Hello Project Ezra! Thanks for joining us again this week in sharing God’s word through the public reading of scripture. If this is your first time reading this blog, or considering reading God’s word in public, we want to be an encouragement to you. There is nothing more important than giving glory to God through sharing His message of grace, and I believe there in no more appropriate and effective way to do so than the reading of His word. Not everyone is called to be a street preacher, as I believe I am, but everyone can stand up and read the Bible. And when we stick to what God has said in His word, it is hard to go wrong. The concept may seem odd at first, and it may seem like you are making a spectacle of yourself by reading God’s word aloud in public. But the gospel has always been a spectacle, and will always be off-putting to some, because of what the message is, and we need to be willing to stand for our faith regardless of what people and culture think of it. I believe that in itself, and the confidence we can gain for sharing our faith, is enough reason for public evangelism and scripture reading. Add to that the fact that sharing the faith in the public square has, for the last 2000 years, been not only a common means, but the primary means, of the word going out into the world, and the choice becomes obvious.
A great way to start is through one of our major reading events, like Sermon on the Mount Saturday, which will take place next weekend. For this event we will be reading Matthew 5 through 7, and since these are longer chapters, it is easy to break the reading down into smaller pieces, and have several people participate. If you join us regularly, be sure to invite a few friends, whether to read or just to pray and pass out tracts and Bibles. I have seen many times when people who didn’t plan to end up reading a chapter anyway, and it is always an encouragement to them. I will have the Facebook event up in the next day or two, and will be putting together a participation map, as I did recently for Mission Good Friday. Please let us know where you will be participating by posting your location on the event wall or on the main group page, if you can. Also please repost the event and invite your friends. Social media, like Facebook, is a great way to do this.
This week we are reading from Judges chapter 6, part of the story of Gideon. In this chapter, once again the nation of Israel has rebelled against God, and God has allowed them to be punished for their disobedience. Then He called Gideon as His means of delivering them from the Midianites. This is another example of both God’s wrath and judgment and his mercy and grace being demonstrated in the same chapter. People have a tendency to focus on one or the other of these truths, depending on whether they want to reject God entirely, and thus characterize Him as a tyrant, or want to claim His name and hold onto their sin, in which case He is presented as all mercy and love. But neither view is faithful to His word. We need to look at the entirety of His character, and we need to present Him to others the way He presents Himself. If we have repented of our sin and trusted in Him, then we have no need to worry about His judgment. But for those who don’t know Him, if they do not come to understand their own sin, and the wrath they deserve because of that sin, they can never come to true repentance. So in the outline below I have attempted to emphasize understanding the truth of God’s nature and character, and using that as a springboard into his law, and then grace. I pray that it is a blessing.
All for His glory,
READ JUDGES 6
What is God like, and how do you know?
Most important thing you can know
What God is like and what He expects of us has everything to do with our standing before Him on the Day of Judment
Is He a God of love and mercy, or a God of justice and wrath?
What does this chapter tell us about God’s character?
This chapter, like many others, tells us that He is both
A God of wrath and justice
Also God of mercy and love
God allowed Israel to suffer due to their disobedience
Chose to deliver them, through Gideon, according to his mercy and according to His promises
Everything God does, or allows to happen, is for a reason
That reason may not always make sense to us, and may not be what we expect or like
Don’t make the mistake of judging God as if He were man
Don’t make the mistake of deciding what He would do based on what you would do
Don’t act on what you would like God to do
Act based on what God says He will do!
God is completely consistent in His character, and always keeps His word
Keeps promises for good, promises for judgment
Don’t be surprised when the judgment He has promised arrives
Don’t make the foolish mistake of ignoring the parts of the Bible that are unpleasant
It is foolish to ignore difficult truths
But God says He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and neither do we
We don’t want to see that judgment fall on you
Here to tell you truth of the coming judgment, so you can repent and turn to Christ
Do you think about judgment?
Most people don’t because they think, if heaven exists, they are good enough to get in on their own
Most people believe in their own goodness. Is that you?
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
(Mark 10:18 ESV)
God’s standard of goodness, His law
Shows us ourselves in truth. The mirror of the law to reveal sin
Take the time to look in that mirror.
One verse says the law was put in charge, or made our schoolmaster, to lead us to Christ
Learn from that Schoolmaster. Hear what he says.
GO THROUGH THE LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
As the nation of Israel was deserving of judgment and wrath in the book of Judges, so are we
God has given us His word, the evidence of His creation, and the inner voice of conscience, His law written on our hearts
We have chosen rebellion against Him
He is a perfect, holy judge. Will punish our sins perfectly
Bible calls the place of punishment hell
Describes it as a place of fire, pain, and despair
A place of darkness, where there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8)
If God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell, He will certainly do the same for us (2 Peter 2)
In our hearts, we all know that is what we deserve
We are not here to just to preach about judgment and hell, but to preach about the hope, the one hope, of escaping God’s judgment and wrath
The one and only hope found in the blood of Jesus Christ
God is a just and holy God, and thus sin could not be ignored, but had to be paid for
And just as the blood sacrifices in the Jewish temple had to be perfect and spotless, the sacrifice that cleansed our sins had to be perfect and sinless
That is why Jesus Christ, God the Son, took on a human nature, and came to earth
He lived a perfect life that no other human being could live
Then He willingly went to a Roman cross. He laid His life down of His own free choice
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18 ESV)
On that cross His blood was shed, God’s wrath was poured out upon Him, and our debt was paid
Then, as was His right, three days later He took up his life again, and is now seated at God’s right hand
He is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2)
Only through Him can we be made right with God
So as Gideon did in Judges 6, tear down your idolatrous altars
Repent of your rebellion against God
Turn from sin, from those things that God hates
Put your trust in Christ and His sacrifice to save us
Not just a choice to try to do better, but a supernatural change of heart
God takes out our heart of stone, gives us a heart of flesh (Ez 36:25-27)
Puts His Spirit within you, and you will never be the same
Turn to Christ today, while He has graciously given you time, and live!
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF TO THE BIBLE VERSES LISTED HERE. USE AS MUCH SCRIPTURE AS POSSIBLE WHEN SHARING THE GOSPEL, SO IT IS CLEAR THAT THE MESSAGE IS GOD’S, AND NOT YOURS. TRY TO MAKE SCRIPTURE MEMORY A REGULAR PART OF YOUR LIFE. IT WILL BE A HUGE BLESSING TO YOU.