Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Reading The Bible January 22, 2013

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Please accept my invitation to visit my new website . I wanted to make pdf files available for downloading my research on “Warm-hearted Calvinists” and my thoughts on “Building A Devotional Life.” So I am also transfering my blog to that site as well. I hope you will find the site user-friendly. I invite you to share it on facebook and twitter if you wish. http://www.CarolBrandt.com

My goal remains the same: to encourage others, especially women, to read their Bibles and to apply its teachings to their own thoughts, attitudes, and actions. I hope you will drop by often. http://www.CarolBrandt.com

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WHY SO LONG? March 29, 2012

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Wonder where I’ve been?  I’ve had no time to write since September.  Too much on my plate.  My daughter found out in September that she had cancer and I’ve been helping out with the grandchildren.  In addition, my pastor asked me to research Children Ministry materials for Sunday School, Children’s Church, and Wednesday night programs. (Visit me on Facebook at Carol Cook Brandt for the personal details.) So I had to put aside my writing for awhile.  I may not be able to write much until we implement the new Children’s Ministry in September and until my family responsibilites settle down a bit. 

There is an old hymn I used to sing that has become my motto these days, “As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be.”  God has kept that promise and made it real for me these last months. 

What promise has become real for you these days?  I hope it is the Bible’s promise that the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying and rising again makes access to the Father possible for any of us.  Think about it as we approach Palm Sunday and Easter.

 

Censorship November 11, 2010

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I was censored yesterday. First time for me. Gave me a creepy feeling. A friend is in W. Africa on a teaching fellowship. I commented on a picture of a school she recently visited. Just a friendly “I love your pictures” kind of thing. I used this blog to leave a comment on her blog. It came back: “Illegal Words in Use.” I guess it was faith–or maybe women!!

I love freedom of speech and religion. John Adams is chiefly responsible for us having both. Read his biography by David McCollugh when you get a chance. John and Abigail’s Christian heritage wasa driving force behind the Constitution and the republic which guaranteed our freedom to speak about our religious beliefs.

 

The Promised Land September 17, 2010

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I love living where I do. Sunsets, water, breezes, green year round….. warm…fish…And I love America. “In God We Trust”….. “Liberty”… “Fraternity”…. “Equality”…It is a wonderful place to be.

Ezekiel loved his homeland too. He grew up in Jerusalem and thought of it as the city of God and the city of David–with all the blessings that promised.Especially, the wonderful promise of the atoning Savior and King to come.It was the promised land, after all.

In Ezekiel 22-24,the prophetpredicted that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Their lewdness, idoltry, disobedience, corruption, immorality, and hardheadedness would finally catch up with them. Their destruction would be a fair act on God’s part. “I the Lord have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back,…” (24:14).

Ezekiel had already left Jerusalem. He and his wife, along with people like Daniel and his friends, were living in Iraq. He was preaching to the exiles. They had lived there now abouteleven years when she suddenly died (587 BC). God told him not to cry or mourn in front of others. In fact, he lost his voice and was told he would get it back when a messenger arrived telling him how Babylon’s army had wiped Jerusalem off the map (24:15-27).

And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, in the tenth month, on thefifth day of the month, that one who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, “the city has been captured!”

Now the hand of the LORD had been upon me the evening before the man came who had escaped. And He had opened my mouth; so when he came to me in the morning, my mouth was opened, and I was no longer mute” (Ezekiel 33:21-22).

The point of all of this was to call attention to the truth of Ezekiel’s words as a prophet.These events were programed so that the people in exile, and those who would later readthis book, would bow their knees and know that the LORD isGod.Isn’t it remarkable that his experience and his prophecy have been preserved all these 2,600 years?

Of course, Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC. The exile lasted seventy more years before a group returned to rebuild the city and its temple.Ezekiel didn’t make it back to the city he loved. But, he did keep on believing and preaching and calling others to turn from their selfish waysto love and trust the one true God. That way he was living in the “promised land,” even while in exile, by loving God and doing what He commanded whether anyone really “heard” him or not.

LESSON TO THE CHURCH

Jesus is our representative–our righteousness.We are still called to love God and do what He commands. The destruction of Jerusalem was a tragic event. It really occurred. Ezekiel tells us why. They were stiff-necked, proud people who refused to listen and took their privileges as God’s people for granted. They refused to clean up their act. It is a lesson for us. We Christians cannot take our position in Christ Jesus for granted. We must live like people to whom God has shown many mercies, bow before Him as our Lord, as well as Savior, and clean up our lives. What do you need to sweep away?

Some always listen; a remnant will return to living in the “promised land” of personal relationship with God through faith in Christ Jesus alone. It is a wonderful place to be.

 

Talking Points September 12, 2010

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The planet Venus is 24 million miles from earth. If the sky is clear at sunset tonight, Venus will be shining brightly in the SW sky by 7:55 p.m. EDT.

Take your child or grandchild outside and have a talk aboutseveral catechism questions:

Who made you? God

What else did God make? God made all things

Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory.

How can you glorify God? By loving Him and doing what He commands.

Why are you to glorify God? Because He made me and takes care of me.

Remember, to glorify means to reflect some small measure of what God is like.So since God made us and takes careof us, we should repondwith loving obedience and that is exactly what reflects the true nature of God.

Looking at Venus is alsoa wonderful opportunity to introduce the power of God’s spoken word in making something out of nothing. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”Notice that s. That would include Venus. So leave your child wondering about the wonder of it all. “And God said it was very good.”

He still speaks today—through the Spirit’s lighting up the Bible’s meaningfor us. Come inside and, at least, look up Genesis 1:1!

SHOW ME JESUS

When you pray, thank God that Jesus was there in the beginning, saying, “And it is very good!”

 

“We Just Need Rehab.” August 25, 2010

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Every generation has proverbs generally acceptedby most people. Sometimes spoken or written; sometimes not. My mother’s generation lived by: “A penny saved isa penny earned.” Iget to buy afew Lilly dresses now because of that proverb! It is not such a bad saying…

A proverb of today in the U.S. might be: “We haven’t sinned; we just need rehab.” Whether it’s a celebrity or public officialor just a husband using the internet for dirty pictures, there’s seldom visible sorrow forthe actionitself that has caused such devastating consequences. Anger management or sexual addiction counseling are “in.”

Ezekiel saw the same kind of thinking going on among his exiled friends. They had lost their country, been forced to move from Jerusalem to Iraq.He kept preaching about true heart repentance–sorrow, sadness, deep grief resulting in seeking a renewed relationship with God that included right living. They kept saying, “We’re suffering because of the sins of our fathers. We haven’t done anything to deserve this.” Instead of repentance and mourning, they shirked their responsibility and blamed their parents and said God was not fair.

In Ezekiel 18,we havehis sermon refuting this proverb.I hope you have the time to read it.’As I live,’says the Lord GOD, ‘you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.'” He goes on to list the right living of the first generation (18:5-9),and the violent greed, idoltry, and sexual impurity of the second generation, then the right living of the third generation (v.14-18). Ezekieldefends personal responsibilty and the fairness of God:

“He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live!

As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbbed his brother by violence, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.… The soul who sins shall die” (Ez. 18:17-20).

“‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord GOD, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'”

Should we be using our proverb today to excuse ourselves? Is getting rehabilatation and counseling (ortraveling the world for a year or so) the only thing we need to do? What about cleaning up our act?

Teaching Tip

Train your children (or those you teach or influence in any way) to accept responsibility for their attitudes and actions. In preschool and early elementary years, I focused ongettingmy daughtersto “honor” me. I tried not to have many “rules” but when they didn’t show respect, they “got” it! It was their fault, even if I was wrong or short-tempered. Of course, I often messed up myself, and thissame principle of responsibilityapplied to me, but, nevertheless,my being in the wrongdid not excuse them.It isn’t always the teacher’s or the parent’s fault.

For upper elementary and high school, help them to see how false the cultural proverbs can be.You need to talk WITH thema lot (not to them as much).Take them daily to the real Proverbs as a contrast to what they are hearing “out there.” Keepthe focus on personal accountability and turning from wrong behavior and attitudes–intheir relationship with you and with the Lord Jesus.

Of course, in delivering this sermon on accountability, Ezekiel is in no way ignoring the hope of the Promised One who would be an atonement for sin. He didn’t know all the details yet; itwas 590 or so years before Jesus’ death.As an educated priest, Ezekiel was very familar with all of Isaiah’s prophecies about the Messiah’s coming. But, this sermon’s main point is that each of us is accountable to Godand that does not make God unfair. “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ez. 18:30).

 

From Priest To Prophet August 6, 2010

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Ezekiel was 26, married, and serving as a Priest in the templeat Jerusalem when the Babylonian raids began. His service in the templefacilatatedthe offering of sacrifices of sheep, bulls, goats, pigeons. It was bloody work. The ashes from the altar had to be swept, the fire maintained, the animals slaughtered, the basins cleaned and refilled, the priests’ portions of the meat cut-up and distributed. It was his serviceso that people could be right with God again in spite of their sin individually and corporately. The whole process prefiguredthe promised Savior’sdeath as a payment for the sins of God’s people. Ezekiel had been instructed in, andmight havehad accessto, the scrolls containing Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, some ofPsalms andProverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah. His work as a Priest wasa respectedposition. Unfortunately, many of the Priests strayed far from what the written Word of God actually said. Their lives did not measure up to the moral precepts nor did they warn the people of the consequences of ignoring the sovereignty and holiness of God.

Those consequences began with the Babylonian raids upon Judah starting in 597 BC. Ezekiel and his wife soon were living in exile near a canal flowing into the Euphrates River in Southern Iraq. (This was what God hadtold Habbakak would happen.years.) It was at this point that Ezekiel’s job description changed dramatically. God appeared to him, showed him a glimpse of His glory and holiness, and called him to become a Prophet. He was tolisten to what God said”expressly” to him and tell it to the people whether they listened or not. (1:3;3:7). It is quite a story. Read it in Ezekiel 1-3.

Protestant Reformers defined a prophet as one who heard God’s word directly from God, and then spoke them to the people. A priest officiated in the temple worship, but a prophet actually added to the revelation from God. It was an awesome experience for Ezekiel anda big jump in his responsibility. What a task he had before him now.

Since a prophet added to God’s revelation of Himself and His plans for providing a Savior and a final judgment, the Reformersstressedthat Revelationcompleted the revelation of God.After all,the Lord Jesus Christ had come, died, and risen just as was promised all through the Bible.So the Reformersbelieved that there was no vision or experience after John’s that would add to the completed revelation of who God is and His plans for salvation and justice. Thisis important as we look at the claims made by the Mormons, Moslems, oreven someEvangelicals whose vision or experience is used to add to what we know about God.

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book,….” (Revelation 22:18).

Application

Who are you listening to? Is it someone who claims to have “special revelation?” Or someone who follows someone who makes that claim? Know what your teachers believe.

I hope this helps you as you read Ezekiel these final days of summer.

You can always ask me questions on Facebook (Carol Cook Brandt). Just send me a message. I try to keep this blog focused on the Scriptures,but questions and comments are welcomed on Facebook.