Hello Project Ezra! Believe it or not, this is our 200th post! It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but since this group was started by Tony Miano back in 2009, following the first Mission Good Friday, a lot has happened. It has been a true blessing to me. It has forced me to grow, and to dig deeper into scripture than I ever had before. I am often amazed at the treasures hiding in portions of scripture seldom read by most church-goers. I know there have been many who have been encouraged over these several years, but I am sure I have been much more encouraged by the faithfulness many of you have shown, and the testimonies you have shared. I pray that this will just the beginnings of a group that will last for many more years to come, and by which God will call many more laborers into the harvest fields.
We have one of our major events taking place at the end of this month, our yearly Halloween outreach. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that at this time of year sin is very often celebrated, with all varieties of sexual immorality and all thinks dark and terrible are given center stage and being glorified. I hate Halloween, but I love the opportunity it provides to share the gospel. I would encourage you to start inviting friends now, and to start checking local newspapers and news websites for information on Halloween activities, parties, and haunted houses. All will provide ample opportunity for tracting, one-on-one conversations, and open-air preaching. I believe scripture reading is particularly powerful in such circumstances, and we will be reading from the book of Revelation, as usual. This is the type of outreach I would not suggest taking on alone. Christ send his disciples out two by two for a reason, and particularly around Halloween people’s inhibitions often disappear, not to mention many people in masks. So do be careful and bring backup. I’ll have more details on the event up here and on Facebook soon.
As some of you likely know, Project Ezra founder Tony Miano has now moved into missionary work as a full time public evangelist and open air preachers. I would highly encourage you to consider supporting him as His family as they follow the Lord’s calling on his life. Tony’s ministry has been a great blessing to me, and I’m sure to many of you, so at the very least, please be in prayer for the Miano family. And if it is possible, please consider supporting him yourself, or asking your church to take him on as a supported missionary. He is also available for speaking engagements. His web site is http://www.crossencounters.us/.
This week we will be reading the first and second chapter of 2nd Thessalonians. It’s another powerful reminder of the truth of God’s judgment, and the fact that unbelief is not primarily an intellectual problem, but a moral problem. People reject God because they hate His law and love their own sin, not because they don’t know Him or about Him. The scriptures say exactly the opposite, that we all know Him and are without excuse, and it’s not hard to find that truth in conversations with those who have rejected Christ.
I vividly recall a conversation two friends and I had with a couple young men, a few months ago while sharing the gospel in a local town center. The young men, one of whom professed to be a believer while the other did not, where going to a local night spot specifically for the purpose of drinking heavily. They were very open to conversation and we spent an hour or more going through the gospel in depth, and reminding them of the seriousness of their condition before God. Finally, one of the young me (who did not profess Christ), after stating that he believed everything we had said was true, thanked us very kindly and very sincerely for our time, and stated that he was going to get drunk anyway. He knew he was in sin, he knew the terrible consequences if he died in his sin that night, but he loved his sin too much to turn from it. He loved his sin more than he loved or feared God, and that is exactly the condition of most of our world.
So this weekend, I pray that the Holy Spirit will work through the reading of and preaching of His word, and that, by His grace, a few like these young men might be brought to a saving knowledge of Him. I will be praying for you all, and I look forward to hearing what God does.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE PROJECT
READ 2 THESSALONIANS 1 AND 2
In this passage we hear about the return of Jesus Christ, and His judgment
We are told of those that are perishing refused to love the truth and be saved
More frighteningly , we are told that because of their rejection on God’s truth, God will drive them into further deception
God tells us that those who did not believe the truth, and took pleasure in unrighteousness, will be given a strong delusion, so that they will believe a lie, in order that they may be condemned
Why do so many people reject God and His word?
God is not rejected or ignored because of lack of evidence, or knowledge
People reject the truth of God because they want to, because they love their sin
I would ask you to consider your own heart. Does this describe you?
That truth is between you and God. I am not your judge.
But I pray that you will look at yourself in truth, and in light of God’s truth, so that you will not be driven into further deception
God’s word tells us every one of us has knowledge of Him, and has no excuse in denying His existence
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. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)
This perfectly describes what many people do in denying God
God also tells us he has written His law on our hearts
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Romans 2:15 ESV)
So look at yourself in light of that law, and that knowledge, and see yourself in truth
God’s word tells us all have sinned and fallen short of His glory
And all sin is primarily against God, and is a denial of His rule over our lives
We deny God to escape the guilt of our lies. But the God of truth is not fooled. We are only lying to ourselves.
We are thieves, not only stealing from those around us, but stealing glory from God by denying Him and our duty to worship and serve Him
Just as we look with lust and thus commit adultery in our hearts, we are also unfaithful to the God who gave us life, and by whose mercy we are given all good things.
When we hate, and thus commit murder in our hearts, we are taking something that is not ours to take, but which belongs to God.
And as James 2:10 reminds us that if we fail in one point of His law, we are guilty of breaking all of it.
In truth, we are all guilty before God, and though the God of the Bible is loving, patient and forgiving, He is also a God of wrath and justice.
This passage tells us of God’s justice. Jesus Christ will descend from heaven in flaming fire with an army of mighty angels, and will inflict vengeance on those who are in rebellion against Him
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 10:30-31 ESV)
But because of God’s patience and love, He provided a way for us to escape his righteous vengeance, and to be cleansed of our sin.
That way is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus Christ, God the Son, though He is the deliverer of the judgment of God, is also our one escape from it.
2000 years ago He humbled himself, took on human flesh, and came to live among us
He lived the absolutely perfect life that none of us could live, fulfilling God’s law in every detail.
Then He went to a Roman cross, not by force, but willingly
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, Jesus blood was shed as payment for sin.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
Jesus died a horrible bloody death on a Roman cross, then was laid in a borrowed tomb.
But three days later, He rose again from the dead, proving His power over death and proving who He was
He now sits at the right hand of the Father as our advocate, or lawyer for the Day of Judgment.
And if we will repent, or turn from our sins, and put our trust in Him, and in Him alone, then we will be cleansed of our sins by the power of His blood, and will be see at righteous because of His righteousness.
So now, while God has graciously given you time, turn from your sin, and your rebellion, and fix your eyes on Christ.
Only He was truly God and truly man. Only He lived the perfect life none of us could ever hope to live.
Only He laid His life down for our sake. And only He rose again to stand for us in the courtroom of God.
So turn today and put your trust in Jesus Christ to save you.
Today is the appointed time, today is the day of salvation. So turn today, and be saved!