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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.

The Results Will Be Worth the Pain

“Dad, I’m scared,” said my ten year old son.  He had a lymph node die in his throat and it was decaying causing swelling and in a few hours it would completely suffocate him.

I decided to do something perhaps I shouldn’t have, but at the time it seemed wise.  I told him, “Having surgery is up to you.  If you decide to have the surgery they will make you go to sleep, and they will remove the problem and you will wake up and be on pain meds until you are better.  If you don’t have surgery, you’re going to die.”  He laid there in his hospital bed and thought for a few minutes and then said, “I think I’ll have the surgery.”

I don’t understand why, but we are usually afraid to let those who know what they are doing remove something that is hurting us.  The choice should be obvious, but yet we fear.

The same thing tends to happen when God wants to remove a part of our personality that hurts us, and or others.  Usually others.  I am currently lying in a hospital bed (figuratively) about to undergo the removal of one such part of me.  I know God knows what He is doing, but I’m afraid.  I think I fear what I will be like after the procedure.  I know time is of the essence and this cannot be put off any longer, so I am saying to God tonight, “I think I’ll have the surgery.”

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” PHI. 1:6 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Put it into Practice

Have you ever met a dreamer?  They come up with all of these great ideas, and sometimes they actually put those ideas on paper, but they never seem to carry them out.  Then there are those that move slower than a glacier.  They have to have all the “I”s dotted and the “T”s crossed before they are free to move on.

Neither kind of individual is particularly bad, just not very productive.  Kind of like working with a committee where all the members think their way is best.  Not much gets accomplished.

I have often thought, what would the earth look like if it had been designed by a committee?  And would God’s son, Jesus have ever made it to earth at all?

God was clear about what He wanted to do and how He wanted it done.  With creative, artistic, beauty.  With grandeur and microscopic details.  Every aspect functioning in pure balance with the rest of creation.  God was also clear about his son coming to save us from our sins:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 (MSG)

The above was God’s mission statement and vision, and I would say, it is still working!

I saw this the other day in an email and I thought, that should be my mission statement and vision:

Practicing the presence of God.
Operating in the gifts of the Spirit.
Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.
Drawing the people of God into the glory of God.

I hope I am as successful as God in living out the above declarations.  But instead of hanging them on a wall as a nice plaque I’ll have to put them into practice.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Hard of Hearing, or Hard Headed?

I’m still reading through the book of Job, in the Bible.  I think he is both, hard of hearing and hard headed.  He is not listening to what his friends are trying to say to him.  As well, he is hard headed enough to not realize how arrogant he is.  I’ve had a taste of that lately.  The arrogance, I mean.

You see God instructed me on how to handle a situation, and I would have sworn to you that I heard him.  But in the sad reality of things, I wasn’t applying it, and of course people got hurt.  Then I felt like a jerk, and I was acting like one.  I thought I was right though and in some things, I was, but how I chose to express my being right, was wrong.

I should have remembered the verse, Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (MSG)

So I don’t want to be “hard of hearing” when it comes to receiving wisdom, understanding, and instructions from God.  And I really don’t want to be “hard headed” when it is time to apply those words from God.  I don’t want to be a jerk, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, so I find myself asking God to help me to; pause, think, and respond with one of the fruits of the Spirit, and I think that will do the job just fine.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Roll the Dice

The title of this blog post, “Roll the Dice” is a phrase that comes from gambling.  A similar phrase is, “Let the chips fall where they may.”  Both of these phrases were spoken to me today by a believer in God.  I shared with my friend, who said them, “I don’t like either phrase.”  He replied, “Why not?”

I know he meant well, but he was talking about a situation that he does have authority over, because God gave it to him.  You see, when you are walking in the will of God, and He places you in a position that He wants you to have, and you pray giving the situation over to God, to be God in, then it is not up to “chance”!

Things will not fall where they may, or be decided by the roll of dice, or by any half hazard means of chance, but will work out for good for those who love God. This brings glory to God. His word says so.

 “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Rom. 8:28 (NET)

This verse is well known, so why don’t those who know it, believe it?  And better yet, why don’t they live according to that knowledge?  It’s powerful!  Its life changing, and situation changing as well.

So the next time you are in a pickle, or dealing with a difficult situation, pray!  Give it to God!  Then walk with your head up, knowing, and trusting God has heard you and that it will work out just the way He wants it to in order to do a good and perfect work in the lives of all who are involved.

“Amen!”  Now that’s good preaching if I do say so myself.  Where’s the offering plate?  This message is worthy of an offering!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Rules of the Game

Starting with the Banker, each player in turn throws the dice. The player with the highest total starts the play. Place your token on the corner marked “GO”, then throw the dice and move your token (in the direction of the arrow) the number of spaces indicated by the dice…..

You buy a new game and you can’t wait to play it, but in reality, you don’t know how, because you don’t know the rules.  Reading the rules takes time and can be kind-of, should we say, boring?  We just want to start playing.  And have you noticed?  There always seems to be that one person who volunteers to read the rules and then proceeds to tell the others their interpretation of what they know?

Rules are very specific, or should be.  They are important.  They can help protect you, if you and everyone else will follow them.  Like when driving.  When it comes to God, mankind, has come up with his own set of rules.  I mentioned a few weeks ago there are over 4000 religions.  That’s a lot!  Which one is right?  Could they “all” be wrong?  Probably.

God wrote his own, not “rules” to live by, but the kind of relationship you should desire to have with him.  In his Word, He makes it very clear, that the only way to him is by accepting that Jesus is his son and died on the cross to forgive you of your sins, wrong doings, and we have all done something wrong.

You see, God is Holy and cannot be in the presence of sin.  That is why he gave his own son to die for us, which makes us clean again.  Then He can be with us and we can be with him.  No “rules” just relationship.  It’s so simple, but mankind has a hard time with that.  He thinks it sounds too good to be true, but when it comes to God, it is true, and it sets us free.  Mankind complicates it.  It is so simple I understood it at the age of 7.

Satan knows how God designed things, and he knows he’s not going to win, but he still tries so hard to get mankind to loose with him.  He either gets them to write their own rules by telling them God didn’t mean what He said, or he accuses others of cheating and tries to make them feel bad about themselves.

Read God’s Word.  Learn about the relationship that God has wanted from the very beginning with mankind.  Doing so will give you the authority to tell the devil to, “shut up!”  Playing, or living I should say, this way will cause you to win in the end, because life is no game.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Graffiti

Graffiti Building – Tulsa
Gum Wall – Seattle

I was driving my wife, April around downtown Tulsa the other day.  It was her first tour of the big city.  We went under a bridge and as in most urban areas, there was graffiti painted on the sides.  There was also a couple of buildings with it as well.  One building’s graffiti has become a little famous, but it’s nothing compared to the “Gum Wall” in Seattle, Washington.

A couple of days later, while I was having a moment with God, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “What kind of graffiti have you allowed to be written on the walls of your heart?”  Ouch!

I began to think about the messages I see, hear, and the stuff that shows up on TV.  Those messages affect us more than we realize they do.  For example, we may start accepting the lifestyle as okay, or normal that some choose to live that God calls sin.  We will always love the individual, but never the sin in their life.  That’s God’s approach.  We might chose to stay quiet instead of calling it out for what it is, “destructive lifestyles”, or accepting Satan’s substitute for what God has for us.

I realize now, I need to wash the walls of my heart from time to time.  To get the, what some may call, “expressive freedom” removed and put things back to having only the words of God written there.

Proverbs 7:3, talks about writing God’s words upon the walls of your heart:

“…etch it on the chambers of your heart.”

We are also instructed to guard our hearts.  Why all this care about our hearts?  Because what is in our hearts is what we believe to be true, and that belief comes out of our mouths.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.