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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, April 29 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016 
       It has been told that Queen Elizabeth once sent an ambassador far away on important and difficult business. He objected, saying to the queen, "But what will become of my business and my family?" The queen replied, "You take care of my business and I will take care of yours." He went because he believed that the queen would be true to her promise, and she was. I also heard the story about a wealthy business man who once asked the pastor of a small congregation if he was a tither. The minister said he couldn’t because the small salary his church gave him was barely enough to feed and clothe his family. The business man made this deal with him: “You start tithing immediately and if the Lord doesn’t bless and provide for you give me a call and I’ll take care of your needs.” Having this assurance from his rich friend, he started giving his ten percent, and he never once had to call his friend for any financial assistance. In both of these cases, these men obeyed the call because of the promises of human beings.
       It has always amazed me that so many people are like that, Christians included. They will believe the assurances given them by human beings more than they believe God’s promises. There are too many of them in the Bible for me to list in this blog, but the bottom line is that those who trust and obey God will always be blessed and provided for. Peter, upon seeing a rich young man walk away from Jesus because he was not willing to part with his riches or even share them with the poor, wanted to know what he and his fellow disciples would get since, according to him, they had forsaken all to follow Him. 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)
       Most ministers adhere to the truth that no one can out give God. He will always do more for us that we could ever do for Him. In fact, when we pray we generally get more than what we asked for. Ephesians 3:20 tells us that He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Don’t be afraid to take a step of faith. Trust God and His promises.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 28 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
       One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that's all that matters." (Source: Donner Atwood)
      It is a human tendency to believe only in what we can see, hear, touch, or understand. That is one reason why Thomas told the other disciples after they informed him that the Lord had risen: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25) But what did Jesus tell him after Thomas believed upon seeing him alive again with his own eyes? “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John10:29) Now that’s what faith is all about, believing even though we have never seen Him.
       If you are like the little boy in today’s illustration and are going through such a difficult trial you just can’t see the Lord with your eyes of faith, take heart. Imagine it is your Heavenly Father who is telling you: “I can see you and that’s all that matters.” After all, the very fact that you’re still standing is a clear indication that God has been faithful to you. And since God does not change He will continue to be faithful. Trust Him!
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 27 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016    
       Wanting to try a new method of raising needed funds for his church, a pastor bought several boxes of new bibles in bulk for his congregation to sell. Most of his members who volunteered asked for 10 bibles but one particular member asked for a whole box. The pastor, realizing that the project included door-to-door sales, hesitated in giving him this amount because the member in question had a marked stuttering problem. Nevertheless, he took a leap of faith and released the box to him. To his amazement, this man sold the entire box of bibles in just two days. When he asked him how he accomplished this extraordinary feat, the member took out the little piece of paper where he had written his prepared script. It was just a few words, but it took him forever to read it. Here’s what it said: “Would you like to buy this bible for ten dollars, or would you prefer that I read you my favorite chapter?” There was no way the folks who answered the door were going to wait all day for this fellow to read them a chapter, so they quickly bought his bibles.
       This man may have had a dramatic speech impediment but he certainly wasn’t lacking in faith and wisdom. Perhaps he remembered the promise in James 1:5 which reads: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
       If you are facing a situation today which has puzzled you and you know not how to approach it, ask God to help you. He has no favorites and He will give you all the knowledge or wisdom you will need in order for you to proceed and succeed. If He helped the stuttering man in our story, He will help you too.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 26 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016       
       I read this short but interesting verse recently: “They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” (John12:21) This is the account about some Greek believers who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover a few days before Jesus was crucified. They came to Philip, one of His  disciples with their request. They wanted to see Jesus.
       Over two thousand years have passed since that event and there are still people everywhere who want to see Jesus. If you, like Philip, have been asked a similar question, I congratulate you. For people to ask you questions about God, your faith, your church, or simply ask you for prayer, is an indication that others have seen Christ in you. There is really no secret or complicated formula to follow in order to reach this status. If you love and trust the Lord with all your heart, you in turn will love others. Then, the love that you have for them will be made manifest to them when they see that you really know God, and that you care for them as well. The love of Christ in us is what compels us to want to do things for others and folks never forget who the people are in their lives who are always there to help them in times of trouble, do favors for them, give them a helping hand, offer a word of encouragement, or remind them that they are praying for them.
       I am reminded of a lovely hymn of long ago whose chorus makes this urgent appeal: “Let others see Jesus in you / Let others see Jesus in you / Keep telling the story, be faithful and true / Let others see Jesus in you” If you open your eyes of faith it won’t be too hard for you to see that there are people in your life who, even if they don’t say the words, are just longing to see and know Christ. The next time you see that door open to you, I pray you will walk in. When you do, you’ll be reminded of the joy one feels when given the chance to share Jesus with others, not to mention the great honor and privilege. Can others see Jesus in you?
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:33 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 25 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016                   
       Pastor Ysidro, in his sermon in the Spanish service yesterday, touched lightly on the story of Daniel’s three friends who were cast into a burning furnace for refusing to bow down to the Babylonian king’s statue. When the king looked into the furnace expecting to see these three young man burned to a crisp, he was shocked that not only were they unsinged, instead of three being in the furnace, there were four. He cried out: “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”(Daniel 3:25) King Nebuchadnezzer didn’t know much about the God of the Hebrews, but he was right when he called the fourth figure in the furnace the son of God.
       Several thousand years after that remarkable event, God’s children today have an even greater benefit than Daniel’s three friends enjoyed. Beginning on the day of Pentecost, (See Acts, Chapter 2) the Holy Spirit now resides in the hearts all who have trusted Christ as their Savior. In fact, no Christian can be wrong if they say that God or Christ lives in his or her heart. Therefore, regardless of any situation we may encounter, we can be sure that the Lord is always with us.
       I know that, because we’re human, we all think from time to time that we are alone and forgotten, especially during difficult trials. That is not so! Here’s just one of many promises we can always count on: “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) I hope you believe and take the promise for yourself, but whether you believe it or not, that promise is for you. Daniel’s three friends probably weren’t expecting that the Son of God would be with them in the fire, but He was. Whether the trial you may be going through right now seems like a flood or like a fire to you, guess who’s right there with you?
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:26 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 22 2016
Friday, April 22, 2016 
       Psalm 56:3 in the New King James Version says: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” All the other English bible versions say basically the same. None of them say “if” but “when” or “whenever.” Although we all know a few folks who boast they are never afraid or that they fear nothing, we all know that’s hogwash, for everybody is afraid of something at one time or another.
       This verse may be short but it has a clear message which serves us as great advice. Regardless of what it is, if you are afraid of something today, you can bring it to God, ask Him to help you, and then just lean back and trust Him. There is no better formula than that, and we can use it as often as we need to. If we had anyone other than the Lord, then we would have reason to worry and fear. Such was the case of the man who once told his friend he was worried because he had to come up with a thousand dollars in thirty days. When his friend told him “You’ve got nothing to worry about”, it made him feel better about it. He started worrying again ten days before he had to pay his debt. Once more, his friend told him the same and it eased him a bit. The day before the deadline he came back to his friend. This time his friend told him: “Okay, now you can start worrying.” Not so with the Lord, you can always trust Him and when you do, He will always help you and will also chase your worries and fears away.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 17:27 KJV) “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 21 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
       This past Sunday, I preached about the account of the sharp disagreement between Paul And Barnabas in the 15th chapter of Acts over John Mark joining them on a follow-up missionary campaign. Barnabas wanted to take him along with them but Paul didn’t because Mark had deserted them on a previous mission. This resulted with Barnabas and Mark journeying in one direction and Paul and Silas going in another. I cited these points in the story: (1) Disagreements can and will occur in the best of relationships. It happens at home, at work, even in church, and (2) sometimes we give up on people too quickly.
       I personally think that if there were never any disagreements in a marriage, family, or in church, life would be very boring and uneventful. On the other hand, disagreements can go past the danger point and can destroy forever even the closest knit relationship. At work, people don’t always agree with the boss or supervisor. At home, family members don’t always agree with the head of the household, and at church, members don’t always agree with the pastor. That’s just the way it is. It is at such times when people need a generous dose of grace and patience because folks who don’t acquire these qualities will be the first to bail out. We must remember that we live among imperfect people in an imperfect world, and that includes us. I once spoke to a lady who said her church was perfect. Of course, she meant a long time ago because that church closed down about twenty years ago.
       After the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, Mark redeemed himself and became a faithful servant of God. In fact, this is part of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy: “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:11) It also seems that after the disagreement with Barnabas, Paul also learned that true love is what helps us not to give up on others too quickly, for he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” If he had known this before, he would have not kept record of Mark’s past failure. And it is that same love that keeps us together even though we are in disagreement from time to time. That is why Peter gave us this valuable advice: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Lets ask God to give us this type of love so that we won’t give up on others so easily and also pray that others don’t give up on us.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 17:27 KJV) “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:23 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 20 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016    
       A dog loving man purchased a video online which was titled: "Measuring Your Dog's IQ." When he played it at home, the instructor’s first words were: “If you just paid 12.99 to purchase this video, you should know already that your dog is smarter than you are.” This man was having a bad week because two days earlier he called Domino’s to complain that when he got home and opened his box, his pizza was all bread and no toppings. The embarrassed manager apologized profusely and offered him two pizzas if he brought the other one in. After a couple of minutes, the complaining man called again and said: “Never mind, I opened the box upside down.” Well, perhaps he was not very bright but at least he had these two commendable virtues: honesty and accountability.
       Instead of laughing more than we should at this poor fellow, maybe we should feel more empathy for him knowing that the we are all prone to doing silly and foolish things from time to time. C’mon, if you’ve ever looked for your glasses while you were wearing them, or sped away with your soft drink on the roof of your car, or breaking something when you spied on someone else’s bathroom cabinet, or picked your nose or other body parts at the wrong place and time, or put on clothing apparel backwards, or wore a different shoe on each foot, then you will definitely be more understanding.
       When taking these things into consideration, aren’t we glad that one doesn’t have to be intelligent to be saved, and that God loves us just the way we are? And speaking of foolish things, Paul wrote: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) That being true, foolish things can’t always be a bad thing. Some think it is foolish for people to think they can be forgiven and saved just by acknowledging their sin and asking Christ to save them. The truth is that those who doubt that truth are the real fools. That is why the Bible also says: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18) One favorite preacher of mine once said: “I’d rather be an ignoramus on my way to Heaven, than a PHD on my way to hell.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 17:27 KJV) “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:21 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 18 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016  
       I think it is safe to say that all of us have made statements we wish we could retract, sometimes immediately after the words come out of our mouths. I’m certainly not an expert on the matter but I think these things happen to us for one of these reasons. (1) The more we talk, the greater the possibility of error. Proverbs 19:10 KJV says: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” The New Living Translation (NLT) says it this way:  “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”Ouch! (2) We get careless and don’t think in advance of what we should say, and (3) we’re human.
       I was thinking about this issue because I recently read an article about the things we should never say to cancer patients but I think the advice given in the article applies to anyone going through a difficult trial in their life. People, of course, mean well but certain popular clichés or catch phrases do much more harm than good in these situations. Although there are too many to include here, these are just three of them: (1) “I know what you’re going through.” (2) “Ask God to give you more faith.” and (3) "I’m praying for God’s will to be done in your life."
       I know there are times when we worry about what we’re going to say to certain people who are in the midst of a life storm. To me, the safest thing we can do at such times is to say nothing. Sometimes a warm embrace or a loving touch is all your friend or loved one needs. In fact, just your mere presence will give them much comfort and it will be something they may remember for a lifetime. Here is another sure-fire approach: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) I bet some of you remember a time when you went to a friend or a loved one who was so emotionally crushed that all you could think of doing was to hold and cry with him or her. You may have not realized it then, but your act of love and kindness did wonders.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 17:27 KJV) “He that ha
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 15 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016 
       One verse that has always captured my attention is John 1:47 which reads: When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” In the KJV, Jesus said “in whom is no guile” and another bible version calls itduplicity instead of deceit. The Greek word in the original manuscript (dolos) was used by early Greek writers to signify the art for catching fish. (bait) That same word was used to describe anyone who was crafty or deceitful. In fact, the equivalent Hebrew word was used to describe Jacob, before his encounter with God’s angel where the experience changed his heart.
       On the day that we die, we should want others to just remember us as having been good persons. For people to think of me simply as being a good man means more to me than someone saying I am a good husband, father, grandfather, pastor, teacher, or writer. I also think that one of the greatest compliments a man can get is to hear someone say about him that he is a man of his word. In today’s lingo such a man will also be referred to as being “the real deal.” I ascribe to the phrase that “a man is only as good as his word.” In Nathanael’s case, it was the Lord Himself who gave him that compliment.
       One of the reasons I was prompted to write on this issue is because we all know some folks who find it so easy to say they will do this or the other and then not follow through on their promise. They don’t realize the harm they are doing to others as well as to themselves. Neither do they realize that they are slowly destroying their own reputation. May God help us all to be more careful to keep what we promise others. May He also give us the grace to back our words up or at least the wisdom not to make any promises at all. Lets not talk about it; lets just do it. With God’s help, we can.
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 14 2016
Thursday, April 14, 2016   
       Today’s blog is about forgetfulness. Do any of you have that problem? Well, if you don’t have a bad memory now you may as you get older. I heard Pastor Mike say recently that the more we know, the more we forget. I once had an excellent memory but now I sometimes forget stuff from one minute to another. It must be old age, right? Not only that, but now sometimes I forget stuff from one minute to another. I’m like the two elderly ladies that got together for tea three times a week for many, many years. One day, one of them told the other "You know, we’ve been friends for many years and, please don't get mad, but for the life of me, I can't remember your name. Please tell me what it is." Her friend glared at her. She continued to glare and stare at her for at least three minutes. Finally, she said, "How soon do you need to know?" Another elderly gentleman who wanted to stay busy went to the neighborhood grocery store to look for a job. When the manager asked him, “What is your name?” the old fellow paused for a long time then said, “Wait a minute it will come to me.” Then he started singing “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear …..” Then he turned to the manager and said “My name is Harold.”
       Though bad memory jokes can be funny, forgetfulness can be a serious matter with sometimes lethal consequences. David wrote: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17) If you are like me, sometimes you worry that our nation in general has reached that point where God has to punish us as well. Forgetting God and his mercy is a very dangerous thing. I am reminded of Christ’s parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 who forgot the mercy he received from his master by having his enormous debt forgiven and soon after refused to forgive a small debt owed to him by a fellow servant. When his master heard how he had treated a fellow servant he handed this wicked servant over to the jailers. Bottom line: He paid a heavy price for having forgotten the mercy he had received.
       On the other hand, it is very comforting to know that God never forgets His children. He never forgets to be loving, kind, and merciful to us. One of my favorite places of scripture is Psalm 103:13-14 which reads: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Since He never forgets who and what we are, we are blessed beyond measure.
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 13 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016   
       As my wife and I were walking into a Home Depot store recently an elderly gentleman wearing a mustard colored T-shirt was walking out. I say “walking” loosely because he was actually sliding or shuffling his feet forward about 3 inches at a time. However, the thing which stood out and grabbed my attention the most was the slogan on the front of his T-shirt which read “Voy Volando.” (I’m flying) I thought to myself, “If and when I reach that age, (perhaps two or three years from now, maybe months) I hope I can have his sense of humor and his obvious acceptation of his present life’s stage.” The problem with many folks we know is that they take themselves too seriously. They have never learned to laugh at themselves and even if they don’t confess it, they sincerely believe they are more important or on a higher level than most people.
       The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3KJV) The NIV says “value others above yourselves.” Even if Paul was referring to our interaction with others Christians, how many of us can honestly say that we think of others more highly than ourselves? And regardless of how much of that advice we can actually practice, the more we fall short of it, the more relationship problems we will encounter. I choose to believe that most pastors, like myself, feel highly distressed when they see certain of their members who constantly have “falling outs” amongst themselves. That should not be! Paul pleaded with the Ephesians to strive to forbear one another in love, to make a sincere effort to live in peace and maintain the unity of the Spirit. (See Ephesians 4:1-3)
       Church folks don’t often want to hear it, but those who have relationship problems everywhere they go, can attribute it to one glaring fault: pride. They believe they are too important, that nobody has the right to treat them disrespectfully. And they are certainly not going to take it when they know their offenders are obviously inferior to them. There has only been One who has ever been above all reproach, who could justifiably demand all the respect in the world, yet He humbled Himself and “took it.” And because He did, all of us today are forgiven, redeemed, and Heaven bound. How could He do it? He did it because all the love, mercy, and compassion of God dwelt completely in His heart. If we allow God’s Spirit to lead and guide us, we too will be able to love others unconditionally. When we do, we will have no problem getting along with others and we will see them differently because we will see them in the light of God’s love.
Memory verse for the week: (1 Peter 3:15“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 11 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016    
       I read the heartbreaking account this morning of the indigenous community in northern Canada where 28 of it’s people tried to commit suicide in March of this year, 11 in one dayalone. From the visual images I saw, they appear to be very similar to our Native American people. What do you think of when you hear of people who have committed suicide or have at least attempted it?  I suspect we all see hopelessness as one major contributing factor and while we’ve all heard of professing Christians who have taken or have tried to take their own lives, I sincerely believe than any child of God who is grounded in the faith will never be in that number.
       Assuming that hopelessness is the major cause of most suicidal attempts, is there anything you and I can do about it? I believe we can. I was reading recently in the 15th Chapter of Romans. In the very first verse, Paul offered this sound word of advice: “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” The he added in verse 4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” I take these two verses this way: (1) If we are strong in our faith, we should try to share it with those whose faith is either weak or non-existent. (2) The gospel of Christ, besides being the message of salvation, is the message of hope which leads to and ends with the hope of Heaven. The life of anyone who has this living hope, becomes a life of purpose, and those who have purpose in their lives will rarely reach any level of despair because they have something to live for.
       In many cases, the deaths by suicide of certain people or celebrities come as a complete shock and surprise to many. Because that is a fact, there may be people in your life today who may be seriously contemplating it and you probably don’t suspect it. That is why it is especially important for us to share our faith and hope with others. That, of course, begins with Jesus who is our “living hope.” (See 1 Peter 1:3) Here is one good way for us to begin each new day: Our first prayer to God upon arising can be: “Lord, give me an opportunity today to share the love of Christ with somebody or to offer someone a word of encouragement.” When you do, you just may be saving someone’s life and not know it.
Memory verse for the week: (1 Peter 3:15“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 05:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, April 07 2016
Thursday, April 7, 2016   
       As I mentioned before, church pastors cannot rightfully be called the shepherds of the flock because the sheep are not theirs but the Lord’s. The Good Shepherd, on the other hand, bought them with His own blood, therefore He is the rightful owner. It is very unlikely that a steward can have as great a love for his master’s property as the owner himself. My dad had a business and I worked with him from time to time when I was a teenager. It was obvious to him back then that I was not as devoted to it as he was, so he once told me: “One day, you’re going to learn that nobody will be as interested in your own endeavors as you yourself.” He was right.
       Pastors must keep in mind this truth: They are not the owners or lords of the sheep. They have been called to watch over the Lord’s flock, to lead, nourish, provide, and keep watch over them, not to rule over them as a tyrant would. They have been called to lead and guide them, not drive them as cattle. I bet some of you have heard stories about certain church pastors who rule their congregations with an iron fist. That should not be and none of those who stay in such a ministry will ever receive the care and attention that they need.
       Again in the 23rd Psalm, David wrote: “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The shepherd’s rod was used to direct and guide the flock and also to keep count of them and make sure that none was missing. His staff was used as a weapon against wild dogs or any other predators that were known to greatly torment and worry the sheep. As the Lord’s sheep, it gave David comfort to know that his Shepherd was always close by and aware of him, always willing and capable of protecting him from his enemies. Any pastor who has a genuine shepherd’s heart will be aware of his flock’s need and will always be ready to come to their defense when they are being attacked or mistreated. He realizes these are his Father’s sheep and will always make a sincere effort to fulfill his obligations.
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, April 06 2016
Wednesday, April 6, 2016    
       Continuing our study on the topic of “The Shepherd’s Heart”, we will focus today on John 10:4-5, which reads: “When He (The Good Shepherd) has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Here, it is obvious that the Lord’s sheep follow Him because they trust Him. He has never once failed to lovingly lead, protect, guide, and provide for them so they have no reason to doubt Him. Since He has always stayed close to them, they know His voice.
       Here are two aspects that indicate a solid Shepherd-sheep (pastor-member) relationship. (1) A truly dedicated pastor stays close to his flock. To him, they are part of his family and his flock sees him in church all the time. When David penned his 23rd Psalm, he wrote “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” It was a comfort to him, as his Lord’s sheep, to know that his Shepherd was always close by. There are many pastors around who, because they are in high demand, are away from their home church so often that many of his members slowly lose the closeness they may have once enjoyed. (2) A pastor who does well in his effort to emulate the Good Shepherd, earns the trust of his flock. As we just mentioned, one way for a pastor to lose some of that trust is by constantly being away. Any church where the trust for the pastor is slowly fading will be in danger of eventually losing it’s testimony and effectiveness.
         Lack of trust for a pastor is a two way street. The problem could lie either with the pastor or with his sheep. If the pastor has strayed from his responsibilities to his flock or does not love or care for them as he should, he will most certainly lose any trust he may have enjoyed with them. In many cases, however, that problem will arise because one or two unstable or dissatisfied members may turn other unsuspecting members against their pastor and those who believe the false accusations will no longer trust him. This happened in the life of Samuel, the religious leader of God’s people. From a very early age, his mother, Hannah, dedicated him to the Lord and he served God’s people faithfully for many years. However, when he was getting up on age, the people rejected him claiming he was too old to do the job and that he had also lost control of his two scoundrel sons, who also served as priests. The real reason that they rejected him, however, was that the people wanted to have a king like all the other pagan nations around them. See the story in 1 Samuel, Chapter 8.
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, April 05 2016
Tuesday, April 5, 2016   
       Today, we will continue on our topic, “The Shepherd’s Heart.” One of the reasons I decided to write on this matter was because some of you may sometimes have a hard time trying to figure out why your pastor does or doesn’t do certain things. He puzzles you sometimes when he does things you wouldn’t do or that you would do totally different. Of course, I’m assuming you have a pastor who has truly been called of God, one who makes a sincere effort to be more like the Good Shepherd.
       Yesterday, we focused on the 11th verse of John, Chapter ten. I mistakenly called it the 10th. Today, we will focus on verses 12-13, which read: “The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” Before we continue, let me clarify that all pastors are really hired hands, under-shepherds, if you will. I know that people mostly refer to them as the shepherds of the flock, but we must never forget that these are not their sheep but the Lord’s. Nevertheless, a pastor with a genuine shepherd’s heart cares as much for the sheep because he, like David, never forgets that this is his father’s flock. Because He knows that the Father loves His sheep dearly, he too will love them to the point of giving his life for them.
       One situation where pastors are sometimes misunderstood, me included, is when it seems he is defending a member of the flock who others believe needs reprimanding. Oftentimes the pastor is not really shirking his duty. It’s just that some members believe he didn’t handle the situation properly or at least in the way they believed it should have been handled. I don’t lose my cool very easily but one situation that will always put me on the offensive is when I feel a certain member is being treated unfairly or unkindly. In such cases, I will make it a point to vigorously defend him or her no matter who they are. And no, I won’t refrain from later addressing the error of any member who merits it, but by God’s grace I will do in the right way and at the right time, never forgetting this instruction: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) A true under-shepherd will always treat his flock like the Good Shepherd would.    
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, April 04 2016
Monday, April 4, 2016    
       The 10th Chapter of the gospel of John is a great resource for better understanding the relationship between Christ and His sheep. When David wrote his famous 23rd Psalm, he began by saying “The Lord is my Shepherd” which obviously implied that he was the Lord’s sheep. All of God’s true children can say the same. Additionally, this same chapter is an excellent resource for any pastor or anyone who serves in a pastoral capacity who is truly interested in wanting to be more like the Good Shepherd. They understand that the closer they come to reaching that goal, the better it will be for their ministry and especially for the members of the Lord’s flock.
       We will begin our focus today on the 10th verse where Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Note that I only capitalized when referring to Christ and did not capitalize afterwards because I wanted to emphasize that any true shepherd (pastor) should be willing, just like He, to lay down his life for his sheep. Peter learned this lesson first hand when given the commission to lead the rest of the Disciples upon Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. He learned that in order lead them correctly and effectively, he would have to love them as dearly as he loved His Master. He realized that if he loved Christ with all his heart, he would love the those under his charge in the same manner. Any person who occupies a pastoral position and does not love his sheep with all his heart, has no business or no right to do so. That was Jesus’ assertion to the opposing religious Jewish leaders of His day who thought they were the true pastors of God’s people and not He. In fact, in the very first verse in the Chapter, Christ implied that they were thieves and robbers because they did not enter the sheep pen through the gate but climbed in some other way. Another thing that disqualified them was that they really had no love for the sheep.
       Here are two quick examples of men who a Shepherd’s heart. (1) David fought off and killed a lion and a bear who tried to attack his father’s sheep. (See 1 Samuel 17:32-36) Would David have done the same if this was not his father’s flock or if he had no love for the sheep? The answer is obvious. (2) Moses, upon hearing God’s threat to completely wipe out His stubborn and rebellious people, stood up on their behalf risking his life for them by daring to reason with the Lord and succeeding in the midst of His great wrath. (See Exodus 32:9-14)  I think we will be hearing more about these two who truly had a shepherd’s heart as we will continue on this topic tomorrow, or Wednesday should something arise to prevent me from doing so. I trust you’ll join us then.
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 3:15“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:52 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 01 2016
April 1, 2016                     
       Being that today is April Fool’s Day once again, I thought I’d start it off with this silly story: An elderly couple had a visitor in their home who arrived right before the lunch hour. When they both insisted that he join them, he accepted. He heard the wife tell her husband: “Sugar why don’t you sit down by the table and we’ll start supper.”  “Sure thing,” said her husband settling himself down. “Now darling, would you like the soup first or the salad?” “Umm, I guess I’ll take the soup.” He responded. After a whole meal of one endearing term after another, their guest, Bob, couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer so he later snuck back into the kitchen and asked the wife: “Mildred, do you always talk to your husband like that?” “Bob, I’ll be honest with you,” she replied. “I’ve done that for five years now because I just can’t remember his name, and I’m too embarrassed to ask him!” Thank God my wife and I haven’t reached that point yet. We still know each other’s name.
       Speaking on that subject, we are all blessed that God not only knows our name, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Many scientists believe that there are many billions of galaxies in the universe and each has many billions of stars in it. If that is true, there are easily many more stars in the universe than people. Still, Psalm 147:4 says: “He (God) determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Many people in this life are blessed with great God-given memories. They know many people and places by name, but that is nothing in comparison to God. Since I once knew every street in San Antonio by it’s name and location, one day I aim to know each and every member in our church. I feel that if the Lord boosted my memory once, He can do it again.
       When Philip brought him to meet Jesus, Nathanael was surprised to Hear Christ say about him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” When he asked Jesus how he knew him, the Lord replied: “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (Read John 1:47-48)  Like many others, Nathanael probably said within himself “Wow, He knows me by name!” The truth is, we can all say the same. What a great blessing and comfort to know that the Maker and Creator of the universe knows each and every one of us by name. And if you’re like me, you are eagerly looking forward to the day when you see Jesus face to face and you hear Him call you by your name.     
Memory verse for the week: (Jeremiah 29:13) “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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