Hello Project Ezra! It’s amazing to me that we are almost at the end of January already. The new year is passing quickly. But God is good, and there have been many opportunities to share His message of grace. Have you seen those opportunities in your life? Be sure to look, they will always be there. Though the project is primarily about reading and sharing God’s word in the public square, the principles of evangelism that we are trying to encourage here are the same principles that can be used for one-to-one witnessing to friends, family, co-workers, etc. I know personally it has been easy to compartmentalize, to have my “evangelism time” separate and distinct, and to feel fulfilled in having completed my obligation in my weekly trip to the streets. But ultimately that is a foolish notion. I want to see God’s hand in every situation, and to see Him open heart and minds to hear His word regardless of where I am and what I’m doing. I’m still working on and praying about this, desiring to see His working in the mundane and day to day activities of life, and by His grace I am seeing Him do so more and more. I would encourage you to do the same.
This week, in Joshua 23, we are looking at a particular sin, the sin of idolatry. I don’t believe we have had a previous post that focused on only one sin, but because of the themes in this chapter, and because of the pervasiveness of idolatry, it seemed appropriate. Like pride, idolatry is the fertile ground that allows many other sins to take root. When we think we have a right to believe in a god that suits us, rather than in God’s truth as he has revealed Himself to us, we can make as much space as we need to excuse ourselves for breaking His law and dishonoring His name. In the case of the nation of Israel, they were told clearly that they would lose their inheritance if they chose to follow after idols and forsake His law. History tells us they did just that time and time again. But God is faithful, and kind, and merciful, and because of that fact of His character they lived, and we live through repentance, and faith in Christ alone. So pass on that hope this week to the idolaters you meet, and pray they we turn and trust Christ, as I pray you have.
All for His glory,
READ JOSHUA 23
In this chapter, God promised to push other nations back, and told the Israelites they were to possess the promised land
He also told them to follow what was written in the Book of the Law of Moses
They were told not to mix with the nations around them, or to mention their gods, or to swear by them, serve them, or bow down to them
God said “Cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day” and “Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God.”
He told them if they turned back and clung to the remnant of these nations remaining among them and made marriages with them, and thus became influenced by their false religions, that He would no longer drive out these nations before them, and they would be a snare and a trap, a whip for their sides and thorns in their eyes.
He told them that if they served and bowed down to other gods, then His anger would be kindled against them, and they would perish quickly.
Many people today say that what you believe doesn’t matter, as long as you are sincere.
They say that what matters is not what you believe, as long as you believe something.
But is it really true that everyone has a right to his or her beliefs? God's word says differently.
While we have the freedom to believe what we want, choices have consequences, and the choice to rebel against God is foolish and dangerous.
The sin of idolatry is the choice to treat anything as more important than God.
Idolatry was the first thing God forbid in His 10 commandments.
It’s a law every one of us has broken time and time again.
If you have chosen to worship a carved or cast idol, an image made by man to resemble any created thing, then you are an idolater.
If you have made a god in your own mind, and in your own image, a god who ignores your sin so you can live as you please, then you are an idolater.
If your life is focused on money, power, or influence, rather than on your creator, then you are an idolater.
If you are trusting in Buddha, or Mohamed, or Krishna, or the Virgin Mary, or Joseph Smith, or any other false deity, you are an idolater.
If you believe in no gods at all, and are trusting in yourself, or humanity, or science, or the natural order of things, you are still an idolater.
If you are living in idolatry, as many are, and as I used to, then you are in rebellion against God, and you have made yourself His enemy.
And like any good king, God will see that justice is served to those rebels who attack His kingdom and threaten His people.
But even though our idolatry is more than enough to send every one of us to hell for all eternity, and even though it would be perfectly just of God to do so, we don’t have to go.
God has made a way for our sin, our idolatry, to be forgiven.
He has made a way for the fine due for our moral crimes to be paid in full
He has made a way for His perfect justice to be perfectly satisfied.
That way is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, true man, and yet also true God (John 1), took on the form of a servant, and was born in the likeness of man (Phil 2:7)
He laid down His life as the price for sin, a price He paid in full.
Then He rose from the grave after three days, proving His power over death, and proving He was who He claimed to be.
He is now our high priest, and the source of salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:8-10)
And He now commands all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
Repentance is turning. It is turning away from our sinful desires and towards God.
It is only through turning from idolatry, in all its forms, and trusting in the true God, the God of the Bible, that we can be saved.
Have you done this? Have you repented of your idolatry and put your trust in Christ? Or are you still God’s enemy?
God will not share His glory with anyone (Isa 42:8), and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
But God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live (Eze 18:23)
We are here today because we are praying that you will turn and live, and that someday we will see you in heaven.
So turn today and live!
INVITE CONVERSATIONS AND QUESTIONS. ITS OK NOT TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. THE CHALLENGE WILL HELP YOU GROW. BE SURE YOU HAVE TRACTS, BIBLES, AND BUSINESS CARDS HANDY, IF POSSIBLE.