Friday, July 30, 2010

This Week’s Project Ezra Suggested Reading: Proverbs 8

Greetings Project Ezra! This week’s suggested reading is Proverbs 8. This chapter discusses wisdom, and is an admonition by Solomon for men to seek wisdom, and to value it more highly than gold or silver. The Bible says that most men are wise in their own eyes, rather than with God’s wisdom, and that will certainly be true of most people you talk to when you are sharing your faith. It is amazing that, as computers, smart phones, digital television and other forms of electronic communication and entertainment have nearly buried us in information, we have increasingly gained knowledge, but lost true wisdom. One dictionary definition of wisdom is “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.” But since moral relativism is assumed to be true by most of society, apart from the truth of the Bible people have no idea how to make that just judgment. So, let’s encourage them to look back to the scriptures and the God who inspired those scriptures. Below is a list of some useful passages from the chapter and ideas as to how to expand on them.

Wisdom calls out to mankind, telling us to learn prudence and sense, so we are trying to do the same.

Wisdom speaks noble, right and true things, and nothing that is crooked or twisted.

There is nothing more valuable than wisdom, and it is far better than riches.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proberbs 9:10). Do you fear the Lord?

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Do you hate evil, or do you chase after it?

Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech God hates. Do not let your pride and your love of evil keep you from wisdom, and from the truth of God.

Do you have knowledge of God, but not wisdom leading to faith and trust in him?

Wisdom was God’s master workman at the beginning. It is he who seeks his wisdom who will discover the origin and purpose of his creation.

He who listens to wisdom will be blessed and will find favor with the Lord. He who hates wisdom loves death.

For the praise of His glory,


Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Week’s Project Ezra: Psalm 50

Greetings Project Ezra! This week’s chapter is Psalm 50. We used this chapter as part of a larger reading quite a while ago, but I ran across it in my reading yesterday, and it is so rich in truth and so relevant that I felt we needed to use it again. Psalm 50 talks about a God that is quite different than the god that is worshipped by most people. Though each person’s salvation is ultimately between them and God, if you spend any time witnessing in public you will find countless people who a very small, weak, impotent, and apathetic view of God. They need to be reminded of who the true God is, and this chapter does that well.

The first few verses describe a God of power. This is not a God sitting on the sidelines, but the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is mighty, righteous, and beautiful beyond our imaginations. He is a mighty tempest and a devouring fire, and is far beyond our control. And this powerful, majestic being is also our judge, who will call us to account for our sin. None can deliver out of his hands.

The true God is not the foolish, blind god those who would call themselves “religious” are hoping for and expecting, whether they realize it or not. He doesn’t need animal sacrifices. Every beast, every bird, and everything else that moves on the earth is his. He doesn’t want empty ceremonies. He wants a sacrifice of thanksgiving from those who will keep their vows, call upon his mercy and glorify him. He says it is those who order their way rightly will see his salvation.

God also says, in so many words, that the evil and disobedient have no right to call themselves his children. They claim his covenant and recite his statutes, but revel in evil. They hate discipline and keep company with thieves and adulterers. If they go to church Sunday, they live like the devil Monday through Saturday. And they think, because God appears to be silent, because he doesn’t deal with their sin immediately, that he is accepting of their behavior.

So use this chapter to introduce people to the true God of the bible. Talk of his glory, of his majesty, of his might, of his sovereignty, and of his justice. Help people to see the truth of all that God is, rather than only the aspects of his character that appeal to them or appear to benefit them, and let them feel the weight of that and the fear of his true nature. Perhaps, by his grace, that truth will break their pride and draw them to repentance and faith.

For the praise of His glory,


Friday, July 16, 2010

This Week's Project Ezra Readings: Selections from Ecclesiastes

Greetings Project Ezra! This week I am suggesting a selection of readings from Ecclesiastes. They are Chapter 5:1-7, Chapter 8:10-13 and Chapter 11:5-10. These passages address two issues that I run into constantly when witnessing on the streets. The first is treating the truth of God and his judgment lightly and frivolously, and the second is presuming on his patience.

We live in a time where Biblical illiteracy is epidemic. It seems everybody has an idea of who God is and what his will is, but most are completely incapable of supporting their beliefs. Much of the time it’s not even a matter of incorrectly interpreting the scripture, although there is plenty of scripture twisting out there to contend with. But moral relativism has taken such a hold that people get a thought or idea in their mind about what they think God might be like, or more often what they would like him to be like, and they will either fight for their idea regardless of there being no rational support for it, or will simply dismiss anything you say, insisting they are right. Chapter 5 talks about not being rash with your mouth, and says it is better to draw near to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools. It’s amazing the foolish, unbiblical things people will say to support their own bad behavior. But if we fear God, as verse 7 says, we will be very careful what we say about him.

These idolatrous understandings of God and who he almost always include the idea that God is all forgiving, and that no matter what someone does, God will simply forget all sin and invite everyone in with open arms. This idea is foreign to scripture, and many verses regarding God’s anger at the wicked and hatred of sin could be noted. Chapter 8 is true when it says people set their hearts on evil since their sentence is not executed speedily. They have no fear of God because the punishment is not immediate. But it will come and we know that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Finally, Chapter 11 tells us how foolish it is to assume we know what the future holds. Once again, it gives a very accurate description of how many people treat their lives, and in particular how the young are captivated with the enjoyment of the here and now and don’t consider God and his judgment. God will judge each one of us, and the days of darkness will be many. People should enjoy the good things God has given them, but we must remind them that their own judgment day is imminent, and they don’t know whether it will be a hundred years from now or tomorrow.

So, as you preach, encourage those listening to take a more sober look at the truths of God and the truth of their own mortality. As Peter said, God is not slow in his judgment, but is patient, wishing that all should reach repentance. But his patience will not last forever, and once death comes it is too late. If they were to stand before God today, would he see them as good? Would they be worthy to enter heaven on their own merits? Then, when you show them God’s law and how far they fall short of it, by God’s grace they will see their need of a savior and turn to him.

I will be putting up another post this weekend with some of the testimonies from First John on the Fourth of July. Your pictures, videos and testimonies are such an encouragement! Please keep sharing them, and when the Fourth of July testimony report comes out, please post it on your social networking sites and share it with your friends. It may be enough to convince them to participate too. May God be greatly glorified in the reading of his word this week, and may we all have a right heart before him as we do so. What a privilege to be able to read his word and tell others of his amazing grace!

All for HIS glory!!


Friday, July 9, 2010

This Week’s Project Ezra - 1 Peter 1

Greetings Project Ezra brothers and sisters. This week’s reading is Peter 1. I got the chance to do my reading early this week at a local street fair, and really enjoyed. There are a number of possible lead-ins to the gospel, but I chose to use verse 13, which tells us to put our trust fully in grace through Jesus Christ. This is such a perfect place to start, because everyone outside of biblical Christianity is putting their trust in something other than Christ. This not only separates us from world religions, but separates us from the cults and apostate branches of the church who claim the name of Christ, but want to add something to his work on the cross.

More often than not, the thing they want to add is works. A person’s pride makes it impossible, outside of the grace of God, for them to admit their own incapacity to meet God’s holy standard. This is why the use of the law to convict people of their sin is so vital. People would rather try to establish their own righteousness than accept God’s (Romans 10:3), and most think they are good enough to merit heaven on their own. The conscience, God’s law written on their hearts, tells them differently. And better yet, they may try to forget your words, and they may throw away your gospel tracts, but they can’t get away from God’s word written on their hearts, with their conscience bearing witness (Romans 2:15).

So challenge those listening to examine what they are trusting in. Don’t be afraid to be specific about false beliefs that they may be accepting, and to preach the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. God’s standard is perfection, and anyone who will listen to their conscience knows they are guilty and deserving of judgment. Once they face up to that fact, then Jesus sacrifice on the cross and the payment it provides starts to make sense. This chapter also has some amazing verses on Christ’s sacrifice and our salvation in him. It says:

Vs. 3 – According to his mercy he caused us to become born again through the living hope of Christ’s resurrection. We serve a living God!

Vs. 4 – This hope is imperishable, undefiled and unfading.

Vs. 9 – We rejoice with joy inexpressible at the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Vs. 18-19 – You were ransomed through the precious blood of Christ

Vs. 23 – Be born again of imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God

What a joy and a blessing the salvation of our souls is! Those we preach to should hear that joy. In fact, pour yourself into your preaching completely. Don’t try to just sound emotional, but be truly transparent emotionally. We should be anguished at the prospect of people spending eternity in hell, since we deserve the same fate and are only rescued by God’s grace. We should have a sober view of sin, and present God’s law in humility, since are sinners as well. And we should be filled with joy in preaching God’s grace and salvation.

Thanks to all of you who participated last weekend. It was an amazing time of outreach here, and I pray that it was for you too. We already have some great pictures and videos to post, and would like to see yours too. Also, as we make our way through summer (for us north of the equator at least) and there are more people out and about, please consider posting our group on your social networking pages and emailing Christian friends, encouraging them to join and participate. Public proclamation is still one of if not the best way to reach the world for Christ, and anyone can read aloud. Please pray about Project Ezra, and that God will help us grow and continue to make an impact for the kingdom.

All for HIS glory!!