Do You Need a Tune Up?

You know, perhaps the hard way, that every once in a while you have to take your car in for a tune up, or for maintenance.  New tires for traveling, new spark plugs so you don’t lose that fire, or the oil changed because it is dirty.

In a relationship with God, there are times when you need a tune up as well.  Most likely more often than your car.  You cannot simply start your relationship with God, and then simply turn on the cruise control.  You can’t take your foot off of the gas pedal and coast either.  You won’t make it over the next mountain if you do that.  It doesn’t work that way.  If you try, you will get stuck, or worse, breakdown.  Have you ever noticed that breakdowns don’t occur at good times?

Your local, or TV minister don’t tell you to pray, and read your Bible just for the heck of it!  They know that is the easiest way to stay finely tuned in your relationship with God.  Or one could say, in tune with God.  Walking in perfect step, harmony with him at his pace.

So above all, guard the affections of your heart,
    for they affect all that you are.
    Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being,
    for from there flows the wellspring of life. Pro. 4:23 (TPT)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Discarded

Do you easily discard things?  Do you ever feel as though you have been discarded?  In America, many things are thrown out without a second thought.  We even have a phrase here of, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  Some people have even started making a living by going around and collecting items that have been placed by the curb.  They see that those items still have value.  They will take them to a shop, clean them up and resell them.

There can be lots of good reasons to throw something out.  It could truly be trash, or something that no longer fits, or an item that is no longer needed, or wanted.  And instead of taking the time to find that item a new home it is simply discarded.

But what if the item no longer wanted is a person?  “This isn’t working out.  I want a divorce.”  It seems these days that relationships are too easily discarded.  Instead of staying together and lovingly trying to find the real root of the problem(s) people just give up.  I suppose “working” on a marriage is too difficult or time consuming to some.  The issue could be this; one partner doesn’t see the value of the other.  That’s sad.

Every person has value.  Yes, it can be difficult to see at times, but it is there.  If you don’t see it then ask God to help you see it.  I have a relative who is so hateful and mean to others.  I admit I struggle to see their value, but I know it is there.  I do know they help out financially a young family, so maybe that is it.

When Jesus Christ walked the face of the earth the religious leaders of that day wanted to discard him.  Why?  He spoke of love, he introduced God, he healed the sick, and not only taught, but demonstrated a better way to live life.  When he grew in popularity they were “afraid” he would run them out of power and control of the masses.  So they schemed to discard of him.  Of course we know from the Bible that He got the last word.  By showing them that even though they did all within their power, God’s power is greater and he arose from the dead three days after they killed him.  They failed to see his value, or perhaps didn’t want to.

If you are feeling discarded today know this; you have value.  God has placed something inside of you that only you can give away for free in your own unique way.  Don’t believe those who have their own issues to overcome who show you hate, and please stop believing the lies of the devil!  He will put thoughts in your head that could cause you to discard your own life.  Don’t!  If there is no one else around who can see your value know that God does, because He loves you and placed inside you a gift, a treasure, a heart of love to give away.

Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” Mark 2:17 (GNT)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Search Me?

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life. Ps. 139:23-24 (MSG)

It takes guts to pray the above prayer.  Most of us don’t want to face the truth of who we really are.  And in fact go great lengths at times to hide the darker side of ourselves, from others, and even from ourselves.  My pastor last Sunday challenged us to do just that.  To have God examine us and see if there was any wrong in us.  Whether deeds, motives, or actions.

There are some people that have such an intense time facing who they really are that they try their best to stay busy.  One guy I know said he is always looking for the next party.  The worst time for these people is when they are alone in the dark and they can’t sleep, their conscience begins to speak.  That is probably why these same people medicate themselves before going to bed so they do not have to listen to their inner voice.

That inner voice is doing its job.  It’s trying hard to get a person to face truth.  Truth they have done some things in life that were wrong and they are in need of having those things forgiven.  Another force at work is that of the Holy Spirit.  One of his jobs is to draw us to God via the forgiving power of Jesus.

If you find yourself in this situation the only thing to do is yield.  Give up trying to write your own religion and accept the relationship that God has already provided.  Say to God, “then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Christmas at Denny’s Tonight

I dream of what my life might have been, if only…

Do you live with regret?  I could, if I allowed myself to.  I sometimes wonder what the church would look like if I had stayed on track and became the pastor I believed God had called me to be.  Would we, the people of the church be an Acts chapter 2 type of church?  Believing in, and walking out the power of the Holy Spirit.  Would we see souls saved daily?  What about signs and wonders?  If only.

But instead, I stopped holding on to, waiting for the promises of God, and I accepted the devil’s substitute for my life, because it was there, now, in the moment.  I just had to believe the lies he was telling me that it was okay.  Kind of like accepting the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, Satan tempts or attacks us where we are weak.

Life didn’t end there, for me, as I imagined it would.  I could have become a shell of a man.  I didn’t.  I received God’s forgiveness, asked that his Spirit not depart from me, and moved on.  That is what one should do when things don’t work out the way we think they should.

I read a post on Facebook the other day.  A young woman just had a child in the hospital, but after returning home her and her husband came down with Covid.  The baby was fine, but had to be separated from his new mother.  The baby’s father had to return to the hospital, this time in the intensive care unit.  The young mother wrote something along the lines of, “We dreamed of hiking in the mountains with a tour guide.  But now we are hiking through this with the Lord as our guide.”

Life is not going the way they dreamed, but her focus remains on target.  On the Lord.

That is the only way to deal with potential regret.  Give it to him, and continue to seek him for guidance, for his leading.  He knows the way.  Life may feel like Christmas at Denny’s, but it doesn’t have to.  It comes down to your perspective.  Your view of life.  Is your current situation a set back?  A delay?  A roadblock, or simply a detour?  No matter what it is, God can speak into your spirit and say, “Recalculating.”  God knows the way.  He will get you through the storm and to the other side.

Trust in the Lord completely,
    and do not rely on your own opinions.
    With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
    and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
    and he will lead you wherever you go Prov. 3:5-6 (TPT)

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.

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.

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.

Where Am I?

We are spoiled.  We have access to all kinds of technology these days, but my favorite is “GPS” (Global Positioning System).  No longer are we dependent on paper maps or atlases to tell us where we are.  I recall traveling across America and pulling into a rest stop, and looking at the big state map on the wall and searching for those familiar, reassuring, words, “You are here”. 

It’s nice to know where you are.  It’s also good to know where you are going, but God doesn’t always provide one, or the other, or both.  “Blind faith!”  But there are times when you can look back at where you have been and at what you have done, and project a path toward the future.  Doing so may provide some clue as to what God is up to and what He may have for you.  It’s kind of like solving a mystery.

As much as we may want to know where God is taking us the important thing to remember is to be obedient each and every day.  In other words, do today what you know is the pleasing and perfect will of God.  Taking each step, each day will lead you to the destination, action, or even the provisioning God has for you.

The challenge is to keep going, to not get discouraged, but to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  That process is how individuals have done amazing things, so why wouldn’t it work in your journey with God?

I find Paul’s words encouraging.  I hope you do as well:

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” PHI. 3:12-14 (MSG)

I suppose, in some way, you could define “GPS” as “God’s Positioning System”. I also find it comforting that although I may not know what God is doing in my life, or where He is taking me, He always knows, “Where I am!”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, …

You become aware, in a moment that your very life is in jeopardy.  When this happens, as we have seen in movies, people tend to think about what happens after we die.  They think about God.  Some will even, in that moment, attempt to make deals with God.  He will answer sincere prayers, because only He knows the attitude of the heart, but I don’t think God is in the “deal making” business.

The truth is; no man knows when the countdown clock of his life will reach “0”!  I once took a youth group to a cemetery and it became obvious some life’s lasted years, while others only lasted a few, or even just days.  Like the song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind”:

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now don’t hang on
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

No one likes to think about dying, but it is one of the most important decisions you can make BEFORE you die.  For once your last breath escapes your body your soul is ushered into eternity.  The only options are: heaven or hell.  By using your freewill and not choosing to recognize God’s son Jesus as your savior who died for all of the wrong things you have done in your life, then you are choosing hell.

God doesn’t send any human to hell, they send themselves.

A lot of people thought about life and death during the peak of the Corona Virus, and as a result, several made the decision to accept Jesus, forgiveness, and life.  Now times are getting better again, but as we witnessed in the collapse of the condo building in Surfside, FL., one never knows when their life will be required of them.  One moment sleeping sound in bed, and the next, standing before God.

“But you don’t have a clue what tomorrow may bring. For your fleeting life is but a warm breath of air that is visible in the cold only for a moment and then vanishes!” James 4:14 (TPT)

Please, purpose a moment to make that important decision, before the clock of your life reaches “0”.  If you choose God, I assure you will be glad you did.

I pray now for everyone who hasn’t taken the time to do this and I ask God to help you and to help you overcome the obstacles that might be holding you back from choosing Him.  Blessings.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.