The Fruit Section of Life

Your life has come to an end.  As happens after every death, people will reflect on what kind of person you were, or at least what kind of person you were to them.  Without a doubt, their decision will be based solely on how you treated them, or responded to their behavior.  There are times though when you will be judged, and remembered unfairly.  A person’s mind is powerful, so much so, it can bend truth.

What is it people see that makes up one’s mind considering you?  It’s the fruit your life bears.  Is that fruit sweet, or sour?  Does your life, your words, your actions leave a good taste in the mouths of others, or do they want to spit them out?  Jesus even eluded to the fact people are known by the fruit their life bears.

And I don’t mean like, someone is bananas!

I’m referring to the fruit of the spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

If there is no law against these fruits, then they cannot be judged.

The way for the fruit of your life to be, and stay healthy is for you to always stay connected to the vine.  Jesus instructs us with these words in John 15 from The Passion Translation:

Jesus the Living Vine

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

The purpose of operating in the fruit of the Spirit of God isn’t so people will know us as good, or even great, but that God will be glorified.  If you are in need of getting back to the vine, Jesus, then by all means do it.  There are too many people out there who are not connected to Jesus and they do a lot of damage in the lives of others.  And if you need some help, I’ve heard of a product called, “Miracle Grow”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Life Is No Game

A man was walking through an art museum, when he suddenly stopped.  In front of him was a painting that portrayed two individuals playing the game of chess.  The man, being a chess champion was intrigued, and studied the piece of art with intense focus.  The title of the painting was “Checkmate”.  In the game of chess that means the king is about to be overcome, and there is nothing he can do about it.  “Checkmate”, is a word that indicates or announces, you’re done.  It’s over.  It may even invoke fear.

Do you feel as though someone, or circumstances has recently said, “Checkmate” to you?  Is your heart being gripped by fear?  I was watching the news the other day, and heard how many people are still unemployed, and are being threatened of losing their dwelling place, and worst yet, are hunger challenged.  I don’t like to see anyone suffer, and if it hurts me I know it must hurt God.  Yes, God has emotions.  Where do you think we got ours as we are created in his image.

There is truth in saying that “some” people create their own problem(s) by how they live, or by what they do with their money, but now is not the time to give a lecture when they are already on their knees.  We can only hope they dislike their circumstances so much they make drastic change as soon as they can.  In other words, they find a glimmer of hope, and they hang on to that hope, because truth is, there may not be anything else to hold on to.  The kind of hope that can eliminate fear.  The kind of hope that can only be found in Jesus who is the King of Kings!

The chess expert in the museum cried out,

“This painting is incorrectly titled!”

The museum curator came rushing over to see why the man was making such an outrageous claim.  “Sir, why do you claim it is titled wrong?” asked the curator.  “Because I have looked at every possibility, and the king has one more move that will cause his opponent to be checkmated!”  The piece of art is now in a private collection.

You see, when you place your hope, your trust and faith in the King, you don’t ever have to worry about it being over, for the King of Kings always has one more move.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Are You Making People Thirsty?

The other day, I witnessed a lady at the grocery store, who knocked a large bottle of wine off the moving belt and onto the floor where it crashed and made a big mess.  I had the urge to run over and pray that the “wine” would turn into “water”, so it would be easier to clean up.  I didn’t.

There is different kinds of water out there in nature.  There is clear water, mineral infused water, which looks yellowish, and there is also yukky water called, brackish.

In John 4, Jesus talked about water:

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

In a way, she was asking, “Who do you think you are?”

13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

After the above conversation, Jesus shared with the woman the details of her life.  They had never met, so in that moment she became thirsty for his kind of water.

Through Jesus’ death one can have life, living water, and that water can nourish you for the rest of your life.  So what does this have to do with us, who have drank this water?  Wherever we are around other people, our attitude can affect the atmosphere.  At times, our personality can draw others to us, because of the love of God in us.  It can actually cause people to inquire why we are so different than others they have met before.  This happened once with my neighbor, who he and his wife wound up accepting Jesus Christ.

So I ask, what kind of water are you serving others, in your community, your workplace, or in your home?  Is it clear, refreshing, or is it yukky?  Does it quench those around you, or leave a bad taste in their mouth?  I hope, for their sake, they will desire the water you are serving up.  If it needs to be different then try using a “Jesus” filter, which infuses love into your words and actions.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Feeling Shipwrecked?

082120It seems as if these days can be very challenging to hold firm to your faith.  I think the devil and his crew are working overtime.  It’s as if they are doing to their best to use the current circumstances to wear the children of God down.  Have you wanted to quit?  Throw in the towel?  The thought has crossed my mind even, but does any of us know what serving God through hard times is really like?

The Apostle, Paul in his missionary journeys, suffered many hard times.  He was shipwrecked more than once, bitten by a poisonous snake, beaten, falsely accused, and was imprisoned.  If anyone living with God had a reason to quit, he did!

BUT HE DIDN’T!

“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)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  Phi. 4:6-7 (MSG)

So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.”  2 Thes. 2:15-17 (MSG)

“You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming.”  2 Tim. 4:7-8 (MSG)

Paul revealed how he got through life with God, no matter what was thrown at him, and he wrote these words to encourage us to do the same.  Learn these words.  Remember them, but more importantly, live them.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Need the Rainbow

080212TB 228This year, 2020, has proven to be one big storm that won’t stop.  It has harmed so many people, in so many ways.  Interview them, and you would hear different versions of the same story, “Hurt”.  Whether it’s a lost job, drowning in debt, the death of a loved one due to Covid, keeping family and friends from gathering as they once did, or new challenges no one saw coming.  When will it end?

Isaiah 61:3  The Passion Translation

to strengthen those crushed by despair who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful bouquet in the place of ashes,
    the oil of bliss instead of tears,
    and the mantle of joyous praise
    instead of the spirit of heaviness.
    Because of this, they will be known as
    Mighty Oaks of Righteousness,
    planted by Yahweh as a living display of his glory.

You see, the only way to get through the storm, to silence the thunder, to calm fear when lightning flashes, is to look up, see God, and put on the mantle of joyous praise.  Praise him with full throat.  A friend, who lives in Taiwan, said he was singing praises to God while riding his scooter the other day.  Not caring who heard him, but unless they knew English, they probably didn’t even know what he was saying anyway.

The last few blogs have had this theme, of looking only at God, so I know this is the message of heaven to all for this time, but especially to those who love God.  The storm will end and when it does people will come out to survey the damage, and even if they see what harm has come upon you, but then look at your face they will see peace, love, God.  They may ask, “How can you still love God?  How is it you can still smile?”  Your answer will be, “I’m a tree planted by Yahweh as a living display of His glory!”

The storm will end, and when it does, I hope you are still standing, and still looking up, because only then will you see the rainbow.  The symbol from God, signaling, the storm is over.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be the Movie

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationA month ago I was the guest speaker at a writer’s group meeting.  It was an honor, but this speaking engagement was different.  You see with Covid-19 still a great risk, the group currently meets on-line.  I had never done that before.

I was using my phone to attend the meeting, and the way it was set up, whoever was speaking is the person I viewed.  The president of this group introduced me, so she was the last person I saw.

About 20 minutes into my talk, she gets up and goes elsewhere, leaving me with no one to look at while I was speaking.  Normally, a speaker will scan the attendees, making eye contact, and looking for positive feedback at what is being said.

A few minutes later, she came back with a bowl of what looked like popcorn, and a drink.  I thought, wow! now I know what it feels like to be a movie.

The truth is this; if you are open and outspoken about your faith, your relationship with God, then people are watching you.  They listen to what you say, about current issues, our government leaders, and others around us.  They watch how we respond to troubling times.

Would the people watching you give a positive review on “Rotten Tomatoes”?  What if we had “Yelp” for humans?  Would you, would I, receive a thumbs up, or down?  Would people want to visit us after reading an accurate review on one of these platforms?  Probably not, if it was negative.

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”
John 13:34-35 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Jesus knew people will watch us, for they watched him.  He was ever aware that he could only display the qualities of his father, God.  Those would be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

So be aware of this no matter where you are, whether at work, out and about, or at home.  You want your life to be a movie people want to see over and over again.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Other Tree

071420 3Most people recall Adam and Eve ate of the, Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil, but there was another tree.  It was the Tree-of-Life.

God said, “The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!”

So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.” Genesis 22-24 (MSG)

The garden disappeared, and so did the Tree-of-Life, but because mankind disobeyed God, and sinned when he dies he would be dead for eternity.  This was never what God intended, so He knew a sacrifice needed to be provided, so man could live for ever with him.

Because of this, Jesus is now, The Tree of Life, and we can partake of him after accepting his free gift of salvation.  His love for us lead him to the cross and because he was without sin, his death became the sacrifice, or payment for our sins.

So what God wouldn’t let us have in a sinful state, eternal life, he now freely gives us through his son, who became the Tree of Life.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why Can’t I Achieve Mental, & Physical Health?

062620 5It happened last week, last year, or even longer ago, but the memory of the hurt and pain can still rise to the surface so fast.  A word, a name, a song, a phrase can trigger the instance to come back.  You feel those emotions…again.  You say you have forgiven the offender, you even tell yourself you have moved on, so then why does it still rise up and bite you, and at times with the same emotions you experienced when it first happened?

There are many types of hurt others can do to you, but the one thing I struggle with the most is injustice.  It seems so unfair when you are falsely accused.  Jesus had to suffer through this.  He was accused of things untrue, yet he remained silent.  Those accusations were so strong I think some who knew him well started changing what they thought of him.

As difficult as it may be to not defend yourself, but inside let the truth stand, we must follow Jesus’ example.  Hanging on to all of the hurt and pain affects us mentally and I believe also physically.  And, for those asking God to heal them of a physical ailment, hanging on to the hurts of any kind could be blocking your healing, or the renewing of your mind.  The song, “Lay it All Down”, by Will Reagan, can point us to the first step in removing the pain, for good.  Here are a few of the lyrics below:

When we’ve given up, on better days
There are memories, we can’t erase
Lay it all down … lay it all down

We’ve come to fear, what we can’t explain
There’s nothing here, that can ease the pain
Lay it all down … lay it all down
At the feet of Jesus … at the feet of Jesus

After we lay it all down at the feet of Jesus I assure you, there will be temptation to pick it back up.  Don’t!  Turn around, walk away, and never mention it again to anyone, unless the incident can be used for God’s glory in the teaching and exhortation of others.  Jesus is more than capable, and qualified to handle your hurt and pain.  Give it to him, and see how much better you begin to feel after you do.

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” 1 Pt. 5:7 (TPT)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Establish the Mood

062320What happens when you walk into a room of people?  Are they glad to see you, or do they cringe?  Do they come up to you and greet you, or do they pretend to be busy, and walk away hoping to avoid you?  I had a boss that every morning when I saw her enter our department, I knew my peace was about to leave.

What kind of mood encompasses us, goes with us and enters, when we do?  Does your very presence change the environment, the atmosphere of a place?  It should.

Back when I worked in an office building, in Chicago, I took on the challenge of trying my best to put a smile on my fellow passenger’s faces while we were in the elevator.  Difficult, because some of them got off on the lower floors, giving me only seconds to come up with something to do or say that would change them.  That would leave them better when they got off the elevator than when they got on.  Pun intended, my words could lift them up, or let them down.

Once there were several people entering the elevator.  I said, “Call out the floor you need.”  They did, then I announced, “I like pushing people’s buttons.”  I wonder if that was some’s only laugh for the whole day?

As the years went by, people would get on the elevator, see me, and smile immediately.  I’m not boasting, because I knew two things:

  1. The love and joy in my life, I shared with others, only came from God.

  2. I entered the elevator on purpose, with a purpose.

For those who have accepted God, have his love, his truth, and his life inside, we can change, or flip the environment of a home, office, church, store, or wherever we go, just by walking in.  Oh, how the world needs us to enter their lives and shatter the darkness they dwell in with the light of God!  “Let there be light!”  Offer them the hope of Jesus.  When we welcome the presence of God in our lives He goes with us.  People sense it, and are either drawn to it, or openly resist it.

No matter where your feet take you, take God.

Be there on purpose, with a purpose.  Be mindful of those around you.  Roger, a good friend of mine, does this every day when he goes to work.  Share hope, peace, faith and love.  Scatter lots of joy.  Show everyone there is a better way to live.  Make them curious how you can still be smiling despite all that is going on around us.  Establish the mood!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who is it For?

061920Oswald Chambers wrote, “It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.”  Truth, if ever spoken.  Yet, Jesus, the Son of God did both.  He always stated he only did what he saw his Father do.  That meant, every day!  Then, at the end, he laid his life down for us as well.  He did it for you, and me.

You know, I can’t recall any other so called spiritualist that was killed, or they laid down their life voluntarily for what they believed, taught, or lived.

Surrendering your free will is hard to do, yet if done for God, it brings satisfaction, true life.  So I have to ask, “Are you laying down your life?  If so, for whom?”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.