Being Pursued

I asked my wife, April the other day if she felt guilty for living in America now, knowing the rest of her family and friends were still in the Philippines.  I think I would, at least a little.  But her immediate reply was profound, and full of wisdom.  She said, “No.  Not at all.  For God has bestowed upon me “favor” for all of my sacrifices.”  Her response surprised me, and after more pondering I realized it was true, and balanced.

Is this the realization of the verse in Psalms 23, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”?

My friend and I were discussing this issue, and he mentioned hearing a message where the minister talked about “favor” pursuing you.  Hunting you down, if you will.  I take that as meaning this; blessings coming your way and upon your life before you even ask God for help or even perhaps before you are aware you have a need.

So how does one enter a life of being pursued?  By fully, completely placing all of your trust and faith in God.  Walking and communicating with God on a daily basis.  Doing your best to live according to his commands.  By the way, those commands don’t exist to “harsh your mellow”, but to actually give you a good life free from hurt, pain, and harm.

In the last month my wife and I have had some blessings come our way and they were unexpected.  We weren’t looking for them, but they found us.  We appreciate it a lot and are thankful we have favor with God.  He loves his children and wants to do good things for He is a loving father.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

When God Was Still by My Side

“Oh, how I long for the good old days,
    when God took such very good care of me.
He always held a lamp before me
    and I walked through the dark by its light.
Oh, how I miss those golden years
    when God’s friendship graced my home,
When the Mighty One was still by my side
    and my children were all around me,
When everything was going my way,
    and nothing seemed too difficult.”

Do you find yourself saying something similar in the days of late?  Are you longing for the days when life seemed easier?  I have.  Reality, though, is this; those days had their own problems, but with that said, there is more “hate” these days and “perverted lifestyles” right in front of our faces.

Another reality is this; God hasn’t changed.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  It may seem harder to detect his presence, see the path He wants us to walk, but He is still there.  He still graces our homes.

Maybe things in life aren’t going “your” way, but they very well could be going “God’s” way.

Though the days may be different, God is the same, so we need to trust in him the way we did back in the “good old days”.  We need to remember not to look, or focus on the lives of those around us, or the hate being spewed by hurt people, but to keep our gaze on him, who is, and will forever be in control of all things, and know this; God is still by your side!

The above quote was spoken by Job in Job 29:1-6 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s in the Bag

“911. What’s your emergency?”

The first words you hear when you call for help.

They are there to meet your needs.  To rescue you. To assist you in your time of need.  So is God.  He wants us to ask him for help and not JUST in emergencies either.  Our God, our heavenly Father cares about all aspects of our lives.  Even the things that may be considered trivial.

Last weekend as I was walking into a home improvement store I asked God for help.  You see, I’m not a plumber.  I turned down isle 14 and there were two store associates talking and one of them looked at me and said, “Do you need help?”  Perhaps he saw fear on my face or something.  I said, “Yes”, and begin describing to him my project.  He stopped me and said, “You’re over complicating it, as he reached down to a lower shelf and picked up a bag of plumbing parts.  He instructed me that everything I needed for the project was in the bag.  I later found out he was a plumber for 20 years.

This is more than a clique verse.  It is truth:

 ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ Jer. 33:3 (MSG)

Learn to take everything to God.  All of your cares, concerns, and frustrations too.  He knows already, but the point is knowing that He knows, and that the very God who created and rules the universe cares.

Whatever it is, it’s not too big for God, nor too small.

Now that will tweet!  Accept this truth, but more importantly, apply it.  Let God help you and give him the opportunity to say to you, “It’s in the bag.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

But is it Good?

Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40.

But is it good?

The above ingredients were a staple in my “Six Million Dollar Man”, metal lunchbox while I was a kid.  I loved them!  But were they good?  They were.

The above ingredients are also some famous lines from the famous movie, “Die Hard”.  And they were the subject of Woody Harrelson’s endless search in the movie, “Zombieland.”

In case you don’t know by now; “Twinkies”.  But in order to know if they are good you have to taste them.

God understood this principle.  He actually wrote, in his number one best seller, “The Bible”, this:  Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see how good God is. PS. 34:8 (MSG)

In order to know how good God is, you have try him for yourself.  I can tell you how good God is, and I can describe the wonderful delight, joy and comfort of knowing God on a personal level, because I tried him.  I have tasted of the goodness of God.  I have savored his mercies, his peace, and his guidance as well.  In fact going back for seconds and thirds and fourths, and … well you get the point, for more is not a problem.  When you have tried God, you want more of God.  There is nothing that compares to him and his presence.

Go ahead!  Open your mouth and taste.

He is good!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Angels in the Audience?

Have you thought about where two thirds of the angels were that didn’t challenge God like Satan and one third of the angels did?  Did they encircle the thrown of God and draw their swords?  Were they ready to fight to the death to protect the realm God had setup?  Did God stand up and say, “Its okay guys.  I’ve got this.”  Or did they know the awesome power of God and simply set back in the grandstand, with popcorn, and say to each other, “Oh this is going to be good.”

I think about stuff like the above.  I know, there are more important things to think about, but it intrigues me.  As well as thinking about what is their day like?  Are they laying around on clouds and watching us?  Or are they there, by our side, waiting for us to ask God for help, knowing He can dispatch them in a moment’s notice to do of his good pleasure in our lives.

Angels are definitely real.  They must be big and overwhelming, because typically the first words out of their mouth, when appearing to a human, are this, “Fear not!”  Not sure I want to see one, but I totally want them active in my life.  God dispatches them to minister to us.  To deliver healing, hope, encouragement.  They help fight our battles especially when that battle takes place in the spiritual realm.  The one that is very real, but unseen.

Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage.  EPH. 6:12 (TPT)

So just as the devil and demons (fallen angels) are real, so are God’s angels, and their not fat, weak little cherubs that have been painted over the centuries, but instead, they are messengers, and warriors ready to fight.

7-8 “I, Daniel, was the only one to see this. The men who were with me, although they didn’t see it, were overcome with fear and ran off and hid, fearing the worst. Left alone after the appearance, abandoned by my friends, I went weak in the knees, the blood drained from my face.

9-10 “I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt. A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees.

11 “‘Daniel,’ he said, ‘man of quality, listen carefully to my message. And get up on your feet. Stand at attention. I’ve been sent to bring you news.’

“When he had said this, I stood up, but I was still shaking.

12-14 “‘Relax, Daniel,’ he continued, ‘don’t be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I’m here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what’s ahead.’  DAN. 10:7-14 (MSG)

I took a class titled, “Seeing Angels”, based on the book by Joshua Mills.  It was a good class, and a great book.  I learned there is a hierarchy of angels, and they have different jobs, or assignments.  I begin to find it encouraging, and exciting to work with angels.  To be watchful of their presence, and activity around me.  Yes they are there, but they aren’t simply in the audience, but at hand, ready to go.

I encourage you to learn about them if you never have.  They are one more resource we have in defeating the enemy, the devil, and advancing God’s kingdom.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Stop Trying, and Start Believing

I feel so sorry for them.  For those individuals who spend their whole life, time, money and energy trying to prove that life came about in some way other than God.  That somehow the right two cells combined and evolved and then came crawling out of the water and over time became man?  It seems as if that requires more faith to believe than believing in a loving God that made us.  Are you aware that Darwin even doubted his own theory?  No, of course not!  That chapter is not mentioned.

Scientists search tirelessly on other planets hoping for something they can point to and declare, “There is no God” for they think life can start without him.

I feel so sorry for those who fear climate change.  Yes, man is probably not helping ourselves by emitting tons of hazardous chemicals and agents into the air.  But I ask this question, ”What was the temperature of the earth before the floods of Noah?”  After the world was covered with water the temperature had to go down, causing ice to form.  How do we know we are now just getting back to what the globe’s thermostat read before it started raining?

Take God at his word.  Stop the struggle and the fight to do life on your own.  Give up and give in to truth and find love, joy and peace in living life.  Ask if you have to this; “God I believe, but help my unbelief.”  He will.  God will make himself known in a multitude of ways.

Those who truly love me are those who obey my commands. Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love him in return and will reveal myself to him.” John 14:21 (TPT)

No one, if they will be honest with themselves, even in the dark when they are alone, and no sounds to distract them, will be truly satisfied with their own answers as to the questions, “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?”, and “What am I to do while I am alive on the face of this earth?”  Any answers that may come to mind are false, and only substitutes offered up by the devil.  He wants so bad for you to accept anything but God.  For he knows that those who find God, find life!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

PAULssible

Do you wrestle with trying to do the things you want to do, but in reality you wind up doing the things you don’t want to do?  You are not alone.  A lot of people deal with this struggle. Some every day.  It can be frustrating, disappointing to you and possibly to others.

What is one to do?  Get down and defeated?  Throw in the towel?  Stop trying all together?

One of the most famous followers of Jesus Christ wrote about dealing with this issue:

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!  Rom. 7:14-8:17 (MSG)

The Apostle Paul said it better than I ever could have.  I hope you found his words encouraging.  Never give up the fight, for the prize awaiting you at the end, is worth it.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

This is Crazy

My wife and I had been praying about something that could become a stream of income for us.  We would have to do some work first to make it happen, and that work would require spending some money.  And you know the old adage, “You have to spend money to make money.”

We wanted to do this, but was hesitant to spend the money, but a few weeks ago I suggested we start with step one.  I felt a prompting in my spirit that we should at least complete that one task.  Today, I’m glad we did.

After step one was under way, I started telling my wife I was getting a sense of urgency in my spirit to complete the project.  We reviewed the amount of money it would take and decided to “go for launch!

We didn’t act fast enough.  This past Monday we received an unexpected message from an acquaintance of mine that I have not spoken with in two years.  He asked me if I knew of anyone who had a particular item as he was trying to prepare for the arrival of his girlfriend, and I responded we were developing one.  His request had a due date, so needless to say, I have been working this past week day and night to get our project done.  The same project I was feeling the urgency in my spirit to complete two weeks ago.

Don’t be like me.  Don’t ignore, don’t put off those little promptings from God in your spirit.  He’s trying to lead you, guide you, and yes, even provide for you.  We knew this was of God, because we had only told two of our closest friends about what we were doing.  The other confidence we received knowing this was God working is this; his girlfriend is a Filipino, and if you have read past blogs you will recall that my wife is as well.  Now his girlfriend will have an immediate connection to help adjust to America.

God is so incredible as He is able to move and work in multiple individual’s lives at the same time, to accomplish his will.  You gotta love it.  I do.

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” JER. 29:11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Do You See Him?

There is an old story, yet true, of three Jewish teenagers.  Their real names are hard to say, and spell, so let’s call them, Jerry, George, and Bob.  Bob was kind of strange, but there were moments when he would say or do something that caused Jerry and George to laugh, so they accepted him.

Their country was currently controlled by a foreign government.  Along with new rules to live by came a demand to conform to the foreign country’s religion.  One that included worshiping before a golden idol of their god.

Jerry, George, and Bob believed in the one, true, God, but their faith was about to be put to an extreme test.  When the king, of the foreign government, learned of their devotion to their God he demanded they bow down to the idol, or to be thrown into a fiery furnace.

“Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Said the king.

Bob spoke up with boldness in his voice and said, “King, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

This made the king so angry he ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times hotter. The three young men were tied up and when they were thrown into the furnace, three of the king’s guards died from the heat coming through the opening.

Then the king leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Yes, almighty God delivered Jerry, George and Bob from the fiery furnace, and from the hand of the king.  As a result, the king ordered that all the land worship the one, true, God of Jerry, George, and Bob.

Last week I wrote about life’s problems, and your attitude toward them.  I know that is easier said than done for some, or perhaps even most.  But know this; when you are facing a storm, or even a trial that challenges your faith in God, look around for the Son of God who is in the fire with you.

He may say, “Peace be still” to your storm, he may extinguish the flames, or he may choose to walk through either with you.  The bottom line is this;

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Your God has not forgotten you, or abandoned you.  He has heard your prayers, and has counted every tear.  He loves you more than you will ever know, and when you hurt, He hurts.  We are created in his image, and so God does have emotions.  Trust him.

(If you would like to read the above story for yourself, you can find it in the Bible; Daniel chapter 3.)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What’s the Problem?

Life can come at you hard and fast at times.  Bills you can’t pay arrive in the mail.  A routine checkup delivers a death sentence.  Your spouse announces their love for you has run dry.  Yes, these may be the extreme cases of life, but even the everyday life can cause you to gasp for air.  You feel, “If I could only reach the surface, I could breath.”

It is in those moments having a trusted friend helps.  So does having a church to go to where God has prepared a meal for you from his word via your pastor.  There are also an abundance of messages online, or on YouTube.  Listening to someone else’s testimony can encourage your faith, but keep in mind, just because God did something in one person’s life in a particular way does not mean He will do it that way in your life.  The point of a story, or testimony is to help you believe, be convinced, God sees you, knows you, loves you and wants to be active in your life,

Keep this fact in mind; Jesus went to the cross.  He died on that cross.  His body was removed from that cross, so he is no longer suffering to the point of death.  Then, three days after his body was placed in the tomb to rot, to decay, to go away, he overcame the chains of death.  He arose from the dead.  The stone was rolled away and the light of the morning became his “exit” sign.

My point is this: if you believe in Jesus and the power he demonstrated, and you place your trust in him and you believe that he overcame and can empower you, and lead you to be an overcomer then what’s the problem?

It’s not ignoring the issue(s) of life, but placing them in the hands of the One who overcame not only life, but death!  The problem you are currently dealing with does not own you.  It does not define you.  It has no power over you, because if you give it to Jesus, then you will overcome it.  Not only will you look at it in the rearview mirror someday, but you will recount the story of it, to others, to encourage them.  To help them overcome their current situation as well.

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.