Friday, April 26, 2013

Acts 3

Hello Project Ezra!  This week’s suggested reading is Acts chapter 3, and it is all about giving glory to Jesus Christ.  In the beginning of the chapter Peter and John enter the temple area, and heal a lame man.  The man had been begging at the entrance to the temple for many years, and was well known to the people of Jerusalem, so when he was healed it caught the people’s attention.  Because they knew the man, they knew it must be a true miracle, not just a claimed miracle.  But Peter and John did not try to take any credit for the miracle, but used it to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.  In doing so they said a number of things about who Jesus was, what He was like, and what He did, and it is those truths that will be the focus of this week’s outline.  I pray it is a blessing.

Just as a reminder, you don’t have to follow this outline, or any of our outlines, exactly.  I try to write them in such a way that you will be able to read them word for word, but you can also choose to take the general themes and use your own words to express them.  You can even take a totally different direction.   Just make sure you pray and carefully consider the passage, and that any applications you make are accurate and consistent with the context of the chapter.  Ultimately, this is about helping you to feel comfortable in taking God’s word, regardless of the book or chapter, and seeing how that message ties into the greater whole of God work of redemption in Jesus Christ, and how you can use that when sharing the gospel or open-air preaching.  I will see about actually highlighting, or bolding, some of the central themes in future posts, to see if that is a benefit.  If so, or if there is another way I can help you with your open-air preparations, please let me know.  I want to do all I can to encourage you in the public proclamation of God’s word. 

 All for His glory,



In this passage the Apostles Peter and John visit the temple mount, and their first act is to heal a man who was lame, and man who was well known to those from the area

After the man was healed, Peter and John did not take the credit for the healing, attempt to promote themselves, or collect money.  Instead, they told the people of the greatness of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the New Testament, the emphasis of every book is clearly on the person and work of Jesus Christ.  And we are trying to do the same today.

But this is not only true of the New Testament, but of the entire Bible

Have you ever considered what the Bible is about?  Do you know it’s central message?

It is not merely a book of rules, though it does contain God’s law

It is not just a record of God’s love, or of God’s wrath, though it records both.

It is not merely a textbook of religious history or tradition, though they are certainly included.

At its heart, it is a record of God's plan to glorify Himself through the redemption and restoration of a people for Himself, a plan accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ

In truth, the whole Bible is about Jesus Christ

The Old Testament looks forward to Him, and the New Testament looks back at His life, ministry, and teachings.  (Be prepared to give examples here if challenged)

But who is Jesus?  What do we know about Him?  And more importantly, why does it matter?
Acts 3 tells us much about who Jesus Christ is, and who God is.

It tells us He is the author of life.  All that has ever existed came into being through Him.  In this, we see that He is God, and that God is powerful.

John 1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

We see that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Jews, glorified Jesus, the Son, who is also called the servant of the Father.  So we see that there are at least two distinct persons, or wills, within the being of God.  We also see that God is personal.

We see Jesus called the Holy and Righteous One.  And He tells us to be perfect, as the heavenly Father is perfect.  We see that God is moral.

So if God is powerful, personal, and moral, what does that mean to us?

First, we must examine ourselves, to see what we are like.

We too are personal, and make personal choices.  And every one of us has chosen to rebel against God.

Ephesians 2 says that we, along with all mankind, are children of wrath.

We see that because of our rebellion, we have broken God’s law.

God is holy and righteous, and we are not. 

There is none righteous, no not one.  All have turned aside, and have together become worthless (Romans 3)

Do you know this to be true?  Look at yourself in light of God’s law.  Your sins are likely very similar to those of the Jewish leaders.

They were guilty of pride.  The Jewish leaders were far more interested in promoting themselves and holding on to their power than seeing the truth of who Jesus was the wonderful miracles He performed.

Who of us is not guilty of pride?

They were guilty of idolatry.  The God they worshiped was an idol they had created in their minds, one who honored their outward piety while ignoring their wicked hearts.

Have you too made a god in your own image, one who overlooks your sin, and who demands nothing of you?

They were guilty of disbelief, and denied who Jesus was despite seeing one miraculous sign after another.

We are all without excuse.  We can see the truth of God’s existence and power clearly in the world around us every day, and know His law through the working of our conscience.  None of us believes 

His and trusts in Him as we should.

Take a moment to look at God’s Ten Commandments, and you will see that you have broken God’s law in these and many other ways.

If you deny this, you are only choosing to suppress God’s truth.  But you can never escape God’s law, and none of us can ever live up to it.

We are told that there is a holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12)

But we are not holy, and we are not powerful.  While God is the eternal creator, we are as grass, here today and gone tomorrow. (Ps 103:15-16)

God is the creator and sustainer of all that exists, and we, as His creation, are at His mercy.

But though we are at His mercy, He is also a merciful God.

Though God is righteous and just, He has made a way for us to be justified, to be seen as righteous.

And that is the reason Jesus came to earth.  That is the central message of the Bible.

Jesus Christ came to earth 2000 years ago, God the Son in the form of a human being.

He lived the perfect, righteous life we could never live, then, as it was prophesied, He suffered and died for sin, to satisfy God’s perfect holiness by paying the penalty for our sins.

Then, as Peter preached to those at the temple, God raised Him up, and sent Him to bless us by turning us from our wicked ways.

We are told that there is healing in His name, by the power of His name, and through faith in His name.

But this is not only physical healing, but spiritual healing.  This is how we are made right, how we are given peace, with our creator.

Every soul that repents, or turns from sin, and trusts in Jesus Christ alone, will be saved.

He will change your heart, and make you a new creature!

But we are also told that every soul that does not heed that prophet (Jesus) shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.

There is one way, and only one way, to be made right with God.

Only Jesus is true God and true man, the appointed prophet sent by the Father, to save us from our sins.

Only through repentance and faith in Him can you be saved from the penalty of your rebellion against God.

So today, turn and trust in Him, while He has given you time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Malachi 3

Hello Project Ezra!  I pray you are having a good week, and are looking forward, once again, to share the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ through the reading of the scriptures.  This week’s suggested chapter is Malachi chapter three.  Malachi is the last of the Old Testament Minor Prophets, and the book was written at the beginning of what is often called the 400 years of silence.  The temple had been rebuilt, but after only 100 years the nation of Israel had already fallen into complacency and idolatry.  Here Malachi reminds the people of their sin, and reminds them that the Day of the Lord is coming, and that when He comes it will be a time of testing and purifying.  He lists some of the sins they are guilty of, many of which are mentioned in the gospels as well.  And he mentions purifying as silver and gold, which are purified by fire.   

Our country has a similar problem.  Though there is debate over whether or not our country has a Godly heritage, it is certainly not Godly now.  The moral principles, principles found in God’s law, which were taken for granted for much of our history, have been trampled underfoot, and those who take God’s word seriously are marginalized at the least, and often openly mocked.  Our country accepts and promotes sin, and needs to be called to repentance.  But our country will never be changed as a whole unless we are changed individually, and that will only happen through people turning to and being transformed by Christ.  So let’s pray that people are transformed this weekend through the power of the gospel, and by His grace, may we preach it with compassion, but without compromise. 

All for His glory, 



Malachi is the last of the Old Testament Prophets, coming right before 400 years of silence leading up to the coming of Jesus Christ. 

His words look forward to the coming of the Messiah, and the messenger sent to prepare the way, which he speaks of, is John the Baptist 

The Jews had turned away from God since the temple in Jerusalem had been rebuilt, and fallen into complacency and idolatry. 

Many would argue that our country is rooted in the Christian faith.  If that was true in the past, it is certainly not true now.  We too have fallen into complacency and idolatry. 

As Malachi stated, God will draw near for judgment, as he did for the Jews.  And as with the Jews, He will be a swift witness against our sin. 

The Old Testament speaks much of God’s judgment, and because of the accounts of His judgment, many believe the God of the Bible is evil, and vindictive. 

But He is neither.  He is holy and just, and we are deserving of wrath for our sins, as the nation of Israel was. 

Malachi speaks of many sins the Jews had committed that we have as well. 

He speaks against sorcery, which was generally tied to drug use.  Drugs have become more and more acceptable in our society despite serious mental and physical effects.  Have you been involved with, or approved of, drug use? 

He speaks about adulterers.  Sex outside of marriage is so common, it has become passé.  It is the norm.  
What the Bible calls sexual immorality is on every prime time TV show nearly every week. 

Adultery includes looking with lust.  Have you committed adultery of the heart? 

He speaks against swearing falsely.  Have you done that?  Have you lied, because you knew you could get away with it? 

Have you committed blasphemy by misusing God’s name, or have you dishonored Him in thought, word, or deed?  Then you do not fear the Lord, as you should. 

What about taking advantage of people, or ignoring the needs of the poor and helpless?  None of us has loved his neighbor as he should. 

There are many other sins we could name, and every one of us is guilty of more sins that we could possibly remember. 

We are all guilty.  And God has written His law on our hearts, so we know we are guilty.  His standard is perfection, and we are no where close. 

The Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Yet despite our knowledge of our own sin, we have not been wise. 

As in the time of Noah, our thoughts are only evil continually.  We choose rebellion against our creator, because we lust after freedom, and believe we have the right to go our own way. 

And though God would be right in destroying the world utterly, as He did in Noah’s day, He has chosen not to. 

Though we deserve justice, though we deserve pain and punishment in Hell for our continual sins right now, God has stayed His hand. 

Malachi tells us that because the LORD does not change, the nation of Israel was not consumed. 

What has not changed is His patience, what the Bible often calls long suffering. 

We are told that God is not slow in keeping His promises, but patient with us, not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. 

Could it be that the only reason you are still alive is that God being patient with you, waiting until you turn to Him? 

Do you know how you can do that?  Do you know how you can find Godly repentance, how you can find peace with Him? 

It is not through ceremony or sacrifice, as the Israelites attempted to do. 

It is not through doing your best and trying for follow God’s law.  None of our lives could ever be clean enough to meet God’s standard of perfection. 

We need our sins paid for, and we need perfect righteousness.  Both were provided through Jesus Christ. 

Jesus, God in human flesh, came to earth, lived the perfect life we could never live, and then died the perfect death, providing the perfect sacrifice we needed to pay for our sins. 

On a Roman cross His blood was shed, and our sin paid for.   

He died.  Then three days later He rose from the grave, proving His power over death, and proving who He was. 

And now, all those who repent, or turn from their sin, and trust in Him and Him alone, will be saved. 

God’s standard is perfection, and we can stand before the Judgment seat not based on our own perfection, but on the perfection of another. 

Only Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God, perfect and sinless. 

Only if His goodness, and payment for sin, is applied to us, can we be saved from Hell. 

We are saved through His grace, and through His grace. 

By grace you are saved, through faith.  This is a gift of God, not a result of works. 

So turn to Christ today and live.  Turn from your sins and trust in His grace, and you will be saved!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Judges 10

Hello Project Ezra!  Thanks for joining us again this week.  It’s always a blessing to hear about people heading out to the streets to share the gospel through the reading of scripture, and I pray this week’s reading will be a blessing, and an encouragement for you to do just that.  The suggested reading is Judges 10, yet another example of Israel’s rebellion and God’s faithfulness and mercy.  Some would say that the God of the Old Testament is an angry, vindictive God, and the God of the New Testament is a loving, merciful God.  I say that anyone that can make that claim has never really read the Bible.  Time and time again Israel turned away from God, and turned to idols, as they did in this chapter.  God always spoke in condemnation of that idolatry, and many times handed Israel over to their enemies, but not for the final purpose of rejecting them.  As Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 1:20 and 1 Corinthians 5:5, God's ultimate purpose in sending His children out of fellowship with Him is for those sent out to be taught their mistake and eventually restored.  This was the case with Israel.  When they were handed over to their enemies, they cried out to the Lord to help them, and He did.  Israel, as a nation, rejected God many times, even though He had blessed them more than any other nation, and He consistently showed mercy to them despite their rebellion.  It is that mercy despite rebellion that we should be preaching in light of this text.  No matter what we have done, or how bad our sin is, if we turn from our sins and cry out to God to save us, He will.  So preach the hope of the cross and peace with God today, and lets pray that many turn from their idolatry and back to the true creator.

All for His glory,


This is one of many examples of the nation of Israel, whom God had chosen as His own, rebelling against Him.

God had greatly blessed Israel, protecting and providing for them many times and in many ways.

Yet time after time, Israel chose to turn from the true God, and turn to those things that God’s word tells us are not gods.

Despite God's blessing, His people chose to worship and serve created things rather than the creator.

Romans 1:25 - They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

And because of this rebellion, God turned from them and sold them into the hands of their enemies

Only then did they repent of their sin, and turn back to Him

By our nature, we are all just like Israel.

Most of us worship false gods, gods created in our own image.

We create gods to suit our sins, so we can live as we please, and then often blame God when things go badly.

Some of us will worship man-made gods, which end up being imaginary, and demonic

1 Corinthians 10:19-20 - Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.

Mormons worship gods that were once men, and believe they can become gods themselves

Muslims must work diligently to follow the law of Allah and be pleasing to him, but even with a life well lived, then can not be sure they will be able to enter Paradise.

Hindus have a pantheon of gods, millions of them, and can simply choose the god that suits them.

And if they are not good enough in this life to satisfy karma, they believe they will be reincarnated and can try again.

Even Roman Catholics worship of venerate Mary and the saints, believing that they can act as mediators for their sins, though scripture says there is only one mediator.

But many truly worship themselves, and their own desires.  As the Bible says, their god is their stomach.

Philippians 3:18-19 - For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

You may trust in moral relativism, or pragmatism, or hedonism, or evolution, or a bit of each.  Most think if they believe in something strongly enough, it must be true.

But a lie does not become truth, no matter how many times you repeat it or how strongly you believe it.

Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

And those who believe such things are not sincere, despite their protestations to the contrary.  God has written His law on all our hearts, and our consciences bear witness.

If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have sinned, and broken God's law

We know that lying and stealing are wrong, even if they are convenient and they get away with them.

We know that adultery is wrong, and that we should not look with lust on those we are not married to.

We know that Murder is wrong, and that hatred is murder of the heart. 

We know that we have blasphemed God's name, and shown disrespect to Him by our words and our actions.

And we know that we have not, for even one day of our lives, loved, honored, and glorified God as we ought to, and as He commands us to.

In truth, no false god, false belief, or denial of the reality of our sin and rebellion will give us the one 
thing we most need: peace with God

We are by nature at war with our creator.  We are by nature children of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

We are rebels against the rightful king, and we have earned His justice for our moral crimes

But even though we deserve God's wrath, and the fires of hell, there is hope

As was true with the nation of Israel, we have hope for peace with God

That hope is in the cross of Christ

When Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago, He lived the perfect life we could never live.

When Jesus died on the cross, he carried the wrath of God for His people's sin.

When He shed His blood, He took the justice we deserved, so that we could be set free.

And when He rose again, He proved who he was and proved His power over death and sin.

Then He sat down at His Father's right hand in heaven, to plead our case before God's judgment seat.  
If you will turn to Christ today, if you will turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as your only hope for salvation, then you will be saved!

It doesn't matter what you have done.  It doesn't matter how blasphemous and wicked you have been.

You can't  out-sin God.  His mercy and grace is greater than any sin you have committed.

But it is only His death and resurrection that can save you. 

When you stand before the judgment seat on the final day, only His perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection to God's right hand will allow Him to stand in our place, as our advocate.

He is your only hope.  Without Him you are bound for eternal death and torment.  With Him you will 
spend eternity in the presence of God, worshipping Him with joy.

The choice should be easy.  Don't let your pride damn you.  Don't let your love if freedom and pleasure make you a slave of sin.

Turn to Christ today, and be saved!