Thoughts to Ponder

(Ezek 24:15-18 NIV) The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners." So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded.

Bigger than you or me.

To be honest I have read the account of Ezekiel and his wife's death several times but never really comprehended it. I could not understand why God would treat Ezekiel that way. Ezekiel was a faithful prophet and did whatever God asked him to do. In fact he did many things for God that would have been uncomfortable. Such as: God telling him to lie on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for 40 days. Or God telling him to "tremble as you eat your food, and shudder in fear as you drink your water." Yet he did them.

So why would God be so harsh with him? Now if you think that Ezekiel was not affected by the death of his wife, you have not read the passage thoroughly. Notice God tells Ezekiel that with one blow He will take away the 'delight from your eyes.' Does that sound as if Ezekiel was happy she was gone?

Or take Hosea for example. He was another of God's prophets. This verse shows what God asked of him: (Hosea 1:2 NIV) When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD."

Do you really think he was happy being told to marry the town adulterous? After they were married she went back to her old ways and lived with another man, and God told Hosea to go take her back and love her. You don't have to have been through that kind of marriage to understand how hard that must have been. So again, why would God deal with His faithful servants this way?

I don't know about you but God has asked me to do some uncomfortable things too. Just recently He asked me to put my friendships on the line and to speak out about something that would not make anyone happy. I knew what I was doing would probably be misunderstood by many people who knew me. I knew that in the process I and my family would be uncomfortable. I knew that the problems God wanted me to point out had been there for years and many people already knew about them. So why was God asking me to do this at this time? Why should I give up the comfortable position I had obtained just to make waves that no one would be happy about?

I can't help but think that maybe Ezekiel and Hosea wondered about the same kind of things. Why is God asking me to do this? Isn't there another way to do this without asking me? Why should God make me uncomfortable just to show people who don't want to see anyway, what God wants them to see?

The problem with those questions is that they contain the pronoun 'me.' When we ask those kinds of questions in effect we are saying that what we want is more important than what God wants. God loves us but He sees the big picture and we don't. He sees that the most important thing is bringing souls to know Jesus, but we view things from human eyes. We think that we should always be comfortable in this life and God should care for our every need.

Look at some of the shootings that have happened in the past couple of years. They were all terrible but if you look at some of these incidents with an open mind you can see God's hand. I am not trying to say I know God's mind, because I don't. I will say that not one Christian shows up in Heaven and surprises God. You will not die one second before God ordains it. I will also say that like these young lives which were taken so terribly, God can use anything for good.

You might be asking what good can come from the murder of young Christians? Well, when was the last time you heard a salvation message on CNN beamed to the world live? The pastors who took part in several of these funerals gave very powerful salvation messages which were carried by CNN and many of the other networks live. Any other time you could not pay these networks to allow the gospel to be spoken on the air.

Don't ever think God is not in control. I know He hates sin and the evil in this world but He does not always step in to stop it. It is part of the consequences for the sin of Adam and Eve. That does not mean that God sits by and wrings His hands, not knowing what to do. Every corner Satan turns, he finds that God has already been there.

I believe we will be utterly amazed when we get to Heaven and find out how God was working around us. The following information in blue was taken directly from the Wedgewood Baptist Church home page. It is an update on the shooting and its aftermath at their church.

BEFORE THE SHOOTING:

Pastor Al Meredith had prayed that God would do whatever it took to expand the ministry of Wedgewood Baptist Church. Our church is one that is used as a model of how NOT to pick a location, because no one in the world can find it. Now almost everyone in the world knows exactly where it is.

GOD'S CONTROL DURING THE SHOOTING:

The gunman entered the church and fired bullets into a crowd of over 400, but only 14 people were hit.

The gunman did NOT fire the additional 90 bullets he had with him.

The pipe bomb the gunman threw was poorly constructed. When it exploded no one was injured and damage was minimal.

[Videos taken of youth program also included the images of the gunman. (Two videos were made but were both purposely destroyed after the police returned them.) They showed the careful, methodical shooting by the gunman. Yet he remained near the back of the sanctuary away from most of the youth hiding under pews at the front.]

Because the first call came over a police radio [from a church member who is a policeman], emergency vehicles were dispatched immediately without spending precious time to verify that the call was real.

One of the people in the church at the time was a paramedic. He was able to stop bleeding and stabilize injured people before emergency crews arrived.

Children's workers and other adults were able to move the children out of the building to safety at the school across the street. While some of the children saw one of the injured, most were unaware of anything going on.

The children's workers remained with their classes even though many had children elsewhere in the building. Some had teens in the sanctuary.

All 7 victims who were killed were Christians, some mature in their faith, others, new and growing.

WHAT GOD HAS DONE SINCE THE SHOOTING:

Many denominations have pulled together to offer help and support. One example is the United Methodist Church who sent 15 people the following Sunday to handle childcare. They didn't want any members to have to miss the service because they were taking care of the children. (September 19)

A Fort Worth policeman, who had worked the Wedgewood shootings, purchased flowers and planted them in the church's flower beds before the Sunday services.

A church from Tulsa, Oklahoma sent members to march around the church and pray during the Sunday morning services. (September 19)

Al Merdith, our pastor, has had frequent TV and radio interviews. He has repeatedly given an outstanding answer to the reason for our hope. He presented the gospel beautifully on Larry King Live when prompted by a question from Vice President Al Gore. (September 16) [The next morning, in response to a question from Katy Couric, Pastor Meredith presented the message of God's Love to the Today Show viewers.(September 17)]

On Sunday afternoon (September 19) 15,000 attended a memorial community-wide service at the TCU football stadium. Pastor Meredith gave a serious, challenging sermon. He called for a day of prayer and fasting [to coincide with the Jewish Yom Kippur holy day on Monday, September 20.] The service was broadcast live and in its entirety on a local news radio station (WBAP 820) that covers most of north Texas. The station replayed the pastor's first news conference because people were calling in and requesting to hear his comforting words again.

CNN also broadcast the complete memorial service live. Because one of the victim's families lives and works in Saudi Arabia, the CNN broadcast was aired there as well. Remember, Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation hostile to the Gospel!

Because of the CNN broadcast in Japan, 35 people gave their lives to Christ. [email verified]

The church has received over 12,000 emails; 20,000 cards, letters and notes plus hundreds of posters and banners from all over the world.

When President Clinton finally reached Pastor Meredith on the phone, they visited for about 10 minutes. Pastor Al asked and received permission to pray with the President for the healing of his marriage.

At several schools, students met around their flagpoles the next day. At one school 110 students accepted Christ.

A teacher led 22 students to Christ in her classroom.

Christian teachers in many north Texas schools have been able to share Christ with their classes because students were asking questions about their teachers' faith.

In a nearby community prayers and Scripture are being said over the intercom.

On the US east coast where the "See You at the Pole" rallys had been delayed because of the hurricane, record numbers of youth showed up to pray.

Texas Governor Bush and the Fort Worth's Mayor Barr, came quietly to the pastor's home while the staff were meeting and praying. They joined in the prayer meeting. Only those on the staff knew. The media found out about it too late.

A caller to an area Christian radio station [KLTY] said he didn't know what "those people" had, but he wanted it. The DJ proceeded to lead him to Christ. Notes left at the makeshift memorial in front of the church expressed the same sentiment.

The church's web page has received over 65,000 unique visits [the previous months' averages are around 600]. It links to the plan of salvation presented in multiple languages.

Many Wedgwood Baptist members are healing broken relationships within the body and are experiencing spiritual renewal. Members are emboldened to share the gospel. These are just a few of the miracles God is doing. His grace is almost overwhelming. The faith of those who died is being multiplied many times over.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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