Friday, February 25, 2011

Philippians 3 - Live for the Eternal

Recently I have been looking for a list of most commonly asked questions and objections non-believers have regarding Christianity, and have posted requests for that information on my Facebook page. It has been an interesting process, and has led to some very good responses, which have in turn led to some very good conversations. One of the objections that has come up, and not only is that particular line of questioning but in many past conversations I have had and witnessed, it that of pride and self righteousness on the part of professing Christians when they are sharing their faith. This is something I know for a fact that I have been guilty of, and have tried to correct over the years. I frequently ask people, particularly when I am sharing with those who are friends as well as non-believers, to give me an honest assessment of my approach. This is not in the interest of compromising on the truth of the gospel, which is in itself a very hard message for many people to accept, but to make sure that my attitude doesn’t get in the way of that message.

This got me thinking about the fact that, in truth, the message of the Gospel has very little to do with me. Yes, God has made amazing changes in who I am, what I believe, how I live, and the like. But those changes do not find their source in me. They were not caused by me, they were not due to any goodness in me, and I can take no credit for them. My salvation was, and is, and always will be a work of God. The more I focus on myself in the process, the more I get into my own way.

Now there are many differing views on the details regarding the roles of man and God in the process of salvation, and my purpose is not to try to plumb those depths in a short blog post. However, Biblically, salvation is of God, and that can not be denied. Whatever your view of soteriology, it is clear that the only reason a true Christian is capable of living differently from the world is through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in that believer’s life. The term “born again” has been overused to the point where it has become almost meaningless in modern conversation, but it remains a very true and very accurate picture of what happens when we repent and trust in Christ. We become an entirely new creation, with new desires and new motivations.

This is, I believe, is a large part of what Paul is communicating in Philippians 3. Prior to his conversion, Paul was the poster boy for self righteousness. He has the right background and family, he did the right things, and he knew the right people. On the outside he looked great. There was no obvious need for change from the perspective of the world. But after his conversion he saw the truth, and his heart and motives changed. He came to know that his former self righteousness was not about God, but was about him, and was useless.

So I pray that as you share your reading and preach from this chapter, that it will be edifying and motivating in three different ways. For believer, I hope they will be encouraged to pursue God above all, and yearn for the eternal treasures only found in Jesus Christ. For those depending on their own righteousness, which is most people you will meet, I pray that they will see the uselessness of trying to stand before God on their own merits. If Paul’s works and zeal couldn’t get him into heaven, ours certainly won’t get us in either. And for those living in open rebellion against God and His word, I pray that they will the uselessness and emptiness of life outside of Christ and turn from desiring earthly treasures to desiring heavenly ones.


Paul here talks about those who desire earthly things, and those who’s citizenship is in heaven. Where is yours?

If there is a heaven, and you have to be a good person to get in, are you good enough? Have you thought about it?

Don’t put your confidence in your own flesh, in your own good works. They will never be enough.

Look at the example of the Apostle Paul. Prior to meeting Jesus face to face, there was every indication he would be at the front of the line to get into heaven. Look at what Paul had accomplished:

Re-read Paul’s earthly reasons for confidence:

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
But Paul said he counted it all loss for the sake of Christ, for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ.

Paul, though by human standards looked to be a very righteous man, rejected his own righteousness in favor of Jesus’ perfect righteousness.

He counted everything else as garbage in order that he might gain Christ, not through righteousness of our own, but through faith in Christ

By God’s standard, none of us is righteous. We are all guilty sinners, deserving of God’s justice.


For Paul, Christ, and knowing Him, was of MOST value.

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? If it is through Christ that we attain resurrection from the dead and eternal life, what could possibly be more valuable?

Are 80 or so years of pleasure worth an eternity of pain?

You may see no value in living for Christ. You may reject God’s word, and choose to live your own way, or chose to worship God in your own way.

If you do so, you are one of those who Paul says walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:18 - For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

If the truth of the cross sounds like foolishness to you, take it as a warning from God.

We pray that your citizenship will be found in heaven, and when we arrive, we will see you there as well.

Store up treasure in heaven, where moth and rust do no destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Live for the eternal, not the temporal. Live for the greatest reward, that of knowing and being known by God himself. Repent and trust in Him today.

For the praise of His glory,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Exodus 19 - God’s Way, Not Our Way

Good morning Project Ezra! I pray that you are doing well, and that the less than wonderful weather that we’ve had in the last few weeks, at least here in the States, hasn’t had too much of a negative impact on you. It’s been rainy and windy here, but praise God, no real damage or serious inconvenience yet out here on the West Coast. I’m praying for good weather for the weekend, so we can get out and share the gospel Saturday night in our local bar district. Your prayers are appreciated.

This week’s reading is Exodus 19. This is the account of God speaking to Moses, directing him on how to prepare the people of Israel to stand before Him. God was very specific in His expectations, as He often is with regards to proper worship. There were purification rites and rules that had to be followed. The people were to go to a certain point at the foot of the mountain, and no further. Then they were to wait for God’s appearing. The people of Israel said they would follow His direction, and prepare themselves to meet God, and to stand in His presence.

God did come down, and He did meet with Israel. He came down in power. Fire and smoke shrouded the mountain as the Lord descended, and He spoke with a voice like thunder. The people trembled before Him, and appropriately so. Yahweh is a good God, and a good king, but he is a king none the less, one with the power of creation and destruction at His command. He had been very good to Israel, despite their disobedience and grumbling, but their knowledge of His goodness did not keep them from being awestruck at His presence.

This passage seems to have two themes that should be instructive to the church, and can be very useful in sharing the gospel as well. First, God is not just an idea to follow or model ourselves after. He is not just a buddy willing to help us out of a bad spot, and He is not just a source of help in time of need. Yes, He is a very good God who does help us and who does save us, and does call Himself our friend. But He is also our sovereign king. It seems that the picture of God as our father and friend has eclipsed our awareness of His majesty, holiness, and glory. But He is all of these things and more. To have a good friend to help you in times of need is a wonderful thing. But it can’t compare to the loving friendship of a king, especially one who is powerful and good beyond our imagination. When we only think of Him in terms of human friendship and help, we cheat ourselves of true comfort and joy and greatly dishonor Him.

Secondly, and stemming off this first thought, is the truth that we must come to God on His terms, not our own. We are no longer bound by the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, and I am not in any way suggesting that through legalism, through strict obedience to the law (which we can not achieve anyway), that we can be made right with God. We are indeed saved by grace through faith, not of ourselves, but as a gift from God. But we do not have the right to take that truth, and twist it so we can do it our way. God defines what salvation is and how it was and is achieved.

This is strongly contrary to our human nature. We want to follow God “In our own way.” I have heard it said that men are often very willing to give God the glory, provided that they can have the control. That’s why salvation through works is so attractive. Your average professing Christian (and I have talked to many of them over the years), will frequently proclaim his own goodness, or even just his attempts at goodness, as his ticket to heaven. But scripture says that salvation is by grace, not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But we want to boast. I can’t think of any sin I wrestle in prayer over more than pride, and I imagine many of you would say the same. Men, because of our pride, want to come to God our way, and want to take credit for what a wonderful job we did in doing so. But we were created for God’s glory, not our own, and salvation was accomplished solely through Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross. We can’t add a thing. We can only respond in gratitude for the amazing gift He has given us.

So here is an outline that I pray will help you in presenting the gospel this weekend. Please post your testimonies, pictures and videos on the group page, or send them directly to me. We have not posted a member praise report in quite a while, and they are a huge encouragement to the group. Please consider sharing yours when you get a chance.


The true God of the Bible has been largely forgotten.

God created us in His image, and ever since then man has been trying to return the

God is indeed a God of love, but He is also our sovereign king

God is mighty, powerful, and sovereign

We do not have the option of coming to God on our terms. We must come to Him on His

His terms are perfection and holiness

The purity God demands, we can’t achieve

The Bible says there is a Holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)

Go through God’s law. Show our inability live up to it’s standard (Romans 3:20)

If we depend on ourselves, we will not see the Lord. We can not make ourselves right with God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags next to God (Isaiah 64:6)

But God is not only mighty in power, but mighty to save (Isaiah 53:1). He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him because He always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus Christ, though He is the judge of the universe (Acts 17:#1), did not come into this world to judge it, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17)

The creator and king of the universe humbled himself, removed His royal robes, and put on human flesh.

He lived the perfect life and then paid the price on the cross so we could be seen as holy and righteous. He was the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29)

Jesus Christ is a good God, and a loving king

He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live (Ezekiel 18:23)

Turn to God, submit to His rule, throw yourself on His mercy, and be saved through Christ’s shed blood and broken body. There is no other name under heaven by which
you MUST be saved! (Acts 4:11-12)

Have a blessed weekend!

For the praise of His glory,

Friday, February 11, 2011

1 John 4:7-21 - The love of God made manifest

Hello Project Ezra, and happy Valentines Day weekend. Our Valentines Day reading is a little bit shorter than normal, but I think very appropriate for the holiday. It is 1 John 4:7-21, and though you may not recognize the verse reference, you will likely recognize the verse when you read it. It talks about the love of God, and how our love is evidence that we have been born of God. 1 John focuses heavily on the evidence of true faith in the life of the believer. This is not faith by works, but works, which flow naturally from true faith, as an evidence of the truth of that faith. But more than that, this passage discusses the greatest evidence of God’s love for us.

The love of God is a very popular subject these days, but there are a whole lot of unbiblical ideas about how God’s love practically works itself out. Most commonly, people believe that God’s love cancels out His justice. It is said that God is so loving, that He could never possibly send anyone to hell. Some, even within the church, perpetuate the idea that God, instead of giving us justice, gave us mercy because of His love for us, that God set aside His justice for our sake. This is not only not biblical, but I believe it is patently anti-biblical. It is not the case that God ignored justice to show us mercy. God could no more be unjust than He could be unloving. God poured out His justice on Jesus Christ on the cross, so the legal demands of justice could be satisfied. Because of that sacrifice we receive mercy through faith in Jesus Christ. THAT is the greatest demonstration of His love!

Consider these verses:

1 John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 5:2 - And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Colossians 2:13-14 - When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

The last verse, from Colossians, may seem out of place since it doesn’t talk directly about God’s love. But it does talk about the legal requirements of the law, which were satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice. It is also expressed in 1 John 4, in the word propitiation, which speaks both of appeasement and reconciliation. Nothing else demonstrates His love more vividly. God owes us nothing, and would have been perfectly justified to punish every one of us for our sin. But instead, he stepped in and took that punishment, paid that fine so that we could go free and be brought into fellowship with Him. John chapter 15 says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

So I would encourage you to emphasize the love of God in the cross of Christ this week. Love is a glorious thing, and one that we should take pleasure in. So encourage people not to think only of the worldly, temporary love that is the focus of the holiday. Ask them to consider the great and eternal love of God, and how He showed that love to us, true love in it’s purest form. By God’s grace some may, out of love and gratitude for God’s gift of His Son, turn to Him in repentance and faith.

I am currently working through the details for another possible Project Ezra weekly reading, which will involve larger portions of scripture over a longer period of time, and hopefully will help build relationships at your local fishing hole. More details will be forthcoming, and I would very much covet your prayers for wisdom in this. Thanks so much for your faithfulness in sharing God’s word.

For the praise of His glory,


Friday, February 4, 2011

This Week's Reading - John 10 - The Good Shepherd

John 10 - The Good Shepherd

Hello Project Ezra! I pray that you are having a wonderful day in the Lord. This week’s suggested reading is John chapter 10. It is laid out in a longer format, and I would suggest you read through, make up your own outline of the primary points, and maybe add some of your own. Although I try to be careful in how I explain the scripture and lay out the gospel presentation, please keep in mind that it is OK to be true to your own style of communication. The gospel never changes, but the supporting scriptures, the order of presentation, the analogies used, and the like can and should be tailored to you. You don’t want every presentation to be a canned, repeated message that obviously came from someone else. Your audience will be able to tell the difference. Make it your own, and the more time you spend in public evangelism, and the more time you spend in studying the scriptures and in prayer, the easier this will become. Also remember that nothing I present here should be taken for granted. Test everything I say by the word of God, and if you see something that does not seem to plumb with scripture, please let me know.

Jesus made some outrageous claims during His life, and many of them are chronicled in this book, the Gospel of John. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd, the only door to the sheep fold and the source of eternal life. In the same book he called Himself the Bread of Life, making Himself the source of life and spiritual nourishment. He called Himself the Light of the World, indicating that without Him no one could see the truth. He called Himself the I AM, taking God’s personal name on Himself, and said He and the Father were one, making himself equal with the creator of all that exists. This claim led to the Jews wanting to stone Him for blasphemy. He said He was the resurrection and the life, and he who believed in Him would never die.
But why should you care? Why should it make a difference what a carpenter and itinerant preacher claimed 2000 years ago? You should care because Jesus has authority, the authority of God. You should care because if what Jesus said about Himself is true, then He is the creator and Lord of all, for whom and through whom all things exist. And you should care because He said God the Father has also given him another title, the title of judge. His word says that one day He will judge the living and the dead by the standard of His holiness.
God is holy, and Jesus Christ, as God in human flesh, is holy. That means he is perfect, pure, and set apart from His creation. He is always good, and always does what is right, and He expects the same from us, His creation. Jesus said “Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect.” How have you done so far? I know my life has been a mess, and mankind has been making a mess of God’s creation since the beginning. God made the world perfect, and made mankind perfect. Mankind chose to rebel against God out of pride, and because of that rebellion, God cursed the world. Man continues to rebel today, and we continue to feel the effects of that curse. That’s why bad things happen to “good” people. Because of man’s sin and God’s justice.
We talk much about justice in our society. We like justice, particularly when it is in our favor. We have dozens of TV shows focused on the good guys bringing justice to the criminals. Jesus Christ is our just king, our just sovereign ruler, and we want rulers, those in positions of authority, to be just. But not toward us. You see, sin is not the small thing we like to make it out to be. Sin not just a mistake that we make. Sin is open rebellion against our God and king. We know God’s law, which he said is written on our hearts, and we break it. And because of that rebellion, God will see that justice is done.
What does God’s word say about you, and the things you have done? It says that we will be judged by what we have done, and gives us clear direction on what actions are worthy of our king’s justice
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Revelation 21:9 - But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
The bible says is it a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, and hell is a very real, and very terrifying place. And by God’s perfect moral standard, we all deserve to go there.
That is why Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is the only door of the sheep. That is why His sheep, those who hear His voice, can only enter the sheepfold through Him. He lays down His life for His sheep. He lays His life down, and he has the authority to take it up again. Listen to what Hebrews says about this fact.
Hebrews 7:23-25 - The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
He is the judge, but He is also our advocate. He demands justice, and He satisfied justice, in His own blood, on the cross of Calvary. He came to earth, lived the life of perfection that was demanded, and then died the sacrificial death that was required as payment for sin. Isaiah 53 says it was the LORD’s will to crush him, and to bring Him to grief. All God’s anger and hatred toward sin, the sin that offended His holiness and caused Him to pronounce a death sentence on you, and on all of mankind, was poured out on Jesus Christ. The same chapter says He was wounded for our transgressions (sins), and crushed for our iniquities. On Him was placed the chastisement, the punishment, that brought us peace. The legal demands of justice, demanded by our king, were satisfied, nailed to the cross.
Now, the good shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep calls their name. He calls them to repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His sheep hear His voice. Do you hear His voice? Will you follow your true king, the king who sacrificed Himself for you, or will you continue in your open rebellion against Him? I plead with you to turn to Him today and be saved. You need salvation from sin, from your own evil heart, from the temptations of the enemy, and from the just wrath due you because of your sin. He has paid for your deliverance, and commands your obedience and allegiance. He is a good king, but a king none the less, and no other king, no other so-called god, can save you. Your own goodness can not save you. Do as the bible says. Turn from your wickedness and throw yourself on God’s mercy. Repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone, while He has given you time.

For the praise of His glory,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Project Ezra 2011 - History and Strategy

Project Ezra is dedicated to encouraging, equipping, and mobilizing born again followers of Christ, from around the world, to read the Word of God in public. Whether you are an experienced street evangelist, rookie street evangelist, or have never so much as handed a gospel tract to a stranger, we pray that Project Ezra will encourage you to share your faith boldly and biblically.


Project Ezra began a week before Easter, 2009. While reading his Bible, project founder and street evangelist Tony Miano read: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). As he read that verse, he was reminded of the account found in Nehemiah 8:1-8, where Ezra gathers the nation Israel and, for hours, reads the Law of God to the people. And then the thought came to mind: “What if people around the world gathered on Good Friday to read the account of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?”

So, with only a few days for people to prepare, Tony called on his friends on Facebook to join him on Good Friday to read Matthew 26-28 aloud, in the open-air. The response was amazing. More than 170 people from more than 30 states and several foreign countries participated in “Mission Good Friday.” Even more exciting were the testimonies that poured in after the event. Many of the people who participated had never open-air preached. Having stepped so far out of their comfort zones to stand on a box in public and read the Bible aloud, a number of people reported that “Mission Good Friday” was the catalyst and encouragement they needed to try preaching the gospel in the open-air.

The next Project Ezra event was “Sermon on the Mount Saturday,” which was held on May 23, 2009. Once again, more than 170 people from around the world participated. More amazing testimonies came in, with many accounts of people breaking the evangelism sound barrier, as they read God’s Word in the open-air.

Taking It to the Next Level – The Project Ezra Strategy

Following Sermon on the Mount Saturday, and after consulting with Project Ezra administrators, Daniel Beaudoin and Bart McCurdy, Tony decided it was time to take Project Ezra to the next level, which meant more organized public readings of the Word and getting more people involved. The decision was made to organize Project Ezra readings every weekend and during all of the major holidays.

In order to fulfill the vision of organizing people around the world to read the Bible in the open-air every weekend, a strategy was needed to make such an effort manageable, as well as appealing to participants without overwhelming them. Here’s the strategy.

The Bible will be broken down into ten lists. The lists will follow Dr. Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System:
• List 1 - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

• List 2 - The Pentateuch

• List 3 - Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews

• List 4 - 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1&2 Peter, 1, 2&3 John, Jude, Revelation

• List 5 - Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

• List 6 – Psalms

• List 7 - Proverbs

• List 8 - Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

• List 9 - The Prophets

• List 10 - Acts

Participants commit to reading one chapter from one list, each week. Participants may choose any chapter they want from the list, and Project administrators will supply a suggested reading along with notes on how the passage can be used to enter into a gospel presentation. Participants will read their chosen chapter sometime during Friday, Saturday, or Sunday each week, if at all possible. Participants will then choose one chapter from the next list, to read the next week. And so on. Of course, participants can choose to read more than one chapter each week, if they like.

Tony Miano and the Project Ezra administrators will post reminders, reading schedules, and suggested chapters to read from each list. From time-to-time, Tony and the Project Ezra administrators will also provide devotionals about the Bible chapters they’ve read in the open-air, testimonies and pictures of other Project Ezra participants, open-air videos, and other material designed to encourage and equip participants. These materials will be posted on the Project Ezra Facebook page and official blog.

Project Ezra members will participate in mutual accountability by posting their Project Ezra testimonies, pictures and videos on the project’s Facebook page and/or blog.

What If I Can’t Participate Every Week?
That’s okay, although we encourage you to do so as often as you can. If you have to miss a week (or more), simply go to the Facebook page to see from what list you should choose a chapter of the Bible to read, for the current week. Again, this strategy is designed to make it easier for people to participate more often.

2011 Reading Schedule

All dates are Saturdays. Project Ezra participants should try to do their open-air Bible reading on Friday through Sunday of each week, if possible. See “An Introduction to Project Ezra” information for books of the Bible in each “List.”

Jan 1 List 6 Psalm 19
Jan 8 List 7 Joel 2
Jan 15 List 8 2 Kings 17
Jan 22 List 9 Isaiah 6
Jan 29 List 10 Acts 9:1-22
Feb 5 List 1 John 10
Feb 19 List 2
Feb 26 List 3
Mar 5 List 4
Mar 12 List 5
Mar 19 List 6
Mar 26 List 7
Apr 2 List 8
Apr 9 List 9
Apr 16 List 10
April 30 List 1
May 7 List 2
May 14 List 3
May 21 List 4
June 4 List 5
June 11 List 6
June 18 List 7
June 25 List 8
July 9 List 9
July 16 List 10
July 23 List 1
July 30 List 2
Aug 6 List 3
Aug 13 List 4
Aug 20 List 5
Aug 27 List 6
Sep 3 LABOR DAY READING (Matthew 11 &12)
Sep 10 List 7
Sep 17 List 8
Sep 24 List 9
Oct 1 List 10
Oct 8 List 1
Oct 15 List 2
Oct 22 List 3
Nov 5 List 4
Nov 12 List 5
Nov 19 List 6
Dec 3 List 7
Dec 10 List 8
Dec 17 THE TRUE GIFT OF CHRISTMAS – The Gospel of John
Dec 24 CHRISTMAS WEEKEND READING – (Luke 2 and John 1)
Dec 31 List 9

Welcome to Project Ezra!
Our hope is that you will be blessed through your participation and that you will grow in your love for and obedience to the Lord and His Word.

Dan Beaudoin
Project Ezra Group Administrator