Ezekiel 9

Ezekiel 9

Ezekiel 9 is a vision of God’s servants’ cleansing Israel. God tells a servant with an ink horn to put a mark on the forehead of all of those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within [the temple]” (Ezekiel 9:4). These are spared. He tells his servants with battle-axes to kill the rest and to “begin at My sanctuary.” Ezekiel laments the loss of God’s people, but God responds, “My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head” (Ezekiel 9:10).

ezekiel 9

God will judge the wicked.

The interpretation of this vision is in Ezekiel 11:14-21. God explains that He will gather His people from where they have been scattered and give Israel to them. God says, “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:19-20).  What will be the fate of the rest? “But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” (Ezekiel 11:21-22).

Peter alludes to Ezekiel’s prophecy in 1 Peter 4:17: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” For the wicked, who will not change their hearts and turn to God, their deeds are on their own heads. David understood. He wrote, “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts….” (Psalm 51:6).

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Trust as the Tides Roll on

Trust as the Tides Roll on

There’s something very special and awe-inspiring about a long walk, along a sandy, sparsely-occupied, stretch of oceanside beach. Perhaps it is witnessing the awesome power of the pounding breakers as they crash in,white upon themselves,only to melt back into the foaming receders as they approach the sand. Maybe it is knowing that the interaction of those waves with that beach’s sand simply reflects the infinite and invisible attributes, abilities, and authority of almighty God (Rom. 1:18-20; Jer. 5:22). After all, ever since the third day of creation (Gen. 1:9-13) God’s word has kept those mighty tides rolling regularly and rhythmically in and out, without the slightest interruption or hesitation, and despite whatever was going on in the world and lives of men (2 Ptr. 3:5).

tides waves

God is in control, even the tides obey His will.

In addition to those thoughts however, one of the greatest and most comforting things that the sea brings to mind for me, is that no matter how fierce, furious, frightening and life-threatening a storm on it can be; and no matter how many lives it has claimed since its creation on day three; my God – it’s Creator – is infinitely mightier indeed; and therefore able to rescue, carry me through, and deliver me from any storm that I encounter in my life!

The Psalmists declare, The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea” (93:4);and,“O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them” (89:8-9). David, himself, in Psalm 65:5-7 makes the point, that because God is able to calm the raging seas, He is therefore powerful enough to calm, carry, comfort, and completely deliver His people from all of their troubles as well. The author of the 107thPsalm reiterates and reinforces this same eternal truth when He states in verses 23-29:“Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.”

Then there was Job; a man who lost just about everything a man could ever lose except for his life, his wife, and his faith. Yet even he acknowledged the awesome power and ability of God to still preserve and rescue him from his circumstances when he stated of God that,“He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8). Later on, God would again remind Job of His infinite ability to deliver, saying, “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’” (Job 38:8-11).

Christian; remember your Savior today – no matter what storm you may be facing. Allow Him who both created and calmed the sea (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17; Matt. 8:23-27, 14:22-23); He who both created you physically and then re-created you spiritually in Christ Jesus (Psa. 139:13-16; Eph 2:4-10), to calm your storm. “Peace, be still” (Mk. 4:39); “Be still, and know that [He is] God” (Ps. 46:10).

Brethren, Seas the day!

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Atheism’s Blind Faith

Atheism’s blind faith

Dear friend, I hope this letter finds you well and I hope you are enjoying the signs and sights of spring all around you. As the trees and grass “wakes up” I hope you will pause and truly consider what has to happen for trees and plants to go dormant and then reawaken each year at the proper time. Think about what they have to do in order not to freeze and the built in timing mechanism they possess. Did these complex processes happen by mere chance?

blind faith atheism

Do you have a blind faith or is it built upon evidence?

You mentioned that you consider religion and faith just a crutch for the weak-minded. You argued that intelligent people believe in naturalism and evolution—which you said could be proven. Let’s consider your argument for just a moment. I will grant you that some people find solace, peace, and comfort in their belief in God. Life can be tough sometimes, and a strong faith helps a person navigate safely though pain and suffering. (Crutches can be good for those who are healing an injury.)

However, your point was meant to be more derogatory, so let’s address that. While the mainstream media rarely reports it, there are literally thousands of men and women with advanced degrees who believe in God and the creation account. (see https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lists_of_creationist_ scientists or http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1207 or https://answersingenesis.org/bios/). In fact, most of the fields of science you now embrace were actually founded by men who held a firm belief in God and the Bible. An honest person could hardly call Isaac Newton a pseudo-scientist—and yet, he wrote strong papers refuting atheism and defending creation and the Bible. Newton once said, “I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.” (See Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible, 1981, P. 797).

But let’s consider faith for just a moment. You try and assume an intellectual high-ground because you say my beliefs are built on faith. Yet, you fail to recognize you entire worldview hinges on a massive amount of faith. Consider these truths:

1. No one witnessed (or can recreate in a laboratory) the Big Bang, so it must be taken on faith.

2. No one has witnessed living material evolving from non-living material (or can recreate it in a laboratory), so it must also be taken on faith.

3. No one can explain where the original matter for the universe arose from (or can create matter from nothing or anti-matter), so this too must be taken on faith.

4. No one can adequately explain the origination of males and females through the process of evolution, so this must be accepted as blind faith.

5. No one can explain the design witnessed in the Universe and human body while at the same time denying a designer.

All of these facts require faith on your part. Faith that the Big Bang is real and happened. Faith that living material can arise from non-living material. You rely on the scientific method that says that something must be observable, measurable, and repeatable. Newsflash: The Big Bang is not observable, measurable, or repeatable. Most textbooks promote this idea, saying that if we cannot measure something using the scientific method (using your five senses) then it is an illusion. Where does that leave God—Whom the Bible describes as a spirit (John 4:24)?

Anyone who has spent any time at all studying philosophy or logic can understand that while a Supreme Being may not be proven in a laboratory using the scientific method, the laboratory’s very existence is proof for His existence. Consider this simple logic: It is a self-evident truth that something cannot come from nothing. Since something now exists, this indicates that something has existed forever. That means something is eternal— meaning it has always been here. This is simple logic—something exists today, thus something has always existed.

The question is, what has eternal properties? Evolutionists would have students believe that the Universe is eternal, however you probably already know that does not fit the scientific data. We know today that the Universe is expanding, which is a clear indication it had a beginning. The only logical conclusion is that God is eternal and He was responsible for the creation of the Universe.

So, back to your argument: You laugh saying my worldview requires faith, and yet your worldview requires faith to believe in a Big Bang. You also must have faith to believe in life from non-living inorganic matter. So really, which theory requires more faith? Brad Stine once mused: “Who is more irrational? A man who believes in a God he doesn’t see, or a man who’s offended by a God he doesn’t believe in?”

I hope you will think on these things. Until next time, I continue to pray for you.

– Brad

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Even on a Desert Island the Truth is Simple

Even on a Desert Island the Truth is Simple

Sometimes great truths can be taught by using the most simple thoughts. This is why both Old Testament prophets and even Jesus employed objects and stories to illustrate great truths. The following story is far from being equal with those, but perhaps it will help us understand the truth about the church Jesus built and the religious division in our world.

simple truth

Knowing God and His salvation is simple.

Imagine a man, isolated on a deserted island, who finds a Bible which has washed ashore. He begins reading it and is so fascinated. There is much he struggles to comprehend, but he learns what this book taught about the origin of man and the earth. He learns about a holy God who expects His creation to obey Him, punishes those who turn away and rewards those who obey Him. He learns of God making a great nation of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and sending prophets to tell that nation that someday a great One would come to deal with all of man’s sinful disobedience.

An amazing thing happens. These words are powerful, and he begins to believe these truths. He has a simple faith which comes from hearing the simple truth. As he reads more, he finds that the great One came—His name was Jesus. He died. He was raised. He ascended back to heaven and left men on the earth to show a new way and established the church.

The man’s faith grows. He changes his life, and he is immersed so that God will wash away all his sins. He worships like those apostles taught men to worship. He lives by the moral precepts they taught. Because he did what those twelve men taught others to do to become members of the church, he does what they did, and God adds him to that church.

This story is not an actual event, but if the Bible is from God and is written in such a way that a common man can understand it, it could happen. That Bible this man found was from God, and God fulfilled the promises He made to those who would seek to find Him, hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Now imagine that man being rescued and coming into our world. He would learn of churches begun by the Pope, Luther, Wesley, Calvin, Smith, Russell, and other churches based on ecclesiastical hierarchy. He would readily see how different they were from the simple church Jesus started. He would struggle to see the many “faiths” on which these churches were built, but he knew where his faith came from. He had the same faith as those taught by the apostles, and he was so glad the circumstances in his life had taught him the simple truth.

Does this story interest you? Would you like to know more? Let’s talk. We are like that man who seeks to build our simple faith on the One who came years ago.

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The Cycle of Vengeance and Mercy

The Cycle of Vengeance and Mercy

There is an unfortunate cycle to vengeance. One man hurts another, so the second retaliates to hurt the first. The newly injured party, rather than feeling that all things are even, likewise strikes back. And so it frequently goes, back and forth, with neither the better for the injuries.

Vengeance cycle

Who benefits from the vengeance of man?

Jeremy Taylor once observed of revenge that it was “like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.”

Biblically, believers are enjoined to forgo vengeance and revenge, remembering always that the Lord says, “vengeance is mine, I will repay (Deuteronomy 32:35; cf. Romans 12:19).” Learning to leave such matters in God’s hands frees us from this cycle and likewise reminds us that God will bring all matters into judgment, rendering to each man according to their deeds (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 2:6).

More than just letting things slide, however, God actually calls us to go one step further. Some might be content to merely hold a grudge for years without retaliation, and others might think that a mere lack of action shows a certain amount of piety, but the true man of God seeks to actively show mercy.

In the beatitudes, Jesus calls His disciples to consider the importance of mercy in His Kingdom and in His followers, teaching, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).”

The beatitudes are a description of the qualities necessary to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven, a verbal picture of what it means to be a Christian, and a short list of some of the qualities necessary to find salvation through Christ. Mercy is certainly one of those necessary qualities, and without mercy, the Scriptures make it clear that men will not find salvation. The words of Christ also serve to remind us that just as vengeance can be cyclical, so too is there a cycle to mercy.

When we think of mercy, the first and most obvious application of mercy is that of forgiveness. Just as Jesus prayed on the cross, concerning His persecutors, “Father forgive them (Luke 23:34),” so too did He teach His followers to forgive all who trespassed against them.

When we pray, Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12; ESV),” and further taught in that connection, “if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15; ESV).” Jesus additionally taught that a lack of forgiveness would itself bring judgment upon us (cf. Matthew 18:35).

If we wish for God to forgive us, we cannot afford the luxury of grudges or the temporary satisfaction of vengeance but must instead learn how to forgive others.

Yet mercy is more than just the act of forgiving others. The mercy God teaches goes further, showing compassion, empathy and kindness to others. When the Pharisees failed to show these qualities in their interactions with others, Jesus reminded them of the passage which taught, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13, 12:7; cf. Hosea 6:6).”

As opposed to seeking vengeance, God teaches us, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22; ESV; cf. Romans 12:19-20)” By doing so, we will “overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).” This active kindness is the true sign of mercy: treating others well regardless of what they may or may not deserve.

There is no better way to break a cycle of animosity and vengeance than through the proactive application of love and kindness. Moreover, not only will doing this please God, but it has the added bonus of potentially starting a different cycle: one of love and kindness. Imagine how much more pleasant life would be if more people were trying to pay back the kindness of others by themselves being kind. Such a life would truly be blessed.


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