Friday, November 30, 2012

Luke 18

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that you are doing well, and enjoying the days leading up to the celebration of our Savior’s birth.  The season is in full swing here, and by God’s grace I made it through another Black Friday.  I’m very glad it’s over.  With the long hours and exhaustion I wasn’t able to hit the streets for the last couple weeks.  That’s not unusual around Thanksgiving time, but it’s always tough.  This weekend, God willing, I’ll be back out on the streets with my team, and I’m very much looking forward to it.  Our local Christmas carnival area is already packed, so I’m looking forward to the time and praying for divine appointments.  If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check your own area for similar events.  Even if Its a bit of a drive to find a good spot, the opportunity Christmas time provides and the privilege of sharing God’s truth makes it more than worth it.  I look forward to hearing your testimony reports!

This week’s suggested reading is from Luke chapter 18.  I was struck as I read this chapter, as I often am reading the stories and parables Jesus shared, at the contrasts that are presented.  Contrast used in Biblical teaching is not unusual, but when looking at the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, and adding to it Christ’s encounters with the Rich Young Ruler and the Blind Beggar, I noticed something a bit more unusual.  Often the contrasts made are between those who follow God and those who deny and turn from Him.  Though there is a sense in which that is true here as well, all four of these men are, at least to the eyes of those around them, coming to God, not turning from Him.  But Christ’s responses to them are very, very different, and I think this could very well show the difference between those who, in their own pride, come to their religious counterfeit of Christianity as opposed to those who actually come to Christ.

It is common for people to talk about having a relationship with God rather than a religion.  While true Christianity can be rightly seen as both, I think this is an example of where the distinction is important.  With the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, both were, without a doubt, wealthy and prominent members of society.  But when coming before God the Pharisee made the mistake of thinking that the outward appearance that so impressed his fellow man would similarly impress God.  In his prayers he actually laid out for God all the reasons God had for accepting him.  The Tax collector made no such affectations.  He simply cried out for mercy, and God forgave him because of His humility.

The contrast between the Rich Young Ruler and the Blind Beggar is similar.  The Rich Young Ruler came to Christ, asking about the kingdom of heaven, and apparently actually believing that he had adequately followed most aspects of God’s law.  Although he may have lived a life that outwardly looked clean and obedient, none of us is capable of living in obedience to God’s law, and his implication that he had done so was an incredible act of pride.  On our best days we all fall far short of His perfect, holy standards, and this was made clear is the young man’s life when he was told he had to let go of his wealth to follow the Savior.  It was not simply the fact of his money, but the grasp it had on him.  He could not let it go.  The Blind Beggar had no such hindrances.  He had nothing, and therefore had nothing to lose in crying out to God for mercy and healing.  And at the end of their encounter that beggar went away seeing, while the young ruler remained blinded by his wealth, and separated from the grace of God, the only riches he truly needed.

So after you read the passage in the open-air this week, I would encourage you to use these truths as your springboards.  We have many, many people in the modern church doing nothing more than going through the motions.  They play church, working hard to look and sound the part on Sunday mornings, or they talk about being “spiritual” or “religious” for the sake of appearances and respectability, but have no understanding of true faith, no desire for deeper understanding of God’s truth, and no desire to be pushed out of their comfort zones by the public proclamation of the gospel.  They live in service to their idols, convinced that God doesn’t care about their sin.  Those of you who have been on the streets for any length of time have probably had to deal with them.  They are frequent hecklers.  Encourage them to examine themselves in light of scripture, and to come to Christ in humility, trusting in Him alone.  And pray that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

I pray this is a blessing, and will be praying for all of you. 

Dan B.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday and Acts 17

Hello Project Ezra!  Happy (almost) Black Friday.  This week's post will be short, since I will be leaving shortly to head in to work.  For those of you who don't know, I am director or security for a very large mall, so I will be right in the middle of tonight's chaos.  Prayers are very much appreciated.  However, I pray that many of you will be out on the streets, using this tremendous opportunity to share the good news of the gospel.  Dress warmly, and go in a group if you can.  Black Friday can be interesting to say the least.
This week's suggested reading is Acts 17, which includes Paul address in  Athens on the Areopagus.  Just as Paul's heart was provoked by the idolatry he saw, our heart should be similarly provoked when we see the lust and greed that is so evident, on this night more than just about any other.  Like the Greeks, many people these days are always striving after something new, whether it is the newest electronic gadget, the most fashionable bit of clothing for the best price, or the latest piece of gossip on the internet.  All of these can and often are idols, which take the place of the love and devotion we should have for God.  So after reading the passage, here are some good points you could focus on:
Be like the Bereans, and examine the scriptures to see if these things we say are true
The worship of the creation rather than the creator
Things that promise fulfillment, but can never truly satisfy
Our life, breath, and everything else comes from God
Our life is a vapor, and the material things we accumulate can not help us in the next life

God has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man He has appointed.  Of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.

Don't forget to strive and pray for proper balance in your gospel presentation.  The gospel is both justice and wrath, and mercy and grace, and all must be centered on Christ's death and resurrection, and His role as our only mediator before God.

Evangelism Building Blocks
Transition from the natural to the spiritual - The scripture reading does this, and several of the subject areas above lend themselves to this.

God’s law and our sin – Use God’s law to bring conviction of sin, and passages that recognize our sinfulness to reinforce the fact.

God’s justice and the wrath we deserve – Talk about the God as a just judge, who because of his goodness, righteousness and holiness must punish sin.  Talk about what that sin looks like.

Christ’s cross and substitutionary atonement – Show what Christ accomplished on the cross and how that payment of sin can be applied to us.

Repentance and faith – Bring sinners to the foot of the cross and plead with them to turn from sin and trust in Christ alone.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Micah 7

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray you are doing well.  We are heading into the holiday season, and I’m very much looking forward to Christmas in the Park, our local city Christmas event, which will going on from Thanksgiving through the New Year.  I would encourage you to start taking a look around your area, to see what kind of events might be going on, and to plan on attending and inviting others to join you in sharing the gospel .  There are certain times of year that lend themselves to sharing the gospel, and during which it is much easier to start spiritual conversations.  Christmas is obviously one of those times, as are several holidays that cluster around it.  Now is a great time to start planning, so that you and others will have time to put events on your calendar before the other cares and activities of life gobble up all your time, as they inevitably will.  So don’t delay!  Make up your Christmas evangelism calendar now.

This week’s suggested chapter is Micah 7, and I’ve decided to do things a little differently.  The outline below is still rough, and I’ve left it that way deliberately, to give you an idea of the process I use.  When I go through the suggested chapter each week, I first go through it verse by verse, trying to determine which verses or passages lend themselves to a good, Biblical gospel presentation.  Then I go through the building blocks of a gospel presentation and compare them to what I picked, to determine which concepts are and are not specifically addressed by passages in the chapter, and to attempt to add them and present them in a way that is consistent with and compliments the passages I’ve noted.  Finally, I try to arrange the passages and evangelism concepts so that the presentation flows smoothly.  It generally takes a couple of re-writes, and I seldom use all the verses and passages I originally picked, but by God’s grace and through a lot of prayer, it comes together. 

So this week I’ve left more of a rough outline, along with a reminder of building blocks of evangelism, and I would like to encourage you to put together your own outline based on these notes.  Or, you could pick another chapter and try going through the same process from the beginning.  It will force you to think about the passage more deeply, and look for Biblical principles, aspects of God’s character and nature, and the like, which are reflected in the gospel.  This has been a tremendous blessing to me.  Be careful, though, that you read far enough back in the chapter, or even in previous chapters, to insure that the message you see is actually reflected in the passage’s original context.  Regardless of how powerful or clever you think an approach is, if it is not in line with the ideas the author originally intended to convey, it is sinful and dishonors God.

So I look forward to hearing how your preaching goes this weekend, and hope you will share the approach your took on sharing the gospel using Micah 7.  God bless, and may He be honored and glorified in your life today!

All for His glory,                                                                                                                               

The godly have perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind
Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well
The prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul
There is none good, no not one.
No one is upright, for the common man to the leaders in the highest places of government

The world is such a place of sin that you cannot trust your closest friend or your own family
Put no trust in a neighbor, have no confidence in a friend
Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms
The son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises us against her mother
A man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

Our trust is in the Lord to save us.  He is worthy of our faith and trust
As for me, I will look to the Lord.
I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy
When I fall, I shall rise
When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.
I will trust in the Lord to save me

I also am guilty before the Lord due to my sin
I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him  
Until He pleads my case, and executes judgment for me
I have sinned against the Lord.  Will be condemned until He pleads my case

All the nations shall fear the Lord
As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them marvelous things.
The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
They shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf
They shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall be in fear of you.
The nations will fear the Lord

God is a good and merciful God
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of 
his inheritance?
He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. 
You will cast all our sins into the depth of the sea
Though we have sinned, God will pardon our iniquity
Will show His mercy and steadfast love for His remnant

Who is the remnant of God’s inheritance today?
God pardon’s iniquity and passes over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance
Judgment is just, but some receive mercy.
How can we receive mercy?
The Lord will stand in defense of His people.

Evangelism Building Blocks
Transition from the natural to the spiritual - The scripture reading does this, and several of the subject areas above lend themselves to this.

God’s law and our sin – Use God’s law to bring conviction of sin, and passages that recognize our sinfulness to reinforce the fact.

God’s justice and the wrath we deserve – Talk about the God as a just judge, who because of his goodness, righteousness and holiness must punish sin.  Talk about what that sin looks like.

Christ’s cross and substitutionary atonement – Show what Christ accomplished on the cross and how that payment of sin can be applied to us.

Repentance and faith – Bring sinners to the foot of the cross and plead with them to turn from sin and trust in Christ alone.

Friday, November 9, 2012

2 Chronicles 1 - Do You Recognize Your Greatest Need?

Hello all.  The video for this week's suggested reading is below.  My apologies for the delay.  I am part of the management team for a very large mall, and with the Christmas season fast approaching, things get a little crazy.  Hope the outline is helpful, and I will be praying your outreach goes well.  God bless!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Proverbs 16 – The Way that Seems Right

Hello Project Ezra!  It’s been a crazy week, so the outline is shorter, and later, than usual.  My apologies.  Our suggested chapter is Proverbs 16, and this outline is just one suggestion.  There are many passages here that could lead into sharing the gospel, but because of the rampant idolatry here in the States (and everywhere, in truth), I started with Proverbs 16:25, and what a man sees as right leading to his death.  I hope it is a blessing.  Also, please remember to post your pictures and testimonies from Halloween outreaches to the event page on Facebook, if possible.  They are always a huge encouragement.  Thanks!

All for His glory,



There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death

This passage of scripture is the heart of the problem in much of the church, and the world today

Many, if not most, of those who would claim belief in God, and all of those who deny Him, have to some extent created a god in their own image, to suit their sin, twisting God’s truth to their own ends.

Though they claim the best of intentions, God knows better

His word says that men are pure in their own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart

So please don’t make the mistake of proclaiming your own goodness, declaring your motives to be clean, but go to God, and ask Him to judge your heart.

His word says arrogance an abomination to the Lord, he will not go unpunished

It also says that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall

Don’t let your pride……

No man can judge you.  There is only one lawgiver and judge, only one who is able to save and destroy, and it’s certainly not me.

But God has shown me my own sin, and the idols I have created in my own heart

Now by God’s grace I have the privilege of sharing His word, and I encourage you to examine His word, and to examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith.

This chapter tells us that by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil

God talks about evil in His word many times, and about the justice he will deliver against those who have rebelled against Him.

How do we know if we are rebellion against God?

A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it.  Are we deserving of our kings wrath?

Look at the law, which God gave us as a mirror, to show us ourselves in truth


If we look at ourselves in truth, in the light of God’s law, we will see that we are guilty, and deserving of God’s, our king’s, wrath.

God tells us that His wrath will be carried out in a place called hell, a very real place of fire and darkness and pain, where there will be no mercy and no reprieve.

It is a place where people will beg for a single drop of water to cool their tongues.

But though this is what we all deserve for our rebellion against God, He is a God of love and grace, and has made a way for our sins to be forgiven.

2000 years ago God the son became a man, and walked among us

He lived the perfect life that none of us could live, and then was arrested, beaten, and hung to die on a Roman cross

And on that cross the wrath of God, the anger and hatred of God toward sin, was laid on Him so it didn’t have to be laid on us.

God is a God of justice, and could not let sin go unpunished.  So God the Son took that punishment upon Himself.

The creator of all humbled Himself and suffered so that His creation could be set free.

While we were yet sinners, and His enemies, Christ died for us.

There is not greater example of humility, no greater proof of God’s hatred toward sin, and no greater example of His love and mercy toward His children, than the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.

Verse 9 tells us that by steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.  

And God’s steadfast love and faithfulness is the reason He died, that our iniquity could be atoned for.

But Jesus did not stay dead.  As He had prophesied, He rose again three days later.

He ascended into heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

Now, if we would receive His mercy and grace, if we would receive the payment for our sin debt, we must repent of our sin, and put our trust in Christ alone to save us.

Repentance means turning from sin, not perfection, but a change in our direction

And we must trust in Jesus Christ, abandoning any hope in anything other than His sacrifice to save us.

And Proverbs 16 says blessed is he who trusts in the Lord!

My friends, have you done that?  Are you trusting in Christ, and in Him alone, to save you?

If not, I plead with you to do so today.

Life is short, and none of us is promised tomorrow.

Turn to Christ and live, while God has graciously given you time.