Greetings Project Ezra! It is a blessing to be able to write this blog every week, and I hope it is a blessing to you as well. Every week I have to dig a little deeper, and every week I learn something new. I was talking to a brother in Christ recently about his desire to get more practice at open-air preaching. I encouraged him to try practicing Project Ezra style. I don’t mean just reading this blog, although I hope you do. I meant finding his own reading occasionally, and I would encourage you to do the same. I would recommend following the lists in Horner’s bible reading program, for the simple reason that it will caused you to explore sections of the bible you have likely merely skimmed over in the past, and give you a much fuller view of God’s word. Find a chapter with a good springboard into the gospel, and spend some time with it. Read it and reread it, look it up in commentaries, spend time and study and prayer over it, and then bring it to the streets. I guarantee it will encourage you and help you grow!
This week’s suggested reading is Genesis 22. I think one message in this passage is clear: God is trustworthy, a truth that many, if not most, in our day doubt. People doubt His word because they want to conform God’s will to their wants, rather than the other way around. But God IS trustworthy!
Think for a moment on the position Abraham was in. God had graciously given he and Sarah a child in their old age. God had also promised that from Isaac He would create a great nation, and that Isaac would be the father of twelve princes. And now God was telling Abraham to take that child of promise, bring him to the top of a mountain in the land of Moriah, build an alter, and kill him. I can’t even begin to think what must have gone through Abraham’s mind! I love my own children more then I can express, as I’m sure Abraham did, and have trouble imagining life without them, much less sacrificing them. But regardless, Abraham choose to obey, and trust, in God, because he knew God to be trustworthy. He had seen Him work, and must have known He had something planned.
Abraham’s response did not surprise God. Though God was testing Abraham, He knew what the outcome would be. As Abraham told Isaac, when Isaac asked about the lamb for the sacrifice, God did provide. God never planned to let Abraham kill his son, but to strengthen his faith, and Isaac’s faith, and ultimately our faith, through the reading of the story. When Abraham demonstrated his faith, God stopped his hand, and miraculously provided a ram for the offering instead. And because of Abraham’s obedience and trust, God promised to bless him.
But the story doesn’t end there. Isaac was still under a death sentence, as we all are. We all have sinned, fallen short of God’s glory, and deserve a violent death, and worse, an eternity in hell, as punishment for our moral crimes against a perfect, holy God. But 2000 years ago, when God placed His own Son on the alter, Christ Jesus, who had come to the alter willingly, He did not stop His hand. He slaughtered His own Son, as payment for our sin debt. As Abraham said, God provided the lamb for the offering, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Because on He paid the price we owed, only through Him can we be made right with God, and thus be seen as righteous on the day of judgement.
So encourage people to examine the scriptures, letting them know that they will find them to be trustworthy. They encourage them to examine themselves, and see their motives for not trusting in Christ. Some people may have legitimate questions about the bible, or who God is, or of claimed contradictions in the word, and we should attempt to answer those. But ultimately disbelief is an issue of the heart, not the mind. So aim for their conscience, and bring them face to face with God’s law, so they feel it’s conviction and see their need for a savior. Then introduce them to the lamb of God.
We are just over a week away from Black Friday. If you are able to get up early enough, I would encourage you to grab a team of people and head out to a local store like Target or Walmart at opening, or to your local mall. Thousands will be out looking for good deals, and many will be waiting in line for hours. I have seen people at one of our local Best Buy stores start to line up for the doorbuster sales at noon on Thanksgiving, and by Friday morning when the store opens, the line is thousands of people long. It’s a perfect time to pass our tracts and talk to people, or even open-air if the situation allows it. I’ll be putting up the Black Friday reading and the event sign-up on the Facebook page soon.
For the praise of His glory,