Thorns and Thistles

080512 169Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is life so hard?”  You strive to do good, get ahead, but at times it seems the more you press forward the further behind you get.  In your finances, at work, or in relationships.  The truth is, it’s not your fault.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden part of the punishment was life would be harder.  They received their sentence before they were evicted from the home God wanted for them.  See the scripture below:

Gen 3:18   The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way, Planting and tilling and harvesting, (MSG)

All the more reason we need God to lift us out of the weeds and thorns of life that desire to choke, and overcome us.  If you’re tired of weed whacking then stop, and ask God for help.  He will, and He can.  Consider the fact His way was for us to live in a garden.  My neighbor once saw me planting flowers several years ago.  She said, “You don’t know what you are doing!”  My reply, “I know, but I’m having a great time.”  God, the master gardener, knows what He is doing.  Turn your life over to Him then trust and obey.  That’s the only way to live life in the garden.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

It Hurts!

HURTYou listen as they describe their current pain, despair, nightmare of a life.  They go on and on without the slightest glimmer of hope on their face, or in their voice.  They want relief, they want out, they want something so different then what they have.  Like a blind man looking for his glasses, their searching is in vain.

You’ve heard it before, from them and from others you care so much about.  Will this be the time they listen to you?  Have they reached the end of their rope?  Have they had enough?  Maybe, maybe this will be the time they here you share the life they could have if they would only accept the free gift of Jesus Christ.  How His death provides life.  How His taking on the whole worlds sin and sorrow deliveres eternal joy, happiness, and peace, if we just say, “Yes” to His offer.

It hurts, when we hear them say, “Thanks, but it’s not for me.”  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s hard for us to understand.  Irwin McManis put it like this, “People would rather live a bad life “they” purchased, than a great life that is free.”

Keep praying and trusting God for those you care about.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Why?

Cross nailedHe laid as still as he could.  Any movement reminded him of the flogging his back took.  The soldier placed the nail with the tip pressing his palm.  He saw the other soldier rear back with the hammer.  He turned his head.  Bam!  The nail drove through his flesh pinning him to the cross.  That nail represented the times I took something that wasn’t mine.

The same thing took place on the other side.  Bam!  That nail represented the sinful times I touched something I had no business touching.  Bam!  The nail in his feet represented the times I have gone somewhere I had no business being.  The thorny crown shoved down into his head represented the evil thoughts I failed to bring into captivity.  The beatings he suffered should have been mine.  The spit that landed on him, represented the disgrace that was meant for me.

Everything Jesus went through, the trial, lies, pain, agony, and torture was for me.  The 39 lashes that shredded his back open and bled was so I could be healed.  He chose to go through that for me.  He chose to go through all that for you.  Why?  Because He knew, He was the only who could.  Because He knows pure love, and how to show it.

He also knew how to defeat death, and on the third day, He proved it.

THANK YOU, JESUS.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

“Now This Will Preach!”

I gave up on life altogether. I’ve forgotten what the good life is like.
I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished. GOD is a lost cause.”
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all–oh, how well I remember– the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

SO THEN:

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out      and fail to return.

Now read only what is in yellow.

Lamentations 3:17-24, 28-31 (MSG)
Italics mine.

 

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

The Greatest Plan…Ever!

gods-planThe greatest love story.  The greatest gift.  The greatest promise…kept.

Who, but God could have come up with a plan to place his son Jesus, in a young virgin.  Very few looked there.  The politicians didn’t, the religious leaders didn’t, and most of the people didn’t either.

God, through his word, told what He was planning on doing, so it wasn’t a secret, but people have a tendency of not knowing God, or his word.  This causes them to take God’s plans and play them out as they understand, or worse, want.

How all of this life on earth ends is also part of God’s plan.  It’s not a secret, or mystery.  Yet people still do not get to know God, and believe how they want to.  Read God’s word.  All of it.  Even Revelation.  Though you may not understand, believe it will happen…according to God’s plan.  So far, God’s plan has worked out perfectly.  Remember this, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)  Faith…use it.

 

Copyright © 2016 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Close Gifts

red-crossMary held him close enough to hear him breath.  To feel his chest move in and out.  To see every radiant color of his eyes.  Her heart melted when he smiled.  Just think what an honor it must have been to be that close to God.  To hold God in your hands.

Jesus said, “For the Father and I are one.” (John 10:30)  Mary held God.  Today, God can hold you.

When it hurts, when you’re scared, when you’re confused, run into God’s arms.  Because God gave us His son, His son gave us God.

 

Copyright © 2016 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Choose to Live

20161119_112851A young man hid in the bushes.  When he judged the train was too close to stop in time he ran out and dove onto the tracks.

I was riding that train on my way to work this past week.  I have been commuting in and out of Chicago for 23 years, but this was the first time I have actually been on the train that struck a pedestrian.  They ruled it a suicide immediately.

While the investigation was proceeding I thought about this person and wondered, how bad was his life that he decided he had no more hope?  What was going on?  Satan won a victory that morning.  John 10:10 tells us, “Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy.”  Anything God has created, or made, including mankind, Satan wants to get rid of it.

Pastor Robert Morris, of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas once said, “As long as you are alive, you have hope.”  If you are hurting, if the pain is more than you think you can bare, then please talk to someone.  Please, I beg you.  There are numerous organizations that are set up to help in all kinds of ways, but you must contact them.  Depression, and mental illness is not something that shows up on the outside.  Most people may not ever know, until you speak up.  And if someone speaks up to you, I pray you will love and care about them enough to listen intently, and help them.  Life, can be a beautiful thing.  Choose it.

Copyright © 2016 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

They Walk Among Us

Jessica, while at a red light, feels moisture drip upon her cheeks.  She can’t believe the hurt has reached her eyes.  Roger, holds his head in the stream of water showering upon him while he mumbles words.  A prayer perhaps?  He hopes the sound of the falling water conceals his pain, his desperation.  Cassandra stares at the dark ceiling, instead of sleeping, longing for an answer.  An answer that would change her life.  Manuel walks aimlessly, at times looking up, hoping any minute now God would heal him.

Just stories lines, or glimpses of real life?  Perhaps they feel real because you have been there, or you are there now.  No matter where you are, or what you are going through, know this; YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You are not the only one who has ever walked the path you are on, even though it feels like it.  There are others, who are there now, or who have found the exit.

Where are these people?  Who are they?  Include in your prayers to God to lead you to them.  They might be in your church, or they might be your neighbor, or across the aisle at work, but the truth is they walk among us.  They can help you.  They can listen to you.  They can pray for you, or with you.  But in order for that to happen they have to know.  They have to know what you are going through.  Take a chance on being honest when someone ask you how you are.  And if you are one who hears a story of real life going on dare to listen int051312_01-3jbently.  Believe with them for God to deliver them, answer them, or heal them.  Life is hard, but it is even harder by yourself.

If you struggle finding someone, or trusting someone enough to open up with the truth, you are still not alone.  There is no where you can go to escape the eye of God, or His love.  Have faith, have hope for your exit may be within the next mile.

 

Copyright © 2016 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

To Know

To know unconditional love;
is to know God.
To know real forgiveness;
is to know Jesus.
To know perfect direction;
is to know the Holy Spirit.

To know pure laughter;
is to know true friends.
To know great joy;
is to know a child.
To know time;
is to know an elderly person.

To know gratitude;
is to feed the hungry.
To know security;
is to clothe the naked.
To know health;
is to visit the sick.

To know peace;
is to know contentment.
To know lasting hope;
is to know faith.
To know wisdom;
is to know the Word of God.

Hope

seedlingI just watched the movie, “The Martian”. Well written movies usually inspire me to write, so here I go. I am on my way to Zambia. Right now I am somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. 41,000 feet up in the air. The outside temperature is -85.0F. At least that is what flight status is telling me. Just watching the movie makes me aware there is a lot that could go wrong, but I have hope that we will arrive at our final destination.

Back home, the people in my church will be packing seeds next weekend into small envelopes. Some of those small envelopes will make this same trip over the ocean and one of the places they will arrive is where I am going. Those seeds provide more than just needed food and income, those seeds provide hope. So those same people are packing hope.

God knew after he made man that he would soon sin. He knew his hand made being would be in need of hope. So God too packed a seed… but he placed his seed into a virgin. The seed sprouted and slowly grew. The seed became strong, and grew in wisdom and knowledge of the One he was fashioned after.

After many years of growing it was time for the seed to produce good fruit, and so it did. After three years of producing the local farmers decided they had enough of its fruit, so they killed it.   They thought that was the end of it. Three days later the seed came back to life, and shared with its seedlings. The seed had become the vine. Those seedlings learned if they wanted to grow they would have to stay connected to the vine.

The moral of the story is this; the Seed was Hope, and Hope was Jesus. Hope can never die again. If you believe in Jesus then no matter what, you have hope… and Hope will get you there to ‘’your’’ final destination.