Friday, April 29, 2011

Mark 11 – True Motives Examined

Hello Project Ezra! First off I want to thank those of you who participated in Mission Good Friday this last weekend. It was great to see so many returning participants, as well as a number of new ones, heralding the gospel in the open air. Several of you have already posted on the event page and in your personal blogs regarding what happened Easter weekend, and I will be contacting several of you for permission to use your stories and pictures in our event re-cap, and I would love to see more pictures and video. I would also encourage all of you to look at the event page and the main page when you get a chance and read through some of the reports. They are always a huge encouragement to me. Remember, you are not alone out there!

This week our suggested reading is Mark 11. This chapter is another good example of a theme we have addressed several times before, that those who deny Christ do so not for lack of evidence or based on ignorance, but based on sinful, selfish motives. By this point in the book of Mark, Christ had made His identity clear through His teachings and miracles. He had preached with power and authority, He had healed many, He had cast out demons, and He had miraculously fed thousands using only a child’s lunch. Jesus identity should have been clear, and the people who saw Him for who He was welcomed Him into the city as a king at the beginning of the chapter. But the Jewish leaders, blinded by their sinful desires, chose to challenge Him anyway.

I believe the last few verses of the chapter, where the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees challenge Him regarding the source of His authority, are key. As He often did, Jesus answered their question with a question of His own. He asked about John the Baptist and what they thought of him. The Jewish leaders, because of their ulterior motives, refused to give Him an answer. As with Jesus, John’s identity and authority as a prophet of God was clear, but because he was a challenge to the established order and to their authority, they had rejected him. Jesus’ question revealed their true motives.

As in Jesus day, many, if not most, of those who reject Jesus Christ today do so out of pride and selfishness. Personal autonomy is the true religion of many people. They would rather live for themselves and for what they falsely call freedom, and the ability to control their lives and destiny, even if it kills them, than live for Christ. This is exactly what the “religious” Jewish leaders did. They will not change through our efforts. We must pray for the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds, and preach God’s word accurately and passionately. And we must pray for divine appointments, that God will bring to us those He has prepared to hear His word. It is amazing what you will see, when you are faithful to His call and leave the results in His hands.

I pray this outline is an encouragement and a blessing.

All for His glory,

Read Mark 11

In this passage, Jesus’ authority is both publicly pronounced and publically questioned.

Jesus’ authority was clear to all who chose to look

Jesus’ authority is just as clear now to those who choose to look

Many people today deny Him, either with their words or with their actions, for the same reason the chief priests, scribes and elders did. They have personal motives for rejecting Him.

The Jewish leaders chose to deny Christ out of pride, selfishness, and fear.

RE-READ VS. 27-33

The Jewish leaders really didn’t want the truth. What about you?

Are you looking for a better answer, or a stronger question? If I were to answer every question about God you had, would you truly be satisfied?

Realize that on the day you stand before God, you will have not acceptable excuse for not believing in Him. He is your Lord and judge, whether you choose to believe in Him or not.

God’s word says that who He is and what He has done is clear. Consider these passages:

Psalm 19:1-4 - The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

Romans 1:18-23 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Romans 2:15-16
- They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Indeed God’s law is written on your heart, as it is on mine. Not only should you know that God exists, your heart tells you that you are not right with Him.

I plead with you to examine yourself in light of God’s law, as I have.


We know there is a God, and that we are guilty of breaking His law. And God is a God of justice who must punish sin

Some people think that they are safe from punishment because of God’s goodness. But it is because of God’s goodness that hell exists. A good God must punish evil.

Hell if very real, very painful, and very eternal.

Revelation 21:8 - But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

Revelation 14:10-11
- he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night

But God, because of His goodness, is also merciful, and thus He provided a way for us to be made right with Him


So there are two possibilities. You will either turn to Christ, and his sacrifice on the cross will pay your penalty, or you will deny Him and pay it yourself.

So please, don’t be foolish, as the Jewish leaders were. Don’t let pride and sin blind you and kill you.

God has told us how we can be made right with Him. We must repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ.

Only Christ is God in human flesh. Only He died to pay the penalty for our sins. And only He rose again, defeating death and proving who He was. Only He is seated at God’s right hand as our advocate, to speak for us on the Day of Judgment.

Examine these things to see if they are true. Look at God’s amazing creation. Look at the moral law, which is written on your heart, and which you know you have broken. Look at Jesus Christ, and the historic and prophetic truth that shows who He was and who He is. Then throw yourself on His mercy.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that they turn and live. He is mighty to save. Turn to Him and be saved today.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

May They No Longer Be Strangers

Yesterday, Marissa and I went to the North Hollywood Metro Station so that I could read Matthew 26-28 as part of the Project Ezra: Mission Good Friday outreach.

When we arrived, the area outside the subway station was alive with activity. There were many people waiting to catch buses, and just as many people hanging out. If you're interested in seeing video footage of our time at NoHo, please click here.

I began by explaining to the people within the sound of my voice why I was there and what I was about to do. By this time, Marissa moved to a concrete planter about fifty feet away where she sat down next to two young ladies who seemed close to Marissa's age.

I read Matthew 26-28 aloud. As I read, I couldn't help but notice that the two girls sitting next to Marissa seemed to listen intently. It was as if they were hearing the story for the first time. When I open-air preach, I always scan the crowd for those who seem most attentive. Finding such people amongst crowds of hecklers and the indifferent is an encouragement and it serves to motivate me to preach with more compassion, conviction, and clarity. I also look for the attentive in the crowd, with the hope of having conversations with them when I have finished preaching.

Once I finished reading, I began to preach the Law and the Gospel. As I took the crowd through the Law, a very large Hispanic man wearing a rosary approached me. He didn't say anything, but he seemed very agitated as he paced around me.

Several minutes later he returned, as I called the people to repent and believe the gospel. As you will see in the video, he leaned toward me and pointed his finger at me. In a hushed and angry tone he repeatedly said, "You're a fool, and your hope ends here!" I would later learn from a Christian named James who was encouraged by the preaching, and who had overheard the angry Hispanic man talking to another man down the street, that the two men were plotting to "club" me.

The man accused me of disrespecting Roman Catholics. I asked him why he was wearing a cross around his neck (not that there is anything inherently sinful about that; but the man was threatening me while wearing a cross). He would not answer.

The man's anger revealed that something in the preaching of the Law and the Gospel got a little too close for comfort; too close to the religion he thought would save him; too close to the god he had created in his own mind. Since that was where he wanted to wage battle against the Gospel, that was the issue I began to address in my preaching. The man eventually walked away. The encounter with the man seemed demonic.

As I try to do every time I preach in the open-air, I thanked the crowd for listening and I offered a free Bible to anyone who wanted one. The two girls sitting next to Marissa immediately got up and walked toward me. They both wanted Bibles. Their names were Juliandra (17) and Xiomara (19). I told Xiomara (often pronounced "Samara") that I thought her name was pretty and that I had never before heard that name. I asked her if she knew the origin and meaning of her name. She said the name had several meanings, but didn't share what they were.

I asked the girls, who had sat for more than forty minutes to hear the reading of the Word and the preaching of the Gospel, what they thought of what they heard.

"We grew up Catholic. And, oh, you didn't say anything to offend Catholics. I don't know what that guy's problem was." Xiomara said. "People our age are clueless. When we go to church what we hear just doesn't make sense. What you said made sense." Juliandra, quiet during much of the conversation, nodded her head.

Xiomara looked at my cross, which was leaning against a nearby tree. "I think I've seen you before." She said. "Do you ever carry the cross in Santa Clarita."

"I've lived in Santa Clarita for more than twenty years. I've been going out with the cross for a couple of years, now, hoping to have conversations like the one we're having."

"I knew it!" Xiomara exclaimed. "My boyfriend and I were driving through Santa Clarita a couple weeks ago. He lives in Saugus. We saw you on a corner and my boyfriend looked at me and asked, 'Are you ready?' We talked about it a lot after that."

"Well, ladies, it's not a coincidence that we met today."

"I know." Xiomara said.

"Do you believe what you heard today is true?" I asked them.

Both of them nodded their head and said yes.

"Is there any reason why you wouldn't turn from your sin, turn to God, and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" I asked. "Is there any sin in your life that you love so much that you are willing to die and go to Hell, so you can enjoy that sin in this life?"

Both girls said no.

"Then repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior." I said.

"I think I'm doing that right now." Xiomara said. "But I'm scared."

"Why are you scared?"

"I'm afraid that Jesus still won't accept me."

I explained to the girls the amazing qualities of God's grace, mercy, and love. I shared with them about the assurance of salvation they could enjoy--not because of anything they might do, but because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross.

For some reason, my attention was drawn to Juliandra.

"There is no sin you have ever committed that is beyond Christ's shed blood on the cross to cover or His ability to forgive. His grace is sufficient for you. Turn to Christ and live. He will set you free. Life won't be perfect. God doesn't promise that. But He does promise a perfect joyful life in His presence, in Heaven, forever. And knowing that we will one-day be with Him forever is what makes life here not just bearable. We can experience His joy."

Both girls wore dark sunglasses. But even through the darkened lenses, I could see tears in their eyes.

I asked the girls if it would be all right if I prayed for them. They said yes. And together we bowed our heads in prayer. I asked the Lord to save them. I asked the Lord to bring them to repentance and faith. I asked the Lord to protect them from anyone or anything that would distract them from the critically important matters about which we were speaking.

I gave each girl my business card and invited them to contact me if they had any questions. I assured them that I would be praying for them. They have been on my heart and mind much, ever since.

We shook hands. The girls thanked me. And they walked away. It was an extraordinary encounter--one I believe was ordained by God.

I did some research on Xiomara's name when I got home. Her name is Greek in origin and means "stranger," or "guest." Interesting.

My prayer for both Xiomara and Juliandra is that they will no longer be strangers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, may they rather be sojourners in this land as they await being translated to a glorified state, in the presence of the King--forever guests in His mansion and at His table.

Yes, may they no longer be strangers. Maybe the Lord has already accomplished this--causing them to be born again and extending to them the precious gifts of repentance, faith, and eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mission Good Friday 2011 – Matthew 26-28

Mission Good Friday is here, and it’s exciting to see that many of our regular participants, as well as a number of new folks, joining us for our third anniversary. I won’t give a lot of notes on the chapters this week. The passage is the heart of the gospel, so there is little need to look for springboards into a gospel presentation. The whole passage is a springboard. However, I would encourage you to really spend some time reading through the passage itself, so that you feel comfortable with it, prior to your reading. I would also encourage you to think and pray about who it was who was on the cross and what that sacrifice truly meant.

Have you ever caught yourself referring to Jesus or the Father in such a way that you seem to separate them from each other completely? I know I have. Now, there are distinctions within the Godhead, and Jesus and the Father are identified as separate persons in scripture. However, I spent some time looking at some of the stronger passages regarding Christ’s deity in other areas of the New Testament, and they are powerful. The list I went through is below. I think they are a good reminder for us, and the truth they proclaim may be new and revolutionary to many people who hear your reading and preaching. This list is in no way exhaustive. But I hope it will help strengthen your testimony in this particular area.

So preach Christ not only as a good example of self sacrifice, but as He truly is. He is the creator, sustainer and Lord of all that exists, the alpha and the omega. And He is also both the judge of our souls and the author of our salvation. What a great God we serve!

John 1:1-18
Colossians 1:15-20, 2:8-15
Acts 2:22-36
Hebrews 1
Revelation 1:12-18, 22:12-16
Isaiah 53

All for His glory,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Acts 26 - The Conversion of Paul

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus into Paul the apostle is, I believe one of the most convincing evidences for the truth of Christianity. I have used it many times during one-on-on witnessing, and have almost always had positive results. Prior to his conversion, Paul had it all. He had power, money, influence, respect within his community, the best education available, and a purpose in life. And then, overnight, he changed from Christianity’s greatest opponent to its greatest proponent. Paul had nothing to gain and everything to lose by becoming a believer in Christ. There was only one, logical reason for him to become a Christian. Because Christianity was true. Because he had encountered the risen Christ.

This week we will be reading Acts 26, where Paul stands before Festus and King Agrippa at Caesarea, two Roman rulers, and tells the story of his conversion. The Jews had falsely accused him of many crimes, and sent him to the Romans to be tried for those crimes, hoping he would be executed. But Paul, despite persecution and unsympathetic listeners, laid out the truth of his conversion and the truth of the gospel clearly and unapologetically. We can learn a lot from his personal testimony. Most importantly, the center-point of Paul’s testimony was not himself, but Christ. Paul’s testimony was not what he had done in his life with Jesus’ help. It was the radical, supernatural change that Christ had done in him. And that is a model we should follow. This week’s outline is below, and I pray it will be a blessing.

We are now just one week away from Mission Good Friday! This will be the third year of the event that grew into Project Ezra. I have heard from a couple members over the past few days that the original Mission Good Friday was their very first time preaching the gospel in the open air. What a huge encouragement that is for me, and I hope for you as well. God has chosen to use this group to lead people into public evangelism ministry, and I pray that you will take this opportunity to participate yourself, and to encourage your friends and church family to participate as well. Easter is the perfect time, since we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ. So go out and proclaim the truth in love. I look forward to seeing your testimonies, pictures, and videos after the event.


Acts 26 tells the story of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul the Apostle.

Some people seem to have every reason to want to become a Christian. Paul had every reason not to.

Paul, before his conversion, seemed to have it all. He had power, influence, strong religious faith, respect within the community, the best education available, a good job, and a cause that he could believe in.

Then overnight he threw that all away to join a tiny religious sect, which up until then he had dedicated his time to destroying. He went from traveling his nation to round up Christians to be killed, to traveling the world to start Christian churches. Christianity’s greatest antagonist became Christianity’s greatest missionary, overnight.

What would cause someone to make such a dramatic change? Was Paul just believing a lie? If so, he had no incentive for doing so.

The only reason Paul had for believing Christianity is that it was actually true. The only thing that could have changed Saul to Paul was what he claimed, a supernatural encounter with the living Christ.

So what happened after Paul was converted? He immediately began going to the Jewish people, persuading them and proving from the law and the prophets, the Jewish Bible, that Jesus was the Christ.

Paul was a highly trained scholar who had studied with Gamaliel, possibly the greatest Jewish teacher of the time. He could have seen the truth of who Christ was before, if he had chosen to look

Paul’s reason for rejecting and persecuting Christ was not intellectual. It was moral. Paul chose not to see what was right in front of his face, because his behavior was evil, and his life was comfortable.

If you examine yourselves, with an open mind and a tender conscience, you may find yourself in the same place as Paul.


We are all sinners, moral criminals who have broken God’s law. What’s more, we know we are guilty.

Because we are guilty, and because God is a good God, who will make sure justice is satisfied, we are bound for hell, unless we can pay the sin debt we owe.

Jesus Christ is the only way to God because He, the living God, the creator in the flesh, paid that sin debt.

Jesus death on the cross was not just a good example. It was a payment. He paid the penalty for our sin in His own blood.

The cross is the perfect demonstration of both God’s justice and His mercy. He showed His hatred for sin by punishing it mercilessly. And He showed His love for mankind by putting that punishment on Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross, died a horrific death, and then rose three days later, proving His power over death. Then He ascended into heaven and is seated at God’s right hand, as our advocate, our lawyer for the day of judgment.

All of us will be judged some day. I plead with you to humble yourself before God, repent of your sins and trust in His grace alone to save you.

If you will put your trust in Christ alone then, like Paul, you will be supernaturally transformed by God. He will change your heart and your desires. He will make you more like Him. You will truly be born again.

If God is working in your heart, I encourage you to cry out for His mercy today, and I would love to tell you more about Him. But please, don’t wait. None of us is promised a tomorrow. Get right with God while He has graciously given you time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mission Good Friday - Year Three

Project Ezra
Mission Good Friday
Matthew 26-28

Almost three years ago, the message below was sent out by Tony Miano, and the groundwork was laid for what has become Project Ezra. The information below is a re-post of the original invitation, and would be ideal to pass on to friends and church family to introduce them to Project Ezra. Please consider posting this on your social networking pages.

Facebook Event Page

The mission is simple and can be accomplished anywhere.

This is a call to all Christians everywhere, whether or not you are a street evangelist.

Find a public place--preferably a place where people gather (the size of the crowd matters not). Climb atop a box. Open your Bible. And read Matthew 26-28 (that's right: all of it) aloud, using the voice the Good Lord gave you.

If you have never open-air preached, and you don't think you are ready to do so, then simply read the text with love in your heart--love for God and love for lost people. The Scriptures can speak for themselves. The Word of God is true, powerful, and entirely sufficient.

Open-air preachers: Read Matthew 26-28 as your springboard for heralding the Law and the Gospel.

Join me in bringing Good Friday to the people who likely will not darken the door of your church.

Think of it. Men and women around the world, in large cities and small towns, reading the Gospel to the lost.

Who's with me?!

We are now approaching the two-year anniversary of Project Ezra, and the challenge is the same. The book of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So let’s go out, and let the living and active word of God pierce the hearts of those in our community this Good Friday. If you are an active member of Project Ezra, or even if you are not, and challenge you not only to participate in our anniversary reading, but to invite others to participate with you. We will be reading three chapters, and it is easy to divide them up so multiple people can read. Also, please post this on your social networking profiles and email it to friends and family, and let’s let more believers know about Project Ezra. More and more, people are falling away from the Church. Inviting people to church is fine, but what if they won’t come? Then we need to go to them! The book of Romans says:

Romans 10:14 - How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

It is possible that through the reading of God’s word, and through public evangelism, you or I may have the amazing privilege of being the instrument God uses to bring the gospel to someone for the very first time, or be the encouragement he uses to draw someone to repentance and faith. Why would you not want to be part of that? What could be more joyous?

So start praying and preparing now. The event is up on the Project Ezra Facebook page and I will be making up a Google map for the event, so be sure to sign up for the event and post your location on the event wall. Let’s see how many people we can get to participate in our anniversary event as me move into our third year. Thanks so much to all of you for being part of Project Ezra, and please pray that the group will continue to make an impact for the glory of God and the edification of his saints.

For the praise of His glory!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Isaiah 40 – Behold Your God!

Hello Project Ezra! This week we will be reading Isaiah chapter 40. I decided to use Isaiah 40 based on its focus on the greatness of God. It is a wonderful chapter, and so different in it’s emphasis from where my mind usually goes when thinking about the things of God. Man’s sinful nature, and certainly my sinful nature, tend to draw most of our thoughts of God back toward what God does for us. God’s goodness is amazing, and we certainly should think about how His goodness is demonstrated in our lives, and particularly in the work of salvation. But if we only see the benefits, as wonderful as they are, and don’t see and understand the nature of the God who graciously gave us those benefits, we are missing a big part of picture.

I picked Isaiah 40 as this week’s chapter Wednesday night, so when I got up Thursday morning to spend my time in the word, I decided to read through Isaiah 40 prior to the rest of my daily readings. I use Dr. Horner’s bible reading system for my daily readings, as well as for our Project Ezra lists, and if you don’t have a regular Bible reading plan, I highly recommend it. After reading Isaiah 40 my first chapter for the day happened to be John 19. The contrast between the two chapters was striking. In Isaiah 40 God’s greatness, power, and majesty is proclaimed. And then in John 19 we see God the Son, the same creator being magnified in Isaiah 40, allowing himself to be bound, beaten, mocked, falsely pronounced a criminal, and then violently killed. It is only when we truly understand both the depths of our own sin, and the glory and majesty of God, that we can truly understand how amazing God’s grace and sacrifice on the cross is. It also brought to mind the beginning of John 1, which emphasizes Christ’s deity as well as His humanity. I would recommend reading sections of John 1 along with your gospel presentation. Since it proclaims His deity so clearly, it will help tie His identity to Isaiah 40.

On another note, this Good Friday will be the third anniversary of the start of Project Ezra! It’s amazing how quickly time has passed. It is a blessing that so many of you have continued with our group over the last two years, and we pray that you will not only work on continuing to participate regularly, but that you will encourage others to participate as well. Many people will seldom if ever share the gospel publicly on their own, but a little encouragement from you could change that completely. I’ve had the privilege of seeing several people move from committed Christian to committed evangelist, and have had the opportunity to encourage them in that journey. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call and an invitation to pull someone out of their comfort zone. It has been an amazing blessing doing so, and one I would encourage you toward. Many open-air preachers and evangelists have been birthed through Project Ezra as well, and it would be great to see more brothers and sisters in Christ publicly proclaiming the gospel for the first time this Easter weekend. So when the Mission Good Friday event goes up on the Facebook page and the blog this weekend, please sign up yourself, and encourage others to join us.
This week’s outline is below. I pray that it will be a blessing.

All for His glory,


Behold your God! This is the command from the prophet Isaiah to the children of Israel.

I would urge you to do the same. Behold your God, as presented in God’s word, the Bible.

You may say that you don’t believe in God, or that you don’t believe the Bible is really His word. You may say that’s my opinion, and nothing more.

But my opinion about the Bible doesn’t mean anything. Your opinion about the Bible doesn’t mean anything. Only what is true matters.

The same goes for our opinions of God and His existence. Opinions mean nothing. Only the truth matters

The truth is that we all know that God exists, whether we want to admit it or not.

The truth of God’s existence is obvious, if we choose to look. His creation proclaims who He is, and His word proclaims who He is.

Hear what the prophet Isaiah says about the one true God.

He is mighty. God is powerful beyond our comprehension.

He is the creator of all that exists. Everything we see is His design.

He holds life and destruction. Not only did He create the world, but he sustains and controls it.

None is greater than Him, none can teach Him. He is not one among many Gods. He is unique.

All the nations are nothing before Him. He does not need us, and He does not depend on us. We are His and depend on Him for everything.

None can compare with Him. The highest thoughts and ideas you can imagine can not come close to the truth of how glorious His is.

READ JOHN 1:1-18

That same creator, Jesus Christ, God the Son, humbled Himself, became a man, and walked among us.

Why would the God of the universe do such a thing? So that you might be saved, if you believe, and that He might be glorified.

You see, God is holy. That means He is perfect, pure, and undefiled.

His word says His eyes are too pure to look on evil, and that He will not leave the guilty unpunished.

But you and I are guilty of breaking God’s law, more times than we can count.

(For more teaching on use of the law in evangelism, check out this link: How to Effectively Use the Law)

God is just, and must judge sin. No outside law compels Him to do so. His very character and nature is to be just.

But God is also love, and in His love he made a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

God demonstrated His love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God the Son, who created and sustains the world, was born in human flesh, and then chose to die on the cross so that our sins could be atoned for.

When Jesus Christ was on the cross, He was not only suffering from the nails through
His hands and feet, but from the wrath of God. God’s anger and hatred of sin was
poured out on Him so it didn’t have to be poured out on us.

Jesus Christ died, so that we might live.

So you must do what the Bible commands. Repent (turn from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone.

Only Jesus Christ can save, since only He died to satisfy the sin debt that you owed.

As Isaiah says, God’s word stands forever. It says there is no other name under heaven by which you must be saved, and that will never change.

But God will change you if you put your trust in Him. He says He will give you a new heart, and new desires. He will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

So turn to Him today, while He has graciously given you time. And when you do, His word says He if faithful and just, and will forgive you your sins and grant you everlasting life!

Friday, April 1, 2011

2 Chronicles 7 – The Character and Nature of God

Hello Project Ezra! This week, with 2 Chronicles 7, we continue our focus on the character of God, who God is. Many, if not most, of the problems in the church today are due to false views of God’s character and nature, due either to ignorance, willful disobedience of His revealed word, or both. For example, the idea of drawing distinctions between the cruel, vengeful God of the Old Testament, and the loving, kind Jesus of the New Testament, has been around for many years, but is totally false. There is a new covenant instituted by Jesus, and through His death and resurrection we have a different standing before God, but God’s character and nature have not changed, and indeed can not change. Though the specifics on how God chooses to interact with His people and His enemies have varied, His character and nature have not.

All evangelism must start with an understanding of the true nature of God. God’s judgment and redemption are not His arbitrary choices or whims. They are based on God’s character and nature. It is through an understanding of the truth of God’s character, as well as an understanding of man’s sinful nature, that judgment makes sense. Focus on the cross. Christ’s work on the cross is the perfect intersection of God’s justice and mercy. His justice and holiness made the death penalty for sin necessary, and from His love and mercy came our reconciliation.

I hope this outline will be a blessing. We have had very little interaction on the Facebook page lately, though I know many who are still actively reading and using these outlines. Please share your testimonies, pictures and videos with the rest of the group, when possible. They are a huge encouragement. Thanks!

For the praise of His glory,

READ 2 Chronicles 7

What does your God look like? What does the true God look like?

God is a good God, and this was demonstrated in His interactions with Israel

He is a God of provision. God brought Israel out of Egypt into the promised land, as He had promised. He has also blessed each one of us greatly, whether we realize it or not.

God raised up judges and kings to rule over, protect and guide His people

God blessed them materially, providing all they needed to live

God provided His law, to protect them from their own evil desires, to show them His will for their lives.

God even gave them Himself. God is a God of relationship, and He chose a people and chose to live with them, though He needs no worship and needs to home.

God showed them His nature, His glory and His majesty

He is a God of unimaginable power and majesty. When God’s glory filled the temple the people could not enter or approach, and when they caught a glimpse of his glory they fell on their faces before Him

God is a God of holiness and justice, who has made His existence and will clear, both through His word and through His creation

God’s existence obvious, clear from what has been made (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:20)

God says that the unrighteous and ungodly are, in fact, suppressing the truth, willfully choosing disbelief.

And, in truth, nothing could be more unjust and wicked than failing to give God the worship due to Him, and to turn to other Gods, false gods made of wood or stone, or of man’s imagination

God will not share His glory with anyone, for only He truly deserves to be worshiped.

All of us have rebelled, and worshiped things other than God.

All sin is fueled by idolatry, either by a false view of who God is, or by putting ourselves or our desires in place of God, treating them as our objects of worship.

Lying to protect your pride, making pride and yourself an idol

Striving for monetary success and power, making reputation an idol

Striving for experience, adrenaline or sexual gratification, making pleasure an idol

Striving to know, to understand, to explain every aspect of life through human intellect, making your mind an idol.

All idolatry, whether created with our hands or our mind, is sin, and all sin is worthy of God’s judgment.

The judgment for sin and rebellion is hell, eternal conscious punishment and separation from the goodness of God. And since every good thing comes from God, we will spend eternity in anguish.

But God is also the God of mercy and longsuffering

God promised to reconcile Israel to Himself, if they would humble themselves, seek
His face, and turn from their wicked ways.

God was very merciful and patient with Israel, but that was only the beginning of the story

God’s mercy and love toward us was demonstrated in the cross of Christ

The cross the sacrifice for all sin, for all time

Solomon and the priests of Israel offered countless sacrifices as covering for sin
Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, provided the perfect and eternal sacrifice for sin

Jesus is the lamb of God, and our great high priest

He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him

So we must do what God directed Israel to do. We must humble ourselves before His, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.

Through repentance and trust in Jesus Christ alone, we can be made clean.

Acts 10:43 - To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

So today, put your faith and trust in the good God, the God of mercy and longsuffering, the God who satisfied justice in His own blood, so you could be seen as righteous.

Repent and trust in Jesus Christ today, while God has graciously given you time.
Remember, none of us is promised a tomorrow.

10 out of 10 people die, and eternity is a long time to be wrong.