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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.

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.

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.

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.

The Unexpected Sermon

“It’s okay.  It’s all in the past,” said my great niece as she waved her hands back and forth down low by her side.  She had gotten caught doing something that turned out okay, but would not had been sanctioned by either of her parents.

We laughed as my mother shared the story of the incident with my wife and me, but later in the week my wife quoted my great niece after doing something I did not appreciate.  Yes it’s true, I’m a recovering control freak, and I always argue that I like things done a certain way, because to me it seems like the fastest and easiest way to accomplish that task.  I know, there are many ways to doing some things, and there are times when someone would rather do it their way.

It may seem silly, but my four year old great niece preached with conviction a sermon I needed to hear, but more than that, live out!  I have spent the last several days practicing to let things go and not to mention that my wife may have done or said something that turned out okay, but not something I would have done.  And you know what?  Our marriage is better for it!

In those times when we mess up, do things that God would rather we hadn’t, and we go to him and ask for forgiveness, he always says, “Its okay.  You’re forgiven.  It’s now in the past.”

God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said. (Psalms 103:6-18 MSG)

Forgiveness is not a license to go sin more, or even again, but it lifts the burden of guilt off of us, and allows us to go on, living life in peace.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God, My Enemy?

Have you ever heard someone blame God for their troubles?  Or insurance companies label calamities as an “Act of God”?  I have.  Job, from the Bible, he certainly did.  In fact, he went so far as to accuse God as his enemy.  (Job 16:9)  I have also heard people say this, “When I get out of the hospital I am going to start living for God.”  Yeah, as you might have guessed, months later they are still living life in the same manner before they went into the hospital.

I was cleaning a stain from the ottoman we recently picked up with a chair for our new “Conference Room” where we go to meet with God.  I looked at the can of “stain remover” and couldn’t help thinking about God removing stains from our own lives.  The foam that comes oozing out of the can is white, and because Jesus died for our stains, our sins, he makes us white as snow.

Though your sins have stained you like the color red,
you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,
you can become white like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Did you notice who makes the stain remover?  “Woolite”.  Did you also see the brush on the end of the can?  Even after our sins are forgiven when we accept Jesus and ask for that forgiveness there can be consequences of wrong doing in our life.  And sometimes it takes a lot of work, or “scrubbing” for those results to be removed.  It can take time and commitment to clean up the mess we have previously made with our lives.  Max Lucado once wrote,

“My mess, is His message.”

I also liked on the can where it said, “Triple Action”.  As you know the Trinity is made of God the Father, Jesus, God’s son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three work together to bring us to the saving grace of God.  I am so thankful to know that when I make mistakes I can be forgiven.  Being clean, free from sin, is a good feeling. God is not our enemy, but our friend and loving father.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Cook Was Sick

The other day, while at a restaurant, I commented, to my wife how the beef and broccoli wasn’t as good as it normally is.  She replied, “Well, maybe the cook is sick.”  I laughed and thought she was just being silly.  She’s often funny like that, but she went on to explain how that phrase was a real thing in the Philippines.

I was intrigued and thought about this.  So what she was saying was. The food wasn’t at its best, because of sickness.  Isn’t that like us at times, servants of God?  When we allow sin into our life we are not at our best.  We do things, small perhaps, but they allow sin into our lives, and sin, is sickness, which can, if ignored, lead to death, spiritual and even physical. We miss opportunities to speak of the love of God.  To testify of his glory.  We miss experiences with others that can lift someone up, or encourage them.

A “diet” is defined as: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats, or a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. 

It seems as if some people restrict God from their life, and boy, do they ever pay for it.

Those who live by their own rules, not God’s, can expect nothing but trouble,
    and the longer they live, the worse it gets.
Every little sound terrifies them.
    Just when they think they have it made, disaster strikes.
They despair of things ever getting better—
    they’re on the list of people for whom things always turn out for the worst.
They wander here and there,
    never knowing where the next meal is coming from—
    every day is doomsday!
They live in constant terror,
    always with their backs up against the wall
Because they insist on shaking their fists at God,
    defying God Almighty to his face,
Always and ever at odds with God,
    always on the defensive. Job 15:18-26 (MSG)

Even though they may look fine on the outside, things are not healthy on the inside, and just like your body, it will manifest.

As God can be restricted, so can sin, but it’s a choice.  When we encounter an opportunity to sin we can call out to God to help, for when we are weak, He is strong, therefore we are strong. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Just as maintaining a healthy diet and saying, “No” to things we shouldn’t partake of helps us continue to be strong, we should maintain a healthy balanced diet built on God.  A diet of prayer, reading God’s word, and taking action to serve God as he directs.

It would be a shame for someone to encounter us, and leave with a bad taste in their mouth, because we were not at our best.  Remember this; as children of God, we are always reflections of our Heavenly Father.  And people do watch us constantly, looking for a reason to not accept God.  Their favorite excuse is this, “If they are a so called Christian, then that’s not for me, because I don’t want to be like them.”  Yes, it’s true we are forgiven, but they do not understand such things yet, for they have not experienced that forgiveness for themselves.  So be careful, every day.  Stay healthy, and stay good.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Tempting, Isn’t it?

I once wrote a parody of Genesis 3:1-7, where Satan tempted Eve.  I expressed the idea of Satan not being successful in his first, or second attempt.  He soon realized he had to step up his game and be the best salesman there ever was or will be.  He begin convincing Eve the fruit would complete her ensemble (a word I learned from my first wife) and the forbidden fruit went well with the shoes she was wearing.  As you know, the rest of the story, it worked.

I had a Chinese friend, a few years ago, who referred to temptation as,

“her favorite sin”,

and she was convinced the devil knew what it was and how to use it against her.

What is yours?  What does your snake say to you?

But now I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s clever lies, your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3 (TPT)

One of the greatest tools we have is knowing how Satan comes against us using the same temptation usually every time.

“so that we would not be exploited by the adversary, Satan, for we know his clever schemes.” 2 Cor. 2:11 (TPT)

So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.” Heb. 4:16 (TPT)

“We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously. 1 Cor. 10:13 (TPT)

The tempter wants you to fail,

but the tester wants you to succeed.

Remember Jesus has already overcome the evil one, and He is there to help you do the same.  Call upon his name, and trust He hears you and will show you the way to be an overcomer.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Some time ago I met a lady at work, and the first thing she started informing me was she was the best one, on our shift, doing the job.  She wanted me to know that her “rate per hour” never dipped below 500, and even on the day she poked herself in the eye she maintained her excellence.  For reference, the average rate per hour is around 270.  I must confess, her boasting was a turn off.  Later I thought, if you are that great at your job then why haven’t I heard about you from others?

The second time I encountered this same woman she was bragging to some other coworkers, in the break room, of her greatness in doing her job.  The third time I crossed her path she was wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “The Boss”.  The very next day she wore a T-shirt stating, “World’s Best Mom”.

It got me to thinking, perhaps she is extremely insecure in who she truly is, and tries to command respect by telling everyone who she wants to be?

After thinking about this for a while I heard in my mind a question Jesus once asked;

“But you—who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.
Mat. 16:15 (TPT)

Jesus knew who he was, and didn’t go bragging about it to anyone, or ware a tunic stating it.  In fact, God declared who Jesus was when he rose up from the water after being baptized.  God said, “This is my Son, whom I am well pleased.”

It’s important to know who Jesus is.  He’s a healer, a brother that never leaves you, a calming source in any storm, but most important, he’s a savior whose death on the cross saves your soul from hell, if you accept who he is and ask him to forgive you for your sins, wrong doing.  Your eternal life depends on this because one day you will stand before Jesus, and He will ask you, “Who do you say I am?”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The End is Here

If you are reading this, in a few days you will be able to say, “I survived 2020.”  You might even be able to say that you beat Covid.  My friend in Chicago did.  I give the glory to God for that one, because he got close to the edge, but God escorted him back to give him another opportunity to accept him and his love.  I also know of a few people who didn’t.  Others have lost jobs, while some have lost their freedom to visit family, or attend a church service in person.

Yes, it’s been an especially tough year, but as I opened the mail today, and read what a friend went through in the two previous years. It was in that moment, I was reminded;

any year can be a difficult year!

That truth is a result of sin, brought into the world by the original sinners, Adam and Eve.  So even today, mankind is born into sin.  Therefore, God sent us a Savior to rescue us from ourselves.  If our greatest need had been education He would have given us a teacher.  If our greatest need would have been money then God would have given us a financial wizard.  But God, who loves us so much, and wants nothing more than to commune with us daily, gave us his son, his only son.

I have noticed the Holy Spirit has led me all year to write about God’s love, God’s son, and the free gift of salvation.  That tells me that He, God, wants to be reunited with everyone, before the end of the earth comes as we know it.

The Bible is true, and as the last book in it, Revelation, tells us in detail what is about to happen.  We are on the very threshold of the days, and events mentioned in the book of Revelation, coming true.  Please don’t dismiss God calling you home.  Don’t let another year go by without acting on his call to come into the family of God.  Life may get even harder than it was in 2020, and I tell you this, the only way I survived this current year was by doing life with God.  Drawing even closer to him like a child afraid of people they just met.

Please, I beseech you, accept Jesus into your life.  You will not die regretting it, but live forever rejoicing you did.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.