Hello Project Ezra, and welcome to our new members! Our project founder Tony posted information regarding the project to his Facebook page, and we got a number of new member requests. Thanks Tony! For those of you who are new, here’s a little background on the group. Our focus is encouraging and equipping believers in Christ to share the gospel through public scripture reading. Each week I, or one of the other administrators, pick a chapter from a different section scripture, based on a Bible reading system from Professor Grant Horner (the link is below). Then I give some suggestions on how you can use the reading of that passage to transition into a gospel presentation. I will also occasionally share videos, pictures, and testimonies of other member’s experiences with their Project Ezra readings. Members also frequently post them on our Facebook page. So, for an idea of what the project looks like in practice, check out our group wall, or take a look at our last participation report here:
Grant Horners Bible Reading System (I use this system for my own reading, and it is excellent!)
This week our suggested reading is Proverbs chapter 1. We visited this chapter just over a year ago, and it is certainly worth visiting again. And once again, our focus will be on the character and nature of God, and its consistency. There are many chapters in the Bible where the gospel is not addressed directly, and it would be difficult to find it there without wrenching the chapter out of context. However, God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and if we look at what His word tells us about who He is, and who we are, both truths naturally lend themselves to sharing the gospel. In particular, I will be focusing on the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom. Everyone is happy to remind us that God is love, but what about the fear of God? It is vital that we have a full understanding of His character and that we share this when we preach the gospel.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE PROJECT
READ PROVERBS 1
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This phrase appears several times in God’s word.
Have you ever thought about that?
We always hear that God is love, and that is very true. He is love.
But His word does not show us that His sense of morality is one dimensional. Nor should we expect it to be.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
We should fear God. We should fear Him because of His holiness, and His glory.
Even the greatest heroes of the Bible fell on their faces, trembling, at the smallest glimpse of who He truly was
We should fear Him because of His power and majesty. He spoke the world into existence, and was and is His to command.
But power is not a fearful thing, unless you are at odds with it.
This is where our greatest fear should lie. God is good, and we are not.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one. (Psalm 14:1-3 ESV)
Because God is good, He is also just, and will see that justice is served.
Because He is good, He will not leave the guilty unpunished. (Exodus 34:7)
And we are all guilty, rebels against God and His law.
Hear what this passage says about men
It says their feet run to evil
It says they make haste to shed blood
Another passage tells us that we are by nature children of wrath
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)
And because of our rebellion, our love for our own sin, we wait for our own blood, and set an ambush for our own lives.
Look at yourself in light of God’s law, and you will see that this is true
SPEND SOME TIME OPENNING UP GOD’S LAW. THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE A GOOD, SIMPLE PLACE TO START, ALTHOUGH THERE ARE OTHER PASSAGES (Revelation 21:8, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) THAT AREA ALSO USEFUL. CHALLENGE PEOPLE. BE COMPASSIONATE, BUT BE DIRECT. DON’T SOFTEN THE MESSAGE.
HAVE YOU TOLD A LIE? EVEN A SMALL ONE? TOLD A HALF-TRUTH? IF IT’S HALF THE TRUTH, WHAT IS THE OTHER HALF? LITTLE WHITE LIES? ITS EASY TO CALL THEM SMALL IF THEY’RE NOT TOLD TO YOU.
HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN? EVEN IF IT’S SMALL? A PEN FROM WORK? ANSWERS FOR A TEST FORM THE CHILD NEXT TO YOU? MUSIC FROM THE INTERNET? CANDY FROM YOUR BROTHER OR SISTER’S EASTER BASKET? (THAT GETS ALMOST EVERYONE!)
HAVE YOU USED GOD’S NAME IN VAIN? THIS MEANS USING IT LIGHTLY OR DISRESPECTFULLY, OR IN PLACE OF A CURSE WORD. IF SO, YOU HAVE TAKEN THE NAME OF THE GOD WHO GAVE YOU LIFE, AND BROUGHT IT DOWN TO THE LEVEL OF A FOUR-LETTER FILTH WORD TO EXPRESS DISGUST. THIS IS ALSO CALLED BLASPHEMY.
EVER LOOKED WITH LUST? JESUS HIMSELF SAID THIS WAS THE SAME AS ADULTERY. DEPENDING ON THE VENUE, YOU CAN OFTEN REMIND PEOPLE THAT THEY HAVE LIKELY LUSTED IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES. WITH MEN IN PARTICULAR, THIS IS ALMOST ALWAYS TRUE.
IF SOMEONE THINKS THEY’VE NEVER DONE ANYTHING REALLY BAD, LIKE KILLING SOMEONE, REMIND THEM THAT THE BIBLE SAYS ANYONE WHO HATES HIS BROTHER IS A MURDERER, AND NO MURDERER HAS ETERNAL LIFE IN THEM.
These are hard words, but so important. If you don’t see the truth of your own sin, you will not see your need to be saved from them.
And that is what we need, to be cleansed of our sins.
That is what happened when Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross 2000 years ago
In fact, that is what the Bible is about. It is about God being glorified in our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
The cross is the perfect demonstration of both God’s mercy and His love.
Because God is just and righteous he poured out all His anger and wrath and hatred toward sin on Jesus Christ
Jesus, fully God and fully man, and more valuable than the rest of creation combined, could pay the infinite price for our infinite sin.
And by that act of love, we can be cleansed of our sins and be seen as right before God.
But Jesus Christ did more than die. Three days later He rose again, as He had prophesied He would, and the Bible says He is now seated at God’s right hand, as our advocate, our lawyer for the Day of Judgment.
So if we will do as scripture tells us, if we will repent, turn from sin, and trust Christ alone, then we will be seen as righteous, morally right, before God when we stand before Him on judgment day.
This passage of scripture says that God’s wisdom calls for us
It tells us to turn at His reproof and He will pour out His spirit on us, and will save us.
But many will not. This chapter also describes those who will not listen to God’s wisdom calling them to repentance and the terrible consequences.
It says we refused to listen, and would have none of His reproof
Because of this terror strikes like a storm
Calamity comes like a whirlwind
Distress and anguish come upon you
They will call and there will be no answer
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they despised His reproof
They will eat the fruit of their way. The simple are killed by their turning away, the complacency of fools destroys them.
Do not be simple and foolish. Be wise and fear the Lord. But more than that, trust in the Lord.
Turn from your sin and turn to Jesus Christ. Only through Him can you be saved
And time is short. None of us is promised tomorrow.
Turn to Christ today while He has graciously given you time!