Friday, December 28, 2012

Christ's First and Second Coming - Revelation 19

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray that your Christmas outreach time was fruitful and encouraging.  I am hoping we will have enough pictures and stories to put together an outreach update as an encouragement to others.  So, if you have not shared with the group yet, please consider doing so.  Our local team headed out several times last weekend at Christmas in the Park here in San Jose.  It was cold and wet, but there were still many thousands of people out enjoying themselves with family and friends, and we had many opportunities to share the good news, both through open-air preaching and through one-on-one conversations.  There is very likely a similar opportunity in your area  between now and New Years, so keep your eyes and ears open, and be sure to share your experiences on the event wall on Facebook if you can.

This week I wanted to suggest a chapter that was a counterpoint to the Christmas story that we read last week.  The Christmas story is wonderful, but people can get so lost in the warm feelings from pictures of a baby in the manger that they forget that is only part of the story.  Jesus Christ was born, died, and rose again for our salvation, and there has never been a greater gift or greater sacrifice since the world began.  But he will also be coming back, and when He does those who have rejected Him will receive the just punishment that they deserve, that truly we all deserve.  Though no one knows the day or the hours, His second coming is imminent, and we need to be warning people of it.  And whether Christ comes back today or a thousand years from now, every one of us will stand before Him one day.  Many people die at times and in circumstances that they don’t expect, and none of us is promised tomorrow.  That truth should, by God’s grace, give us a sense of urgency to share His truth, and should give those who don’t know Him a greater desire to hear His word and know His truth.

I’ll be praying for you all as you go our this weekend, and would appreciate your prayers as well.  Our team members (different people different days) will be out Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Please pray that we will be faithful to God’s truth and that His Spirit will work powerfully to convict and draw people to Himself.  God bless.

All for His glory,



Last week many of us celebrated the coming of the Messiah, God the son

We celebrated the love and mercy of the creator of the universe, who humbled Himself, took on human flesh, and died for the sake of His children

We celebrated the greatest gift, and greatest sacrifice, the world has ever seen. 

We have probably all heard the Christmas story at one time or another.  Some believe it, and some don't

But this is only part of the story of the Messiah.

Jesus Christ, the baby born in a manger, born to die on a cross for sin, will be coming again

The first time He came so that all who trust in Him should be saved.

The second time He will come to take them home, and to bring justice on those who are in rebellion against Him.

Those who are His will rejoice and exult, and give Him glory

Those who are not He will make war on, and they will be trodden under His feet.

Which of these two are you?  Are you a child of God, or are you His enemy?

If you reject the true God of the Bible in favor of another so-called god, or for an image of Him you have created in your own image, you are not His child, but His enemy
Idolatry is condemned throughout God’s word, including in His Ten Commandments

My glory I will not give to another.  (Isaiah 48:11 ESV)

If you lie to others, believing your dishonesty is a small thing that God will pass over, you only lie to yourself, and again prove yourself His enemy
Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.  (Proverbs 12:22 ESV

If you misuse His name, as a curse word or expression of disgust, or if you treat His holiness and glory lightly, then you are a blasphemer, and are once again His enemy
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.  (Exodus 20:7 ESV)


Many will treat God’s commands lightly, since everyone sins, and no one is perfect

Indeed we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  I know I have

But that does not give anyone the right to willfully chose sin, and to continue living in it
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)

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.  (Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV)

There are many who now name Christ’s name who will find themselves His enemy at the second coming.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”  (Revelation 6:15-17 ESV)

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 even though we are told that we are by nature children of wrath, there is a remedy.

The same Jesus who will come to judge the living and the dead, and who will rule the nations with a rod of iron also shed His own blood so that men could be redeemed.

2000 years ago Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man and without sin, came to earth, lived a perfect life we could never live, and then died a perfect death as payment for sin.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit  (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.   (Romans 3:23-25 ESV)

Through Christ’s death on the cross sin is paid for, and those who trust in Him are set free.

But Jesus did not only die for sin.  He rose again, and now sits at God’s right hand, where He will speak in defense of those who have repented and trusted in Him, and in Him alone
            No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  (Luke 13:3 ESV)
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19 ESV)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 ESV)

So today, will you trust in Him, or continue in your rebellion against Him?

God tells us that He is not slow in keeping His promises, but is patient, not wanting any of His children to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)

It could be that the only reason He has allowed you to live, and to be here today, is so that you would hear this message, and have this time to repent and trust in Him

So do not presume on His patience.  Turn and trust Him today!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Project Ezra - The True Gift of Christmas 2012

Hello all!  I pray that you reading this means you are considering joining us for this year’s True Gift of Christmas reading, now in its fourth year.  As most of you know (though some may not), Project Ezra is a group dedicated to encouraging, equipping, and mobilizing born again followers of Christ, from around the world, to read the Word of God in public, and what better time to do so than Christmas! Although many, if not most, cities and towns in our country have some kind of community Christmas (or “Holiday”) gathering or fair, these celebrations, which have all the trappings of the Christmas season, have often nearly or completely lost the essence of what the season should be; a celebration of the birth of Christ. Some cities have banned religious (Christian) displays such as Nativity scenes on public property, and those who have not have often pushed them to the periphery, or buried them behind piles of tinsel, pretty lights, and plastic Santas. Those of us whom God has called to evangelistic ministry (and really, that is ALL Christians to one extent or another) need to be looking for creative ways bring the focus of the Christmas season back to where it belongs.

In an effort to do so, Project Ezra will have a very special reading event for this, and we hope many more, Christmases to come. We are encouraging Project Ezra members to gather a team to read the entire Gospel of John in public in the weeks before Christmas.

First, choose a public area in your town or city at or near a popular Christmas events. This could be a fair, a parade, outside your local mall on weekends, or any other place that will draw groups of people. You know your area, so pick a place you would want to visit with your friends and family.

Second, get together a group of like-minded believers to participate with you. This is the ideal time to get additional people involved, since the reading will be long and can be easily divided up. Call Christian friends and family, and see about announcing it in church on Sunday.

Bring a small ladder or box to stand on, and consider making a sign stating the name of our group and what you will be reading for listeners who arrive mid-reading. You may or may not use amplification, depending on personal preference and local laws.

Be sure to spend time in prayer as a group before you start!

Read the Christmas story.  The suggested passages, in order, are
John 1:1-18, Luke 1:1-80; Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-38, and Matthew 2:1-23.  Consider picking one translation that everyone will read from so the reading flows more smoothly. You also might want to consider printing the reading in larger type and putting in into a binder that can be handed from one participant to another. If you will be out in the evening, consider the lighting level too.  You may need a reading light.

If you have a more experienced open-air preacher in your group (or even if you don’t) consider following the reading with a simple gospel presentation

Make sure you have plenty of tracts and bibles to hand out!

The event is up on our Facebook page here:, and we are putting this note to our blog as so you have someplace to send your friends for more info. Please let us know your thoughts, be sure to RSVP the event.  We look forward to lots of pictures, video, and stories!

All for His glory,

Friday, December 14, 2012

Awake, O Sleeper!

Hello Project Ezra!  We’re getting closer to Christmas, and as shopping and holiday events get bigger and busier, we are seeing more and more opportunities for public evangelism in our area.  I’m sure the same is true where most of you are, so if you haven’t noticed those opportunities, start looking around!  There are a few times of year where people are particularly cognizant of spiritual things, and this is certainly one of them.  With a smile and a “Merry Christmas” it’s very easy to give out tracts.  So if you have been watching and reading, but not participating lately, now is the time to step out in faith.

This week’s reading is Ephesians 4:17 through 5:21.  It’s one of those passages that I’m not sure I agree with the chapter divisions, since some of the streams of thought seem to be broken up a bit.  So, when I was reading through the book I decided to use the passages that fit together better.  In particular I was struck by the chapter 5, verse 14, which tells those asleep in sin to arise and turn to Christ.  Indeed, outside of faith in Christ we are not merely sick, but dead in our trespasses and sins, and only through faith in Him can we be brought to life. 

So that is our message this week, and I pray it is a blessing.  I will also be putting up a Facebook event for our Christmas reading in the next few days, so please be looking for that, and invite your friends.  God bless and have a great weekend!
All for His glory,

Read Ephesians 4:17 – 5:21

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!

This passage tells us that we are asleep and need to awake to the truth of Christ.

Many of you are asleep today, even as you walk

You, as all natural men, are blinded and lulled into unconsciousness by the works of sin and the devil

Your lusts and desires have enslaved you.  You are bound, enslaved to sin.

Romans 6:16 asks Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  (John 8:34 ESV)

The descriptions in this passage of Ephesians are frighteningly accurate.

They say that for many of you, your understanding is darkened.  You are alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in you, due to your hardness of heart.

You have become callous and have given yourself up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

If you look at God’s Commandments you will see that you, like every other person here, are a guilty lawbreaker before God.


Because of our sin we are at enmity with God, and through our sin we are in rebellion against Him

God’s word tells us that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God

It says the sin and impurity you serve, and run after, will eventually kill you.

God is a holy God, and a God of justice.  Therefore His eyes are too pure to look on evil, and He will not leave the guilty unpunished.  (Habakkuk 1:13, Exodus 34:7)

God is not unreasonable, not arbitrary.  His justice, and an eternity of punishment in a place called hell, is exactly what we deserve.

Eternal punishment and separation from all God’s goodness is what every one of us deserves

We all know we have sinned.  God’s law written on our hearts.  (Romans 2:15)

Not the way you learned in Christ!

Jesus came into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  (John 3:17)

And Jesus, who was God in human flesh, saved all those who trust in Him through His blood, shed on the cross

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

Those who will repent and trust in Him, as the Bible commands us to do, will be transformed by the Holy Spirit, brought into a new relationship with God through Christ, and their heart and desires changed by God.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  (Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV)

Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.

Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness

Repent, and trust is Jesus Christ to save you from your sins.  Trust in the incredibly loving sacrifice that He made on the cross, that all those who trust in Him should be saved.

1 John 3:1 - See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and give himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God

God’s word tells us that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the turn and live. (Ezekiel 18:23)

Turn and live today!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Genesis 4

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray you are all doing well and enjoying the Christmas season.  This week’s recommended reading is Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel.  It is a powerful story, and a powerful reminder of the sin and wickedness in the hearts of men.  Like so much of the evil we see in the news and in the world, Cain’s sin of murder was borne out of his own envy and pride.  Though, like many others, he tried to place the reason for his sin outside of himself, he was born with a sin nature, as we all are.  I pray this week’s reading and outline will help you to point this fact out to those who hear you preach, so they may see their need to turn from their sin and put their trust in Christ alone.   May God be glorified!



Story of the first murder.  Cain killed his own brother.  Sobering

Why do these kind of things happen?  Murder, even of family members, doesn’t seem that unusual these days.

Why would Cain, one of the fathers of the human race, choose to kill his brother?

God told Cain that sin was crouching at his door, and that he must rule over it

Reminds us of the real source of the world’s problems – The wickedness in the hearts of man

Like Cain, many of us try to place the cause for our problems outside ourselves

We may blame our environment, our upbringing, our government, society, or another person

All those things can contribute, but the foundation of our problems is in us

Real cause is our greed, our pride, our lust for power and pleasure, and our desire to be our own gods

The core cause of mankind’s problem is personal sin. 

It was the cause of the curse following the fall of Adam and Eve, and that sin was passed on to Cain

Cain’s sacrifice was rejected by God because his heart was not right.  Then he killed his brother because of his anger over his own sin and his brother’s righteousness

You don’t have to watch the news long to see the same kind of anger and resentment in our society

And if you look at yourself in light of God’s law, and you will see the same wickedness in your own soul




We are all guilty before God, and deserving of nothing but judgment and hell as the just punishment for our sin

But there is hope!

Unlike our problems, which come from within our hearts, the solution of our sin is completely outside ourselves

Why we celebrate Christmas

In that child in the manger was sinless perfection.  He was God in human flesh

He was born perfect, lived the perfect life none of us could ever live, and then became the perfect, spotless sacrifice

When Jesus Christ went to the Roman cross, He went willingly (John 10:18)

On the cross all God’s anger and hatred toward sin was poured out on Christ so that it didn’t have to be poured out on us.

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.
(Isaiah 53:5 ESV)

And there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved! (Acts 4:12)

As God said to Cain, sin is crouching at your door as well.  How can you rule over it?

So how will you deal with your sin?  Will you depend on your own perceived goodness to save you when you stand before God?

If you do, you will be found wanting and will receive the just punishment you deserve.

Will you try to shift the blame to something outside yourself?

In the end you cannot truly fool yourself, and you certainly cannot fool God.

Accept God’s gift of grace.  Turn from your sins and trust in Christ alone.

When you do, your sins will be paid by Christ’s blood, and you will be seen as righteous because of His righteousness

Only through His sacrifice can you be saved.  Only through His perfect sacrifice can that wickedness in your heart be atoned for.

Only through being born again, receiving a new heart and new desires from God, can you escape both the hunger for and the punishment for, sin

Have you done that?  Have you turned from your sin and put your trust in Christ alone to save you?

If not, why not?  Is there any sin you love so much it is worth death and hell?

Please trust in Christ, while you have been given time.  Life is short, and none of us is promised tomorrow!

Turn to Christ today, and live!