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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Monday, February 29 2016
Monday, February 29, 2016    
       I had an experience this past Saturday afternoon at a nearby car wash I won’t soon forget. A young lady, seemingly still in her teens, approached me as soon as I started the wash cycle offering to sell me a pair of flip flops and basketball jersey both with the Spurs logo for ten dollars. I thought about it for a few seconds and since I had no small change to offer, I told her “no thank you.” She, in turn, politely said “thank you” and walked away. Being the normal human reaction, I suppose most people would have done the same thing I did. As I continued going through the wash cycle, however, and as I saw the young lady slowly disappear in the distance, I finally realized what I had just done and confess that a few tears welled up in my eyes. I had failed to give her a word of hope. Here was a young lady in need, and I had failed to tell her that God had a better plan for her life, that she didn’t have to go around scrounging for a few bucks here and there. That most surely would have been better than the quick fix a few bucks may have provided her.
       I prayed “Lord, if you give me another chance and bring her back, not only will I gladly give her the only 20 dollar bill I have, I will share the gospel with her and see how else I can help her.” I was not given that chance. I cried, not because I feared the Lord would punish me for that sin, for He is our loving, merciful Heavenly Father. I cried because I had failed to help the young lady. More importantly, I had failed Him.
       Some may ask: “What sin, Brother Joe?” This one: James 4:17 says: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” I pray that the next time the Lord presents me with a new opportunity to touch someone’s life, I won’t fumble the ball as I did this time. We hear people often adhere to the idea that we all learn from our mistakes and though I believe it, there is a much better option. In this case, don’t wait till you learn from your mistake; learn from mine.
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:12“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 25 2016
Thursday, February 25, 2016       
       In his bible study class last night in church, Pastor Mike touched lightly on the concept of the “age of accountability” which is the age where children become accountable to God for their sins. In the Jewish faith, it is believed that children reach this phase at the age of 13. The church where I was raised in, assuming that one reaches the age of accountability at the age of 12, would bring all the twelve year olds before a panel of elders to interrogate them concerning their knowledge of God. Once the children gave the proper responses, they were brought before the congregation to publicly make their “profession of faith.” What I distinctly remember about that event in my life was that, for many years after, I sincerely believed that I was lost because I sinned over and over again after that day.
       The bible says in Hebrews 7:25“Wherefore He (Jesus) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”Pastor Mike also pointed out the eternal truth that the sins of the past, present, and future, of all those who come to Christ have been forgiven. This means that the issue of eternal destiny has been settled once and for all, and we no longer have to worry about our salvation and our place in Heaven. Nevertheless, this does not mean that God’s children can sin voluntarily because they no longer have to worry about missing Heaven, nor are they given a “free pass.” Sin will always have it’s consequences, and although we can’t lose our salvation, we can still pay a hefty price for our willful sins.
       Speaking of accountability, all of us are assigned to it. Paul wrote in Romans 14:12, that each one of us will one day give an account to God. And although it is a serious matter, thank God that it will not be regarding our eternal destiny. Again speaking of “accountability”, that is one of the qualities in many of God’s children which bring Him honor. These are they who own up to their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. I love to see that in people! Are you in that group?
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 24 2016
Wednesday, February 24, 2016      
        Genesis 22:13 reads: “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” Abraham had faced many trials before, but this was the most difficult of all. The Lord had told him to go up on Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I think what made it even tougher for him was that he could not tell anybody why he was going up to the mountain. If he had, others would not have permitted it.
       Being his biggest test, it stands to reason that it turned into his greatest joy when he realized what God had done for him. He provided a ram to be the sacrifice instead of his son. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was referring to when He told the opposing religious leaders of His day: “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56) He was more than glad! Perhaps Abraham immediately realized that the coming Messiah would Himself be a sacrifice, with thorns on the top of His head, just as the ram which was caught in the thicket.
       Life has many thorns but they should always remind God’s children of the beauty that surrounds them, just like in a rose. We must never forget that Jesus died so that these thorns (sin) would not destroy us. He even wore them on His forehead signifying that He took our sins upon Himself. I believe many of us rejoiced just as much as Abraham did on that day, when we understood what our Savior had done for us. Don’t let the thorns of life bother you more than they should. In fact, when you see them in your life, be reminded that help and relief are close by.
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 22 2016
Monday, February 22, 2016    
       A favorite verse of mine, especially the last half, is James5:16, which reads: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV) One of the greatest privileges a child of God can have is to pray for others. To me, it is a bigger honor still to have friends or loved ones approach us requesting prayer. Because you are among those who people approach with such a request, do you ever wonder how you can make your prayer for them stronger and more effective? I think we can get a good idea by carefully analyzing and correctly understanding the bible verse in question. Many people immediately disqualify themselves because they misinterpret the word “righteous.” To them the word means holy, even sin-free. No, it is not that at all. Everyone who has ever believed and received Christ as their Savior has been declared righteous.
       According to 1 Corinthians 6:11, those who come to Christ are washed, sanctified, and justified. A simple way of saying this is that, when we gave our lives to Jesus, we were cleansed from our sins, set apart by God as being one of His, and justified. That spiritual process legally makes us “righteous.” That being the case, each and every child of God can lift up powerful prayers for themselves and others. Two other key ingredients of an effective prayer are faith an love. First off, we must believe that God is hearing our prayer at the very moment we are making it. Secondly, we must have a genuine love for those for whom we are praying. To be honest, this will not always be easy because sometimes we don’t really know the person we are praying for.
       Let me tell you what I do in such cases. I feel very confident that it works for me and I trust it will do the same for you. All the while I am praying for the person, I envision how deeply loved he or she may be to many people in his or her life. I also keep in mind how much the Lord loves him or her. Once I do that, my prayer for the person is genuinelyheartfelt. A certain modern version of James 5:16 reads: The heartfelt supplication of a righteous man exerts a mighty influence. Perhaps you can try this method for yourself. If it works for you like I feel it does for me, I believe you too will feel and just know that the Lord definitely heard your prayer and that it was strong and effective. In the end, God’s children who pray this way, probably get as much benefit, if not more, than those for whom they pray.
Memory verse for the week: (Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 19 2016
 Being Strong For Others
Friday, February 19, 2016     
       I was sent a video clip this morning of the eulogy given by Monty Williams at the funeral service for his wife who died in an auto accident a few days ago. Monty played for the Spurs at one time and now is an assistant coach in the NBA and his wife’s funeral was attended by many players and coaches who obviously love them both. As I saw the clip I wondered if I could be as strong in my faith if and when I find myself in that situation. God’s people sometimes fall apart at such times and instead of inspiring others, they bring them down with them.
       I read once again recently the account in the 37th Chapter of Genesis where Isaac refused to be comforted by his children when they all thought that his son Joseph was dead. Verse 35 reads: “All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” Ironically, I wrote about that issue in our church bulletin last Sunday. Here it is:
       [“At the start of his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4) By this, it is clear that if we want to comfort others who are in need of it, we ourselves need to be strong. I confess that there have been times, though momentarily, when I let a certain life crisis get the best of me. If I had continued to sulk, block myself from the world, and feel sorry for myself, I would not have been able to help anyone who needed a word of comfort or encouragement at that moment. How often do we hear in church and in other places that “Its all about Jesus?” Well, if it is, why do we continue to focus more attention on our needs that on those of others? If we truly trust God He will always give us the strength and the victory. Be strong! Others around you are going to need you.”]   
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 27:1) “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 17 2016
Wednesday, February 17, 2016     
       It is a generally accepted belief that many people, especially men,  abstain from marriage due to their fear of commitment, but this understandable fear extends to other situations in life as well. Many people have a general understanding about what commitment really is. Because of it, they don’t want to jump into one, not so much because they don’t want to, but rather they are afraid they will not be able to fulfill their part of the agreement. In essence, their fear of failing is greater than the love for the person or cause involved. 
       As in marriage, a commitment includes vows, pledges, or promises, thus making it a serious matter, something which definitely cannot be jumped into without much prayer and careful consideration. Regarding this matter, Numbers 30:2, says: “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” How often have you abstained from getting involved in a situation or cause because you felt you would not be able to fulfill the requirements? Then, there are those who get involved in a cause, position, or relationship, never realizing that they had committed themselves. This happens in many areas of life as well as in church. Before my life in Christian service began, I was involved in coaching a little league baseball team. I had great success in it because I was totally committed to it, so much that my wife and children were a big part of it. Even back then, I could see that other coaches in our league were not completely committed and it showed in their teams’ performance. I know of many churches who have suffered because their pastor, teachers, singers, musicians, etc., are not totally “sold out” on the Lord.  Paul wrote this truth: “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:4) Pastors, and all Christians who serve in ministry are soldiers. They have to understand that if they don’t fulfill their duty, they are letting their commanding officer down, as well as those they have been chosen to minister to. 
       Fear of commitment is understandable. Because of it, I have abstained from getting involved in any person, thing, or cause because I am already completely committed to my calling involving the people I am obligated to.  I don’t take the writing of this blog, on the other hand, as a commitment. As you well know, this one I do when time and circumstance allows it. If I had viewed as a commitment, I would feel awful for having failed in it. I feel badly enough as it is. In the end, committing ourselves to a person, group, or cause, is a good thing. Don’t be afraid of it, especially after you have asked God to help you in it.
Memory verse for the week: (Psalm 27:1) “The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 12 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016     
       I am glad to communicate with you once again after a three-day absence and would like to share with you today the topic we covered in our Spanish Bible class this past Wednesday. Since all of you are familiar with the Charlie Brown cartoon, you know who Linus is. He is almost always depicted carrying around a rag, towel, or blanket while sucking on his thumb. When I asked what that showed about him, one member quickly and correctly pointed out that it was a picture of insecurity. I think you’ve all known children who need to hold on to a teddy bear, toy, or even a towel like Linus. Could that be one reason that some blankets or scarves are called “comforters”?
       To a certain degree, I think all human beings need to hold on to something at one time or another. If you’ve ever ridden in a city bus where no seats are available, what is the first thing you look for and reach out to? Right, something to hold on to. Speaking of that, did I ever tell you about the lady who once hopped on a packed city bus and had to stand although there were several men nearby who were sitting down? She remarked to other standees, “The problem nowadays is that there are no gentlemen in the world anymore. One of the fellows who was sitting down immediately replied, “No ma’am, the real problem is that there are no empty seats.” Back to our topic, holding on to something gives people comfort and a sense of security. Knowing this, after He announced to His Disciples that He would soon go back to the Father, Jesus told them: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John14:18) He was referring to the Holy Spirit who would be with them forever.
       Many people in the world may need a blanket, teddy bear, or some kind of lucky charm to give them some comfort and assurance, but the only One who can give us a genuine and lasting feeling of comfort and assurance, is the One who lives inside of us. What a great joy it is to be able to hold on to God’s hand. Greater still, what a comfort it is to know that God’s hand is always holding on to ours.
Memory verse for the week: (Jesus prayer to the Father, John 17:9)  “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 08 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016    
       Like many of you, my life before Christ came into it was drastically different from my life today and, because of it, many of us had a similar experience when we started walking with Jesus. I am referring to the snide remarks and the name calling from those who had known the way we had conducted ourselves previously. To be fair to them, they did not know what to make of us, many believing we were just going through a phase and that we would snap out of it in time. They didn’t know, and neither did we at the time, that the Bible says that those who are in Christ become new creations. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17) I even remember hearing a few of my friends and fellow workers offering to pray for me because, according to them, I was really “messed up.” Praise be to God that later on, many of these who had offered to pray for me, would come asking me to pray for them.
       These leads me to the topic of intercessory prayer. It is a beautiful and beneficial thing. Think about this: How do you feel when someone asks you to pray for them? How about when you are going through a hard trial and someone reminds you that they are praying for you? Doesn’t that give you comfort and reminds you that there are people around who genuinely care about you? Well, I came across a verse this morning that really comforted and warmed my heart. Here it is: “Therefore He (Christ) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” Wow! If it does us a great deal of good to hear that people we love are praying for us, imagine how much more blessed we are that out Savior is always interceding (praying) for us.
       If you’ve ever wondered, after you’ve come out through a violent storm in your life why you are still standing, this is probably the reason. Jesus prayed for you. He constantly prayed for His Disciples when He walked among them, but now that He sits on the right hand of the Father in Heaven, He prays unceasingly for all who are His. Be encouraged today. Jesus is praying for you.
Memory verse for the week: (Jesus prayer to the Father, John 17:9)  “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”


Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:09 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, February 05 2016
The Cross
Friday, February 5, 2016
        Two topics which are not mentioned as much in churches as they should, or used to be, are blood and the cross of Jesus. I understand that, humanly speaking, these are not pretty sights but were it not for Calvary and the blood of Jesus, not only would we all still be lost, I wouldn’t even be writing this blog today. If your church uses a hymnal, go over the list of hymns and see how many of them have them as part of their title. I don’t know about the cross, but I know for a fact that some church hymnals don’t have any hymns with the word “blood” in the title.
       Because the cross of Christ is the central theme of the Bible, Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God, for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2) The Corinthian church, like so many church members today, got caught up on how eloquent or appealing their preachers and teachers were. They were captivated by those who could fantasize their message telling them things they wanted to hear. Not realizing it, they were straying from the meat of the gospel message. That’s why Paul had to remind them in essence: “Hey folks, lets get back to the basics.”
       Like many churches today, we don’t sing “The Old Rugged Cross” very often but when we do, it is rare when I can sing the entire hymn without my voice cracking. I can’t speak for everybody, of course, but I believe this happens when we dwell on it’s message and visualize the scene in our hearts and minds. The thought of the blood or the cross of Christ may be repulsive to many, but to God’s genuine children, they are beautiful.
Memory verse for the week (1 Peter 1:22“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
Note: Speaking of the “Old Rugged Cross” Check this link out. You’ll be glad you did.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:31 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, February 04 2016
Foot In Mouth Disease
Thursday, February 4, 2016       
       When I was a boy, I’m pretty sure I had a bad case of ADHD but since the condition had not yet been identified at the time, the only treatment I got in those years came in the form of a belt or a paddle. The condition was not formally recognized till the late 1960’s, and most ordinary parents did not hear about it till many years later, so I bet some of you who are reading this blog had the same experience as mine.
       Today, it seems that just about anything that causes us or others trouble is a disease. One such condition which may or not really be an illness at all is known as Foot in Mouth Disease. The dictionary says it is “the habit of making inappropriate, insensitive, or imprudent remarks.” By this definition, it seems to me that many folks we know have the real thing while the rest of us just have the symptoms or get a touch of it from time to time. Nevertheless, we all know the sick feeling that comes after we have put our foot in our mouth, right ? This disease is more prevalent than ever because of the explosion of the news and social media outlets. And since we’re living in a time when many people want to make a statement about the many social issues facing us today, many them turn to these outlets to express their views or opinions, and because some of them do it passionately, they often say or write things that don’t come out well and do more harm than good.
       In the end, many of these folks intended to do something good, yet they were criticized and maligned for it, all because they did not choose their words more carefully. Paul wrote this advice in Romans 14:16“Let not your good be evil spoken of.” Besides being a warning about speaking without thinking, it also includes things we do when serving the Lord and others. The next time we feel like taking a stand, expressing our opinion, or doing something to touch someone’s life in a positive way, let’s first ask God to give us the right words and help us to do things the right way.
Memory verse for the week (1 Peter 1:22“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, February 03 2016
Wednesday, February 3, 2016      
       One of my favorite Internet pastors recently pointed out an interesting pattern in the 23rd Psalm I had not noticed before. In the first three verses, he refers to Him as “He”, namely “Hemakes me lie down, He leads me, He refreshes my soul, and He guides me.” Then, when he speaks about going through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the relationship turns personal. Then, it becomes “You are with me; you prepare a table before me, and you anoint my head with oil.”
       Knowing God, we know that this was not just a coincidence. By this, we should understand that when God’s children are going through dark valleys in their lives, that’s the time when they are closer to Him, and I’ve seen that truth played out over and over again throughout my many years in Christian service in the lives of genuine believers. When Christians go through these difficult trials, then they really know the meaning of such promises as “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
       I believe there are plusses and minuses in every situation of life. A definite plus in times of trials is the fact that God is closer to us then, than at any other time. Nobody volunteers to go through hard trials, but if and when we do, we must never forget that those experiences not only make us stronger, they draw us very close to God. Take heart, child of God, if you find yourself in the middle of a personal storm and remember the message of the 23rd Psalm. It is great to know it and understand it, but greater still is the fact that you know the Shepherd personally.
Memory verse for the week (1 Peter 1:22“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:04 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 02 2016
Set Them Free
Tuesday, February 2, 2016  
       I would like to share with you today, a condensed version of a message I preached on 1/24/16 about un-forgiveness entitled “Freeing The Captives.” The reason for the title is that, theologically speaking, it is illegal for Christians not to forgive others. In the dictionary, another word for “forgive” is “pardon.” When inmates are pardoned, they are set free, or “forgiven.”
       Many of you remember a man by the name of Ariel Castro who was arrested in May of 2013 for having secretly and illegally held captive 3 young ladies in his home in Cleveland against their will for over 10 years. I bet many thought of him, “what a jerk, pervert, dastardly individual, scum of the earth, etc,” Even his own family disowned him and he was sentenced to life plus 1000 years in prison, with no chance for parole. The irony was that, in the end, he could not bear living as a prisoner, something he had subjected 3 young ladies to for over ten years, committing suicide one month into his sentence by hanging himself with bedsheets in his prison cell. What this man did was not only illegal, it was vile and cruel. How much different can it be, then, with those who won’t forgive their offenders? I’m sure many of them don’t realize it, but they too are holding their unforgiven captives against their will. Most people know the Lord’s prayer and can recite it, but many ignore or fail to take into consideration what comes after the “Amen”, namely, Jesus uttering these words: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15) Anything God has ever required of us is geared for our benefit. Obviously, then, when we forgive it is for our benefit.
       If there is someone in your life you have yet to forgive, please set them free. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor as well. Just this past Sunday morning, I heard a radio pastor touching on this same subject. He used a phrase I liked so much, I plan to put it up on our church marquee. He said: “Un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”
Memory verse for the week (1 Peter 1:22“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 01 2016
Monday, February 1, 2016    
       A song I remember hearing often when I was a kid was one entitled: “Three Little Words.” It was published in 1930 and was recorded later by many artists. A movie about the song and it’s story was released in 1950 with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton as the lead actors. The three words, of course, are “I love you” and today’s blog is about those same three words and three other three-word phrases which, for many reasons, are not part of many people’s vocabulary. The other three phrases are “I was wrong”, “I forgive you”, and “please forgive me.”
       The first stanza of the song says: [ Three little words / Oh what I’d give for that wonderful phrase / To hear those three little words / That’s all I’d live for, the rest of my days ] There is a lot of truth to these lyrics for there are people everywhere just yearning and needing for someone to tell them one of these three-word phrases. Could that be you? Are you yearning to hear them from the lips of a certain someone in your life, or are you the one who seldom or never uses them? Perhaps you haven’t realized up to now how important they are. The truth is that many people need to hear them and many others need to say them. Paul wrote: “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.” (Romans 14:21) Well, have you considered that your refusal to use one of these three-word phrases, when needed, may produce enough discouragement in the person who needs to hear them, that it will cause him or her to fall? I pray we will all make these three-word phrases and others like it a big part of our vocabulary. When we do, it will be a great benefit to those who hear them and also ourselves.
Memory verse for the week (1 Peter 1:22“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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