Friday, September 21, 2012

Hebrews 10

Hello Project Ezra!  This week’s suggested reading is from Hebrews chapter 10.  This is a great chapter, and the message if vitally important.   It talks about the law of God, not as legalistic rules to be imposed on ourselves or others, but as a foreshadowing of something to come, specifically, the death and resurrection of Christ.  I have found, as I’m sure many of you have, that the majority of professing believers really have no knowledge of the true gospel, and in this area in particular.  When I ask someone I meet on the street how to get right with God, the answer almost always involves good works, following the laws of God.  But Hebrews 10 shows the necessity of Christ’s righteousness rather than our self righteousness as the basis for true salvation.  And that is the purpose of the law.  A man or woman should look at God’s law and despair of ever being able to fulfill it.  It is then that they will see their need for a foreign righteousness, for the salvation only found in the perfect righteousness, shed blood, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I pray that this reading, and the outline below, will help you in communicating this amazing truth this weekend. 

All for His glory,



The message of this passage is vital to understand.

It shows that the most common understanding most people have about getting right with God is absolutely wrong

It tells us that it is impossible to be saved by our own goodness

Many people see the Bible, God’s word, as little more than a book of laws

People believe that by obedience to those laws, or even by their best efforts to follow some of those laws, occasionally, if they agree with them, they will be seen as good enough to be let into heaven

But Hebrews 10 shows us that this is not the case.

In fact, it shows us that is not the purpose of the law

The purpose of the law is to show us ourselves in truth, to show us our sin

The passage says, “The law has but a shadow of the good things to come”

Many, if not most, of the ceremonies God instituted in the Old Testament were not for their own sake, or for the sake of the people of that time, but to point to a future, greater truth, the truth of Christ.

It also says the law “can never, by the same sacrifices continually offered, make perfect those to draw near”

We cannot be saved through obedience to the law.  The law cannot make us perfect, and indeed it is perfection that God requires.

Jesus said “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48 ESV)

It tells us “In these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin every year”

The law is a reminder of sin, and brings us the knowledge of what sin is

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  (Romans 3:20 ESV)

Jesus Himself is seen many times in scripture using law to call people to repentance

With a rich young ruler, who thought he had kept God’s law from his youth, he showed him that His god was his money

In the Sermon on the Mount He reminded the people that sin was not only a matter of action, but of wicked thoughts as well.

With a foreign woman he met at a well, He reminded her that she had five husbands, and was then living with a man who was not her husband.  He used the law to remind her of her sin, and her need of forgiveness

Like those Jesus spoke to, if we look at ourselves in truth we will see the depths of our own sin.


Because we have broken God’s law, we all deserve His wrath.  And God’s wrath will be poured out in place called hell, which He created for the devil and His angels.

Hell is not a place where you can enjoy the pleasures of sin, but a place where all pleasure ceases, where every good thing God has created is stripped away.

There the lost will suffer in darkness and fire and pain for all eternity, as they, and we, deserve for our sins against God’s holiness

There, God’s justice will be satisfied

But though we deserve hell because we could never fulfill the demands of the law of God, Jesus Christ could

Only Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, in thought, word and deed.

Jesus Christ is the final and complete sacrifice for sin, for your sin and for my sin.  Hebrews 10 tells us:
 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
                “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
                 but a body have you prepared for me;
            in burnt offerings and sin offerings
                 you have taken no pleasure.
            Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
                 as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
(Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV)

It also tells us “We have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Christ, once for all”

It tells us “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins”

It says that “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”

And it reminds us to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful”

Does that describe you?  Are you holding fast to the hope of Jesus Christ?

If so, it will be evident in your life. 

Though we can never be saved through the law. Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15)

If you clam faith, walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, but your life didn’t change, you have reason to fear
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? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (Hebrews 10:26-31 ESV)
            If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice
            the truth.  (1 John 1:6 ESV) 

So today, while God has given you time, take your trust off your own works, and your own ability to obey God, and put your trust in Christ alone.

Only by repentance and faith in Christ alone can we be born again, made new creatures.

Only through God’s power will our hearts be changed, and only when our hearts are changed will be able to obey Him.

Cry out to God today, and He will change your heart.  Cry out to God today, and be saved!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Genesis 45

Hello Project Ezra!  This week’s reading, Genesis 45, is part of the story of Joseph and his brothers in the land of Egypt, and is a wonderful reminder of the fact that God knows all and sees all, and that nothing takes Him by surprise.  God knows our past and our future, and though we may experience pain and struggle, every pain has a purpose, and every struggle is toward a greater end, toward God’s glory.  I know there are many things in my life that made no sense at the time I experienced them, but which I can look back at now and see a bit of God’s plan in action.  In fact, I don’t believe that we as Christian believers think about this fact enough, and we certainly don’t express it to unbelievers well enough.    Though we should be careful in how we express this, particularly when dealing with the difficult or painful life experiences of others, we need to tell those who don’t know God that there is a reason for everything that happens.  That doesn’t mean God causes every difficulty, though he certainly allows them, and it doesn’t mean that we should even assume to be able to discern every reason.  But is does mean that we can know that He is trustworthy, and that we can have faith and comfort in that.  After all, sometimes we have to be knocked flat on our backs before we have the common sense to look up to Him.  Let’s pray that through our outreach this weekend, and through God’s revealing of Himself through His word and His Spirit, that those we talk to we see the Savior through their pain and struggle, and turn to Him.

All for His glory,



This chapter demonstrates that nothing happens by accident

This is God’s world, and He orchestrates all things according to His will

Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him into slavery out of jealousy, that what they meant for evil, God meant for good

Nothing happens by accident, and God is never surprised by what we do

God’s nature – omniscient, omnipresent

This is just one example of God taking something evil and turning it to good

Though we don’t know why God does all that he does, we do know that God is trustworthy, and that there is always a reason

And we do know that the cause of evil in this world is not God, but us

When Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, the world was cursed as part of their punishment

Since then, every man and woman has been born naturally inclined toward sin

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  (Genesis 6:5 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)

Why do bad things happen to good people?  They don’t.  They happen to us.

What is good is based on who God Is, on His character and nature.

None of us is good by God’s standards
 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)

If you look at yourself in light of God’s law, you will see that this is true of you, just as it is true of me.

We are not good because we have lied, and God is a god of truth

We are not good because we steal and covet, and although God has graciously given us all we need, we are not happy

We are not good because we commit adultery and look with lust.  But God is faithful to His people and jealous toward them, just as we are to be in worship, and in our love for Him

We are not good because we do not love and honor Him as we should.  Our thoughts and words about Him are often impure and disrespectful, and we do not love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength, as He has commanded, and as we know in our hearts we should do.

In the end we are daily in rebellion against God, worshiping ourselves and our own foolish desires instead of Him.

When we know the law we see that we are guilty before God

The knowledge of God’s law shows us what we deserve – Judgment and hell

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.  (Ezekiel 18:4 ESV)

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.  (Romans 2:4-8 ESV)

Some would say they will be fine when they stand before God, because although they have done bad, God knows their heart

Indeed God does know your heart, and that is NOT a good thing!

God is a good and just judge, and thus will insure that sin is punished

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.  (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV)

But the purpose of the law is not to drive us to despair, but to drive us to Christ. 

By the law we know our sin, and by the law we see our need for a savior.

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.  (Romans 3:19-20 ESV)

It is to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by Christ

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”  (Romans 7:7 ESV)

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  (Galatians 3:24 ESV)

Christ is our only remedy for sin

The penalty for our sin could not be ignored or forgotten, but had to be paid

2000 years ago Jesus Christ paid for the sin of those who would believe in Him on a Roman cross

On that cross, all God’s anger, hatred, and wrath toward sin was poured out on Jesus Christ       
 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
             yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
             But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
             upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
             All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
             and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

Now, if you have repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21), your sins and guilt will be covered by the blood of Christ and God will see you as righteous and good, because of Christ’s righteousness

Is that truth the reason you are here today?  It could be.

Often people ask why God allows things to happen in their lives, and why they have struggle and pain

Nothing takes God by surprise, so there is a reason God allows difficulty

It could be that the things that have happened in your past were specifically to prepare you for today

In fact, it could be that the only reason you still draw breath is because God is being patient with you, that you may come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)

Could be the only reason I am still alive is so that I could be here to tell you

God works all together for good for those called according to His purpose

So regardless of God’s reasons, which I don’t know, He has allowed you to continue living is His world, and has graciously given you time to repent and turn to Him

For God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live (Ezekiel 18:23)

So today, turn and live!  Repent, put your trust in Jesus Christ, and live!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Luke 24

Hello Project Ezra!  Thanks for joining us again this week, as we seek to honor and glorify God through the reading of His word and the sharing of His gospel.  This week’s suggested reading is Luke chapter 24, one of the accounts of Jesus Christ’s appearances after His resurrection.  I decided on this chapter after going through it during my daily readings, when I noticed what I believe was a theme running through the experiences of those mentioned in the chapter.  The Jewish leaders, the two men on the road to Emmaus, and the disciples and those who were with them, did not either see or understand what was happening because they had false presuppositions that colored their beliefs.  Each group had specific expectation, either of what the Messiah would look like, or what He would do.  In the case of the Apostles, Jesus had actually TOLD them He would die and rise in three days, yet instead of waiting at the tomb to rejoice at His resurrection, which would have made sense based on His statements, they were cowering in fear, and in hiding.  In the same way, our presuppositions can blind us and those we meet to the truth, particularly to the truth of our own sin.  So, using these circumstances as an example, let’s encourage people to examine their presuppositions carefully, and to listen to their God-given conscience, so they may see themselves, and God, in truth.

All for His glory,



Tells the story of Jesus’ appearances after the resurrection

Many people who witnessed the life and ministry of Jesus Christ saw Him after He rose

But for various reasons they either didn’t see the truth, or didn’t expect what happened

Missed what was right in front of them.  They were either unable, or unwilling, to see the truth

In the end, all were without excuse

Praying you will not do the same

Jesus Christ the most unique, and often the most misunderstood, individual who ever lived.

He created controversy throughout His life, and even through His death

Many of those who saw Him missed who and what He truly was, because they were blinded by presuppositions and personal agendas

The Jewish leaders blinded by jealousy and greed

They expected a Messiah that would be like them, a legalist

They were so focused on the law that even when seeing great miracles, they tried to silence Him, because He didn’t fit their agenda

Claimed the body stolen from the tomb, a story carried down to this day.

They knew it wasn’t true, but maintaining their power and pride were more important than the truth

The eleven disciples and those with them didn’t believe despite being told specifically what would happen by Jesus Himself, time after time

They had been told by Christ that He would be handed over to the Jews, would die, and would rise on the third day

That didn’t fit their traditional framework.  They though Jesus would be made king, so when He was 
killed they despaired and hid themselves, and wouldn’t even believe the eyewitness testimonies of friends

Jesus had to appear to them in person before they believed

Two on road to Emmaus did not understand because like many in Israel, they had a false idea of what Messiah would do

They expected a conqueror/redeemer to free them from the rule of the Romans

Didn’t see the truth that Jesus came to free from the bondage of sin until He explained it to them again, though it was clear from Isaiah 53 and other passages.

Have you missed the truth of who Jesus is?  Many in our day have.

If you are to be made right with God, you need to reexamine your presuppositions, the beliefs you use to test truth.

God’s word is very specific regarding the truth about who He is, and who Christ is.

Not one god, or one prophet, among many.  There are not many roads to God

One name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Not a matter of opinion, a matter of truth

No other faith will do, and your sincerity doesn’t matter!

Christ is totally unique.  God in human flesh (John 1)

Lived the perfect life, and because the perfect sacrifice for sin

We need that sacrifice desperately, because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Blinded by sin, but our conscience bears witness

Listen to your conscience in light of God’s law, and see what it says about your true condition before Him


God good and holy, and we are not

A good God and just judge MUST punish sin

We are deserving of nothing but  judgment

The Bible says the punishment we deserve for our sin is eternity in hell

Hell is not a place where you will be allowed to enjoy the pleasures of sin, and is not ruled by the devil

It is ruled by God, and Satan doesn’t want to be there either.  It was created for his punishment

Hell is described as a place of fire and outer darkness, where sinners will be separated from all of God’s goodness and will be under the weight of His wrath for eternity

That is what I deserve, and what you deserve, but I don’t want to go there, and I’m sure you don’t either

That is the bad news.  But the gospel is good news, a message of hope

The good news is that though we are dead in sin, we can be made alive in Christ, who died that sin could be paid for and we could be set free (Colossians 1, 2)

Scripture tells us without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22)

By Jesus Christ’s broken body and shed blood our sin is paid for

Jesus, God in human flesh, came to earth 2000 years ago, and lived the perfect life we could never live

Then He willingly went to a Roman cross, and when He was on that cross the wrath of the Father was poured out on Him, so it did not have to be poured out on us.

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

He proved who He was, and demonstrated His power over death

As He said, He had the authority to lay His life down, and He had the authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18)

Now He sits at God’s right hand, as our advocate (1 John 2:1-2)

If we will do as the Bible says, repent and trust in Christ alone, then when we stand before God on judgment day instead of seeing our sin, He will see Christ’s righteousness laid to our account.

But more than that, we will be transformed by God.  Our hearts and desires will be changed, and we will be conformed to Christ’s image (Romans 8:28-30)

When we repent or our sins and put our trust in Christ alone our heart and our desires change

Salvation is a supernatural act of God

Apart from God we are spiritually blind, not capable of understanding or knowing God (John 9:35-41)

But through repentance and faith God opens our eyes, changes our hearts (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

We all need to be born again, made new creations in Christ (John 3, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you have not done this, or are not sure, please do so today

Find a place to be alone with God, or call out to Him right where you are

Confess your sins, turn from your sins, and trust in Christ to save you

Do it today, while God has graciously given you time.