Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Where Have I Been? March 11, 2020

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For several years I wrote from a .com address. Now I am back to WordPress with the same motive of getting you to read the Bible for yourself and apply it through the eyes of historic Christianity. May I suggest the reading plan of #KeepTheFeast on social media? If you read on YouVersion, an app for your phone, you will also have video summaries of the current readings. Won’t you join us? We are about to start Job and Romans. Come along…..


The Importance of Context

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Please reread Galatians 5-6

It’s hard to take a fresh look at familar passages that have been misused and misinterpreted. This is certainly one of those. I’m writing this blog chiefly for women who want to think as they read the Bible. Not to toss out feelings, behavior, life, and heart issues but to figure out the doctrine first and then apply it to all those areas. Doctrine first; then experience. Doctrine simply means “teachings.” This includes looking for what the Bible says about its major themes of redemption and God’s gracious sovereignty. Over the last thirty years, I’ve heard a lot of things taught from these chapters that violate looking at the theme of Galatians and those of the Bible as a whole. That omission has resulted in jumping into subjects not covered in this letter. It has been said that John Calvin had the ability to go as far as a passage allowed, and remain quiet on what was not clear. To be silent where the scripture was silent. Failure to do that has led many into applying “stretches of the truth,” leading to mistakes in application to the heart and life.

This is our eighth lesson on Galatians. By now, saying that Justification by Faith Alone is the theme of this book is reduntant. It’s clear, isn’t it? So any application made here must relate to this theme. In chapter 5, Paul does get into application some. He is telling them to be careful how they stand up to false teachers. To watch their attitudes and words and actions. The promise of the Holy Spirit’s work in their life has been a sub-topic all along, and he gets into the Spirit’s work in our lives toward the end of chapter five. But, this is not a treatise on sanctification or how we are made more holy in this life.

Taking verses out of context, isolating them so to speak, can lead to major error. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). This is a classic one to take out of this context on justification. It has been used over the years by those who want to sever the Old Testament from the New. “You’re not under the law,” they say. “You are freed from all that. We live in a different time, a new dispensation. Just listen to the Spirit; he will lead you to do what is right.” Now you know this passage is about not adding one little thing to what Christ Jesus has done on the cross for us, not about whether the Old Testament is useful for today or not. In fact, Paul uses the Old Testament examples to prove his points about Justification by Faith. To tell us to belittle the Old Testament as a historical book of the Jews violates even using it like Paul did here. But, to say you can do what you feel like is also way out of context. Another frequently mis-used verse is, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18). His point is to encourage us not to gratify our own desires while standing firm on the gospel. He is not counseling us to toss out the Old and do what we wish in a new era. But, if you take that verse out of the chapter and quote it, you could conclude that all you need now for life and Godliness is the Spirit’s leading.

Then, much has been made about the flesh and the Spirit. Paul tried to make the point that in standing up to false teachings we need to be careful. Not to seek gratification of our own desires, but to think of others and to remain kind, gracious, doing what is good. But, others stretch this passage to dissect us into three parts: the spirit, soul, and heart. Then to teach that since we, as believers, are a new creation, we have a new one of each, remade in the image of God. So we just need to call up this new spirit, soul, and heart to live life more perfectly and be a super-Christian. They don’t say this, of course, but the implication and pride is there in their attitudes and dealings with others. Paul accepted the rest of the Bible’s theme of Renewal and Redemption. One day the universe would be renewed back to how He created it in the first place. But, in the meantime, we needed to be carefui how we act, think, and what we desire. We are not there yet, or there would be no need for these warnings. This view fails to see how the need for grace hovers over us like a canopy and why Paul ended his letter on that note. “Grace …be with your spirit..”

My reason for bringing all this up is I want you to think as you read the Bible. To reconnect with historical Christianity and the faith of the Apostles. Don’t take a verse out of its context, memorize it, and then use it as a sword against others or yourself. Instead, do your best to grasp the meaning of the writer before you apply it to how you feel, think, act, worship, live. Spiritual experience follows right thinking, not the other way around.

Paul wrote Galatians five to seven years before he wrote to the Romans. His theme in Romans is the same as Galatians, and just as clear. That is why Martin Lurther was so struck by the contrast between his works-oriented Catholicism and Justification by Faith Alone. There is more detail in Romans and a careful study of it would benefit you now after this Galatian study. May I recommend Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ multi-volume set, ? www.cvbbs.com cvbbs.org

I hope these lessons on Galatians profited you. My belief is that we, as Christians, do best when we study a specfic book while we are reading other portions of Scripture. That is why I like the system of Bible reading put out by Banner of Truth. You have to adapt it to your current lifestyle and pressures and do what you can. But, this system works to help you think and feel and apply as you read. www.banneroftruth.org.org

Grace be with your spirit.


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


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

Filed under: Ezekiel,Uncategorized — womenembracingfaith @ 12:37 pm

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.


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!


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).


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.


With a Song

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FOR THE CHILDREN:Psalm 23 and Ezekiel 34

“The Lord is my sheperd, shepherd, shepherd.

The Lord is my shepherd, and I am His lamb!” (Great Commission Publications, Summer, ages 2-3).

Complex biblical theology can be put simply and directly. Even two year olds can listen and repeat a simple phrase put to music. Let them echo it after you. Put it to a tune you and they can remember. A CD and songbook can be ordered at www.gcp.org to give you some help. Hold your Bible as you read Psalm 23 or Ezekiel 34:15-16 so you model reliance on the Bible’s truth.

“I will feed my flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up what was broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat the the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

Then act out ways a shepherd looks after his sheep.My family only has to watch our collie as he alertly tends the grandchildren…another everyday application of a complex biblical principle… Keep your eyes open for your family’s way of visualizing this truth.

“Always a Psalm in the mouth, Always Christ in the heart.” (An ancient Christian saying)