Friday, July 27, 2012

Ecclesiastes 9

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray today finds you well.  It has been a very busy, but very blessed, week for my local evangelism team and I.  As I mentioned recently, we helped organize a local evangelism conference in Northern California (the area commonly called the Silicon Valley) this last weekend.  The speakers were Tony Miano (who founded Project Ezra), Andrew Rappaport of Striving for Eternity, and Jeff Rose of Jeremiah Cry Ministries.  Topics included the Holiness of God, the supremacy of Christ in the gospel, the importance of prayer and scripture in evangelism, and many other topics.  It was an amazing time of fellowship and teaching, as well as outreach, and I think God did something very special.  My thanks to those of you who prayed, and to those who attended.  For those of you who couldn’t make it, the conference was videotaped, and we plan to make the audio and video files available in the near future.  I think they will be a blessing to all of you too.  In the meantime, I hope you’ll forgive all the quotes and announcements that I’ve been posting on the group wall on Facebook.

This week we will be reading from Ecclesiastes chapter 9.  As with many chapters there are not direct references to the details of the gospel, but there are still ways to transition into the gospel while being faithful to the original meaning of the text.  God’s nature certainly has not changed, and neither has man’s, so all we have to do is look at the text and see how those truths are presented.  In this chapter there is an emphasis on man’s mortality, and the fact that life on this earth is short.  Never underestimate the impact this truth can have, if presented well.  It also mentions man’s evil nature, so we can use that to address the law and sin.  Finally, it mentions the hope of the living.  It can be very easy (at least for me) to put too much focus on sin and judgment, to the exclusion of the hope of Christ.  Even though the truths of sin and justice are sorely neglected in much of modern Christianity, and thus must be emphasized, the hope of grace through faith MUST permeate our message as well.  To preach one to the exclusion of the other is to be unfaithful to God’s truth.

I pray this week’s outline is a blessing, and that you have many opportunities to share the message of God’s amazing grace.

All for His glory,



This chapter reminds us of our own mortality 

The same events happen to the righteous and the wicked, the good one and the sinner
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  (Matthew 5:45 ESV)

Death comes to all men, despite visible goodness or wickedness

The same event happens to all

Death is promised, tomorrow is not

Where will you go when you die?
                it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

Why do men die?  And why will we be judged?

If God made the world perfect, why so much pain and suffering?

The answer to all these questions is the same.  It is human sin.

This chapter tells us that the hearts of the children of men are full of evil

Madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead

All men are born in sin, and live in rebellion against God

I don’t need to tell you that you have sinned.  Your conscience tells you that.
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)

But it you will look at yourself in the light of God’s law, it will bring that sin into sharper contrast

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)

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)

In truth, all of us have sinned and rebelled against God, more times than we can count

But why the talk of judgment and condemnation?  Isn’t God a God of love?

Jesus and the prostitute.  She came and fell at Jesus’ feet, because she knew her own sin
Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  (Luke 7:47 ESV)

You need to see yourself in truth, what you deserve, and what you need.  You need to see the depth of your own sin

What you deserve, what we all deserve, including me, is justice from God

God is angry with the wicked every day, and our hearts are desperately wicked.
            God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.  (Psalm 7:11 ESV)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV) 

We deserve nothing but hell, an eternity of torment in a lake of fire.

Yes, hell is a really real place.  Put we don’t talk of it because we like the idea of people going there.

We talk about it because we deserve it, but have been saved by a good God

God, by His nature, is just, and will punish sin

But He is also loving, and patient, and kind, and good

He demonstrated the depths of His love in the cross of Jesus Christ
                To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood  (Revelation 1:5 ESV)

Jesus Christ went to the cross, willingly, and took the wrath of God on Himself

He took the punishment we deserve, and paid for the sin of all who come to Him.

If we will repent and trust in Christ alone, then, through His sacrifice, we can be made right with God, washed clean of our sin

The gospel is not a message of judgment, but a message of hope and freedom.

Freedom in not found in ignoring our sins, or denying them, but is found in the forgiveness and mercy of God, in sins paid for by Christ

We are not condemning you.  According to God’s word you already stand condemned
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  (John 3:18 ESV)

But by the grace and mercy of God, you can be forgiven and set free, and while you continue to draw breath, there is hope!

He who is joined with the living has hope

Consider this
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)

It could be that the only reason you are still alive is because God is being patient with you, so that you might repent.

It could be that the only reason I am still alive is so that I can share this message with you.

So please don’t presume on God’s patience

Repent and trust in Christ alone!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Titus 1

Hello all!  I pray that you are having a wonderful day, and are looking forward to sharing God’s incredible gift of grace this weekend.  I’m just finishing up preparations for Norcal Fire, the first local evangelism conference our team is organizing, and I’m very excited to see what God will do.  With that in mind, I’ll try to keep this short, though I hope you will still be encouraged.  Our suggested passage is Titus 1, and much of the greeting by Paul at the beginning of the chapter shows the heart that we should have when we are sharing the gospel.  I pray that it will not only be instructive and convicting to those who hear the word preached, but to us as well.  I look forward to your testimonies, and please be in prayer for the conference.

Introduction – Your name, and about Project Ezra


Much of this message from Paul is the same message we would like to share with you today

Though not apostles, chosen to be used by God to reveal his word, so many of these sentiments describe us

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ
We are here as ambassadors and servants of God and of Jesus Christ

For the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with Godliness
We are here to share the truth of God, that those who will believe will be called to Him

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
We are here to share a message of hope, the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and through Him alone, the promise of God for all those who believe

And at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior
We have been entrusted, by the command of our Savior, to preach His word.  And it is because of His command, and because of our care for you, that we are sharing that word today.

Hold to the trustworthy word as taught, and give instruction in sound doctorine

God’s word is trustworthy, and He cares that His truth is presented rightly. 

It is our responsibility to rebuke those who contradict God’s word.  We have a responsibility to be faithful to Him, and we have a responsibility to tell them, and you, the truth.

Many profess to know God, but deny Him by their works.

Could it be that this describes you?  Do you profess to know God, but prove otherwise by your works?

No man or woman can keep God’s word perfectly, but if your mouth says one thing and your lifestyle says another, you have reason to fear.

God’s word has much to say about hypocricy, and about those who claim to follow Christ but do not.

I am asking you to examine yourself, as God’s word commands, to see if you are in the faith

Take a moment to consider yourself in light of God’s law.  God gave His law to show us what sin is.


Are you living in sin?  Is your life characterized by a daily desire for sin, a desire that you live and love to carry out?

God’s word says the wicked, those who practice sin, will not inherit the kingdom of God
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. 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 6:9-11 ESV)

It tells us that if you continue in your sin while saying you believe, you are a liar and the truth is not in you
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.  (1 John 2:4-6 ESV)

You cannot live in ongoing, unrepentant sin and be right with God
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29 ESV)

But you also cannot live a righteous life on your own, in your own power.

Only through Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, and through His life-changing power, can you be made right with God.
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 2:8-10 ESV)

On the cross Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man (see John 1) suffered under the wrath of the Father, taking on the sin of the world so that by His sacrifice, those who repent and trust in Him could be freed for the curse of sin and death, and brought into a right relationship with God

We worship a living God.  Three days after He died Jesus rose again from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father as our advocate, our lawyer for the Day of Judgment.

When you repent and trust in Jesus Christ alone, through the gift of faith, your sins will be cleansed and you will be seen as righteous before God, because of the righteousness of Christ

My friends, have you done that today?  If not, don’t presume on God’s patience.

None of us is promised a tomorrow, and no earthly thing is worth your soul.

While God has given you time, repent and trust in Christ along, and be saved!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Romans 10

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that you are doing well, and looking forward to another opportunity to share the grace of God through the reading of His word.  Thanks to those of you who participated in First John on July Fourth.  It was a smaller group than expected, but we still had a number of people participate, and heard some great testimonies.  I’ll try to gather some of those together into a recap post and share it soon, but since I am preparing to host a local evangelism conference in just over a week, it may take a bit of time.  I will be trying to keep the posts shorter this week and next for that reason.  However, I have said that in the past, and they’ve ended up long anyway!  We’ll just have to see what God does with it I suppose.

This week our suggested reading is Romans 10.  This chapter is packed with good gospel springboards, so it will not be difficult to find something to preach from.  I’ll give a few examples of the directions I plan to go.  I will be preaching in our local bar and club district this Saturday night, and it is likely I’ll be preaching several times, God willing, so I’m happy for the multiple springboards.  But it would also be easy to put these sections together into one message.  Don’t forget that these suggestions are simply meant to be building blocks to help you prepare your own message, so change it and add to it as the Lord leads.

Regardless of where you start, don’t forget verse 1, that our hearts desire and prayer for them is that they be saved.  It is so important that when people hear us preaching, they hear more than condemnation.  We must never compromise the truth of the judgment and wrath of a holy God, as is so often done in churches these days, but we must never forget that only God’s grace separates us from the depravity we see around us, and we are as deserving of hell as anyone who hears us.  Keeping that in mind will give you a far different perspective when preaching.  It will give you compassion.  As Catherine Booth, who’s husband William Booth founded the Salvation Army, rightly said, If you haven’t got tears in your eyes, let them hear tears in your voice.”  If a Christian can preach the gospel without humility and compassion, they have a very low view of God's holiness and their own sin.

I pray these suggestions are a blessing to you and to those who hear God’s word preached, and I pray that God will be greatly glorified through the salvation of souls this weekend.

All for His glory,



Our hearts desire is that you be saved

And without someone to tell you the truth and wonder of God’s salvation, you are lost

How will they know without a preacher?

Faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ

Sometimes the truth of God’s word is hard, but never for the sake of being hard

We are not here for attention, we are not here to ask for your money, and we are not asking you to join our church

We are here because we were graciously saved by a good God, and we want to see you saved too!

Zeal without knowledge and establishing our own righteousness

But how can you get right with your creator?

Many people believe that they are “spiritual”, and that is enough.  Maybe that is you

These people would say that they are trying to follow God, and that by believing God exists and living a good life, they will be OK

But the spiritual zeal they show is zeal without knowledge

God’s word says they are ignorant of the righteousness of God

It says that seeking to establish your own, they do not submit to God’s righteousness

All man made religions attempt to do just this.  They attempt to establish their own righteousness through good works.

But we cannot establish our own righteousness.  We are all guilty law breakers deserving of judgment, and no amount of good works can remove our guilt

God tells us there is none righteousness, no not one


Christ the end of the law for everyone who believes

The law was fulfilled and justice for law breaking satisfied through Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death.

Righteousness based on the law

Moses righteousness based on the law, the person who does the commandments will live by them

Is your righteousness based on law?

Many faith systems are based on keeping the law, and your standing before God is dependent on your obedience.

Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Mormonism and the faith of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are among them.

But even a cursory look at the Ten Commandments will show us that none of us has truly been obedient


We are all worthy of judgment and hell because of our sins against a holy and just God

But there is a righteousness based on faith

Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, 
you will be saved

The only righteousness that can make us right with God is the righteousness of Jesus Christ

Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

God’s Reaching Out and Man’s Awareness

Some will say that they do not know if God exists, that there is no proof

But God’s word says something very different

It tells us that men are without excuse, and that God’s existence it clear to us

Speaking of the nation of Israel, God says “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient 
and contrary people”

This passage is speaking of the nation of Israel, but the same could be said for all of us

God’s existence is clear, yet we have chosen to ignore or deny Him.

The Bible tells of us suppressing the truth in unrighteousness

We all know God exists, but chose to deny Him

God’s law is written on our hearts, but we choose to suppress it.

Take a moment to look at God’s law and you will see that is true


We have all broken God’s law and our worthy of His judgment

And His word tells us the punishment we deserve for our rebellion is eternity in hell.

But God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live

And we may have life because Christ died to pay the penalty we deserve on the cross

On the cross, justice was satisfied, so we can go free if we will repent, and trust Christ alone

                MAN’S SIN AND THE LAW
                Romans 3:19-20, Exodus 20, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8, Genesis 6:5

                Hebrews 12:14, Exodus 20:5, Habakkuk 1:13, Psalm 17:11

                Matthew 8:12, 10:28, Revelation 21:8, Luke 16:23-31

                Ephesians 2:4, Romans 5:8, John 3:16-18

                1 Peter 3:18, 2:24, Revelation 1:5, Colossians 1:20, 2:13

                Acts 20:21, Acts 3:19, Acts 16:31, Romans 5:1, 10:9