Friday, April 27, 2012

Job 38 - 39 Revisited

Hello Project Ezra!  This week we will be looking at Job chapters 38 and 39.  We looked at them about a year and a half ago, but they are well worth looking at again, as we have done with several other chapters.  However, we really won’t be looking at a different theme in these passages, as we’ve done when repeating chapters in the past.  Rather, we will be shifting the emphasis a bit.  My reasons for doing so are partially self-reflective, so you may not need to change the emphasis as much as I likely will when I preach it.  Then again, maybe you will.  Either way, I pray it will be helpful and encouraging.

One issue that I believe God has been driving me to consider more lately, and which I think is vital for a proper understanding of who God is and how to share His gospel in the most appropriate, Biblical manner, is the importance of having a more complete view of His nature and character.  Our views of God have a tendency to be one-dimensional.  The Bible says that God is love, and He is.  That is certainly the trait most commonly emphasized by the world, because it is the most convenient excuse people have for convincing themselves that God will ignore their sins.  For those of us trained in Biblical evangelism, and I speak very much for myself, it is easy to skew the other way, toward God’s law, and toward His justice and wrath, in response to man’s sinfulness, and because of the neglect of this message by most of the modern church.  But we can’t forget the importance of expressing God’s love.  If we express either truth to the exclusion of the other, we are not preaching the gospel Biblically.

This can be an extremely difficult balance to strike, but I believe it is vital in being faithful to God’s word.  It is impossible, outside of the leading of the Spirit of God, and each one of us will need to be convicted in different ways.  But I think we need to consider this carefully, not only this week but every week.  Every time we head out to share our faith, we need to pray fervently that the Holy Spirit will at the center of our witnessing, and that through His power we will not only have the boldness, but a biblical balance in our presentation.  So this week I will be putting less emphasis (although the emphasis will still be strong) on the power, sovereignty, and justice of God, and try to tie it in more with the amazing truth of His grace and mercy, and how profound it is that the creator and sustainer of all that exists would chose to suffer and die for our sake.

Rather than a full outline, the list below highlights the major points of a gospel presentation and provides some supporting Bible verses for each point.  I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer regarding the proper expression and emphasis for each, and add your own verses as appropriate, praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  If you find a verse that is particularly profound regarding one of these subjects, but which is not listed, please share in on the Project Ezra wall in the Facebook group, or post it in the comments on the blog, so it can be an encouragement to others as well.

All for His glory,

God is the creator and Lord of all that exists.
            In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 ESV)

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the LORD, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
(Isaiah 44:24 ESV)
God’s purposes are frequently beyond our understanding.  He is never obligated to explain Himself to us, though He often chooses to do so.
                Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
                “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
                Dress for action like a man;
                I will question you, and you make it known to me.
                “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
                Tell me, if you have understanding.
                Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
                Or who stretched the line upon it?
(Job 38:1-5 ESV)

                For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
                neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
                For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
                so are my ways higher than your ways
                and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

As His creation, we are obligated to serve and obey Him.
                Know that the LORD, he is God!
                It is he who made us, and we are his;
                we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(Psalm 100:3 ESV)

None of us has obeyed Him.  Mankind is, by their nature and their choice, in rebellion against God.
                For I know my transgressions,
                and my sin is ever before me.
                Against you, you only, have I sinned
                and done what is evil in your sight,
                so that you may be justified in your words
                and blameless in your judgment.
                Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
                and in sin did my mother conceive me.
(Psalm 51:3-5 ESV)

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
(Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

Bring conviction of sin.
  Go through the law and 10 Commandments, and show them they are guilty of breaking His law
                Deuteronomy 5, Exodus 20 – The Ten Commandments

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.
                (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)

We deserve judgment and Hell for our sin and rebellion
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.              
(Romans 1:18-20 ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
(Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

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 21:8 ESV)

God desires us to be reconciled to Him
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live
(Ezekiel 33:11 ESV)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

God’s patience, loving kindness
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
(Exodus 34:5-6 ESV)

The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29 ESV)

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 5:6,9-10 ESV)

Jesus, our great high priest – Our intercessor and representative before the throne of God
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

                This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
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.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.                                              
(Hebrews 7:22-26 ESV)

God’s grace and mercy, in spite of our sin and wickedness
                The LORD is merciful and gracious,
                slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
                He will not always chide,
                nor will he keep his anger forever.
                He does not deal with us according to our sins,
                nor repay us according to our iniquities.
                For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
                so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
                as far as the east is from the west,
                so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:8-12 ESV)
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

Repentance and faith
                No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
(Luke 13:3 ESV)

But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
(Acts 3:18-19 ESV)

how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Acts 20:20-21 ESV)
let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
                (Acts 4:10-12 ESV)

“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
                call upon him while he is near;
                let the wicked forsake his way,
                and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
                let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
                and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV)

Psalm 51

Friday, April 20, 2012

2 Peter 3 - Scoffers

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that you are having a wonderful week in the Lord.  Mine has been busy, but good.  I have been working a bit on collecting some of the pictures and testimonies from Mission Good Friday so I can put up an event report post.  God willing, I will have it up by the end of the weekend.  Even a couple weeks after the event, we still have testimonies and posts on other member blogs which are popping up.  If you have not posted video, pictures, or your testimonies from this year’s Mission Good Friday, it’s not too late.  And, of course, we love to hear from you whenever you have a chance, special event or not.  So please, let us know how you are doing and how you have been blessed and encouraged by Project Ezra.

This week we will be reading 2 Peter, chapter 2.  This book has a lot of good material, and we have already used chapters 1 and 2 in previous readings.  Chapter 3 deal with those who scoff at the Christian faith, among other things.  And if you have participated in Project Ezra before, you have likely had people walking by who have shaken their heads in disgust, or told you to stop being hateful, or intolerant, or judgmental, or who have just yelled curses at you.  You may even have had someone threaten or try to intimidate you.  That happens less often, but can happen.  But don’t let those things discourage you.  God’s word tells us to expect such things, and no matter how faithful you are in your preaching, there will always be those who will mock it and refuse to hear the truth.  Even many who followed Christ left Him when His teachings became difficult to understand, or to accept.  And we KNOW He was being faithful to the word of God in His teaching.

So lets use this week’s chapter to turn to tables on the scoffers, both those who scoff outwardly and those who merely think such thoughts.  This chapter can be used as a challenge, and by God’s grace He will use it to break through their hardened hearts and open their eyes to the truth of who He is, and the show them the depths of their own sin.  Please be sure to pray fervently, both for your own reading and for those around the world who will also be reading.  Pray that God will be glorified through the saving of souls.  Thanks again for joining Project Ezra, and see you on the streets!

All for His glory,


God’s word says that is appointed for a man to die once, and then face judgment

You may disagree.  You may believe there is no judgment, and no God

You may think that when you are dead, you are dead, and it’s just part of the natural order

You may believe that if there is an afterlife, there is plenty of time to worry about it

Or you may believe that if there is a heaven, you are good enough to get in as you are

But none of these points of view is true

There was a beginning, and there will be an end

Even if the judgment is far off, yours may not be.

None of us is promised tomorrow.

God’s word says the heavens and earth that now exist are being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly

You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  (James 4:14 ESV)

We are also told that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief.  Are you prepared?

Think this is ridiculous?  God’s word predicts that too.

It says scoffers will come in the last days, following their own sinful desires

They will ask “where is the promise of His coming?”

The Bible says they deliberately overlook the fact that the heavens existed long ago, the earth formed out of water and through water by the word of God

By means of this the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

By the same word the heavens and earth stored up for fire

The heavens will pass away with a roar, heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.

This is not meant as a scare tactic.  It’s just reality

We are hoping that reality will give you a sense of urgency

So take a moment to consider.  When will your end come?

None of us promised tomorrow

2 Peter 3 talks about lives of holiness and Godliness

None of us can live such lives outside of God’s grace

God’s word also says be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect (Matthew 5:48)

None of us come close

Look at God’s law, and see the true depth of your sin

The law was put in charge, or made our schoolmaster, to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith

So take a moment to listen to the schoolmaster, and consider the truth he teaches

The Ten Commandments give us the essence of God’s moral law

They were given to Moses by God Himself, and written with His own finger

Have you told a lie?  All of us have.  And though many treat lying lightly God does not.

His word says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire

Have you stolen?  Even something small?  The value doesn’t matter.

Then you are a thief, and God says no thief will enter His kingdom.

Are you an idolater?  Have you created a god in your own mind, one who will turn a blind eye to your sin?

Have you used God’s name in vain?  If you have treated His name lightly or disrespectfully, and not given it the honor due to the creator of all things, then you have, as I have

These are only a few of God’s moral laws.

But even if you were only to break one, you would be accountable for all in the eyes of God. (James 2:10)

Like hitting a mirror with a hammer, it is impossible to break only a small piece.

We are all guilty in light of God’s law

And God is holy.  His eyes are too pure to look on evil, and He is angry with the wicked every day. (Habakkuk 1:13, Psalm 7:11)

And because even the smallest sin is infinitely sinful against an infinitely holy and perfect God, the punishment we deserve is also infinite.

The Bible calls that punishment, the justice we deserve for our moral crimes, hell

Hell is a place of fire and agony and darkness.  It is very terrifying and very real.  And many will go there.

But God is not only a just and holy God.  His word says he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live. (Ezekiel 18:23)

We need to be made right with God.  And God, in His mercy, has provided one way, and only one way, to be made right with Him

You can only be made right through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

2000 years ago, Jesus chose to die on a Roman cross.

On that cross He bore the wrath due to us for our sin

Then three days later, as He had prophesied He would, He rose from the dead

And now, if we repent, or turn, from our sins, and trust in Him alone, we can be forgiven

Only Christ was God in human flesh, and more valuable that the rest of the world combined

Only He can pay for your sin

So only through Him can you be saved.

Will still not be perfect, but you will be seen as holy through the holiness of Christ

Will be given a new heart and new desires

Will never be perfect, but will never be the same

Take your eyes off the word, fix your eyes on Christ

Put your whole trust in Him

Turn from your sin and trust in Him today, while He has given you time.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Project Ezra Hebrews 2 - So Great a Salvation

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that you all had a wonderful resurrection Sunday.  Thanks to those of you who participated in Mission Good Friday.  We had several dozen people participate from all over the world.  There were some great pictures and testimonies posted, and I am in the process of putting some of them together to post on the blog shortly.  I’m sure they will be an encouragement, and they will be great to forward to friends and church family who may have considered participating, but have not done so yet.  If you have not posted your testimonies, pictures, videos, etc. on the event page or main page yet, please do so.  They truly make a huge difference.

This week’s chapter, Hebrews 2, is very powerful, and includes some great verses and subjects, many of which could justify a post all by themselves.  But this week we will be looking at how profound Christ’s sacrifice on the cross really was.  Under the best of circumstances, with the best of intentions, the truth that God the Son chose to humble Himself and die is very difficult to wrap one’s mind around.  It seems we often take it for granted, and treat it in such a light manner that it is clear that we really haven’t considered the implications.  It was not a good man who died on the cross.  It was not a great prophet, or a powerful human ruler.  It was God the Son.  It was our creator and judge, who chose to die and rise to become our advocate. 

When we think about that fact, it should amaze us and humble us.  When we share that truth with others in our evangelism, we should pray that they are impacted by that truth.  Just as God’s nature and character must be at the heart of the preaching of His law to bring the conviction of sin, the preaching of his grace and mercy must be built on the foundation of the deity of Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.  That great truth should impact us daily, and we should pray that we would handle that truth carefully and faithfully, and that it will impact those we talk to as well.  So think about that truth with your reading this week, and preach Jesus Christ, God the Son, crucified for our sin and raised to be our advocate with the Father.  What a great God we serve!!

All for His glory,

Today I will be sharing of the truth of God’s salvation

Reading of His word, words inspired/breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This message, we are told, proved to be reliable, and that is the case

In the passage it says we must pay close attention, lest we drift away

We encourage you to pay close attention, and hear the great gift we have been given

Read Hebrews 2

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

Salvation of men by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice the greatest act since the creation

First, need to understand who man is, and who God is

God is the creator

For whom and through whom all things exist

He created us, and we are His

God is holy.  Perfect, pure, unchanging, and just

Justice means will see that every sin, every breach of His law, will be punished

I must tell the bad news first, but please don’t leave without hearing the good news

Every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution

Man is wicked, evil, sinful, selfish

Man in rebellion against God, does not seek Him
Romans 3 says As it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
                                no one understands; no one seeks for God.
                All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
                                no one does good, not even one.”
                “Their throat is an open grave;
                                they use their tongues to deceive.”
                “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
                                “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
                “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
                                in their paths are ruin and misery,
                and the way of peace they have not known.”
                                “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Look at yourself in light of God’s law, and see if that is true

The law given as a mirror, to show how we reflect God’s holiness

Have you told a lie?  All of us have.

We often treat lies as a small thing, but the Bible says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire

Have you ever stolen?  Even if what you stole was small, it still makes you a thief

No thief will inherit the kingdom of God

Have you committed adultery?  If you have even looked with lust, you have committed adultery in your heart.

You may say that you’ve never done anything really bad, like killing someone

But God’s word says anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life in him

Says anyone who calls someone a fool is in danger of judgment

Every one of us, including me, have sinned more times than we can count

God is a perfect judge, will see to it that all sin is punished perfectly

Bible says sinners will be punished in a place called hell

Weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth.

Fire, pain, and separation from all God’s goodness for all eternity

Even the smallest sin is infinitely sinful against an infinitely holy God

So the punishment and suffering in hell will also be infinite.

That is the bad news.  But there is good news!

Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, bore our suffering

God make the founder of their (our) salvation perfect through suffering

Sin was paid for through His suffering on the cross

This is incredible.  Need to understand how amazing this sacrifice is

Need to remember who made that sacrifice.  God the Son

God said He:
Made Him a little lower than the angels,
Crowned His with glory and honor
Putting everything in subjection under His feet
Nothing outside His control

God made His own Son a sacrifice for sin.
He said:
By the grace of God He might taste death for everyone
Through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil
Deliver those subject to lifelong slavery

God the Son, our judge, became our lawyer before God, our high priest, offering Himself as sacrifice
A faithful high priest in the service of God,
To make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Anyone who repents and trust in Christ alone can receive that propitiation, that satisfaction and payment for sin

Have you done that?  Have you turned from your sin, and put your trust in Christ alone to save you?

Do you desire Christ?  Do you hate sin?

God says he will take out your heart of stone, give you a heart of flesh (Eze 36:25-27)

You will never be perfect, but you will also never be the same

Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.

If you are not, take your eyes off the world and your sin, and fix your eyes on Christ

Today is the day of salvation.

Trust in Christ while He has given you time