Thursday knocked out the wiring in our old house and now we need to completely rewire it.  We've been out of our house since last Friday, but that's okay because we are the King and Queen of the road and we have plenty of support, something we are very grateful for.  God is good! Hope to spend some blog time with you again real soon.

Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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