Friday, October 21, 2011

Deuteronomy 30 – Life and Death, Blessing and Curse

Hello Project Ezra!  It is a great blessing and a privilege to have so many of you participating each week.  I am always encouraged by your posts, and the encouragement you give to each other.  I belong to a strong local evangelism team, and the encouragement I have received from them has been very instrumental in my continued growth in personal evangelism.  The encouragement you can provide to others on the Facebook page or in the blog comments can provide that same benefit to those who may be in an area where they have little or no support from other believers.  So, keep those testimonies, pictures, videos and helpful responses coming! 

As a side note on posting, I wanted to briefly address an issue.  We recently had a member of the group posting a large amount of material that, other than generally being Christian, had no relation to the purpose of the group at all.  I made contact with that member, and asked them politely to limit their posts to relevant materials.  Sadly, that individual was not open to correction and had to be removed from the group.  If you run across something that particularly touches you and you think it will be edifying to the group, feel free to post it.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to bless others with good materials.  However, if large amounts on non-relevant posts move people’s testimonies and requests for help so far down that page that they are never seen, it is a detriment to those people and to the group as a whole.  So please be wise and considerate in your postings.

We are also just about a week away from our Halloween reading, one of our best readings of the year.  Many people will be out on the streets for trick or treating, parties, haunted houses, and the like.  And with so many people thinking about death and the hereafter, this is another perfect time to share the gospel.  The event will be up on Facebook soon, and I encourage you to contact your Christian friends and church family, and to invite them to join you and share in the reading.  Please consider posting any pictures, video, or testimonies you have from Halloween weekend outreaches so we can put together another outreach update.   I’m looking forward to hearing some very interesting stories! 

This week’s reading is Deuteronomy 30.  The key passage our outline will be focusing is on verse 19, when God says “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.”  Although the way God dealt with the nation of Israel is in many ways different from how He deals with the church today, the seriousness and the sense of urgency in our response to God’s will should be the same.  Whether or not we are trusting in God and living in obedience to His word is a matter of eternal consequence, and that sense of urgency is what we want to try to instill in people through the preaching of the gospel.

I pray this outline is a blessing.

All for His glory,



In verse 19 of this chapter of God’s word, He states that He has laid before Israel life and death, blessing and curse.  

Although you are likely not of the nation of Israel, there is still a lesson to be learned.  And part of that lesson should be a sense of urgency regarding the truth of God.

What you believe about God is not mere opinion.  What you choose to do with the truth of the Bible is not merely an academic or intellectual issue.  It is a matter of life and death, and a matter of where you will spend your eternity.

God’s actions in the Old and New Testament are based on His perfect, holy character, and His absolute, unchanging nature. 

The God of the Bible is a God who keeps His promises, who honors His commitments,  He says what He means and does what He says.

The Bible says He is a God of justice, and that justice has been demonstrated many times in the past.

He promised the nation of Israel protection and prosperity if they would trust in him.

But He also promised judgment for those who turned away from Him.

The same is true today.  Every one of us with experience either God’s blessing, or God’s justice

The truth is, all of us deserve only God’s justice, since all of us have sinned.

To sin means to miss the mark.  It means we have committed moral crimes against God, breaking His law.

Look at yourself in the light of God’s law, and see how you stand. (Exodus 20)

God’s commandments say we should not lie, and all of us have.  His word says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire.

God’s commandments say we should not steal, and all of us have, even if it was only something small.  His word says not thief will inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus said “You have heard that it was said do not commit adultery, but I tell you anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Have you done that?  Have you looked with lust? (Matthew 5)

You see, God does not only look at our actions, but at the condition of our hearts.  He who looks with lust is an adulterer, and anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.

God’s word also tells us that if we have broken one commandment, we have broken them all.  (James 2:10)

Every one of us is worthy of judgment, and the Bible says the punishment for breaking God’s law is eternity in hell.

Hell is a very real place of fire and darkness and pain.  It is separation from all the goodness of God and an eternity of subjection to His anger and wrath.

I deserve to go to hell, but I’m not going.  You deserve the same, but I don’t want you to go either.  That is why we are here today, to give you good news.

And there is good news!  In the chapter I read it also says that none of God’s children are beyond His reach

He gave His children in Israel a promise, but the greater promise to us today is in Jesus Christ, the promise of forgiveness from our sins.

2000 years ago Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died a perfect death as payment for our sins.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the perfect expression of both God’s love and His justice.  

Romans says that Jesus our Lord was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  Because God nailed the legal demands of the law to the cross (Col 2), we can be set free.

Acts 20:21 tells us we this is through repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we will repent, or turn from our sins, and trust in Christ alone to save us, then by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we will be saved!

Jesus Christ, God the Son, the creator and sustainer of all that exists, humbled Himself, walked among us, and died so that we might live.

Then three days after He died, He rose, just as He had told his followers He would, and ascended to heaven, where He is seated at God’s right hand. 

Scripture says He is now our advocate, our lawyer for the day of judgment.   If we will repent and trust in Him, than on the day we stand before God, He will not see our sin, but Christ’s righteousness, His perfect sacrifice, laid to our account.

There is no greater act of love, and no greater miracle, in the history of the world, than Christ saving us through His death, and His resurrection.

So turn to Him and trust in His promise today.

God says He will change our hearts so that we may live.  Don’t depend on your own ability to do better, or to earn forgiveness.

Only through the supernatural change that is salvation, that is being born again, can we be made right with Him and given the ability to obey Him

Turn today.  Repent of your sin, trust in Him alone, and he will change you. 

If you have questions about anything I have said, I would love to talk to you more (It’s also good to offer tracts and/or Bibles if you have them).

Thank you for listening.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mark 15 – 16:8 Crucifixion and Resurrection

Hello Project Ezra!  This week we will be reading from Mark 15 and 16, covering the trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  In the outline, we will be focusing on a few different areas, including the reality of Christ’s humanity and deity, the purpose for which Christ died and the purposefulness behind it, and, of course, what was accomplished through His death and resurrection.  It is so easy for the world, and often for those raised in the church as well, to think of the passages such as this one simply as stories, with an almost mythical, storybook feel to them.  It is vital that we treat and present everything is God’s word history, and that those hearing us understand the type of claim that we are making.  This is not simply our opinion, or A truth.  It is THE truth, or it is nothing.  Opinions, regardless of how sincere they are, are only as solid as the foundation on which they are built.  And there is no true foundation outside of the word of God and the deity of Christ.  Jesus did not leave any room for questions regarding this.  He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one could come to God apart from Him.  Either this is true, or it is not.  If it is false, it doesn’t matter.  If it is true, nothing matters more.
All for His glory,

Introduce yourself, and tell people about Project Ezra (why you are doing what you are doing)

READ MARK 15 – 16:8

It is likely that if you are hearing my words today, that you have already heard the story of Jesus.

But the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is more than just a story.  It is the center-point of history.

Those in the time of Christ did not believe because it was convenient and comforting.  Very often it was neither.

Christ’s followers believed and followed because they knew these stories to be true.

The apostle Peter said they did not follow cleverly devised myths, but were eyewitnesses to Christ’s majesty

The apostle John spoke of the things they had seen with their eyes, had looked upon, and had touched with their hands

More than that, Paul said “If we only have hope in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

The Jesus the apostles believed in, and the Jesus we believe in is not just a nice idea, or a helpful world view to follow, but a real man.

But He was more than just a real man.  The Bible says He was God in human flesh

John 1 says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh, and lived among us.

It is important they we understand the significance of this.

Jesus Christ, the Word, the Son of God and God the Son, became a man and walked the earth.

The creator of all that exists chose to humble Himself, and lived among His creation.

But Jesus did not come to earth just to entertain Himself, or to try something new.  He came here with a purpose.

God has a purpose for all that He does.  Jesus did not live by accident, and He did not die by accident.  He knew exactly what would happen to Him when He came to earth

Jesus told His disciples of His imminent death and resurrection numerous times, though they didn’t understand what He meant.

In Matthew 20 Jesus said “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and 
he will be raised on the third day."  He knew exactly what was going to happen

But prior to the crucifixion he was threatened with death many other times and simply walked away

When and where He died was exactly according to God’s plan

Jesus was betrayed by a friend, arrested by the leaders of His own people, though He had done no wrong, and was condemned to death by the ruling authorities of His day.

But the Jewish leaders and the Romans were not the primary cause of Christ’s death.  The primary case was man’s sin

Every one of us has sinned.  Sin is the breaking of God’s law, in thought, word, or deed. 

Every one of us has done those things God has forbidden, and has failed to do the things God has commanded.

Take a moment to look at God’s law, the 10 Commandments, and you will see that this is true.

Have you ever told a lie?  All of us have.  We often consider lying a small sin, but God says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire

Have you ever stolen anything, regardless of the value?  The Bible says no thief will inherit the Kingdom of God

Have you looked with lust?  Jesus said anyone who looks with lust has committed adultery in their heart. 

You may think that since you have not committed a serious crime, such as murder, that God will simply forgive you.  But His word says that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life in him.

It also says that anyone who is keeps the whole law and fails at one point is accountable for all of it.

In truth, if God is holy and perfect, and if He is a just judge who must punish sin, than all of us are worthy of His punishment

And because God is a good and just God, he will insure that all sin is punished completely, in a place called hell


We all deserve to die.  But because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross, we don’t have to

We all deserve to have God’s wrath, and His righteous anger, poured out on us for our sin

But on the cross, that anger and wrath was poured out on Christ

The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins

And the good news, the best news you will ever hear is this:  Jesus shed His blood for you!

On the cross Jesus shed His blood, so we wouldn’t have to shed ours.

He paid our fine.  He took our punishment so that our death sentence could be commuted, and so we could go free.

The end of His earthly life was the beginning of ours, if we have put our trust in Him.

Not everyone will end up in heaven.  Those who reject Jesus Christ will pay for their own sins in hell.  Only those who repent and trust in Christ will be saved.

Are you trusting in Him?  You must repent of your sins and trust in Christ, and in Him alone!

If you trust in yourself, your own worth, your good works, your religious ceremonies, or anything other than Christ’s sacrifice, you are without hope.

Hope can only be found in Christ’s death and resurrection.

So turn to Him today!  The Bible says God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live.

Today, while God has graciously given you time, repent, or turn from your sin, and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone.

When you do, God will transform you.  He will change your heart and your desires, so you will be able to and will want to follow Him

And there is no greater joy than having the privilege of serving and following Jesus Christ.

Turn to Christ today, and be saved!  Turn to Christ and live!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Acts 1 – We Are HIS Witnesses

Hello Project Ezra!  This weekend the suggested reading is Acts chapter 1.  This is one of the more straightforward message themes.  It is the heart of the gospel, the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, and the disciples being called to be His witnesses, just as we have been.  This is also another opportunity to present the message of the Bible as history.  Many places in the New Testament, including here, Christ’s followers presented themselves not just as true believers, but eyewitnesses to historical events.  They did not merely believe it a system of thought that they thought was valuable, noteworthy, or life changing (although, of course, it is all of those).  They believed in, as 1 John puts it, those things which “we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands.”  And those same concrete, absolute truths should be as real for us today as they were for the Apostles then.

The Apostles were also called to go into the world and share that message, and so are we.  While many people will say that faith is a very personal thing, something that is between them and God, the opposite should be true.  We are not called to have a personal, private relationship with God.  We are called, and indeed commanded, to have a very public, vocal relationship with God.  If the Bible is true, if the gospel is real, the most important, and the most loving, thing we can do is to tell others about the truth of what Jesus Christ has done for us.  Not everyone is called to be a pastor or a full time evangelist, but every believer is called to share their faith.  And although God does not need us to spread the gospel (He could do it all Himself, directly, as He did with Paul), believing men and women are the primary method, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that He has chosen to use to spread His gospel.  If we might have the privilege of seeing someone repent and trust in Christ through our witness, that would be an incredible privilege.  Why would anyone not want to be involved in that?

So go out and be His witnesses today.  I pray this outline will be an encouragement and a help as you share His gospel of grace.



In Acts chapter 1, Jesus tells His disciples they will be His witnesses, both in their local area, and to the ends of the earth

They were witnesses of His earthly existence, and  now they were to go out and proclaim both that earthly existence, and their future heavenly existence.

Just as Christ’s Apostles were called to be His witnesses in that day, all Christians have been called to be His witnesses this day.

We are here today as His witnesses, to share with you the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ’s death for our transgressions, and His resurrection for our salvation.

But we are not here just to share our religious thoughts and opinions.  We are here to share a truth that is a matter of life and death, a truth based on fact, and not just an opinion.

The Christian faith is not based on mythology, and it is not based on wishful thinking.  The truth of Christianity is based in history.

The men Christ chose to follow His were more than His students.  They shared His life.  They did not only hear His claims, they saw the truth of those claims acted out.

The Disciples walked with Him and lived with Him for years.  They heard Him teach and watched Him perform miracles.

They saw Jesus arrested, condemned, and killed

Then they saw Him after His resurrection, and watched Him ascend into heaven.

When they chose someone to replace Judus, they made sure to pick someone who had also witnesses those things, from the beginning of Christ’s ministry

They followed Christ because they heard His claims, and knew them to be true.

But more than that, they understood what He had done, what Jesus Christ had paid, for their sake.  They knew what that death, resurrection and ascension meant.  Do you?

Jesus died on the cross for pay the penalty for sin.  That price had to be paid because of our guilt before God.  Do you understand your guilt before God?

God is holy.   He is perfect, pure and set apart from us.  And because of His holiness, because of His purity, He can not and will not allow evil to exist in His presence. 

God is a God of love and forgiveness, but that is not the entirety of His character.  He is also a God of justice, and because of that justice He will make sure that every sin, every moral crime, will be punished completely.

Every one of us has committed moral crimes, which the Bible calls sins, against God.

Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s Ten Commandments, and see yourself in the light of God’s standard.  That is the purpose of God’s law, to lead us to Christ so that we may be justified.

Has the truth of God been the center of your existence, the foundation of who you are and how you live your life?  If not then you have sinned against Him

Have you worshipped God as He has presented Himself in truth, or have you created an image in your mind of a God who accepts your sinful behavior?  Or have you worshipped an idol, a false God different from the God of the Bible?

Have you used God’s name improperly?  Have you used His name lightly or disrespectfully, or even in place of a curse word, to express disgust?  God take the use of His name very seriously, and will not hold guiltless those who misuse, and blaspheme, His name

Every one of us has broken many more of His laws more times than we can count, whether through theft, lying, greed, adultery, or envy.  And every one of us is worthy of His justice

God tells us that unless we repent, we will perish.  If we die in our guilt, we will be sent to a place called hell, a place of eternal torment, of fire and pain that never ceases.

Hell is not a separation from God.  It is a separation from all His goodness, all His mercy, and all His love, and living forever under His justice and wrath.  And that is exactly what you, and I, deserve for our sins.

But the truth of God’s love is just as real as the truth of our His wrath and the truth of His justice

God’s love was demonstrated most clearly on the cross of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, the creator of all that exists, humbled Himself, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then willingly shed His blood on a Roman cross so that our sins could be paid for

On the cross all God’s anger, wrath, and hatred of sin was poured out on Jesus Christ, His own Son, so it wouldn’t have to be poured out on us.

1 Peter 1 tells us that we were ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and Romans 5 says we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son.

If we were to be left on our own we would have no possibility of anything but the righteous judgment of God for our sins.  But by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can have peace with Him.


So turn to Christ and live!  Only by turning from your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ can you be saved.

Not any God will do.  Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. 

Eternal life is to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ who He has sent

He tells us that unless we repent, we will perish, and that there is no name under heaven but the name of Jesus Christ by which we must be saved.

So turn to Him.  Repent of your sins, and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.  He is a good God, a loving God, and a forgiving God

He will change you and bless you in ways you cannot begin to imagine.  He will cause you to be born again, and give you a new heart, so that your greatest desire will be to praise, worship, and obey Him

So come to Him, if you are weary and burdened, and He will give you rest.  Turn to Christ and be saved!

Acts 1 also tells us that one day, Jesus Christ will return, in the same way He went into heaven

He will return to judge the living and the dead, and every one of us will have to answer to Him

I pray that before that day comes, you will repent and trust in Him.  I pray that when I arrive in heaven, although I don’t deserve it, that I will see all of you as well.  Trust in Christ, while He has given you time.