Friday, February 22, 2013

Genesis 6 - The Ark of God

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray you are having a wonderful day in the Lord, and that your week has been good.  Mine has been good, and very busy (as usual), but I am very much looking forward to spending some time sharing the gospel this weekend.   It is such a privilege to be able to share God’s truth, a truth that I am not even worthy to think about, yet one that God has called me to being to those who are lost in their sin, as I once was. What a blessing it is!

This week our suggested chapter is Genesis 6, which speaks about Noah and the command to build the ark.  In the story of the ark we have a wonderful picture of the grace and mercy of God, and of a single way of escape from His wrath, poured out for sin.  In the ark God saved Noah and his family from the flood, and In Jesus Christ God saves us from the flood of our own sin, which will sweep us away to destruction as well, outside of His finished work on the cross.  By grace we have been saved through faith in that work, and what an amazing blessing and gift that is!  I pray both God’s justice and His love will be better understood through our reading this week.

We are also fast approaching our next Mission Good Friday reading, which will be at the end of next month.  Believe it or not, this will be our FIFTH year!   It still amazes me what God has done, how faithful He has been, and how many people have been impacted and encouraged by this group.  I cannot express what a privilege it is to have so many of you participate and share your testimonies, and I pray you will continue to do so.  In particular, I will try to put together an introduction to Project Ezra post, which will include some of those testimonies.  There have been so many stories that it will be impossible to include most of them, but if there was a testimony, video or picture, or a divine appointment that particularly impacted you, and which you think will impact others and encourage them to participate, please let me know through email at  I look forward to hearing from you all.  God bless!

All for His glory,



This story, the beginning of the story of Noah and the flood, is true, despite what some people may think

We still see the results of the flood today in the fossil record and in the world around us, and it reminds us that God’s word is true

It also reminds us of something that is true about God’s character, and our character

These truths give us the justification for the horrible destruction that the flood brought

God tells us in His word that the wickedness of man was great in the earth

He tells us that every intention of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually, and that it grieved Him in His heart that He had made man

The earth at that time was corrupt in God’s sight, and was filled with violence

The same is very much true in our time.  The evil nature of man has not changed

Neither has the just and holy nature of God

God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil.  He is angry at the wicked every day and will not leave the guilty unpunished.

The wrath of God demonstrated in the flood of Noah

He said “I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven.  Everything that is on the earth shall die.”

So, like in Noah’s day, we see the dilemma between God’s goodness and our sin and wickedness.

How can a good God, and God who believes in justice, allow sinners like us to live?

If you look at yourself, reflected in the mirror of God’s law, you will see how sinful you truly are.


It is clear from God’s word that we are guilty, and that we are deserving of judgment and hell for our sins

Hell is described very vividly, and it is a description that should disturb every one of us. 

We should fear going to Hell ourselves, and we should not want anyone we know to go there either.

But the story tells us something else about God.  It tells us of His mercy

Despite the wickedness of the world, God had a plan of salvation, even if it was for only a few

The ark provided escape from destruction for Noah and his family

And in our day, God has also provided an ark of escape from His judgment.

That escape is found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was the God-man, God in human flesh.

The creator of all, He who made the world and then destroyed in by water once, because of man’s sin, humbled Himself and walked among us.

He lived a perfect life, the only perfect life ever lived.  He also healed the sick, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, fed thousands with a young boy’s lunch, and even raised the dead.

Then, after about 33 years of life, He went to the cross and died for the sin of His creation

On the cross the debt for man’s sin was paid in full, when all God’s wrath and anger toward sin was poured out on Him rather than us.

He suffered and died.  Then, three days later, He rose again and appeared to His disciples.

He fulfilled His own prophecies, and demonstrated His power over death, and who He was.

Then His disciples saw him ascend into heaven to sit at His Father’s right hand.

In the time of Noah, God put His rainbow in the clouds, as He does today, as a promise to mankind.   

He promised He would never again destroy the earth by a flood.

But today we have a greater promise.  He has promised us that if we will turn from our sins and put our trust in Christ alone, then we will be saved from eternal death and Hell.

Through faith and repentance we take hold of that promise.  We can do nothing to earn or deserve it.

No good work can help us earn God’s favor.  No religious duty will appease Him.  Only the gifts of faith and repentance can make us right with Him.

So please, turn from your sin and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you

God is patient and merciful, but His mercy will one day end, and none of us is promised even one more day on this earth

Flee to the ark of God.  Flee from the coming destruction.  Flee to the only God who can save you.

Turn to Christ today, while He has given you time!

Friday, February 15, 2013

John 9 – The Willfully Blind

Hello Project Ezra!  Sorry for the late posting this week.  I pray that you will still have time to consider and meditate on John chapter 9 this week prior to heading out to the street to share God’s word publically.  John 9 deals with the man born blind, who was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath.  Throughout the passage we see the contrast between the man healed of his blindness and the men who searched for whatever excuse they could find to remain blind.  The blind beggar knew that he could see, and that something miraculous and supernatural had happened in his healing, so miraculous that it had to be of God.  But as is often the case with our fallen race, the Pharisees looked for excuses to deny its truth.  They doubted that he had actually been blind, they denied he was telling the truth, they attacked his credibility by accusing him of sin, and then they did the same to Jesus.  But in the end, it was their own credibility that was shown false, because the formerly blind man, which the community knew well, could still see.

Most people we will meet when sharing the gospel are willfully blind, like the Pharisees.  Though it is true that we can’t see apart from the Spirit working in our hearts, it is also true that we choose and cling to our blindness.  Only through a direct and powerful work of God, through the Holy Spirit, can the heart be changed and eyes opened.  So not only do we need to confront people on their blindness, but we need to pray that the Spirit will open their eyes to His truth, and will take their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.  Our evangelism must always start with, end in, and be soaked throughout with prayer.  Without the power of God, anything we say will be useless, and those we preach to will remain blind and deaf.  So let’s pray that God changes hearts and minds, and opens ears and eyes this weekend.

All for His glory,



This passage talks about a man who received his sight, and about a group of men who chose to remain blind.

In our day, like in theirs, many people choose to remain spiritually blind.  And you may be one of them

People can and are blinded by many things

Some are blinded by religious observance and self-righteousness, which convinces them they are already in good standing with God

Some are blinded by worldly lusts, which convince them that the pleasures of the flesh are worth more than the holiness of God.

Some are blinded by a desire for control and autonomy, wanting their own freedom at all costs, though that freedom is a mirage.

Many will say, as the church of Laodicea did, that they are rich, that they have prospered, and need nothing, not realizing that they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  (Revelation 3:15-17)

Whichever describes you, it is likely that you are willfully blind to the truth that is right in front of you, just as the Pharisees were.

They had seen, and by their own words had to acknowledge, that a miraculous sign had taken place in the healing of the man born blind

Yet they searched for ways to marginalize the miracle and cast doubt on Jesus and on His power in working it.

Jesus said “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

Are you doing the same thing?

We live in a creation that screams out that there is a creator

The beauty and complexity of our world could only have been created by an intelligent and loving God

And we all live with a God-given conscience that cries out against our willful sins every day.


Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

And because of our willful sin, we are deserving of God’s judgment and wrath, which will be carried out in a real place called hell.

You may choose to deny both judgment and hell.  But your beliefs can not change reality, no matter how strong those beliefs are.

But if you will humble yourself before God, and open your eyes to His truth, you can be saved from the terrors of hell, and from God’s righteous judgment.

You can be saved if you are born again, by the Spirit of God

Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3)

We are born again, by God’s Spirit, through repentance and faith.

Repentance is turning from sin.  It is not perfection, but a change in our direction, a turning from the sins we love, but which God hates.

Faith in Christ alone means abandoning any hope of meeting God’s standard by our own merits, and trusting in Christ’s perfect life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection as our only hope for a right standing before God.

Have you done that?  Have you repented and trusted Christ alone?

Or do you continue in your blindness, denying God, or trusting in your own goodness to save you?

I pray that today you will cry out to God to save you.  And I pray that He will do just that.

Then you will be able to say, with the hymn writer

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Acts 26 Revisited

Hello Project Ezra!  I’m glad you are reading this, and am praying that many of you will be able to participate in our reading this week.  As with last week’s reading, I am attempting to focus more on balancing the presentation between conviction of sin, fear of death and hell, and the hope of mercy and grace through Christ.  It’s a tough balancing act, with a lot to consider.  It’s easy to see why so many people lean either all the way toward “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or toward “You’re going to hell, you wicked sinner!”  Both have elements of truth, but both ultimately betray the gospel by drawing distinctions or giving emphasis in places the Bible does not.  

I believe we honor and glorify God most when we handle His word rightly, and preach the whole gospel message in a way that makes sense to people.   Of course, many will still reject it, but it is not our responsibility to pressure people into making a decision through either love or fear.  Our job is to preach the word as clearly and faithfully as possible, and to leave the rest up to God.  So please pray for me, and for your other Ezra brothers and sisters, that we will handle God’s word well, and honor Him as we do.  Perhaps, by His grace, we may see some come to repentance and faith this weekend.

All for His glory,


We stand here today/tonight because we have a hope.  We would like to share that hope with you.

Common wisdom and modern culture will try to rob you of that hope.

They will tell you we are born by accident, live by accident, and will die by accident.

But we are here to tell you that there is hope, and there is a purpose for life.

That purpose is to serve and to glorify the holy God who created you.

And our hope is in the promise made by God to our fathers; the resurrection of the dead.

Today we will be reading from Acts 26, where the apostle Paul shares His hope

We pray that you will stay and listen while we share God’s word


This is the hope of a man who, by earthly standards, had nothing to gain and everything to lose by following Christ.

Prior to his conversion, he had everything  he could have hoped for.  He had power, influence, prestige, a great deal of respect in the religious community, and what he thought was a holy mission and purpose.

But this Saul, who became Paul, said that He counted it all loss for the sake of Christ

Phil 3:7-8 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

He counted all other things as rubbish, garbage, because he knew that everything of this world was temporary.

All things of this world will pass away, and one day, so will we.

If our hope is only in this world, why not grab for everything we can while we are here?

1 Cor 15:32 says “If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Because in truth, we all know there is a God, and that we will be accountable to Him someday.

All of us have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.  We were created to give God glory, and we have failed.

We have failed every time we have told a lie, and thus dishonored the God who’s word is truth

We have fallen short of His glory when we have stolen or coveted, and been ungrateful for all the good things God has given us, in our greed and selfishness wanting more.

We have dishonored Him when we have looked with lust at those who God has not given to us, tarnishing the purity that is meant to reflect our relationship with Him.

And we have sinned by creating a god in our own image, one who will look at the failures above, and turn a blind eye to them. 

Where we have hoped to run our own lives, make our own rules, and rule our own kingdoms, all we have really done is fool ourselves into believing a lie that has made us enemies of our creator.

God is our sovereign ruler, and we have broken His law through our sins, our moral crimes

Like any good judge, God will see that justice is satisfied, and we all deserve His justice.

If we depend on ourselves, and on our own goodness, to save us, then that punishment will be carried out in a place called hell. 

There we will experience eternal terror and pain as we are separated from all God’s goodness and mercy, and spend eternity under the weight of His wrath.

Justice will be served.  The debt will be paid.  And this is what we all know we deserve.

But there is an escape, and in this escape is our hope.

Outside of the truth of the Bible, the truth of God’s grace through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have no hope.

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But our hope is true, and our future is sure.  Paul knew this through personal experience, as well as through the witness of God’s word, and so do we.

We hope in a God who spoke the world into existence from nothing, yet who humbled Himself and took on human flesh.

We hope in Jesus Christ, the God-man, who walked the earth for about 33 years, living the only perfect life that has ever been lived.

We know He was persecuted, arrested and convicted of crimes He was not guilty of, that 

He was sentenced to die on a cross, and that He was crucified outside Jerusalem.

But before His death He had given His followers hope, a hope they did not understand.  He prophesied that He would die, and rise from the dead three days later.

And three days later He did rise, proving His power over sin and death and proving who He was, and He is now seated at the right hand of the father.

And now our eternal hope is in turning from our sin and trusting in Him

The Bible says He is our advocate with the Father, and the only mediator between God and men.

By His sacrifice, which paid the price for sin once and for all, our hope is realized.

With our debt paid through His shed blood, the innocent taking on the sins of the guilty, justice is satisfied and we can go free.

Only Jesus Christ is true God and true man.  Only He died for our sin and rose for our justification.  Only He still lives to be our intercessor with God, our Great high priest.  So only through Him can we be saved.

So turn and trust today.  Take your eyes off your sin, and fix them on Christ, trusting in Him alone.

Turn to Christ and live!  And then go, and share that hope with others.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Isaiah 12

Isaiah 12

Hello Project Ezra!  This week the suggested reading is Isaiah 12, and this passage is a song of praise to God.   How much time every day to you spend simply praising God for His goodness, His majesty, His holiness, and the other amazing truths of His character that make up who He is?  In my case, not nearly enough time.  And what’s more, those truths don’t make their way into my evangelism nearly enough either.  I find it easier to focus on the repetition of my law and gospel presentation.  Having a well memorized gospel framework is not bad in itself, of course.  But since the message of salvation cannot be seen in isolation, but must be seen in relation to God’s character, shouldn’t we be sure to emphasize, and to give glory to God for that as well?  I tend to emphasize His justice and holiness, but don’t spend enough time praising the positive aspects of His character, such as His goodness, grace and mercy.  So this week and this chapter offer an opportunity to do that, and I am praying that I will be more faithful in exalting more of who and what He is when I share the gospel.  I pray this will be as encouraging and convicting to you as it is to me.  Remember, evangelism should be an act of worship.  As Christians, EVERYTHING we do should be an act of worship.

All for His glory,



We are here today/tonight to give thanks to the LORD, and to worship Him

We are here to call upon His name, for as His word says, He has done gloriously

This chapter tells us to let His glory be known, in all the earth.  And we are here with the aim of doing just that.

We will shout and sing for joy, for great is the Holy One of Israel!

You may ask, what does holy mean?  What is holiness?  And why does it matter?

Holiness is at the heart of who and what God is.  Holiness means perfect moral purity, and an “otherness” that is indescribable. 

Though we reflect some of God’s attributes, since we are created in His image, He is not like us.

For while the Bible says we are dead in our sins, and by nature children of wrath, it also tells us the God is good.

This is both a wonderful and a terrifying truth.  God is good, and we are not.

God’s goodness means He must punish sin and insure complete justice. 

Any good judge must see that the guilty are punished, and we should praise God for His justice. 

But we must also realize that justice should be directed as us, for we are guilty.

It is good for God to punish murderers, those who take lives that belong to Him. 

But His word says that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you and I have hated.

It is good for God to punish a rapist, one who forces physical intimacy on another. 

But He tells us that anyone who looks with list is an adulterer, and adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  All of us have looked with lust.

It is good for God to punish the cult leader who uses the false claim of God’s favor and authority to use and abuse those who follow him or her.

But you too have created a false view of God, and idol, in your mind.  And all idolaters, those who break the first of God’s commandments, deserve nothing but the eternal fire of hell.

God has been incredibly gracious not to pour out His wrath for sin already.  For the soul that sins shall die, and we deserve death 10,000 times over.

But though we deserve God’s wrath, His goodness is also displayed in His mercy, and His patience.

He has provided mercy through the blood of Son, Jesus Christ, God in human form.

Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life before the Father, and then willingly took on Himself the sin of mankind.

He took that sin, and on the cross the penalty for that sin was poured out on Him by His Father.

God’s goodness, His holiness, crushed His Son for our sake.  Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be crushed for our sake, because of His love and His mercy.

Jesus died, but rose again on the third day, proving His power over death, and proving who He was.

He now sits in majesty at the right hand of God the Father.

If we will turn from sin and trust in Christ alone, then He, our only mediator with God, will stand for us on the Day of Judgment.

And instead of experiencing the terror of God’s justice, we will experience the joy of a soul washed clean by His blood, and know that an eternity in heaven awaits us.

True joy only comes through a right relationship with the God who created you.

The greatest joy is the joy found in God’s salvation

It is the joy of a debtor freed from his debts, for we all owe a sin debt.

It is the joy of a slave freed from bondage, for outside of Christ we are all slaves to sin.

The joy of a prisoner freed from prison.  Without salvation we are prisoners under a death penalty, waiting for justice to be served.

Isaiah 12 says with joy we draw water from His wells of salvation

We pray that today you will draw from Christ’s wells of salvation, through turning from sin, and trusting in Him.

Turn to the only God who can save you.  Turn to the God.

Come to His throne today.  Come in humility, and cry out to Him. 

He will save you!  He is mighty to save!

Then you too will know the joy of a right relationship with your creator.

You too will someday be with Him in heaven, and know the joy of fulfilling your purpose, in giving eternal praise and glory to Him!